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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
This post had to be edited to announce that Sparky’s won the Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge at the New Mexico State Fair.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
When we travel, we try to seek out non-chain places to eat; and, our recent trip to see our son in Waynesville, NC, led us to MOE’s Barbecue in Asheville, NC, for the third time. It is in an old building, near the Biltmore Mansion, with a large gravel parking lot and is always crowded. There are only about 20 tables inside, you order from the counter, and they call out your name when the food is ready. It has always been good, simple and tasty. You bus your own tables.
This time we shared a brisket sandwich with two sides and a drink. Our son had the rib plate with two sides and a drink. We had to wait for a table and borrowed two chairs for our table. It was out of our comfort zone, but we were with our son who knew of the place and he had taken me there before when I visited.
As usual, I took a few pictures, enjoyed the food and the crowd and thought it would be a good subject for a brief blog post. After lunch, I googled Moe’s Barbecue and much to my surprise discovered that even though Asheville is apparently the original Moe’s, it has expanded. The three boys from the University of Alabama, have expanded this Moe’s to 60 Moe’s around the country, including one in Albuquerque that I was not aware of. So, next week, I will start off the new year by eating at Moe’s in Albuquerque, aware that it is a big business that came out of North Carolina.
You can become a franchisee; the franchise office is in Vail, Colorado; or, you can just order a t-shirt and a hat from the retail site.
I will continue seeking out places out of my comfort zone, but will also check them out.
Trust but verify!
Just because it is a chain, does not mean that it is not good. And, of course, I satisfied myself at the meals there, thinking I was out of my comfort zone, not realizing that there was a Moe’s just a few blocks from me in Albuquerque.
I was headed for North Carolina to visit my son for Christmas. At the Albuquerque Sunport, I went through the TSA Pre line since I had qualified for Global Entry. No problem with my carry-on, but I triggered the security devices several times with my belt, keys, hearing aid batteries, etc. resulting in placing the items in a small plastic bowl. I had not returned my driver’s license to my wallet and laid it on top of the other items in the bowl.
When I got to the hotel in Charlotte, NC, they wanted an ID. I discovered that I did not have my driver’s license; however, the hotel desk clerk, looked at me and waived that requirement, and allowed me to check in. But, I did not have a driver’s license and I had to pick up a rental car the next morning. The evening was spent awake and sorting though every item I travelled with.
The next morning, after searching my belongings in detail, I googled Albuquerque Sunport lost and found. One of the four choices was a phone number for TSA. I called; the license had been turned in late the prior night, The TSA rep. was great. She said that they could FedEx it to me; took my information, credit card number, and the address of the Waynesville Bed and Breakfast where we would be staying.
I wrote down the tracking number she gave me and we headed to the rental car counter. They accepted my wife’s driver’s license and we rented a car.
The next day about 3:00, after tracking my credit card through Memphis, Ashville and Waynesville, it arrived at our Bed and Breakfast. I carefully put it in my wallet; and checked my wallet every few hours.
The FedEx envelope with my driver’s license.
Things I learned from my experience and a bit of research:
- Watch your identification documents.
- Carry your Global Entry Card with you; it can be used for identification at the airport.
- Get a police report for lost driver’s licenses.
- In NM you can get a temporary license for a lost license on-line if you are under 75 and don’t have any other problems; with me the problem was the age. I missed the 75 cut-off at 77.
- Google: “name of airport” + “lost and found.”
- Have someone with you who has a valid driver’s license.
- Driving without a driver’s license in your possession is a crime, may lead to your arrest and may cause increase in insurance rates.
- Have as much documentation as possible to show that you have a license, ie police report, photocopy, insurance card, etc. Have info on your cell phone and you may be able to talk your way out of it.
The big problem will be the car rental company; so, be a member of their frequent renter group, have another driver with you, and talk to a manager.
Since you are old anyway, it is a good time to rethink alternative forms of transportation.
Public, Uber, friend, spouse, etc.