Jim Murray had something to prove a few years back when he turned 50. He wanted to prove that he wasn’t getting any older. So he organized a travel adventure to one of the New Seven Wonders of the Modern World to test the mettle of himself and his four siblings.
Murray’s age-defying 50th birthday adventure, a family tradition that began when his oldest brother turned 50, had to meet five criteria.
“The first is that it had to be a good value, because we’re all cheap,” said Murray, a midwesterner from Michigan. “It must have a ‘wow’ factor, and it must prove we weren’t getting any older.”
Ideally, the trip couldn’t repeat anything anyone had already done and couldn’t play to anyone’s strengths or weaknesses. The birthday person got to choose the destination.
So, for Murray’s 50th birthday, the siblings climbed the Great Wall of China. On the prior birthday adventure, they had hiked the Inca Trail through the Peruvian Andes to another wonder of the world — the 15th-century Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.
The siblings’ first 50th birthday adventure was a trip to Costa Rica to surf. Their last adventure was cross-country skiing at Yellowstone National Park in the winter. They slept outdoors in tents.
“It’s a building situation for family relationships, having adventures with people you have a long history with,” said Murray.
He advised that sibling travel adventures should start small and near home.
“Travel outside the country can be stressful,” said Murray. “And too much stress is not a team-building event.”
“We’ve set the bar high,” he said. “My nieces and nephews are coming up with even more shocking adventures. One of my nieces and her husband rode motorcycles from Texas to Alaska for their honeymoon.”
Murray, a Santa Clara resident since 1993, was a global product support engineer with Lam Research until his early retirement in 2016. He says that even though some of them are retired, planning trips with his siblings has become more complicated, citing health issues and family responsibilities.
“It’s hard to pretend you’re not getting any older when you’re taking care of grandchildren,” he said before bicycling off down the street in his neighborhood, keeping fit for his next travel adventure.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a column where we casually interview people we meet in Santa Clara. The column hopes to highlight what makes Santa Clara special — the people who live, work and play here.