In August, 2019 we went to Philadelphia to visit relatives who live downtown on the Delaware River. The nearby Independence Seaport Museum, is home to two ships; the Cruiser Olympia, launched in 1892, and the Submarine Becuna, launched in 1944.
Most people have not been on a submarine or a cruiser, and have no idea how confining they are especially when they are as old as these are, and as I am. These are not cruise ships.
We toured the two ships and the Independence Seaport Museum. Having recently come to enjoy cruise ships due to our advanced age, we were impressed by the older ships. And, coming from Kansas and Iowa, I have always been attracted to ships.
A third ship, next to the other two, has a formal restaurant and a cafe. No one in the formal restaurant, but in the cafe, we had a shared lunch on a sailing ship. Half of a Cuban sandwich.
The submarine is not for someone who cannot manage tight spaces; narrow passageways, and low doors from one waterproof chamber to the other. It is a single narrow path through the submarine. It is climbing up and down ladders and keeping your head down. Things have probably changed in the last 80 years, or so, but I think that they must still be confining. Going through the sub is difficult, especially if you are my age, and/or have knee or balance problems. The sub is divided into sections with small (3 ft) water tight doors between them, and you have to step up and over. The hall is narrow – a fat man in front of me almost couldn’t make it through. Old person alert!
A submarine is out of my comfort zone, but irresistible. You wonder how sailers managed to get along; and, the psychological testing that they must have gone through to be assigned to a sub.
The Cruiser Olympia, is larger and had a crew of 33 officers and 396 enlisted men. Except for officers, all the sailers slept in hammocks suspended from the ceiling throughout the ship. They were narrow and suspended from hooks only when in use. You wouldn’t believe the bathroom facilities, medical areas, and the kitchens.
On the shore next to the ships is a museum of nautical exhibits. Three of the exhibits are especially interesting.
The first is devoted to the slave trade and Philadelphia, complete with photos, bills of sale, and slave success stories. They describe the horror of the slave trade which brought from 20 to 50 million slaves to the US. A moving exhibit that everyone should see. They also feature a number of slaves who were successful in Philadelphia.
The New York Times Magazine in its 1619 Project, devoted to slavery, is worth reading, and helps understand the Seaport Museum Exhibit.
The second, the ship building exhibit, follows the life of a sailor on board a ship and sailing in Philadelphia.
The third, Workshop on the Water, is not an exhibit, but a fully equipped boat building shop. There are complete boats in various stages of completion, lots of tools, and an amazing assortment of wood in various stages of shaping. Four men concentrated on the construction of several boats the day we were there.
There is one completed boat for sale for $3000.
A notice seeks teen-age apprentices who want to learn the boat-building trade. I was surprised that there were not a thousand teens lined up. If I was 65 years younger, I would be there.
The bottom line is that it is worth seeing. The space available in 100 year old ships and submarines makes assisted living facilities look like palaces.
The Seaport Museum is on the Delaware River, which runs from the Atlantic to Downsville, NY where there is a dam and the Pepacton Reservoir, a 101 miles NW of New York City. It supplies about 25% of New York’s water. It is patrolled by New York City Police Officers and is fenced and limited to boats without motors.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!
In August 2019 while visiting relatives in Philadelphia, we ate at Sky Cafe, an Indonesian restaurant that featured a rice table, known in Amsterdam as rijsttafel.
There are several Indonesian restaurants in Philadelphia; but, none in Albuquerque or Tucson. Sky Cafe is authentic, small, and except for us everyone appeared to be Indonesian. It was crowded at 6:00 and we had to sit in the hall for 20 minutes until a table was ready. Sky Cafe was down a hall in an ethnic shopping center. It was full of uncrated furniture. The sign on the door said Sky was expanding.
There is an extensive menu, but only one “rice table (rijsttafel)” for $17.
The liquor laws in Pennsylvania are BYOB (bring your own bottle) for restaurants, so we took two bottles of wine. Sky Cafe provides glasses and cork screws. There is no corkage fee.
This part of Philadelphia is out of our comfort zone, but it was not problem. An ethnic neighborhood, with a safe and local feel.
We used LYFT and when we left the restaurant, our Lyft showed up in minutes, but we did not recognize it because a cop had pulled him over for a broken tail light, which did not result in a ticket. When we got the message that “your car is here,” we discovered it was the car the cop had stopped in front of us. A story to tell.
The trip back was without incident. He told us he was about to attend the police academy in New Jersey to become a police officer. Most Lyft drivers have an interesting story to tell.
For more information on rice tables in Amsterdam search Rijsttafel on Wikipedia, which has a bunch of pictures and a list of items in a typical Rijsttafel.
