On Sundays from 9-3, May 4 – Nov. 2, you can visit the Rail Yards Market near downtown Albuquerque, NM. The site is next to the tracks and is in a huge old Santa Fe Railway repair shop. The market has over one hundred vendors and artists. It draws thousands of people. Outside there is plenty of free parking and a line of food trucks.
Inside, which is free, you find artists, bakeries, local produce, music and crowds. Turn down your hearing aid.
Rail buffs, and most other people, especially those of us who can remember riding the train to college, will be fascinated by the interior of the Santa Fe Railway Repair Shop, now abandoned, waiting a new life, and used as the setting for a number of movies.
To learn more about the rail yards visit the City of Albuquerque web page.
Maybe you are looking for a second career in your retirement. Central New Mexico Community College in conjunction with the Street Food Institute offers a course in “Street Food.” Maybe you should apply. Visit Craigs List to find food trucks for sale.
The bottom line is that for a few hours on Sunday morning, you can’t go wrong, and you will see a part of American History. Drive through the surrounding streets and see “new town,” which came into being with the arrival of the rail road over a hundred years ago. Then compare it to “Old Town.”
As you grow older, travel sometimes becomes more difficult. You are not ready to drive across the country; not to mention foreign travel, where you might die. You worry about renting a car and your liability. And, airline flights are really a problem. Carry-on luggage! Early/late flights. The hassle of security. The cost. Cramped seats. Your eating/sleeping habits interrupted. Sometimes it is just too much.
And internationally, Medicare does not work. And, what if you get sick, run out of medicine, fall, die, etc. Fear, fear, fear!
I am not advocating not travelling; and, certainly I would be the last to give up international travel, even if my return trip is in a box.
However, don’t forget your own backyard. In your own state you can find a hundred places to visit that you passed up or forgot; and, you can find a number of ways to get there without a lot of hassle. Most are driveable in a short time; even in large states such as New Mexico and Arizona.
I will take you on a tour of my backyard with trips around New Mexico and Arizona. This is my backyard; big, but manageable.
The goal is to search out interesting and unusual places that we, as “old people” might find interesting. These are places that will give us topics of conversation.
My goal is to visit places that interest me, and sometimes, my wife. I will provide you with search terms that you can apply to your own backyard and will search out tips for you as a senior. I will also view places acceptable to grandkids.
Anyway, I have lived in New Mexico for almost 50 years and there are large parts of it I have not seen, or experienced. Places new and very, very old.
I don’t want to forget why I came here; Philmont Scout Ranch in 1954, the diverse population, the extremes in poverty and education, the extremes in geography, and the laid-back lifestyle.These all seem even more important to me now as I approach 74.
If you are travelling and want an interesting way to experience your destination, consider “Continuing Education.” In most towns with a university there is a continuing education program. All you have to do is search “continuing education” and the town or university that you are interested in.
Since I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I use UNM. (ce.unm.edu) This link takes you to the Story of New Mexico. Here you can find lectures and trips around New Mexico. The nice thing about these trips is that they include transportation, a guide, lodgings in interesting places, and some meals.
I have selected, but not yet registered for (the catalog just came today), the following fall trips:
1. Visit Georgia O’Keefe Home and Studio – $95 on Oct. 7 or Nov. 14. – This tour is usually wait-listed.
2. Hopiland – Two days – Aug. 20-21 and Nov. 5-6 – $260.
3. Acoma Pueblo San Estevan Feast Day and Harvest Dance -Sep. 2 – $70.
4. The San Ildefonso Corn Harvest Dance – Sept. 8 – $70
5. Meeting the Spirituality of Northern New Mexico – Oct. 30-31 – $300.
6. The Confederate Invasion of New Mexico; Glorieta Pass – Nov. 7 – $92.
And a lot more. This is just New Mexico. You have to get on your computer and see what is available where you are going and when. I have done it in New Mexico, Arizona and Florida.
If you are old like me, you may not be comfortable driving in strange places, or after dark. You might also like to have arrangements made for you.
