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.”
In 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.
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.
Small communities are show cases for history, genealogy and crafts. Huntington, NY is no exception. On a recent visit, I attended a “Sheep to Shawl Festival” in Huntington offered by the Huntington Historical Society. This was on a Sunday afternoon in May and held at one of the Society’s properties, the 1795 Dr Daniel W Kissam House. Dr. Kissam had a stroke; so, he had the room next to his examining room converted into a bedroom and apparently continued to treat patients as he was able. This was around 1800.
The volunteers are full of stories about their ancestors; and, of course, they dress the part.
There was a free tour of the house, barn and other outbuildings. The Society had tables for crafts; staffed by a large number of talented quilters and artists who made things as they did 200 years ago. It was fascinating; especially when you consider that old people are fascinated with their past and with the things people made on their own.
There was a sewing machine that a young boy made; simple and pedal operated but it still worked. There was a lady shearing sheep; people weaving; and, a man who was into wood carving making small, simple whistles.
The society has numerous events over the year and several properties that you can visit. It also sponsors a genealogy workshop that includes and annual trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
The point is that I spent an interesting and educational Sunday afternoon.
I learned how simply people lived two hundred years ago and met people who were recreating history. There was even a revolutionary war contingent that had set up camp across the street; cooking in a dutch oven and firing their muskets, much to the delight of children.
You can find these Exhibits and programs in towns all across the US; and, they are worthy of a visit. They are local and done with a passion that you don’t find elsewhere.
You could travel across the US on your own mobile American History Course; and, with a little work, could make it reflect your ancestors and their place in American History. You can even start at Ellis Island.
If you travel, you need to stop at a library wherever you are. Libraries serve senior travelers. This is written from the Main Branch of the Smithtown, NY Public Library. Yesterday, I was at the Huntington Station, NY Public Library.
There is free WiFi. You can sit for hours and write about your trip without being disturbed. And, you can do it from 10 in the morning to 9 at night; and, frequently on Saturdays and Sundays. There are also computers and copying machines. If you have your own i-pad you can access the library WiFi.
There are magazines and comfortable chairs. There are toilets, drinking fountains and parking.
There is local information so you can see what is happening where you are.
At Smithtown Library, pick up a copy of the monthly “Inside Your Library.” For example, in April 2015, I can attend an Estate Planning Seminar, a Seminar on “Affordable Home Buying on Long Island,” yoga, tax prep, numerous book discussion groups, movies, history lectures, a writer’s group, exhibits, and cooking classes. The Cinco de Mayo, South of the Border Cooking class, is today for $5.00 and you get to sample the results.
All the libraries that I have been in have used book sales. Here you can get paperbacks for 50 cents and hardbound books for $1.00. There are also magazines and CD’s. When traveling, you can pick up a half-dozen books, read them and donate them when you are finished.
Most libraries also have genealogical information and ties to the local historical societies. If you want to know who you are and where you came from, check out the library. In Albuquerque Public Library Main Branch, the entire second floor is devoted to genealogy, complete with thousands of books and a dozen computers that you can use for free. You can even access Ancestory.com for free within the library. And, the librarians who work the second floor are knowledgeable on researching your ancestors. An added plus is that members of the NM Genealogical Society and The Albuquerque Genealogy Society hang out there and love to help a newcomer find a person in their past.
If you have grandchildren, take a look at what libraries offer for kids. Story telling, classes, etc. If you are going to entertain a five-year old, the library is a great place.
If you travel, and even if you don’t, a library is worth a visit; especially if you want to find out about your past or if you are looking for interesting places to visit in your present.
Finally, old people have problems. They are frequently afraid to seek advice. No one wants to admit to driving problems or the possibility of cancer. A library, especially an out-of-town one, is a good place to check out your problem anonymously. You might attend a seminar on cancer; or hearing problems; or financial planning. Find out. Ask the librarian for books/information on “your problem,” and do a little research where no one knows you.
Where do you go when you are traveling and something goes wrong with your old body. Is it serious? Does your insurance cover you? Can you let it go until you get home? What if you don’t get help?
We have used urgent care in Smithtown, NY and Tucson, AZ; places where we didn’t have physicians.
We were in urgent care for one hour and 15 minutes which included check-in, filling out forms, having vitals taken, seeing a nurse practitioner, and a board-certified Emergency Room Physician. He examined my wife who had a rash on her face and a severe sore throat, diagnosed the problems, tested for strep, and prescribed the necessary medications.
