HELLO! Nice of you to visit . . .

Did you know that there are organizations who supplement their staff with volunteers, offering free room and board? All you need do is get there! Second Career Volunteer details how pre/post retirees, Boomers, unemployed college graduates, and those displaced by the current financial upheaval can get-out-and-give back within their budget while sharing their skills. Whether one week, one month or one year, single or a couple, this lifestyle allows travel, camaraderie, and adventure, irrespective of finances. Come join me!

AMTRAK musings January 1st and 2nd, 2010

View from the Observation CarBig Sky Country, My Dog Bill and Albuquerque …………

Good Morning Lamar, Colorado! Pink sky and a white marble moon welcome the day as the train gently rocks me awake to the openness of the car and the landscape. Bare tree limbs shine silver in the hazy mist. Cows lumber, munching frozen scrub – no hot oatmeal for them! As the Southwest Chief zips along, I spy two Pronghorn deer leap frolic between scraggly pines and watch pick-ups slide into familiar slots at the local diner, holiday decorations gleaming, as farmers and ranchers, up since 4 a.m., have coffee and grits, commiserating on gossip and the price of feed. An announcement that the Diner is open for breakfast is followed by the Conductor stating that we will be taking a “walk-around” stop in LaJunta, time for smoking and stretching. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, but BOY a shower would feel real good! I have time to get some tea in the snack area and join the few who decide to enjoy LaJunta. Two vendors, women with local cards, Indian beads and various other travel items have card tables set up. I spy a card with a great picture of our train – LA JUNTA – proclaimed in large letters on the bottom. Perfect for Ella and Greta! I ask about the town’s history and  tells me she was born here, that the train will follow the Santa Fe Trail on into Albuquerque and hands me a brochure about the Koshare Indian Museum – yes, right here in tiny LaJunta – where the local Boy Scout Troop 232 of the Rocky Mountain Council perform summer and winter ceremonial native dances. The collection in the museum was started by those same Boy Scouts and houses one of the finest collections of Southwestern art and artifacts in the United States. See what you learn but asking a simple question! Would have taken a peek but it was time to all aboard.  Decided to sit in the Observation Car to write however at first glance, most tables occupied – wait, over there! Half of one is empty! I ask and am invited to join Michael S. McGovern of “My Dog Bill” fame, musician/singer/songwriter among other talents, an enthusiastic humanitarian traveling to LA to hawk his newest CD. We compare lifestyles and philosophies. Nice guy; single parent with seven-year-old son. If you see his name, you heard it here first. We are now in New Mexico, two more stops, then Albuquerque! The train creeps up and up, lumbering through a tunnel, then down, down. Called Stephanie and Henrietta and will be met at the station. Feeling a little dull throbbing in my head, like someone is standing on my forehead. Mention this to Diane (fellow passenger departing in Albuquerque also), and she says “it’s the altitude – happens to most – am used to it. Drink plenty of water – no alcohol – and rest. That’s about all you can do.” I thank her and take a glug from my handy bottle of water to swallow a sinus pill. Feel disconnected and very tired. Oh well, this too shall pass. For now I will sit back and enjoy looking at the blond boulders and rolling hill landscape of New Mexico. Disembarking is a chore; head still throbbing but Stephanie is waving and calling my name. She drives me to the school and helps me get in with luggage – think I made sense – don’t know; haven’t spoken with her since. Maybe tomorrow I’ll learn if I embarrassed myself – hope not. Anyway, took a shower and went to bed at 6:00 p.m. Got up during the night now and then to drink water and eventually emerged as a human being at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. Feel great! Sunday is bright, sunny and cool (Albany has snow and temp is in the teens). Two other volunteers take me to the Indian Cultural Center just down Menaul Blvd. Will go back on Saturday to take a pic of the gingerbread pueblo to post here. What a great display. So … my trip has ended and my volunteer experience at Menaul School is beginning. A great way to start 2010.