ROUNDING UP BISON IN NEW MEXICO with Ted Turner Expeditions

On Friday, January 26th, I followed hundreds of bison being rounded up on Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch, near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The tour was sponsored by Ted Turner Expeditions and was the 2nd annual Bison RoundUp. The tour part of the roundup lasted for 2 days and the bison on the 250 square mile ranch had been collected over the last several months. This was the last collection of bison and herds of 200 to 500 bison were driven into pens where they would be weighed, tagged and checked before being released.

The roundup lasted about 5 hours each day and involved 4 cowboys on horseback and 4 on ATV’s keeping the bison in line. The bison followed a truck that they mistook for a feed truck. Behind the herd, 15 of us who had signed up for the tour watched from ATV’s.

The 28 Turner Ranches are home to 51,000 bison.

The roundup is not advertised and will become an annual event. I received an e-mail invitation since we had stayed at the Sierra Grande Lodge in T or C, New Mexico, which is owned by Turner. The first class restaurant serves bison and the Lodge has natural hot springs spa tubs available to guests along with massages.

Turner Expeditions offers numerous other tours on the various ranches; all directed toward conservation and the preservation of natural habitats.

The Ladder Ranch has no paved roads, is 29 miles from T or C, and is near the Amadaros Ranch, another Turner Ranch. It is also near the NM Spaceport and Elephant Butte Lake. There are several vinyards that produce good wine. Turner’s Vermejo ranch is in Northern New Mexico, near Philmont Scout Ranch, where I first ate Bison in 1955.

The cost was $175 plus tax for a 7 hour day including driving time to the Ladder Ranch.

The guides were great and informative – they knew all about the flora and fauna on the ranch and a lot about the history.

The bison roundup is fascinating; with real cowboys and bison that  are genetically pure .

In addition to bison, we saw a 40 Elk in a line and numerous birds. The  ranch is a wildlife paradise and all of the  ranches offer photographic expeditions.

 

 

I was told that there were about 27 bison bulls for 1500 cows, and that last year all but two of the cows had calves; however, I was unable to verify this.

 

And, of course, if you want to eat bison:

or, it is available at Whole Foods.

 

Sources:

Ted Turner Expeditions

Whole Foods

Ladder Ranch

Sierra Grande Lodge

T or C, NM

 

 


CHIHULY EXHIBIT AT VANDERBILT MANSION, Ashville, NC – glass blowing gone wild!

Dale Chihuly is a glass sculpture who creates large masterpieces of blown glass. I recently visited the exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden where Chihuly’s works were displayed on the grounds.

I am at a loss to understand how the glass sculptures can survive in an outdoor, park setting.

Chihuly Exhibition at New York Botanical Garden  until October 29, 2017. I saw it in the Bronx. This blog is updated as it is now as the Vanderbilt Mansion in Asheville, NC.

 

 

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If you get a chance, you should visit his works which are displayed around the world and visit the exhibit in the Bronx. (Closes the end of October 2017.)

Visit the Chihuly web page  to learn about the sculptor and his works.

You can find Future exhibits at this location. The exhibit opened at the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina on May 17, 2018 and will run through October 7, 2018.

If you are in New Mexico, there are two Chihuly works in the dining hall at United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico. UWC is also interesting, located in a renovated Castle built in 1881. UWC is worth a visit and the idea of a castle in New Mexico that is more than 100 years old is something to think about.

The exhibits and the collections all seem to be in places that are interesting on their own, even without these exhibits.

 

THINK OLD!


 


KINDLE THE geezer!!!

If you are old, the Kindle, or a similar e-reader, is the “book” for you. It is cheap and small. You can take it with you on trips. Get an adapter if you go overseas, but it works fine. Just go to Amazon.com.

For old people, like me, the best thing is that I can adjust the print size. Have you tried to read a paperback recently with your eyes?

I was flying back from Kosovo a couple of years ago and stuck my Kindle in the pocket of my soft-sided suitcase, which I then checked. Wrong move! My Kindle got smashed and was unusable. I had to buy a new one, but I was able to download everything I had purchased from Amazon.com onto the new one at no charge. Then a few years later I was able to download everything on my I-Pad, again at no charge. However, I still use the Kindle with its large print capabilities.

