New Mexico is full of small out-of-the-way interesting places. Chimayo and Truchas in Northern New Mexico doesn’t really qualify as travel since Truchas is only about 130 miles from my home; however, it is worth discovering since it about 50 miles North of Santa Fe, a popular tourist destination.
Truchas is home to about 1200 people and dates to around 1750. Chimayo has about 3000 people and the Catholic Church, El Santuario de Chimayó, is the goal of Good Friday pilgrimages. It is known for its weavers, the Chuch, which is a National Historic Landmark, artists and Rancho de Chimayo, a great restaurant.
A friend’s art exhibition took us to Truchas one Sunday; and since we were in the neighborhood, we couldn’t pass up the restaurant in Chimayo, always crowded and always good. The food is traditional Northern New Mexico.
Rancho de Chimayo has been around for more than fifty years; is a James Beard Award Winner; and, Florence Jaramillo, the owner, recently received the New Mexico Woman Restaurateur of the Year Award.
For me, you can’t beat the Huevos Rancheros. (Two eggs on a corn tortilla topped with cheese and your choice of red or green vegetarian chile. Served with refried beans and rice.) I usually have the green chile; however, the Christmas is good. (Red and green chile mixed.) And, of course, I think the Chile comes from Hatch, New Mexico, the chile capital of the world.
The rest of the menu is equally good and is topped off with the sopapillas with New Mexico honey.
Never miss a chance to stray from the beaten path.
If you are traveling to Albuquerque you should visit the Los Ranchos Growers’ Market on Saturday morning.
The growers’ market is a weekly event, though many towns have different markets on different days.
In Albuquerque, there are several, but my favorite is the Los Ranchos Growers’ Market on North Rio Grande. There are farmers (maybe urban) selling peaches, onions, beets, berries, etc. There are also a number of bakers and several vendors of meats. The mix changes weekly and what is offered changes as crops are picked. Always fresh, never shipped in.
There are also dozens of local crafts people selling jewelry, hats, canes, clothing, etc. Almost anything someone could make at home; especially if they are old and retired. A number of our friends have set up sales tents to sell things they have made. You might even want to consider a new career. Want to sell hats?
Take a look at Hat Academy to learn how. You don’t just have to be a buyer; you can also be a seller. The same goes for any other craft. If nothing else, these markets are a source of creative ideas.
The best part for me is the food. I always stop for a breakfast burrito. For $4.00 I get the # 1 which is a large tortilla filled with eggs, potatoes, crisp bacon and Hatch green chile. Another dollar gets me a cup of coffee and there is a table and a few chairs where I can sit and watch the people go by.
I know that it sounds strange to go to a growers’ market when you are travelling, but it is an interesting bit of local lore and even when you are on the road you need to eat and you may want some fruit to tide you over. I have been to such markets in Taos, Tucson, Waynesville, NC, Washington, DC; not to mention Bulgaria, Armenia and Belgrade. Each has been an interesting experience.
How to find a growers’ market near you; wherever you may be:
On a Rick Steves’ tour to Ireland a few years ago, we visited a working sheep ranch and watched the dogs herd flocks of sheep following whistled commands from the sheep herder.
The Kissane Sheep Farm is located in Moll’s Gap, Kenmare, County Ireland, Ireland. It is 7 Euros for an adult to watch the dogs and the shearers in action. You can also adopt a sheep, but if you want to take it home, you have to buy it and put up with an enormous amount of red tape. Better to adopt one in the name of a grandchild.
In addition we were able to watch expert shearers shear one of the sheep:
I like Rick Steves’ tours because they always include something new; something beyond museums and restaurants; and, something that I know nothing about. I wanted to replicate the experience when I returned to New Mexico.
Searching in my own backyard, I discovered the New Mexico Herding Dog Association and on Saturday, May 13, 2017 we went to one of its events on the New Mexico State Fair Grounds.
This was the herding instinct test in which herding dogs, as classified by the American Kennel Club, and which have no experience with sheep, are tested to see if they like sheep, with three sheep. Mixed results. A fascinating new sub-culture to me, and one close to home.
A variety of breeds tried to maneuver three sheep while their owners urged them on. At first the dogs didn’t do much, but after watching the owners race about herding the sheep, the dogs got the idea, and tried it themselves.