She has Medicare and a private medigap plan. She was charged nothing; not even a co-pay. She may be charged later, but…
Everyone was pleasant, seemed concerned about our problems, provided us with a lot of information and fixed two problems that had been troubling her for a while. The strep test was negative. The doctor prescribed three medications for the face rash, but said to hold off on one for two weeks, as it had a high co-pay.
We received a printout of the diagnosis and treatment for our information and for her primary care physician in Albuquerque.
The place was clean, neat and professional. They did the strep test there. We were never kept waiting and felt good about the place and the people. They all listened to us.
A few years ago, I hit my head on a cabinet door that I was painting in Tucson. There was a bleeding gash in my forehead. I went to CVS pharmacy Minute Clinic, saw a nurse, was examined, told it wasn’t a serious problem and provided with an over the counter antiseptic. I went home and had no problems. I had been worried, with all the blood, but got the reassurance and treatment quickly and professionally.
In both cases, we were examined and treated by professionals. The treatments were quick, inexpensive and effective. My head is still ok and my wife’s rash which she had had for several weeks has cleared up. No problems.
The point is that at a certain age, a lot more things go wrong with your body. You don’t know how serious they are. You know something is going to kill you in the near future, but you just want to head it off for today; and, you don’t want to catch something new at the hospital in the meantime. If it is serious, you go to the emergency room or dial 911; but, for most things, where you primarily need reassurance that today is not “the day,” you just need someone to check you out; fix you; call an ambulance; call a mortician; or, tell you to go home. That is what you get at urgent care.
I hate to sit in emergency rooms; have done it many times with parents, kids and spouses. It takes a long time, it is expensive even if medicare and/or insurance is paying for it; people feel rushed and they rightly take the life threatening cases first. They practice triage, and usually for old people it is just some part wearing out that you don’t think should wear out. Mostly, it is not life threatening. That puts you at the bottom of the list. What you really need is reassurance.
Did you ever try to get an appointment with your private care physician; not only might it take a week or two, but when you get there, you have to wait. Plus, many of them are shying away from medicare because of cost cutting.
You should try urgent care; they are everywhere. And worth it even if you have to pay out-of-pocket.
And, I wonder about where I fit in the triage scheme being over 70???
References that might interest you:
Atlantic $2168 is the average cost of an emergency room visit.
Business Insider The average wait-time can be over four hours.
Stat Health; where my wife went in Smithtown, NY
Minute Clinic; where I wend for the cut on my forehead.
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.
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.
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.
We visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, England on May 15, 2014. We took the train from Paddington Station in London and the bus from the St. Austell station to the Eden Project.
The Eden Project, which opened in 2002, was built-in a 35 acre reclaimed, open clay pit, 180 feet deep. It was partially filled with soil and recycled waste. On top of this was built two enclosed biomes; one a Rainforest Biome and one a Mediterranean Biome.
The Rainforest Biome is about 750 feet long by 330 feet wide and 150 feet high. It contains over 1,100 different species of plants and has areas devoted to West Africa, Southeast Asia, Tropical Islands and Tropical South America.
The Mediterranean Biome is about 90 feet high and contains over 850 different species of plants. It represents the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.
In addition to the two major Biomes, there is a Core educational, administration and museum building along with an Outdoor Biome. There is an outdoor stage, paths, parking and a land train.
There are several restaurants serving a variety of “responsibly sourced, fairly-traded, direct sourced, organic, seasonal, and/or local and freshly made” food.
We spent a day there and could have spent more time. They have a lot of special events during the year, including “The Art of Stories,” “Harvest,” and “Christmas at Eden.”
There are numerous Bed and Breakfasts” in St. Austell. We stayed for two nights at The Grange in St. Austell.
It is easy to get there, even if you are old. Take the train from Paddington to St. Austell; check into a bed and breakfast: take the free bus from the train station to the Eden Project. Enjoy.
You should compare this to Biosphere 2 in Tucson, AZ and Arcosanti in Cordes Junction, AZ. You should think about how old open-pit mines and remote places can be re-configured as educational, research and residential communities for the future. Maybe you would like to live in one. Maybe it is a partial solution to the aging problem.
If so, go to their web pages; they all allow for interns, visitors, and maybe a new career.
The Guide – Eden Project Books, Fourteenth revised edition 2014.
Eden Project -http://www.edenproject.com/whats-it-all-about
Biosphere 2 -http://b2science.org