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. There is now a 50 mile activity path circling the city. I have heard that there are also people starting to walk the entire 50 miles over a several day period; sort of civic pilgrimage route.
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.
I am addicted to restaurants while travelling and since we spend a lot of time in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, I have three favorite restaurants, and a grocery store.
Crabby Bills: Every morning I walk a mile and a half down the beach to Crabby Bill’s, which has been family owned since its founding in 1983. The morning crowd consists of older patrons who are vacationing. or living, near the beach. It is a sports bar, restaurant and hang-out for the under 30 crowd the rest of the day and until 2:00 AM.
The All-American Breakfast is my choice, with 2 eggs, potatoes, crisp bacon and toast for $6. Then it is a mile and a half walk back to the rented condo. In the evening, you can get the menu to go.
Guppy’s: A short walk and excellent food with daily specials; indoors or out. Great fish. The Grouper is expensive as it is over-fished. Small plates and you can share. I get three sides; grilled octopus, spinach and Caesar Salad. Octopus is available thanks to the large Greek community. New Mexico restaurants tend not to serve octopus, so it is always a treat.
A small French restaurant in the edge of Belair and next to Largo and Indian Rocks Beach. Run by a French couple, it is always good and one of our favorite stopping places each time we come.
The desert is great, especially if you can try three at once. Eat desert first, life is short.
The lamb shanks can’t be beat. Not always available but when they are, well worth ordering.
If you want to do your own thing with food prepared for you, take a look at Publix Grocery Stores which now have prepared meals that you cook. There is salmon, meatballs, etc. We tried chicken breasts with feta cheese and spinach and it was great. Cheaper than a restaurant meal and it can be eaten with a glass of wine on your rented condo balcony. The sunset over the Gulf of Mexico is better than any restaurant; and quieter.
I like museums, but not for the reasons you might think. I have spent 60 years going to museums and have been overwhelmed by the shear volume of items and my lack of ability to be selective in my viewing. I have been to art museums, archeology museums, and science museums. I have been to big museums and tiny museums.
Museums have become a blur; they are useful, however; especially if you are studying something – you can see how in idea or a concept developed over time. You can get new ideas and make new connections to old idea; which is especially rewarding to an old person.
These days, I go to museums with altered goals. I am interested in the creative side of museums and the ways in which they present new ideas and spark creativity and imagination. I am interested in new connections to my distant past. I like large international museums because they have great cafes and almost always serve local wine. In fact, I usually start with the cafe.
Our recent trip to Indian Rocks Beach led us to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida. It has all the art basics; a chronology from various schools with representative samples; including two Georgia O’Keeffe’s, which I appreciated, coming from New Mexico.
First, the Cafe . It is simple, pleasant, and worthy of the museum. It is located in the entrance hall and the food is great. With our menus, we received a plate of scones. They were so good, we asked if we could order some to take with us. We received an additional free plate of 5 scones, three of which we took with us.
Scones at the museum.
The menu gave us a variety of choices and allowed us to share a plate; a requirement for couples of our age.
Since I had a Bank of America credit card, my entry into the museum was free; next time, I will have my wife bring her card, so we can both get in free. Old people are cheap, even when they don’t have to be. Bank of America Credit Cards give free access to about 150 museums the first week of the month through its Museums on Us program.
Once inside, I did a quick run through, checked out the Georgia O’Keeffes and then went looking for the special exhibits, which I found more interesting and which touched some dormant part of my imagination.
The first was Selfies which was a collection of self photographs that preceded cell phones. Interesting.
The exhibit that got my attention was outside the museum, where Haider Ali, an artist from Pakistan, was painting a Prius. The exhibit, Live car painting by Haider Ali, reminded me of Espanola, NM where the City Council recently declared Espanola as the “Lowrider Capitol of the World.”
Prius by Haider Ali
Having gone through Espanola many times, and having been amazed at how stock cars could be modified and painted, I was surprised to find an artist from Pakistan painting a Prius in St. Petersburg, Florida. My first thought was that he should go to Espanola, some Sunday.
