World's worst campground

Thanks to the movie The Bucket List, creating a list of things you don’t want to miss doing in your lifetime is popular these days. Some people go so far as to actually accomplish what’s on their list. My mother, for instance, went zip lining on her 87th birthday, dragging me and the rest of the family along. I wouldn’t have chosen to do it if she hadn’t, but up there on that platform, 40 ft. in the air, I jumped off, because my 87 year old mother did…..and it turned out to be fun. However, I thought it would be much more interesting to create (and certainly easier to accomplish) a list of things I want to be absolutely sure not to do before I’m dead. I call this my anti-bucket list:

1.    A two day mountain cliff climbing trip: I actually don’t want to do even a one minute cliff climbing trip, but the thought of spending the night attached to a cliff 5,000 feet up, swinging in the breeze as the wind whips by the sheer rock wall at 50+ mph…….I’d rather be just about anywhere else. Knowing my life depends on my having pounded those anchor stakes in well enough, so that one side won’t pull out and leave me hanging upside down bouncing against solid rock……and there aren’t boulders big enough to place on a ledge like the one below to make me sleep peacefully.

2.    Buying a lottery ticket for a huge cash prize once I’m over 90: “Mr. Shenk, can you hear me? Mr. Shenk? What are you going to do with $300,000,000?” “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe get an extra dialysis treatment each week and move into a double suite at the Rolling Meadow Deer Run Retirement Home”. It would be a self inflicted wound making me more cynical at just the wrong time, plus it’ll make me mad it didn’t happen when I was 30.

3.    Buy another bird as a pet: I have a 14 year old daughter who is a pet lover, and she continually talks me into getting exotic pets. Birds are the worst. They are much more responsive, attentive, and surprisingly expensive than I’d have ever thought, but they also are incredibly filthy indoors. Every time they flap their wings feathers go everywhere, and they poop about every 10 minutes, wherever they happen to be. Birds belong in trees outside, not cages, and worse yet, they aren’t like pet fish--they live forever. A true story—a friend of mine had a great aunt who was rumored to be wealthy. He was briefly happy when she mentioned him in her will, but instead of cash she entrusted him with her beloved parrot, which will live to be about 90 years old. The only worse pet is one of those giant tortoises. They eat any and all landscaping, plow down fences like slow motion bulldozers, and live to be 150 years old. I’d rather have a wolverine as a pet.

4.    Set up another aquarium: Speaking of pets, I now know, after about five attempts, that I am not going to take care of an aquarium over the long haul, and it’ll end up looking like the Citarum River in Indonesia.

The Citarum River in Indonesia is the most polluted river on earth. For lack of alternatives, people actually use this river for drinking water and recreation

5.    Buy a new car: A new car is both a luxury and a boneheaded financial decision, since you can buy a lightly used one for so much less. My last experience with a new car was when I bought a new Audi A6 2.7T with dual turbos. I felt like the biggest shot driving around in it, and it was a real work of art….rocket ship fast and an absolutely beautiful car. Unfortunately, it also fell apart at a calculus like rate, accelerating towards $0 value as fast as the $759 car payments approached completion. By the time I threw in the towel on continuing to fix it, the service lights on the dash looked like a Christmas tree, and we sold it for parts for $1,000. But at least it was paid for, barely.

6.    Commit suicide off a high bridge: If for some reason I were going to commit suicide, it’s going to involve overdosing on something fun, not climbing up on a railing and jumping off something high. I can’t get within 3 feet of the side of a bridge, or anything else exceptionally high, without my feet hurting, my stomach tightening up, and the thought “what if I do something crazy” ricocheting in my brain.

7.    Ski the chute in Colorado named after my brother: My brother has a very steep chute in Winter Park, CO named after him. He has that dubious distinction because he was almost buried in an avalanche while skiing it before it was open to the public--he was making sure it was safe! It’s more like a cliff than a ski run. I skied at Snowbird a few years ago (after barely skiing at all for twenty years), and my jerk college roommate took me down a double black diamond the first run. I set the Snowbird record for falling in about two minutes. Shenko Chute looks worse....but I'd probably try it anyway.

  Peering down a chute in The Cirque at Winter Park, CO

8.    Be hungover: I haven’t been hungover in over thirty years, and don’t intend to be again. It’s not that I’m a teetotaler by any means……in college I was once hung over for three days straight from one night of drinking……maybe that happened more than once……I can’t remember. It’s just that experience drinking has taught me where the limits are.

9.    Big Game hunting: I’ve got nothing against hunting or guns, but there’s no way I’m going to shoot some endangered animal just for fun. Deer—not a problem. I like venison and there are a ton of deer around. But I’d feel terrible shooting a lion or a giraffe or something like that. Also unfortunately on my anti-bucket list is having a mounted head of a moose or ram or bear hanging in my den…….I would like that—you can get them pretty cheap and the animals are already dead, usually for about fifty years, but my wife hates them, so I don’t think I’ll get one.

10.    Ride a burro down the Grand Canyon: If anyone has ever tried walking down the Grand Canyon, it’s a great way to experience the majesty of nature, and an even better way to focus your attention on not tripping. The main problem I worry about is meeting someone like me on the way up where we’d have to pass each other—we’d both want the inside route and be there for days…..what if he pushes me??. Even worse is the concept of entrusting my life to a burro on this trail……that is definitely something I never want to do, ever.

11.    Go zorbing: A zorb is a giant, blown up ball that holds one or two people. The alleged fun thing to do with a zorb is be strapped inside this giant ball and roll down a hill. A zorb, by its design, cushions the bouncing—it’s like a little ball inside a bigger ball with the space between them filled with air. There are two reasons I won’t do this—the lesser reason is the concept—I simply don’t want to roll and bounce down a hill, but the main reason it made my anti-bucket list is that I watched this video of what went wrong at a Russian resort. 

Don't try this at home, or in Russia either

There’s a whole other list of things I don’t want to do, but would if it were necessary or paid well. For instance, if someone bet me $5,000 to parachute out of a plane, I might do it. For $50,000, I probably would do it, but if I had to pay for the privilege, no thanks. In this category fall things like bungee jumping and swinging off and then through a stone arch in Arches National Park.

Same for getting another Pug: Some people love these dogs, and they are definitely good hearted pooches, but they also are about the dumbest animal on the planet. It takes years to housebreak them, and our pug (that we rescued, not knowing what a pug was) doesn’t know its name or even one trick. Then the poor thing only has one functioning ear and doesn’t see well either, so when you call it the usual response is nothing, but if it does dawn on it that it should do something, it usually runs off in the wrong direction. Pugsley (yes, that’s a really original name) is simply relentlessly affectionate, won’t stay off your lap, and then sheds all over everything. I would like to not get another when Mr. Pugsley takes his final nap in that big dog crate in the sky, but it’s not on my anti-bucket list either.

Pugs are adorable but not particularly bright. This one is a financial advisor.


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