Seniors: Sign Up for SilverSneakers!

Recently I received a pamphlet from my insurance company with specials on fitness opportunities, including SilverSneakers, a free fitness program for all seniors, offered through Medicare. I had heard about this program and was eager to take advantage of it.

I have a membership at my local YMCA where I participate in an aquacize class twice a week. This swim class seems to address my health issues more effectively than other forms of exercise. SilverSneakers partners with the Y and pays the Y membership fee with no additional charge to me. (Not all Y’s partner with SilverSneakers but many private gyms do.) The program is available to those who are 65 or older, throughout the U.S. A member can enroll in as many activities as his/her stamina will permit.

A woman I met, Pat, used to walk with two canes due to a chronic back problem that kept her bedridden for several years. After receiving medical treatment, she’s working on her therapy at the Y, thanks to SilverSneakers. She can walk straight and swim laps.

The Affordable Care Act narrowly escaped disembowelment, but there’s still uncertainty regarding the future of health care in this country. It is incumbent upon all of us to insist that forthcoming health delivery provides fitness programs, free of charge or at a manageable fee. SilverSneakers ensures that seniors can improve their strength and agility and minimize the possibility of having a reoccurrence of a disability.

 

 

 

 

Wyoming: Butch’s Place

Butch’s Place, a western -style tavern comes complete with swinging doors, tables covered with red and white checkered oilcloth, and posters of locally produced ale and whiskey. A single gas fired stove provides heat for the dining area. The tavern, on Route 10 in Kirby, Wyoming, (population, last count, 375) between Thermopolis and Worland has been a landmark for over twenty years.

ls

Of course the main attraction to Butch’s Place was Butch. Marty and I don’t remember Butch’s last name and never knew his first name. He was just Butch. His wife, Linda helped manage the restaurant and also held a job working for the Town of Thermopolis.

Butch was a gregarious, accommodating host. He was known for his “okey doky” to any request. In spite of Butch’s claim that he didn’t cook, just “only put food together” there were several items on the menu that were unique to his establishment. A favorite amongst the children were the twelve -ounce hamburgers, whether they were ordered unadorned or smothered. His was one of the first restaurants in the area to serve buffalo burgers, cooked to perfection. A single order of chicken salad was large enough to satisfy a family of four, and the lightly grilled sirloin finger steaks were a delicious specialty. One dish that I haven’t seen before were his “hog wings”, which are pork shins, about the size of chicken drumsticks, very tasty and tender. They were cooked so that the meat fell off the bones.

A few years ago, Butch retired and sold the business. Although the food was still good, twelve- ounce burgers were no longer served, and we missed Butch’s and Linda’s camaraderie and conviviality. The tavern might have changed hands more than once.

You can imagine our surprise, upon visiting Wyoming last winter, to learn that Butch’s Place had closed. The rumor is that the recent owner’s girl friend decided to put pool tables in the dining area, which infringed upon the seating capacity and detracted from the character of the eatery. One of the employees was enraged and pulled the plugs on the refrigerators and freezers. The food was contaminated and it took quite a while before the restaurant was cleaned, sanitized, and safe to be used. To date, nobody has shown any interest in rehabilitating the facility and starting up again.

Back in Thermopolis, we observed other changes. Restaurants come and go for many reasons. As a result of a poor economy there were fewer bathers at the pool. In other years the pool was crowded with visitors from neighboring communities, particularly over the weekends. There were winter athletic meets at the high school and participants from different schools usually included a swim in their busy schedules. We may not have been in Thermopolis during the right week, but the out of town athletes were also rare.

The Quality Inn that we’ve stayed at has the capacity to park the tractor-trailers operated by truckers working in the oil patch. They haul large pipe, massive generators and other equipment to nearby oil fields. With the glut of oil and low prices for fuel, many oil wells hat have been capped and thousands of people have lost their jobs. This has had a ripple effect on the entire economy in the region. Consequently, truckers at the motel were not as numerous as other years.