Maybe you want to prepare your own rice table (Rijsttafel) with a cookbook from Amazon.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
In July, 2019, I took a walking tour of downtown Albuquerque, NM led by one of 14 volunteers of the Albuquerque Historical Society. The tour lasted 2 hours and covered “new town” Albuquerque and focused on buildings and stories along a 10 block length of Central Ave. (formerly Railroad Avenue)
The tour was primarily of buildings built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Janet, the tour guide was well informed, and had a notebook of historical photos. Fifteen buildings were singled out as unique in some way.
The tour starts at the site of the old Alvardo hotel, destroyed in the 1960’s and then rebuilt decades later as a transportation center for Amtrak, the RailRunner, and local and national busses.
The city tickets you for parking on Saturday on the street, so use a parking lot to avoid a $20 ticket.
A highlht of the trip is Conrad Hilton’s fourth Hotel, constructed in 1939. Hilton was born in nearby San Antonio, New Mexico.
Google Walking and the name of the city that you are visiting. Look for “free.” Check out the local historical society for information on tours and lectures.
Walking tours are, good for exercise, for meeting new people, and for keeping your old mind active.
You can find them in virtually any large city in the world.
See tripadvisor.com for walking tour ideas. Search Albuquerque, or the name of any town.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!
One of the main fears that old people have is losing their driving options. Most of us are addicted to cars. We have been driving the 450 miles from our home in Albuquerque to see our grandchildren in Tucson for years; but, since I turned 79, I am rethinking my driving before someone else rethinks it for me. Our sons watch us…
We were making the trip over two days, with a nice stop and a visit to the hot springs spa at Sierra Grande Lodge in Truth or Consequences, NM; however, now we need to think a bit further out. My no-driving future may be closer than I think. Time to experiment with a few alternatives.
Last week, we drove to El Paso; a straight 270 mile shot on I-25. We took the Amtrak from El Paso to Tucson. Cost $50 each, each way. The train was 3 hours late out of El Paso, but except for the usual stress that old people feel about sitting around in a train station, not a problem. Coming back we got into El Paso 45 minutes early, which meant that we could drive back to Albuquerque before dark. Since it was Saturday afternoon, there was not much traffic on the freeway. Dark and large trucks worry old people.
Our son met us in Tucson and the next morning we rented a car from Enterprise, who picked us up. Thus we had a car in Tucson. We turned it in on Friday at 5 and got a ride to the train station the next morning. You can save a bit of money if you go through Costco Travel.
The coach train seats were great; much better than coach airline seats.
The food was questionable. Take a look at the train menu. Next time, a picnic lunch.
Boarding was a snap. We lined up, the conductor scanned our e-tickets and gave us a paper slip with our seat numbers. We had to climb a narrow stair-case to the upper level, but, you can’t have everything when you are old. No elevator.
The train, including the bathrooms, was clean.
The observation car was comfortable with tables; and, many people with laptops, cell phones and card games.
There were electrical outlets, but no wi-fi on the Southwestern Trains. Since I am addicted to my blog, I use a personal hotspot from T-mobile; (I pay $5 extra a month for extra gigabytes and T-mobile works all over the world.)
Note that cell phone reception is not the best between Lordsburg NM and Tuson, but…
The train was not crowded; about 20 % full.
You share tables in the dining car. We were seated with an interestig man from the Phillipines who was seeing the world. He started out working on Costa Cruise Ships, heard about truck driving in the US, and came here. He is an American Citizen and drives refrigerated trucks across the US. He was going to New Orleans to pick up his car, then to Chicago to start a new truck driving job in the Northeastern part of the US. He has no overhead and plans to return to the Phillipines after Australia and New Zealand
He is also working on a blog, but has not yet published it.
In El Paso, we parked in a secure garage for $10 per day. It was about 2 blocks from the train station and a block from the bus station. It is manned 24 hours a day.
The El Paso train station is an imposing old building; but not marked in any way. So we drove around it a few times and ended up back on the freeway before someone pointed it out. Downtown El Paso is confusing. Next time we will recognize the train station. Experience works, even in old age.
The train station is large, not used much: one passenger train a day in each direction. It has vending machines, one of which takes your money and does not vend; but, there is a warning sign. All the usual junk food. Nothing healthy. Cookies, candies and chips. No restaurants close by.
Three unplanned hours of waiting.
The net result: when we really can’t drive we can take the train, even though it will mean a bus ride from Albuquerque to El Paso, which can be arranged through Amtrak. You have to walk from one station to the other.
Since there are no longer any non-stop flights from Albuquerque to Tucson, we are considering flying through Las Vegas.
