The zest for living that emanates from Nancy Sando and Norman Grode must be part of their DNA. Nancy’s parents led European tours for years, traveling all over the world, while Norm’s father was one of the first people in Erie to fly a bi-level plane.
Not to be outdone, these two residents created a Bucket List after seeing the 2007 movie by that name, and have been steadily marking off experiences – some hair-raising, others a bit more sedate. Their most recent item was a 7-day paddleboat ride on the Snake and Columbia rivers following the trail of Lewis and Clark. A history buff, Nancy was inspired to add that after reading Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose’s tale of the adventurers.
Having just spent a bit on that tour, Nancy explains, they’re putting their last two items on hold for now, trips to Baltimore to visit family, and a more unusual jaunt to have their fortunes read in Lily Dale, N.Y., where the spiritualist movement was founded.
“One of the craziest items on our list was probably to go on every ride at Waldameer [amusement] Park,” Nancy says. That included a newly-constructed wooden roller coaster “that was really kind of terrifying,” she recalls. Asked why they put themselves through that, Nancy laughs. “We had to remind ourselves that we weren’t too old for these things,” she says.
A favorite for both was the hot-air balloon ride they took 1,000 feet over the Ohio countryside, despite the pre-flight instruction on how to grab on to the basket in the event of a windy landing. Thankfully, Norm notes, the landing was very smooth.
The couple met after moving to Springhill, Norm in 2006 and Nancy in 1998, and began seeing each other four years ago. If their kids disapprove of the couple’s adventures since teaming up, they haven’t let on. “They think it’s great,” Nancy says. Adds Norm, “We joke about me spending their inheritance, but my kids think I should do the things I want to do.”
And they certainly support each other, jumping in to add details to what the other is saying and crack jokes. When Nancy explains Norm’s system of using ladies panty hose to tie up the tomato plants in the couple’s garden plot, she adds with Groucho Marks-style timing, “I don’t’ know where he’s getting them because they sure aren’t mine.” Yet their devotion is obvious – both to each other and to their commitment to enjoying life to the hilt. Last year they attended the Halloween costume party as the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, and, although Norm wouldn’t divulge their plans for 2011, they’re already gathering the materials.
As for what they’ll do once they’ve penciled through the last two items on their list, Norm and Sandy are open to suggestions. “We’ve talked about jumping out of an airplane, but Nancy isn’t sure about that,” Norm says. Counters Nancy, “I’ll go parasailing, but only if you come with me.”