About 40 sheep were kept in pens and were maneuvered about by a trained sheep dog which efficiently moved them from pen to pen and then into the arena where the test took place. The trained dog then sat quietly and watched from an adjoining arena.
The next step is to visit the FTB Ranch in Mountainair, NM and watch more events.
If interested you can search for events in your state on Google.
Search terms: State+herding dogs
ie Utah+herding dogs
Meetup is a social networking group based on common interests. You locate a site near you, or near where you will be, by going to meetup.com and inserting your zip code or city. You can then find groups that have the same interest as you. You can sign up, go to the meetings and enjoy what they have to offer.
The Meetup in Albuquerque includes one on blogging using WordPress which I joined. It meets weekly and while it has over 800 members there are usually only 5 – 10 there. The meetings are either “work-a-longs where you can get expert help with your blog for free; or sessions with speakers on various blogging topics; including photography.
The work-a-longs are very good if you are trying to learn something new and need help. I can get quick, knowledgeable help on my blog problems from people who are expert in the field. The meetings last up to two hours and are always useful.
Meetups are not limited to blogging; they are for any thing people are interested in; including, dancing, languages, travel, art, cooking, or you can even start your own. They cost nothing for the participant, and about $10 a month for the sponsor. You could even start one on how to live as an old person.
When traveling, look for Meetups where you will be. Just plug-in the new zip code or name of town and see what you get.
Google: meetup.com +city, state
For example: Since I am going to Huntington, NY:
Google: meetup.com +Huntington, NY
and the result is: a list of Meetups around Huntington, NY, including, hiking, food, photography, sailing, widows and widowers, etc. There is no shortage of Meetups, including 25 on writing; none on blogging and one on WordPress, which costs $6.
You should Google: meetup.com +name of town
They are worth considering.
Whenever I go to a new senior center, I peruse the bulletin board; a source of classes, events and TRIPS! In the first six months of 2017, the Albuquerque Senior Centers offer 106 trips; both day trips and overnight trips. A sampling of the trips includes: Albuquerque Police Museum, Albuquerque Balloon Museum, Indian Pueblo cultural Center, Santuario de Chimayo (A pilgrimage site known for its healing powers), Hollywick Farms: Working Alpaca Farm, Christ In The Desert (2 days/nights at a monastery), Sky City Cultural Center & Haak’u Museum, Albuquerque Publishing Company, Santa Fe Opera, and numerous Theater trips. Most are free, plus a small transportation cost. The most expensive is Christ In the Desert, which is $176 double occupancy which includes transportation and meals.
Vacations can be boring; especially if you are old and the swim suit doesn’t really fit, the sun is too hot, and you miss your routine. Trips to see grandchildren are even worse, as the kids are working and the grandkids are in school and you can’t figure out how to work the TV. The solution is probably near; the senior center.
Every town has a senior center of some sort; and, every senior center has a bulletin board, a news letter, a web page, or some source of information for seniors. Many also have free book exchanges, classes, and most importantly trips.
The trips can take you to interesting places that you might not otherwise be able to get to. The trips are free or reasonable. The only downside is that you may not be willing to admit that you want to spend your time hanging out with a bunch of old people.
Plan in advance. Look at the on-line Activities Catalog and call or e-mail the senior center that you are interested in to make sure that you can take the trips as a non-member. You can probably use the center as a guest, but the trips may be another matter; if nothing else, you can probably join using your kid’s address and paying $13 for an annual membership.
In addition to the events, classes, and trips that you find on the bulletin board, you might also be interested in computer classes and working out. All are available plus a card room, pool room with four pool tables and a large dining hall where you can get breakfast for $1.50 plus 30 cents for coffee. Admittedly this is the senior center close to my home in Albuquerque, but most that I have been have similar facilities.
Albuquerque does not have reciprocity, but if you are from out-of-state, you can use the facilities as a short-term guest.
Check the Activities Catalog and see what trips are available and attempt to sign up for those in advance, so that when you arrive everything is taken care of. I suppose if they insist on a card, you could use your local address, pay $13 for an annual membership and take the trip. At your age you should go for it.