Finally, there were signs on lawn. An interesting idea that could be copied anywhere. Intriguing, because the only part that required skill, was coming up with the idea; everything else was done by volunteers.
The bottom line is that I enjoyed the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, for all the wrong reasons, but which gave me something to take away.
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, but there are lots of other places that you might find more interesting than fast food hangouts.
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.
Here is my $1.75 breakfast with a 25 cent cup of coffee eaten at my local Senior Center:
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, like the 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.
We have been coming to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida for several years. Initially we rented a place a few blocks from the beach, but still walkable. For the last three years we have rented a place right on the beach, with a view of the water.
We rent a car, even though there is pretty good public transportation.
We have a routine.
Watching the sea, especially in the evening when the sun goes down, is very relaxing. We come in September, after Labor Day, because it is cheaper, there are fewer people, and we can watch the changes in the weather. Twice, we have been delayed as we followed the hurricanes in.
Hurricanes are scary, but interesting; not only for the changes in the weather, but to watch the destructiveness of the wind and water and the foolishness of people caught up in hurricanes; pre, during and post hurricane.
We fly into Tampa, rent a car at the airport through Costco, and try to find our way out of the airport complex – if you are old and they change the rental car locations, you are glad you come and go on a Saturday, when there was less traffic. There is a 4 story escalator, which didn’t bother you at 50, but which gets your attention at 78. Then a 10 minute train ride to all of the rental agencies and the huge indoor rental car garage.
The beach is a relief and calming. We have a balcony overlooking the water, an indoor well-lit garage for your car, and an elevator.
The beach is swept every morning, the sand is white, This year there was a red tide problem, but except for a couple of days of dead fish on the beach, didn’t bother us.
September can be a problem. It is the month for construction work and repairs, some restaurants are closed, hurricanes can be a problem, and this year the red tide lasted longer than usual. However; in September it is low season so rates are cheaper, traffic is reduced, no problem finding seats in restaurants, no crowds, no spring breaks, changing weather and cooler weather. If you are old, September is the month for you. The whole atmosphere is recharging.
Walking a couple of miles a day on the beach in the early morning is a benefit. Walking to Crabby Bills for breakfast is great. The breakfast is cheap, filling and interesting. Nothing like TV’s broadcasting football games from who knows where at 8 in the morning – the bar also operates at 8 – you can eat outside. It is not crowded and the wait-staff is friendly.
There are numerous book boxes where you can take a book and leave a book. The Largo Library has a genealogy section and there is an Indian Rocks Library with computers, papers, magazines and books for sale.
At night you can walk to a few restaurants including Guppy’s, where you can share a plate and eat octopus.
If you are old, you want to be able to walk if you are going to have wine. News articles about seniors who have accidents always say “an elderly man was driving…” Can you imagine being in the drunk tank at 78? or, trying to walk a straight line, even if you could hear the cop’s directions??
The bottom line is that time spent watching the sea is recharging; especially if you are old. It is a nice rhythm.
Check it out!
We are retired and eat out frequently; especially when on vacation in Florida. I got to thinking about what I liked in restaurants, given my age of 78. I like small French, Mexican, Italian and Chinese restaurants. I like table cloths, cloth napkins and water. I also realize that I am inconsistent, so you should take this list of a baker’s dozen with a grain of salt. Trust but verify, a senior’s mantra!
- Quiet – The app Soundprint registers noise in restaurants. I, like many old people, am deaf and it is hard to hear in a crowded restaurant where the tables are close together or where you are seated near a large group of people.
- Share a plate – We don’t eat as much, so if we can share a plate, even for an extra charge, that is great.
- Smaller portions – We don’t need huge portions, or all you can eat buffets.
- Water – some of us drink a lot of water, and I, at least, judge a waiter by whether or not my water-glass is kept full.
- Parking – easy access and spaces wide enough to get in and out of the car with ease.
- Uber or Lyft – Uber or Lyft is great for old people. They are fast, convenient and allow us to have a glass of wine, without worrying about drunk driving. Nothing like a newspaper article that describes me as “elderly.”