Kindle books are cheaper that hardbacks. And, you can get free books and cheap books from Amazon.com.

In Albuquerque you can check out Kindle, and other e-books, for two weeks for free. I presume that most libraries have this program. And, old people whom I know frequent libraries, so…..

Your Kindle will also handle magazine subscriptions. The magazine on Kindle is  better than trying to pack magazines for a trip; and, if you are like me, magazines tend to accumulate and accumulate and accumulate. Go Kindle.

It is small. See my post on geezer’s clothes for life. My kindle fits in the bag along with all those clothes.

Finally, the Kindle holds a huge number of books, both in the Cloud and on the Kindle. I keep travel books, especially about a dozen Rick Steves’ books, along with books I reread, such as Walden. My Kindle has over 500 books, including mysteries, the Complete Works of  Shakespeare, Thoreau and Emerson; not to mention a half-dozen books on how to blog when you are old.

I am trying to reduce the geezer  to his essence. Pretty soon I will be able to travel by Wi-Fi and my grandkids can just download me whenever they want to see me; otherwise I will exist as some sort of permalink.

THINK OLD!

 

 

 

 

 


TUCSON JAPANESE FESTIVAL – a local event worth a visit!

On January 20, 2018 I attended the 2nd Annual Tucson Japanese Festival  at the Pima Community College Downtown Campus Center on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

When I visit a town I look for events that may be unique and unusual. I am interested in something that I don’t know about and that is out of my comfort zone. The Japanese Festival was an ideal event.

Parking at Pima Community College was easy. The lines were long for food items, but worth the wait for unusual offerings, including Takoyaki Balls, (Octopus balls) which were prepared by cooking ground octopus and spices in electric Takoyaki Ball Cookers, which you can find on Amazon.com.

The Festival provided a half-day of activities including; Mochi pounding, Martial Arts, Japanese dance and Japanese flute performances.

Most large towns have unique ethnic communities and are worth visiting, and Tucson is no exception. Just Google the city and the ethnic group that you are interested in. Tucson has an active Japanese community which provides many interesting events.

Of course, if you are like me, the idea of Octopus Balls is intriguing. I went to the Japan Centre for their recipe. You can now add an Octopus Ball cooker to the small appliances that your kids will inherit, but in the meantime can prepare Octopus Balls for your friends in the “home.”

THINK OLD!


SPARKY’S – Lunch in Hatch, NM

This post had to be edited to announce that Sparky’s won the Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge at the New Mexico State Fair.

 

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Sparky’s is the place to stop in Hatch, NM. It is just off I-25, 185 miles South of Albuquerque, NM and 38 miles North of Las Cruces, NM. The population is 1673; with 12.3% over 65. Thirty Thousand people show up on Labor Day for the Hatch Chile Festival.  Hatch green chile is known throughout the Southwest and can be found in any New Mexico grocery store.

Sparky’s is a great stop if you are going from Albuquerque to Tucson and taking the Hatch-Deming by-pass to I-10. The by-pass passes huge dairy farms, a solar farm and a wind farm, not to mention cattle ranches and fields of green chile, and of course the omnipresent immigrant check-point.

Sparky’s has collected every large fast food statute that you can imagine and has placed them along the highway and around Sparky’s.

You can order the green-chile cheese burger and have it cut in half if you are old; or, even if you are not. The geezer is a big advocate of shared plates. You order/pay at the counter and find your own seat. It may be outside or next door where there is a stage, sound equipment and  the largest collection of cookie jars that I have ever seen. If you are over 70, it is nostalgaville. Things you haven’t seen since the 40’s.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, they have bands you never heard if you are over 70, playing country and the blues. It is closed on Mon, Tue and Wed. so plan your trip carefully.

You might think that you would be out of your comfort zone at Sparky’s; but take it from the Geezer, you will feel right at home.  The Geezer is an advocate of leaving your comfort zone, as long as it doesn’t hurt. Beats the usual turnpike fare.

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PECOS BENEDICTINE MONASTERY – Pecos, NM

The Albuquerque Journal announced that the Pecos Benedictine Monastery was having an open house. I attended and discovered a quiet place to visit. It has about a dozen monks and numerous volunteers. They support themselves by holding retreats and by allowing private retreats. Look at their web page; pecosmonastery.org. Trappist monks bought the place in 1947. It has been transferred to several religious orders since then ending up as the Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey today.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey at Pecos, NM.

The Abbey is about 20 miles from Santa Fe, NM in the small town of Pecos. The Catholic Church in Pecos dates back to 1862. This is rural Northern, New Mexico, midway between Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM.

There are numerous guest rooms, several chapels, a library and of course friendly monks. There is a common room with wi-fi and they have the necessary equipment  for retreats.

Double guest room with bath at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey

Double guest room with bath at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey

The bedrooms are simple, but fancier than what I imagined a monk’s cell to be like; having seen a few in Europe. They have private baths, a desk and a closet. No phones, no TV’s; just the simple basics. This is a monastic place.

The Abbey has 1000 acres; of which about 4o can be planted and used for buildings. That leaves about 960 acres along the Pecos River for contemplation.

Grounds at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey.

Grounds at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey.

We did not stay overnight; however, if you want to and if you take the AARP discount, it is $67.50 per night and that includes three meals and all the quiet you want. There are common areas with WiFi and each room has a desk. It will be a great place to get caught up on a blog.

It is not for everyone; however, if you are the geezer’s age, overwhelmed by this electronic society, and looking for a new social setting, there is something relaxing about the place.

I couldn’t help but compare it to long-term care facilities that I have visited; and, at some future point, if they would have me, I would much prefer to live at the Abbey, rather than an in-town assisted living  facility. There is plenty to do and it might give some purpose and meaning to the end of life.

Anyway,  you might want to try it; or any monastery. Most take guests, even in Europe, and they are all over, need the money and certainly need volunteers.

An old book that I like is: A Guide to Monastic Guest Houses, 2nd Edition by Robert J. Regalbuto which is available on Amazon.

And, if you are really interested, some of the Refugios that I stayed in when I walked the Camino de Santiago are in monasteries.

THINK OLD!

 

 


AN UNUSUAL, HISTORIC, PUPPET THEATRE IN SICILY!


Star of Teatro Dei Pupi SicilianiIn Syracuse, Sicily (Italy) I attended a performance at a small puppet theatre; about 30 seats. The performance lasted an hour and was interesting because of the work that went into making the puppets, the skills that the puppeteer need to manipulate the puppets, and the historic nature of the theatre.

It was a simple theatre; wooden seats; small stage; and, the puppeteer came out after the performance. It was in Italian, so my deafness was not a problem. It was one of those out-of-the-way things that makes trips interesting/

This was on a Rick Steves Tour of Sicily and was one of many events that I would not ordinarily come across.

The tour took all the seats. Each puppet was controlled by sticks and each had a person operating it. The puppets were about three feet tall.

If you have grandchildren and room in your bags, there is a shop:

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Shop at the puppet theatre.

There are only a few of these theaters left. If you get a chance, visit one.

For more on these theatres and other locations in Sicily see: Teatro Dei Pupi Siciliani.


ORPHAN TRAINS – 1854-1929

I had never heard of “Orphan Trains” until a few years ago when I came across a notice in the Tucson Weekly, a weekly free alternative newspaper. (Wherever you go, pick up a copy of the free alternative papers for the most comprehensive, and unique, happenings in the town you are visiting.) 

Orphan Trains operated between 1854 and 1929 and transported over 200,000 homeless children in New York, NY to every state in the continental United States. The children were often street children, but many were turned over by parents and orphanages. Remember that this was initially a few years after the Irish potato famine and many children hit New York without parents.

The children were loaded onto trains, frequently in the last car, with a woman who supervised them and arranged for their disbursement along the way. Their ages ranged from infancy to about 14; no girls over 12 for fear of sexual exploitation. They had no documentation, not birth certificates and virtually no chance of adoption.

When the trains stopped, locals appeared, either by pre-arrangement or by chance, and selected the child they wanted. They often broke up families.They were necessary to the development of the West and the railroads carried them for free or at a reduced fare.

Alison Moore has documented this in her book Riders On the Orphan Train. She and her husband appeared on February 16, 2014 at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum in a multi-media show. Something none of us knew about.

Moore puts on shows all across the country. To find out when and where go to: http://www.ridersontheorphantrain.org/

It is worth it, free and will open your eyes to something you had no idea existed. You can also visit the Orphan Train Depot in Concordia, Kansas.

Keep looking for things that might interest you and that are out of your comfort zone.

An article on “Orphan Trains” that might interest you is found in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

 


A SENIOR’S GREATEST SKILL – THE ABILITY TO MANEUVER – Physically, financially, emotionally!

The ability to maneuver has always been important. Loss of job, illness, lack of education, divorce, death, etc. You always need to be able to maneuver and to change. You need to move on from  and existing condition.

It is never so important as in old age. You are faced with physical problems, financial problems and mortality problems; just to mention a few. You have less and less ability to deal with them, so preparing for them and being able to maneuver through the last years of life is a real gift. You are in a maze.

PHYSICAL: We all die. Getting to death can be a painful, or at least an uncomfortable process, requiring thought, planning and action. You must not smoke, must not get too fat, must head off those disabilities that you can. Think, flu shot, etc. Exercise is the most  important; especially walking which 99% of us can do; and, it doesn’t take much. This will enable you to maneuver in and out of bed, to get to the store, to remain independent. It will also help to prevent falls.

FINANCIAL:  Bills don’t stop in old age. You may have social security and/or a pension and/or some savings, but you still have bills. You need to maneuver around the amount available and the expenditures required. You also need to avoid scammers and family members who have their hands out. You need a clear picture of the end of the tunnel and what you need to get there comfortably, even if it means leaving a little on the table at the end.

EMOTIONAL: Your friends, spouses and family members will die. How will this affect you? They will also develop various mental problems to and including Alzheimer’s. These are tough to deal with and you must be flexible so that you can deal with them.

DEATH: You can prepare for this by letting people know what you want. You want to maneuver yourself into a comfortable position without a lot of pain and a reasonable amount of competence and mobility. There is no point in being propped up in front of a TV for the last few years; you might as well get it over with. You will have to maneuver around a number of well-meaning people; and, some not so well-meaning, but planning can do it. There are more and more end-of-life resources available to old people. Know what they are and how them might be useful to you.

COMPETENCY: This is the tricky one; as you slip into incompetency, whether you call it dementia, senior moment, or whatever, you have more and more difficulty making decisions, remembering things and taking rational actions. This requires advance flexibility. You must have senior algorithms in place to deal with your declining years. If not, you will slip into chaos.

The bottom line is to keep loose, maintain as much flexibility as possible and to the extent possible, as IBM once put it:  THINK!

THINK OLD!


HOBBIES FOR OLD PEOPLE! Getting Started? – Try Wood Carving!

Old People need something to do. Hobbies and crafts are the lifeblood of old people. Think of all the crafts classes at the senior centers and  on cruise ships. Some of us even take up blogging. Look at the classes listed in magazines for seniors.

Try a test drive. I have picked out wood carving, but any hobby that interests you will do.

I went with my son to a store selling hardwoods in North Carolina, and while there he purchased a small $6 block of wood and a starter set of carving knives. He announced that he was going to start carving at the young age of 50. It got me to thinking about how one would start a hobby.

The first thing is to decide which hobby. Blogging required several on-line courses, a couple of community college courses, a meet-up group, and a lot of time. Wood carving seems much simpler; but,  I am not about to try it. Will just use it as an example.

Wood carving starts with the block of wood and the knives. Then you need to know what to do! At my age, if I was going to be a wood carver, I would go back 65 years to a time when I could learn anything. I would then read the Boy Scout Merit Badge Pamphlet on Wood Carving; or, buy it on Amazon.

$6 Block of Wood

Having mastered wood carving with the Boy Scouts, I would then look around for more help and would of course resort to Google.

Google the following if you are interested in learning wood carving in Albuquerque at a senior center: Albuquerque + Senior center + wood carving

Try the following in your area for wood carving lessons and/or information:

YouTube

Local community college.

Meetup.com

Senior Center

Lumber center.

WikiHow

The bottom line is that there are unlimited hobby resources available; you just have to look for them and try them out.

And, of course, if you want to spend a week learning to carve, try Arrowmont, a first class art school in Tennessee. “Birds, Bugs and Beasts: Carving the Natural”  will teach you the basics of carving for $595 and $415 for a shared double room with three meals a day.

You should consider carving old people!

THINK OLD!