One of the best tours that I have taken was to the Crownpoint Rug Auction. It was great to have someone else drive me to Crownpoint; but, it was even better to have someone drive me back to Albuquerque at 1:00 in the morning after the auction was over. You can buy Navajo rugs from the weavers who wove them; and, at good prices.
A word of advice. Don’t eat the furnished “box lunch.” Go for the fry bread and the Indian Tacos that they serve at the auction. This trip was run by the senior centers in Albuquerque a few years ago. I have been watching for it to pop up again. An excellent source of trips is the senior center bulletin board; the centers are also good for free books, cheap coffee and cheap lunches. You can also find wi-fi. Next new town you are in, stop by a senior center and see what they have.
In Albuquerque, NM there is a Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall devoted to African-American Culture and History. It is a new, modern building located next to the NM State Fair Grounds at 310 San Pedro, NE.
The Exhibit Hall is well worth a visit. The current exhibit is “Black Wings.” This describes the role of African-Americans in aviation from the very beginnings to the present day and includes inventors, stunt pilots, daredevils and astronauts. It is a part of history that few of us are familiar with and reflects the contributions of African-Americans.
The Performing Arts center presents plays and musical performances. The next one is “The Ricky Malihi Jazz Ensemble” which will perform on August 9, 2014.
As a traveler you should search sites in each town that you plan to visit for events that you might otherwise never consider. Every town has them.
While in New Mexico you should also search and consider visiting sites where the “Buffalo Soldiers” were stationed and fought. African-Americans were active in NM before, during and after the Civil War. Read more about them.
Visit the Center’s web page to discover a worthwhile attraction.
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…..
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.
I am 73. I need clothing that I can wear everyday and everywhere, that is cheap, that is always acceptable and that can be washed. I do not want to check it when flying. I want to hoist it into an overhead bin by myself. I don’t want to worry about theft.
I have chosen black walking shoes, sandals, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 turtle-necks, 2 shirts, 7 socks, underpants t-shirts and handkerchiefs. I have one blazer and one hooded rain jacket. All, except for the blazer can be washed together, in one load. Everything is black. There is room for miscellaneous items.
It all fits on me and in the 14″x18″x12″ bag in the picture. I can go on an archeological dig, eat at a four-star restaurant, attend a wedding or a funeral, attend a concert and live out the rest of my life in a long-care facility with nothing more than what is on me and in the bag.
It is cheap, universal and requires no thought. It is easily replaced. It gives me a unique, but acceptable, appearance, and not an offensive one.
Frank’s may be out of your comfort zone, but that will change, once you eat there. From the stools at the counter to the breakfast specials, it could be any small town in the mid-west or SouthWest. $1.75 for two eggs, hash browns and toast any week-day morning; and all the coffee you can drink for $1.85. The only place I have been where the coffee is more than the breakfast, but still reasonable, so leave a nice tip.
It is clean, but old and friendly, just like me. Don’t miss it. You can always go to the chains. Look at the photos on the web site and you will see what I mean. And, check out the menu.
3843 E. Pima St
Tucson, AZ 85716
I had never heard of “Orphan Trains” until a few weeks 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.
New Mexico in the next few months is full of interesting things to do that you might not otherwise consider; and, which may be out of your comfort zone.
The geezer will hit:
The Gathering of Nations on April 24-26 in Albuquerque. “North America’s Biggest Pow-Wow.”
The Dutch Oven Cook-off in Glenwood, NM on April 5, 2014. I haven’t cooked in a dutch oven in 60 years; besides, Silver City has some great restaurants, art galleries and hotels; not to mention Silver City history and the near-by open-pit mines.
In the late summer you don’t want to miss:
The annual Deming Duck Race on August 22-25. 2014;
and 50 miles away on August 31 to September 1, 2014, The Hatch Chile Festival. Remember, if you are not used to it, Hatch Chile can be very hot.