- Enough light to read the menu – Not only am I deaf, but I have trouble seeing in dim light. My i-Phone, with its built-in flashlight, has been a boon to my old age. Until you are old, you don’t realize how hard it can be to see in dim light.
- Simple choices – My mind is not as quick as it used to be, so the fewer, easier, and simpler choices, the happier I am.
- Doggy bags – if we can’t or don’t share a plate, a container to take half of our food home is great; even if we don’t have a dog.
- Non-fried preparation – Digestion can be a problem; and, of course I am very conscious of the life expectancy tables. I like to keep my options open.
- Easy access – I need to get to my table and to the men’s room. Stairs, rugs, close tables, servers, folding tray tables, and using the hall to the men’s room for storage can lead to falls and always makes me nervous. Remember, falls are the leading cause of …….. for seniors.
- Bargain – a price I think is fair,
- Non-processed food – Too much food today is processed – at my age not only do I not need it, it is bad for me.
One French restaurant that I like is Chez Colette’s in Belleair Bluffs, Florida, which meets all my criteria.
Walking on the beach and breakfast at Crabby Bill’s in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida.
I was raised in the mid-west and have lived in New Mexico for over 50 years, so the beach has always drawn me.
My wife’s family lived in Largo, Florida and Indian Rocks Beach has been a place she has been familiar with for over 50 years.The attraction has rubbed off on me.
Our life there is simple. We rent a condo overlooking the beach, we rent a car through Costco, we use Uber, we go to the library and frequent consignment stores. We have wi-fi. Good restaurants are within walking distance.
My morning routine is what makes my day. I wake-up early and walk a mile and a half on the beach to Crabby Bill’s, a restaurant/bar that awakens at 7:00 AM. It is simple, indoors and outdoors, and caters to different customers depending on the time of the day. At 8:00 AM there is a smaller more mature crowd. At noon and in the evening they serve great fresh fish and beer at long communal tables.
Prior to breakfast is a stop at the CVS Pharmacy next door for the New York Times, a habit I have even in New Mexico. (Today, the first time in years, they didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked for the NY Times.)
As an aside, since old people always have something wrong with them, don’t forget that CVS Pharmacies have a “Minute Clinic.” They can handle all sorts of minor health problems; and, if nothing else triage you and get you more help if needed. You can get a place in line on-line, but I have always found them to be quick, helpful and professional. Why go to an emergency room unless it is an emergency?
I read the times while eating the All American Special with crisp bacon for $6.00. I then walk a mile and a half back to the condo; hopefully with a new blog topic.
Fresh air, great breakfast and the news by 9:00. What could be better?
Traveling for long periods of time, or staying in one new place for a period of time, requires a routine if you are old. A necessary part of that routine is exercise. The YMCA, the club of our childhood, provides the setting.
The YMCA is available nation-wide, is usually open for long hours, has skilled instructors, and a variety of programs. If you are old,it can be free.
The trick is to have a Silver Sneakers membership through your insurance plan. Free at home means free at most any place you travel in the US, and if you are visiting children and grandchildren, you need some place to go and something to do during the day. The Y provides that; without worrying about walking on strange and often busy streets. Exercise is the key to successful aging.
The best bet is an insurance-paid Silver Sneakers plan. This is good nation-wide at YMCAs and many health clubs. You have no excuse.
If you belong to a YMCA in your hometown, either through Silver Sneakers or with a paid membership, you can ask to have your name put on the Nationwide Membership List, which can be accessed by any YMCA in the country.
If you don’t have an insurance-paid plan, you can always pay a small fee to use the Y. It depends on the place, but most of them seem to have fee schedules topping out at about $75 per month. The schedules also seem to only go to age “64 and under,” so as an old person, it may be free anyway.
We are in Florida, for a month and checked into the Clearwater, FL YMCA. We were on the Nationwide Membership list, courtesy of the Albuquerque YMCA, which meant that we had a home YMCA and were eligible to use other facilities; however in Clearwater, it was limited to a max of 24 days, and the Y suggested we use our Silver Sneakers membership, giving us unlimited use of all facilities and access to all classes.