Google: name of town +senior center
For example: Albuquerque +Senior Centers
leads to: Senior and Multigenerational Centers
I am going to Huntington, NY in June, so I googled: Huntington NY +Senior Center and got:
The Huntington web site indicates that it may be limited to Huntington residents, but check on reciprocity, ask to go as a guest, or join using a local address. Bring your local senior center membership card.
If you visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, a visit to Tesuque Glass Works will provide an interesting experience; perhaps even better than the tours of the Corning Glass Museum in Corning, New York, since at Tesuque, you are closer to the action.
You can watch expert glass blowers turning out works of art, which are for sale.
If you arrange for it in advance, you can also take classes and blow your own creation. For classes contact:
Voting was simple when you were young. Now that you are old it can become more complex. It can even be stressful. You have to register; you have to remember election day; you have to get yourself to the polling place; you have to wait in line; and, you are aware of the people lined up behind you as you try to read a ballot with small print – and, you forgot your magnifying glass. In addition, you don’t really know who or what to vote for. The language of issues on ballots make no sense.
People who are over 65 seem to turn out to vote more than other age groups, but the percentage was still only about 45% in the last election.
For old people, voting is important. Politicians are constantly looking at Social Security, Medicare and the Older Americans Act. If you don’t vote, you have no one but yourself to blame for what happens. You are part of a major voting block. You need to make your wishes and the wishes of other old people known.
There are five simple steps to voting when old. I will use New Mexico where I live. I will give you key words, so that you and your grand-kid can search out the rules in your state. There are no old age voting requirements that I am aware of. If you have been adjudicated incompetent, you will have a problem. If you have been convicted of a crime you may have a problem.
The goal is to vote at home, take your time and not feel stressed.
- Register – by mail if you can. If not, find out how to do it in your state or call the party you support. They will help you. Make sure that you have the necessary identification.
- Identify the candidates and issues. Check the newspapers for a list of candidates and issues. Or, go on-line.
- Find someone whom you trust to help you, if necessary. Just make sure that it is you that is voting, and not someone else.
- Order an absentee ballot – You can download the ballot in NM and then just send it in.
- Vote at your leisure and mail in your ballot to the county clerk for your county.
Finally encourage all the old people you know to do the same. At the assisted living facility, get the ombudsman to help you if your kids or friends can’t.
The important thing is to vote. You are part of a vulnerable class of voters; and, your rights will be at stake.
Search in your state:
“voter registration +name of state”
“absentee voting +name of state”
Note that registration and absentee balloting differ by states, so check yours out. Check out the competency requirements and the deadlines.
ADULT EDUCATION is the best part of aging. Whether for pleasure or to understand your daily activities, you need to make use of the sources available to seniors. An added bonus is that most aging studies encourage you to keep your mind active and to be involved. This does not mean TV; this means developing an interest, searching out the sources and gaining expertise,i
This blog was written as part of a University of New Mexico Continuing Education six-week course.
The course is: Blogging Your Way to Writing Success. It met once a week for two hours and was taught by an excellent instructor who is a professional blogger, journalist and writer. The cost is $75 and it meets during the day so you don’t have to worry about driving after dark. Parking is easy. The students are my age or a bit younger. It is a non-threatening course.
What other courses are there for old people? The following list is a list of courses in or near Albuquerque. If you click on the underlined word, you go to the web site for Albuquerque. Use the “search” terms to find classes near you; or make up your own search terms. Every town has classes, even if it is only the Historical Society of Villisca, Iowa. Any town you visit can give you a learning experience.
Either click on the underlined word/s or search the words listed.
- Oasis Search: Oasis.org + your town
- Osher Search: Osher + your town
- UNM Continuing Education – Search: Community colleges or continuing education + your town
- University of New Mexico – Search: College or university + your town
- Coursera – Search: Courser.org
- National Parks New Mexico – Search: National Parks – lectures or classes + name of park
- Albuquerque Public Library – Search: Library + town
- Meet up – Search: Meetup + town
- Groups like genealogy society, camera clubs, historical societies, Friends of the Camino de Santiago etc – Search: key word + your town.
- Senior Classes – Albuquerque – Search: senior classes + your town.
