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 and will soon be part of a 50 mile bike path circling the city.
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.
Most people I know hate the idea of senior centers; even more than they hate the idea of growing old. I would agree with them if I could do anything about it. The best I can do is strive for a good old age; and, recognize the problems that come with this stage of life, just like I recognized and dealt with problems in earlier stages of life.
Which brings me to Senior Centers. There is one close to me. I joined for $15 per year. I can do ceramics, woodworking, sewing and most anything else I want. There are numerous classes in physical fitness, yoga, computer training. There are rooms for poker, pool and reading. There is a library of books that are free for the taking and a computer that you can use.
They serve breakfast and lunch. Coffee is 25 cents; a burrito is $1.50 with eggs, hash browns and bacon or sausage. You can just show up and eat it. You have to sign up for lunch a day in advance. If you are over 60, which I am, it is free with a suggested $2 donation. If you are under 60 it is $3.75. It is more than you can eat, so my wife and I can share a plate at $1 each, as a donation.
The best thing about the senior centers in Albuquerque is the trips that they offer. They provide transportation and lunch for a minimal charge. Today they were advertising a backstage trip to the Santa Fe Opera $16 which includes transportation to Santa Fe and admission. On June 19, there is a tour of an Alpaca Ranch in Mora, NM. In the past we have gone to the Crown Point Rug Auction where several times a year Native Americans sell their hand-made rugs, to dealers and anyone else who wants to bid. The only problem with this tour is the meal; the bus driver gets sandwiches from Costco. It is much better to eat the fry bread and Indian Tacos at Crown Point. Since the Auction is not over until after 10 at night, you don’t want to make the several hour drive back to Albuquerque.
You can also get legal help, accounting help, tax help and estate planning. There are more jewelry making classes than you can count. And of course painting and art classes. It seems that every old person wants to become an artist; or, maybe just a blogger.
The computer lab is great; no one shows up, so you have the instructor all to yourself. Then, book clubs, card clubs, beading and music.
Some of the trips this half-year; were or will be: Forensic Science Center ($2 transportation); Left Turn Distilling Tour (50 cents transportation); Hispanic Cultural Center ($2 transportation, $2 admission); Harvey House Museum ($5 transportation to Belen); San Felipe Pueblo Feast Day ($3 transportation); Chaco Canyon; Dar Al Islam Mosque ($12 transportation); Santa Fe Opera House Tour ($8 transportation, $8 admission). And those are just the trips that interest me out of 79 available day trips during the first half of 2015.
Most towns have senior centers; so if you are traveling look them up in advance and see what they have to offer.
The only downside is that you are with a bunch of old people, but…..
You might be happier sitting at home and pretending that you are not old.
To check out Albuquerque, see: Senior Centers.
In any other town, Google “Senior Centers.”
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.
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.”
On July 17th Presbyterian Health Services, which I had joined in January 2014, sent a nurse-practioner to visit my wife and me in our home. She explained that they were just trying to set up a data base for us and see if there was anything we needed. They come once a year if you want. It is an interview, not a physical. Naturally, when she searched our names, there was not much in our data-base.
I will have them come each year because:
1. She checked the medicines we were taking, called our druggist and called our primary care doctors. There were a few things that needed to be sorted out. Old people frequently take too much medicine and don’t know what it is for. There are also a lot of unexpected interactions and the amount you take makes a difference.
2. She suggested several programs for us including Silver Sneakers.
3. She took our blood pressure and listened to our heart beat. She asked questions about our life-style and general health. She spent several hours with us.
4. We will be able to access our records on our computer anywhere in the world. So, when we travel and get sick, we can pull up our records for the physician who treats us in some foreign country. I haven’t tried this, but will report when I get my access information.
5. Most importantly she told us about a program that Presbyterian has called “Hospital at Home.” If you meet the requirements, you can elect, hopefully in the emergency room, to either be admitted to the hospital or be sent home. If you are sent home, a doctor visits you once a day, a nurse up to 3 times a day, you are monitored, and they deliver the equipment and drugs you need. The hospital benefits because it is 32% cheaper; you benefit because you are not in the hospital. I haven’t tried it, but will if the need ever arises. It probably helps to have a spouse, significant other, or caring neighbor.
You can read more about this in USAToday.
The geezer is becoming more aware of his health and the role he has to play. My idea is to be comfortable and pain-free. I haven’t figured out any way to live forever, but am working on it.
At a few weeks shy of 74, based on my present condition, my genes, my family history, etc., I can expect ten “good” years; ten “so-so” years; and, 4 years in the “home.” So….
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.
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.
In Albuquerque, NM I visited the 2926 Restoration Project. The New Mexico Steam locomotive and Railroad Historical Society is restoring a steam engine that hit the tracks on May 17, 1944. It travelled 1,090,539 miles. It is being completely restored by volunteers and will be put back into service for excursions in 2015.
You can visit the restoration project on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1833 8th NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of the members will give you a tour and explain what the restoration.
It is close to Old Town and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Try Cafe Azul for the best huevos rancheros with Hatch green chile – get the papitas, not the hash browns. BUT: the hot Hatch green chile may take you way out of your comfort zone. Remember you can always have it on the side.
It is worth a visit; especially on May 8, 2014, National Railroad Day. In September there is always the model railroad exhibit at the state Fair. If you like New Mexico trains, ride the Amtrak, the Railrunner, and the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gage.
You can see a video showing the history and restoration of 2926 on You Tube.