The Clearwater Y is a new and modern facility and has every class you could imagine, including Silver Sneakers exercise, chair exercise, yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, etc. In addition, there is a pool, a hot tub, basketball court, a complete weight room and every sort of exercise machine.
If you don’t believe me, check out the Clearwater Y.
It also provides numerous trips to local restaurants for lunch, other events, and classes on topics that should be of interest to old people.
If you want to go outdoors, there is a 1/4 mile walking/running track, but if you come from New Mexico, it is better to walk on the beach, which is also free.
Trainers are available for a reasonable fee.
Nationwide-membership in the YMCA
New Mexico is the place to go if you want to get off the ground. Last week-end we went to the glider field at the Moriarty Airport, 50 miles from Albuquerque. There we saw dozens of gliders and several tow planes. A 15 minute glider ride from Sundance Aviation costs $105 and you fly with an FAA approved, experienced pilot. The only downside is that you have to weigh less than 220 pounds and be under 6′ 5″.
Near by is the US Southwest Soaring Museum which unfortunately was closed on Sundays.
Naturally this got me to thinking, and I discovered over Albuquerque via Google:
Trike Flights – This is an air tricycle. You can get a 30 minute ride for $100 with a licensed Sport Pilot. For an additional fee you can have a video made showing you in flight. I frequently see these mechanical trikes while I am walking along the Rio Grande.
Plane rides at Vertical Lift Aviation.
Parachute jumping. Starting at $375 with Albuquerque Sky Diving.
Hang gliding with High Desert Hang Gliding.
All near or in Albuquerque and while I have only taken a balloon ride, the others have intrigued me. I have not taken any but the hot air balloon ride, an Albuquerque must, but am intrigued at 77 and sorry that I missed them earlier in my life. I am toying with the glider ride.
More my speed is the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway which will take you on a 2.7 mile tram ride to the top of Sandia Peak from Albuquerque. There is sking, a restaurant and great hiking. At your age, watch the altitude which is over 11,000 feet. You can always sit in the restaurant and enjoy the view with a glass of wine.
The big draw in and over Albuquerque is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta held for a week every October, where up to a 1000 balloons participate in a mass ascension, among other events. And of course, there are hot air balloon rides then and the year around. The traffic is horrible, but if you have an RV, there is great RV parking next to the grounds. Balloon pilots and their chase crews are hard to keep up with at my age, especially in the evening.
There is also the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Foundation Museum.
Most mornings I can see hot air balloons following the Rio Grande River behind my home, which is about my speed.
It is worth soaring above the New Mexico desert, there is no age limit, and it gives you some great stories and pictures to impress your grandkids with.
I have been coming to Tucson for over twenty years and have never tried a Sonoran Hot Dog. Recently I have been reading Anthony Bourdain’s books, Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits, in which he advocates seeking out the authentic cooking of the place you are visiting.
It was raining, unusual in Tucson, but we parked behind the cart and the tent that covered it and ordered our hot dogs with everything. It was one of the best hot dogs that I have ever eaten; even better than those at The Dog House in Albuquerque, of Breaking Bad fame.
Two hot dogs, two drinks came to $6. We ate in at picnic tables. There was one cook who turned out hot dogs in minutes, complete with hot peppers.
The hot dog wrapped in bacon and in a special bun has onions, tomatoes, salsa, mayo, mustard and cheese. The Sonoran Hot Dog is unique to Tucson with over 200 places serving them; mostly from carts or food trucks parked in vacant lots. I have discovered a few in Albuquerque, but have not tried them yet.
Well worth the trip. Now, every time we come to Tucson, a Sonoran Hot Dog will be on the menu.
To find a Sonoran Hot Dog near you: Google “Sonoran Hot Dog”+ name of your town. or, if you live out of the Southwest, Google “Sonoran Hot Dog”+recipe, and make your own.
And, of course, mine turned out: