Why don’t the cool places offer senior discounts?

Can I get one with flames painted on the side?
Can I get one with flames painted on the side?

It was a chilly night, so I decided to take the bus from my office (read: the library) to my home. Not really that much of a trip; it’s just a touch over two miles. Under most circumstances, a nice bike ride.

So I threw the bike on the rack on the nose of the bus and clambered inside. Started going through my change to pay the usual fare ($1.75) when the driver said it was 85 cents to me.

Oh, really? How’s that work?

“Senior citizen’s discount,” he told me.

I’ll take it, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

It’s not so much the senior thing that bugs me. I’m 56 now, and that status is a reward for not croaking just yet despite my occasional efforts to hasten the process. I don’t mind that, but the fact the driver picked out my senior-ness so quickly was just a little much.

I’m not one of those vain types who tries to look forever young. I learned to cope with pattern baldness 30 years ago, and I finally decided to force the action by shaving the whole thing off. Just got tired of messing with it. I never minded going gray either; it looks sharp on a man.

I’m still trying to get used to bifocals, and my glasses spend more time parked on my head than on my nose. They’re useless at middle distances, like where the computer screen usually is. Plus I have a little cataract action going on, another aging thing.

My face has a few more lines and a little more sag than it used to, but that’s not an issue either.

But I make it a point to keep in shape physically and my mind from losing its edge. I love hanging around young people because I can learn a lot from them, and my energy level (fueled by espresso and bipolar disorder) remains off the charts.

I still think young, am still tech savvy, can still rock around the clock, can still leave ’em laughing, can still jam out 3,000 words standing up, and still keep a good attitude about things.

But some reminders.

A buddy told me I was in good shape for my age, and my (cantankerous) response was “for any age, pal.” Had to whip his young butt on the Palmetto Trail just to get his head straight.

But for some bus driver to pick me out so quickly …

When I turned 55 my older brother — now firmly in geezer territory at 60 — reminded me I was eligible for senior discounts at Denny’s. Gee, Rick. Thanks a pantload.

Besides Denny’s I’m eligible for these discounts at pharmacies and, yeah, the bus. And maybe a plethora of good prices through AARP, though I haven’t got around to membership yet.

But do any of the cool places offer senior discounts? Noooo.

Like, where’s my golden-age special at Guitar Center?

Why doesn’t my Web hosting company offer price breaks for people of my vintage?

Can my age get me a discount when I shop for outdoors gear at Half Moon Outfitters? Doubt it.

But I can get a good price for a walker. Just the thing for hiking the Appalachian Trail.

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From the trail: Adventure always calls for a few views

Looking out from Springer Mountain. Take note, those of y'all who don't regularly experience fall colors.





I had to do my share of bragging here, and several friends have been bugging me for pictures anyway. But here are some shots from the Appalachian Trail, Georgia version.

The hike really starts here, at the summit of Springer Mountain. So what's in the box?

We’re almost ready to begin, but first there’s a little paperwork. We need to prove we’re there. But once we’re signed in, we’re ready to go.

(All photos by Eric Pulsifer)

For the full story, check out creative & dangerous.


Derek signs the registry, and we're ready to cut trail.
John watches his footing, which can get a little tricky.


The trail beckons.

You can catch a spectacular view from just about anywhere.
Oh, did I mention the terrain isn't always level?







From the bucket list: AT hike finally becomes a reality

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I think I was in my early 20s when I first heard of the Appalachian Trail, and I knew it needed me to hike it.

It’s been on my bucket list ever since, long before anybody ever heard of a bucket list.

On Sunday morning, my party of three will start at the south end, from the summit of Springer Mountain in Georgia. We plan to hike about 37 miles on this trip, a mere nibble on the 2,184-mile AT.

Call it section hiking. As far as through-hiking, there’s no way. John and Derek have full-time jobs and wives to come back home to, and I have some clients to deal with. Let the young, the independently wealthy and the trust-fund types take six months off to do the through-hiking.

Derek is sort of the ringleader here. The youngest and most fit of the crew, he had a taste of the Appalachian Trail last year, hiking with some friends of ours around Tennessee. I planned to make that trip, but couldn’t get time off from the job I had then (a foot injury, job-related, cost me a later AT jaunt).

Derek got married earlier this year, and he’s been so excited about the trip that his bride can’t wait to get rid of him for the week. Hey, this is totally a guy thing.

John’s the late add to our crew. He also has a wife and full-time job, and he hung tough with all the rigorous conditioning Derek and I threw his way.

