Friday, April 13, 2018

Lunch Date

Dan and I had a lunch date today with six friends.  It was cheery, full of conversation and good food.  I should mention  all of us in the lunch group are older than 72 with two in their 80s and Calvin is in his 90s. 

Our friend Irma from Clinton set it up.  We only drove because it was our turn.  Irma, Dan and I often hit some of the local four star eateries:  Poor Farm at Clinton, Conrads at Overbrook, Berryton UMC meal night and of course our Stull UMC meal night. 

This time we picked up our friends and traveled to Pioneer Ridge Retirement Center in Lawrence where Judy resides.  Before we settled in the restaurant, we took a little tour of the facility.  There is a huge meeting room available for residents for no charge, there is a workout center where the machines are electronically matched to each residents arm band, and there is a room with big screen TV, pool table, fireplace  and a nicely stocked bar.  I think owners of these facilities are seeing us baby boomers coming!

Dan and I had the mushroom cheese hamburger sandwich, some of the others had mac and cheese and chicken salad sandwich. The portions were for people who are sedentary, but it was all very good.   They have waitresses and a chef.

Irma, retired BSN,  made an interesting observation.  She said a retirement center like Pioneer Ridge is a community within a community.  Most residents know and watch after each other.   They eat and socialize together, but have their little apartment when they want solitude.   By combining resources, they bring in lecturers, show movies every day and takes trips in their bus. 

One of the residents out and about we instantly recognized.  Judy introduced us to a published author. So, you have people who are well known by their accomplishments, others who are well known because they are good listeners and others who just make people laugh.  Just as it is as we live in our wider communities.

The transition from home to a retirement facility comes more easily for some than others.  It seems to me that the most happy residents today were with a group of friends.  In the end, as we grow old, it might be our friends, not our doctor, who are able to make us feel the best.

Monday, April 09, 2018

White Sands National Monument

First, here is a Smug Mug link to more pictures.

White Sands National Monument is tucked down in southern New Mexico, really not on the direct way to a location we have visited in the past. 

White Sands map 

Maybe that’s why we have not stopped by on our other trips to Phoenix.  Since we were headed south to the Tucson area from Mesa, Kay and Lynn encouraged us to route our return trip by this remarkable site. 

Our government does an outstanding job producing the videos available in every national park/monument that has a visitor’s center.  The White Sands presentation was stunning, especially the drone footage.  The movie is where we learned that the “sand” is really not sand at all, but gypsum particles.  The nearby mountains have large deposits of gypsum that over time have blown off and deposited on the area. 

From the visitor’s center, we entered the monument on a well traveled road between dunes. 

Due to the nature of the shifting sand, visitors are encouraged to stay on the road at all times.  However, there are plenty of opportunities to pull over and hike out over the dunes.  I overheard a young mother ask the park ranger if her daughters could get lost among the dunes and he told her to accompany them but to also orient to high poles located in the area.  That is how much the dunes and valleys are alike, yet shifting. 

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This sand is extremely bright and white.  I found it hard to get a good picture.  Thankfully, the few high clouds gave the sand some contrast. 

We spent around three hours here including the visitor’s center.  We could have taken a self guided trail with the flora labeled but opted not to do that.  There were sleds for rent and the kids and adults with them were having a lot of fun sliding and making “snow” angels.

White Sands Missile Range is the next-door neighbor to the Monument.  We went by the impressive Holloman Air Force Base with plenty of signs letting us know we were within the missile range.  The White Sands Missile Range was a key part of the Manhattan Project which developed the first atomic bomb.  The WSMR Museum and Missile Park is open for visitors.  Unfortunately, I did not do my homework and was not aware of the museum that we probably went right by.  Once a year there is a public visit to the Trinity (atom bomb) site as well.  I also learned there are still safety closures of the Hwy 70 and White Sands National Monument due to current rocket launches.