And, between Hatch, NM and Deming, NM you can see large dairies that have immigrated from Wisconsin and other places plus a big wind farm and a solar farm; both generating electricity for thousands of homes. Around Deming you will find vineyards and wineries not to mention several Border Patrol check-points where they will stop you and take a quick look in your car. Remember we are only a few miles from the Mexican-US Border.
If you can’t make it this year, calendar the dates and web sites. These events will be going for a long time.
BUT, don’t just look at this. Subscribe to the Tourist e-mails for each state that you are going through. And don’t be afraid to participate; and, do find a place to stay in advance.
TWO (Traveling While Old) requires food. I don’t eat in fancy restaurants; and, I am cheap and dress “old.” McDonald’s is good for the “senior coffee” and the free Wi-Fi.
Off-the-wall alternatives are available. Here are ten to consider. Use the internet to find times and locations.
1. Hospitals: Long hours, usually healthful food, but almost always a fried option. In Albuquerque try University of New Mexico Hospitals, cafeteria.
2. Universities: They have to feed students, faculty and staff and have a variety of food and long hours. The prices are reasonable and it is fun to see what you looked like fifty years ago. You can also find cheap movies, lectures and other activities. Parking is a pain, consider the bus; many have free shuttles to free parking. Certainly out of your comfort zone.
3. Museums: The US is catching up to Europe with museum cafes and restaurants. Visit exhibits and discover special events. When you search for the museum, check for cafes and menus. Plan a meal there; and, look for unique menus and specials tied to art. It may surprise you. And, frequently they have wine.
4. Cooking Schools: Every large town has a cooking school; attend, learn something and eat what you cook. I took my 14- year-old granddaughter to Paris and the thing she seemed to like best was the cooking school. She learned to make macaroons and received a box to take home to her parents. In Paris, sign up in advance.
5. Food Trucks: You can spot them parked on vacant lots, along the street, or at shopping centers. They are fancier than the usual hot dog carts found in downtown areas. Web pages list food trucks and give you a location and time. In Albuquerque on Wednesday noon they gather at the Talin Market, in the International Zone. The market is worth a visit just to see the variety of foods. Don’t be afraid. Move outside your comfort zone. Food trucks offer a variety of foods, often cooked by creative new chefs who can’t afford a fixed site.
7. Senior Centers: All towns have Senior Centers. You can usually find a cup of coffee, breakfast and lunch, although you may have to order lunch a day in advance. You can eat cheap food with other old people. There is usually a bulletin board that lists things to do; day trips, computer help, etc. You may have to join, but that is usually cheap. I have never had any problem just walking in and looking around; having a twenty cent cup of coffee and a twenty-five cent box of popcorn. I have also discovered cheap trips where I don’t have to do the driving. Think Crown Point rug auction.
8. Whole Foods: Groceries, but also – sandwiches – salad bar – prepared foods and a place to sit and eat. The food is good, varied and available all day. Good for a coffee and a bagel in the morning; sandwiches for lunch, salad bar, and a whole variety of food for dinner, to eat in or take back to your motel room, along with a bottle of wine in Albuquerque and Tucson. At 73 you don’t want to be picked up for DWI after a few glasses of wine at a restaurant. Watching a movie in your hotel room with a good bottle of wine, and a variety of food from the deli is not all bad; besides they have nice deserts. Most motel rooms are quieter than restaurants.
9. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives: This show on the Food Network takes you to places all over the country. Interesting to visit, a mini-goal for your trip, and, you can always check them out on-line. I have enjoyed the ones that I have visited, both in Albuquerque and Florida.
10. Costco: If you have a card, you can’t beat the hot dog and drink for $1.50.
Look beyond the restaurants in the guide books. Experience the community and learn something new while getting interesting food at a fraction of the cost of a fancy restaurant. Besides, all of the above places are usually fairly quiet, have no music playing, and are convenient. Important if, geezer, you are old and deaf.
A final, tongue-in-cheek idea. Large Assisted Living facilities will usually give you a free meal if you listen to the sales pitch and take the tour. You should really take a look at a few of these as they are closer than you think.
Above all, consider sharing a plate; even if it costs you $3.