Derek and I started conditioning off and on since 2010, with regular walks along the Sawmill Branch canal & linear park in Summerville, SC. When we started thinking about the AT, we started putting packs on and increasing the mileage. Our last training hike was over the Cooper River Bridge, over and back twice, 10 miles with a goodish incline. Fully loaded.

The closest I ever got to the AT was this hike up Max Patch Bald at the TN/NC border in 2010; the AT crosses directly over the summit. I'm on the right, with my old-school hiking staff. Mark Williams (left) and Rick Moore are decidedly more high-tech.

We’re ready. Pack is loaded. Sleeping bag, tent, rope, four days’ worth of food, clothing, cooking gear, all the good stuff. Derek checked the weather; supposed to be in the low 70s next week with lows in the 40s. Transportation is set up; park one car at the hike’s end, and the wives will drop us off at the starting point. If they don’t kill the husbands first.

Or me. I’m the only single guy, so you know I’m a corrupting influence.

* * *

Expect lots of pictures. I may post from the trail (packing extra phone batteries) but that depends on the wireless signal. Let’s see how good the reception is from the top of Blood Mountain.


From creative & dangerous:

“Sometimes you gotta strap on your hard hat, pull up your socks, hold on to your butt and step out on your dream for a little bit … “

(read more)



Roll the cameras already: Here’s another possible Thin Mints plug

Not long ago I mentioned Thin Mints, the world-famous, to-die-for, to-perhaps-fight-for Girl Scout cookie. Some roommates in Florida fought over them, one whopping the other upside the head with various blunt objects and the roomies chasing one another with scissors because of some stolen Thin Mints. Remember?

This photo crossed my transom the other day:

Here’s a little background: Last year some friends and I were hiking up Mount LeConte, one of the bigger mountains in the Great Smokies. Wore my butt out, as I recall. Fairly steep in places, but worth it.
Now, on various trails there are people who make it a practice to hand out goodies to hikers. I saw this at a section of the Appalachian Trail (the trail former Gov. Mark Sanford made famous) by Max Patch in North Carolina. It’s tradition, anyway.
On this hike, we’re about halfway up when we ran across this lady passing out treats/energy food. Of course I had to make my cookie grab, and fellow hiker Rick Moore recorded the moment for posterity.
Of course, the lady had Thin Mints.
I almost fell in love that day.
What would a person do for a Thin Mint? Climb a mountain, perhaps?

Technology takes a holiday: A trip up the mountain

As published in HubPages:

… I checked my own cell phone. It’s a plain-vanilla model with no camera and no mp3 player, but I can still control much of my online life through text messages. Like the others, I’m showing no signal-strength bars. And for the first time since I’ve had that phone, the “no service” message was on the screen … the hike up the mountain is rigorous enough that you need to pack light, so forget about bringing the laptop. Besides, that won’t matter; there’s no wireless connection available and no electricity in the cabins. You’re roughing it. Tech takes a holiday on this trip …

Now that we’ve sufficiently whetted your appetite, go on over and read the rest, OK?

Or just check out my entire HubPages site. That’s where I hide my best writing.

Gov. Sanford gone again, but no AT this time

Deja Moo: the feeling you’ve heard that bull before.

This is from The State, the newspaper in South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia:

Where’s Gov. Sanford?: “

Nearly one year to the day that Gov. Mark Sanford embarked on a secret trip to Argentina and turned S.C. politics on its ear, Sanford’s whereabouts are unknown to the press and the public … Monday, Sanford’s spokesman Ben Fox told The State Sanford is on “personal time” but declined to say where the governor is … Sanford is due back in the office this morning, Fox said … he spent most of the Father’s Day weekend with his four sons, and the governor has been in communication with his staff over the weekend and Monday, Fox added … State Law Enforcement Division Director Reggie Lloyd said Sanford has security with him but would not elaborate …”

He was back in his office Tuesday; no worries. According to the Huffington Post:

Mark Sanford Disappears AGAIN: South Carolina Gov Takes Vacation Without Alerting Lt. Gov. Of His Whereabouts

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is back in the office after again taking a vacation without telling the lieutenant governor where he was … Sanford spokesman Ben Fox would not say Tuesday where the governor was, except to say he’s been off … last June, Sanford disappeared and then returned to the state to say he had been in Argentina visiting a woman he later called his ‘soulmate.’ Sanford and his wife, Jenny, divorced in March … Fox says Sanford spent most of the Father’s Day weekend with his four sons and just took Monday off … Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said Monday no one told him where the governor was. Fox says the office doesn’t do that because Sanford remains in contact with staff.

This time, no one seemed to be worried. He’s already had his, uhh, hiking trip behind him. His political career and marriage are both over, so he doesn’t need a cover story. No one raised an alarm this time.