Thermopolis is still home to the “World’s Largest Hot Springs” and we delight in ducking our heads under the hot water to get the icicles out of our hair. It’s also fun to see children making angels in the snow before jumping in to the pool. Water aerobics, which I find therapeutic, are still offered at the “Teepee” pools where we swim. It’s fascinating to watch the birds migrate in squadron formation, while we ‘re swimming. I love counting boxcars and tankers as the railroad trains whiz by the pool, but I have to admit that I lose track when there are more than two hundred cars on one train. We also enjoy watching the stars come out, whenever we swim in the evening. Some things I hope will never change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan, the Man from Thermopolis

If you are motoring to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, in all probability you’ll stop in Thermopolis, a small town, southeast of  the park, for a swim or soak, in the ”World’s Largest Hot Springs,” located in Hot Springs State Park,  where there are two privately owned thermal facilities. We have been visiting Thermopolis for about twenty years, and enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool, where the water is approximately 94 degrees. In the cold of winter, it’s fun to duck in the hot water to get the icicles out of our hair.

It’s hard not to notice Dan Moriarty, part owner and manager, of the Teepee Pools, the facility we prefer.  Dan is not particularly attractive. He’s overweight with a grey beard. He was a former alcoholic and suffered many illnesses. Managing the pool requires knowledge, and is labor intensive. Dan and his crew are out in all kinds of weather to assure that the equipment is functioning. This fall, the roof of the Teepee Pools suffered damage from hurricanes and can’t be repaired until spring. Meanwhile, Dan has been conferring with contractors, state officials, and his partners, about replacing the roof. They decided on using brick red metal paneling that will be both attractive and able to withstand rough weather.

Dan had the habit of greeting us with brash “can you top this” remarks. I wasn’t offended. I’ve known people with harsh demeanors who were good -natured. It is my observation that the bravado is only a mask for a person’s insecurity. Marty and I are fond of Dan. We enjoy getting together for lunch or dinner. He’s intelligent, and is not reluctant to talk about politics. We’ve exchanged many heated discussions. Who else, but Dan, would keep us up to date on the news and gossip of Thermopolis? We can also depend upon Dan for information about good restaurants.

In the locker room at the pool, I overheard some women describing Dan as a womanizer, and disrespectful of the opposite sex. I have the impression that he is the first person a woman, or anybody, would turn to when help was needed. He has often been accompanied by a date, when we went out, and was always considerate. We recently met Dan at a restaurant with several women. He was with the local women’s basketball team and had treated them all to dinner!

Dan would discuss some of the problems caused by customers. There are those who don’t watch their children. There are others who bring small children into the hot tubs, ignoring signs prohibiting children under 14 from using the tubs, citing serious health risks.

One of the most bizarre stories, Dan told, is of George, an older man whom we knew. When he passed away, his wife approached Dan about having a special funeral at the pool, because George loved swimming and spent part of every day there. She suggested bringing George to the pool in his bathing suit, after nine in the evening when the pool is closed. Dan bellowed, ”NO WAY.” We can always count on Dan to entertain us with his stories.

CIMG2811

Meet me at the Mikvah?

Now I’m going for Aquatic Therapy. In November I experienced a bad fall and have sustained pain and fatigue, and have been sapped of my strength and vitality.This is not me. I recently underwent two knee replacements like a trooper. After all the diagnostic tests and treatments,  it’s been determined that I have Spinal Stenosis; a condition everyone endures to some degree, when aging. The Stenosis is caused by calcification in the spine which presses on the surrounding nerves. I’m being brief. However I won’t be offended by corrections from the medical professionals. It seems like there is no cure for this other than having an operation. Since the opinions that i get about back surgery are mixed, I decided to resort to an operation only as a last resort, when and if I can’t walk.
Since I love to swim, I decided to try Aqua Therapy. There aren’t many places in my area t with this program, but I did find a small private facility that offers both PT and Aquatic therapy The pool is 15′ by 10′, similar to a Mikvah, the ritual cleansing bath used by Orthodox Jewish people. It can accommodate two people, is equipped with parallel bars and even a whirlpool. Various flotation aids and weights are also available. The exercises are not strenuous, or unusual, but  because I am buoyant in the water I have a good workout in half an hour. Exercising will not cure the problem, but I am hopeful that with it,  I can strengthen my muscles, increase my mobility, and marginalize the symptoms of the Spinal Stenosis. Who knows, maybe I’ll even  lose a pound or two in the process!  If only the pool was large enough for a little swim after all that work.
I am not complaining. There is a bowl of Hershey kisses at the desk; a little reward for work well done and a little something to boost my energy.Image