Drop by any senior center for a list of their classes, trips, books, cheap food and information.
This is only a short list. The trick is to search the name of the town and what you are interested in.
This is how you should live and travel.
100 yards from my home there is a walking/bike path, the Paseo del Bosque Trail, which runs for 18 miles without crossing a street. The asphalt part has two lanes for bikes, runners and walkers. The gravel path next to it is ideal for walking. It is about 100 yards from the Rio Grande River and is the home of coyotes, owl, ducks, geese, beavers, and numerous birds.
It attracts balloons, bikers, walkers, runners, baby carriages and dogs on leashes. (A dog off the leash is a free lunch for a coyote, as are neighborhood chickens.)
A few miles down the path, you come to Tingley Beach where you can boat and fish. You also have the Albuquerque Zoo, the Albuquerque Aquarium, and the Albuquerque Bio-park. Going in the other direction for a half a mile you come to the Nature Center and a small pond. There are walking paths leading to the Rio Grande River. There is limited access and no motor vehicles.
The Path joins other paths and will soon be part of a 50 mile bike path circling the city.
The Paseo del Bosque Trail is ideal for older people. You can walk, ride bikes or push grandchildren. You can always meet a few people who you know if you are a regular. The open-space officers will point out nesting birds each spring; especially owls and hawks which are regulars. There are birders with their GPS devices locating various species of birds.
The balloons follow the path and the river; and sometimes land on our street. They are a daily occurrence.
It is a valuable city asset.
Most people I know hate the idea of senior centers; even more than they hate the idea of growing old. I would agree with them if I could do anything about it. The best I can do is strive for a good old age; and, recognize the problems that come with this stage of life, just like I recognized and dealt with problems in earlier stages of life.
Which brings me to Senior Centers. There is one close to me. I joined for $15 per year. I can do ceramics, woodworking, sewing and most anything else I want. There are numerous classes in physical fitness, yoga, computer training. There are rooms for poker, pool and reading. There is a library of books that are free for the taking and a computer that you can use.
They serve breakfast and lunch. Coffee is 25 cents; a burrito is $1.50 with eggs, hash browns and bacon or sausage. You can just show up and eat it. You have to sign up for lunch a day in advance. If you are over 60, which I am, it is free with a suggested $2 donation. If you are under 60 it is $3.75. It is more than you can eat, so my wife and I can share a plate at $1 each, as a donation.
The best thing about the senior centers in Albuquerque is the trips that they offer. They provide transportation and lunch for a minimal charge. Today they were advertising a backstage trip to the Santa Fe Opera $16 which includes transportation to Santa Fe and admission. On June 19, there is a tour of an Alpaca Ranch in Mora, NM. In the past we have gone to the Crown Point Rug Auction where several times a year Native Americans sell their hand-made rugs, to dealers and anyone else who wants to bid. The only problem with this tour is the meal; the bus driver gets sandwiches from Costco. It is much better to eat the fry bread and Indian Tacos at Crown Point. Since the Auction is not over until after 10 at night, you don’t want to make the several hour drive back to Albuquerque.
You can also get legal help, accounting help, tax help and estate planning. There are more jewelry making classes than you can count. And of course painting and art classes. It seems that every old person wants to become an artist; or, maybe just a blogger.
The computer lab is great; no one shows up, so you have the instructor all to yourself. Then, book clubs, card clubs, beading and music.
Some of the trips this half-year; were or will be: Forensic Science Center ($2 transportation); Left Turn Distilling Tour (50 cents transportation); Hispanic Cultural Center ($2 transportation, $2 admission); Harvey House Museum ($5 transportation to Belen); San Felipe Pueblo Feast Day ($3 transportation); Chaco Canyon; Dar Al Islam Mosque ($12 transportation); Santa Fe Opera House Tour ($8 transportation, $8 admission). And those are just the trips that interest me out of 79 available day trips during the first half of 2015.
Most towns have senior centers; so if you are traveling look them up in advance and see what they have to offer.
The only downside is that you are with a bunch of old people, but…..
You might be happier sitting at home and pretending that you are not old.
To check out Albuquerque, see: Senior Centers.
In any other town, Google “Senior Centers.”