Another option that I will have to try alone, since my wife is not interested, is the bus to Tucson. It is reasonable, goes through Phoenix and leaves and arrives at decent hours, albeit 12 hours apart.
The lesson learned is that I have several relatively safe options to get to Tucson; all of which I will try before I have to use them. Even at my age I can figure out what to do now that I have done it.
We can adapt to our age.
You should check out alternate means of travel.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!
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:
You are traveling; and, of course you have to eat. Mostly it is too expensive and probably not good for you; but, at your age who cares?
I am interested in places and ideas for eating well but frugally. This means getting the most for your money, having a new experience and maybe meeting new people. And, as always, you may have a story to tell. No one is interested if you ate at a chain; however, going to a church supper in a small NM town will give you a story to tell.
Share a plate. Old people eat less. Most places will let you do it, though some charge an extra $3 or so. Always split a desert.
I have tried the following:
1. Eat at Whole Foods or other gourmet grocery store. You get good food in reasonable quantities and can eat it in the store or take it with you. You will also feel good since it is organic, humanly raised and free of additives. Your grandchildren will love it.
2. Try a university. Parking may be a problem; however, they usually have salad bars and other interesting menu items. Sometimes you can even get a beer or glass of wine.
3. Hospitals have gotten better, at least in their cafeterias. I can remember when it was all fried, but now they have salad bars and other items that reflect their “dedication” to health. Don’t stay too long as you might catch something; they are places to avoid except for a quick meal.
4. Frequently, you can visit an assisted living facility and in exchange for listening to the sales pitch, get a free meal. This would be my last resort in most cases, having seen some of the food.
5. Some chains have reasonably priced healthy food. If you see a Chipotle or a Subway, stop. Two of you can share a burrito or a 12 in. sub, for about $6 to $8.
6. Picnic. Stop at a store and buy what you need for a picnic. Remember that left-overs may be a problem.
7. Frequent bed and breakfasts. Have a big breakfast, an apple for lunch, and a nice dinner with a glass of wine.
8. Service clubs, if you are a member. Watch for signs giving the day and place as you enter a town; or, go on-line.
9. If you belong to a private club, golf club, health club, or tennis club, check them out for reciprocity. Usually they can arrange for you to be a guest and use the facilities in another town. There will probably be a small fee.
10. Church suppers are always interesting; especially in small rural towns.
11. Small town events can give you interesting food.Try the Ramp Festival in Cullowhee, NC; or the matanza in Belen, NM where you can eat outside your comfort zone.
12. Never forget museums; especially if you are in Europe. Some of the best food I have had has been at museums in Madrid, Vienna and London. The same applies to US museums. At least look at them.
Pick up small town papers. Visit your old home towns. Use the internet. Try something new. Check out small town chambers of commerce. Explore.
The High Line is an urban path that used to be an elevated train track. It runs from Gansevoort Street about 1;45 miles to 34th street. Access is by stairs and elevators. The 34th street end is about three blocks from Penn Station, so you can take a train or subway there and walk over.
The four phases were opened in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015. It is similar to the rails-to-trails program and other programs that have created unusual walking paths. This one is smack, dab in Manhattan and snakes through a valley of skyscrapers, with 40 added in the last 10 years and more under construction. Walking it you are surrounded by windows looking out on the High Line and cranes rigging new construction.
You can walk, but not bike, the distance. There are over 210 species of plants; and, of course, old train tracks.
There are places to sit, and ares that allow for a picnic or party for up to 20 of your friends. In addition, there are numerous events planned for the summer. Around each stair/elevator, restaurants, and bars are springing up.
I did not see any toilets; only, numerous signs on restaurants that restrooms were for customers only.
The High Line is not as wide as I expected; but, it is a use of old second story train tracks.How wide can two elevated train tracks that go through downtown Manhattan be? It is a great idea and should be, and has been, replicated in many places.
It is a tourist destination only if you want to see one of the performing groups, if you want to see what could be done in your backyard, or if you are curious.
Such paths provide old people a chance to get outside, to walk, to meet and socialize with friends and to interact with their environment.
I would like to see:
1. Chess/checker/etc. boards so that old people could play chess/checkers/cards/ etc. like they do in Europe and small town mid-western town squares.
2. Drinking fountains.
4, Maybe, but it would be tricky, ice cream carts, coffee carts, etc. on the path. Perhaps they could use the second-hand carts that airlines used to use before they stopped providing food/drinks/etc. on flights.
5. In the open space, early morning tai chi as in San Francisco China Town.
If you are interested, take a look at the following:
I checked out New Mexico on Trailink and discovered that the 16 mile long bike/walking path, 100 yards from my home was listed, in addition to dozens of others that I had not heard about. Wherever you go find an interesting walking path. Walking is what a “good” old age is all about.
In 2010 my wife and I went to Macedonia for two weeks with Habitat For Humanity to help build an eight unit apartment unit. We had volunteered with Habitat in Albuquerque, and had spent two weeks in New Orleans helping to restore homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina, involving Habitat, but not through Habitat. This was our first Habitat trip out of the country, although we had lived in Eastern Europe as volunteers and had been to Macedonia before.
Roma family collection insulation wrappers and other non-needed materials to resell.
Photos of Habitat For Humanity, Macedonia.
We are retired and in 2010 were 68 and 70. Old age was not a problem, nor was our inability to speak Macedonian. It was not scary and we had no problems. Get travel insurance as Medicare does not work in Macedonia.
Habitat has a branch in Macedonia and has US volunteers who live there for six months and help to coordinate the short-term volunteers. I had a friend from Albuquerque who gave up his law practice in his fifty’s and went to Chile for six months to coordinate Habitat projects there.
None of the 18 or so people who were on our team had any construction experience; however, there was a Macedonian Contractor who worked with us along with a future resident of the apartments that we were constructing. This was a lot like Earthwatch, where you pay to volunteer, meet interesting people and see a new part of the world in a deductible way. We did five Earthwatch trips at a younger age, and that is also worth looking into. We have seen all the museums that we want to see for awhile, so volunteering is the way to go.
We worked from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. We stayed in a local hotel which also provided meals. We took a bus to the job site and ate lunch on the job. We wore old clothes, hard hats and gloves.
At this point in the construction, we were assigned to help with pouring cement which was mixed on site and moved in wheelbarrows. We also removed cement forms and pulled out the nails. The wood would be used on future Habitat sites. The construction is much simpler than in the US; it is mostly manual labor. There is not a lot of equipment. But, we did build homes.
The wrappers that the insulation came in along with the bent nails that we removed were recovered by a family of Roma (Gypsies) who came each day in a horse-drawn wagon and used a magnet to locate the nails in the ground. They would straighten and re-sell them. A Roma family was scheduled to move into one of the apartments when finished, but not the ones in the wagon pictured above.
We worked for two weeks, took trips around Macedonia on the week-ends, did not get sick or injured, had a great time and came home with different stories to tell.
The food was simple, local and good. The hotel was clean and the venue for a few weddings while we were there.
One night we had dinner at a winery and probably drank too much wine. Macedonia has a number of vineyards and wineries, so the trip was worth it just for that.
At the time of posting this blog, I could not find any Habitat opportunities in Macedonia, but there are some in Romania, as well as the rest of the world. There were two Habitat home building projects in Macedonia in 2017 and I expect more in 2018. Go to Habitat in Veles to see the costs, work, itinerary, etc. for 2017. This will give you an idea of what we did and paid.
We met interesting people from other parts of the US and from Macedonia.
And, we deducted the trip.
Just pick a part of the world that needs help and go for it.
Habitat For Humanity – Volunteer opportunities –
Macedonia – via Wikipedia
The Wheels Museum at the Rail Yards Market in Albuquerque is a must for railroad buffs and for anyone who wants to remember back to a simpler, younger age.
The volunteers who staff the museum are knowledgeable and helpful. They like what they are doing.
If you like model trains, there are several large layouts including one from the Clovis Model railroad club. There are a number of cars, trucks and various pieces of train equipment
I liked the horse drawn milk wagon as it reminded me of my childhood in Kansas where the milk was delivered to a box at your back door and the horse knew all the stops.
The museum is located in an old railroad storage building and is next to what used to be the only roundhouse between St. Louis and California and where they repaired engines. The old roundhouse is still in existence, empty, huge and now used for movie sets and for a weekly market. Rumor has it that it may be sold to CNM and used for film courses.
Next to the long abandoned train buildings are the tracks where there is a daily Amtrak train in each direction and numerous freight trains.
You can catch the RailRunner to Santa Fe or to Belen 7 days a week. It is free for seniors on Wednesday, but parking downtown is a pain. Better to park at the Montaño station and catch the train there.
If you like the Wheels Museum, you should also visit the 17 year restoration of Santa Fe Steam Locomotive # 2926 by the New Mexico Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society. You can visit on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1833 8th NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Or, check them out on-line at nmslrhs.org.
New Mexico is a fascinating place for train buffs, and if you are here during the State Fair, there is a great model train exhibit, put on by the Rio Grande Valley HO Model Railroad. In 2019, it is from September 5 – 15.