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Richard’s Almanac: Seeking the sun


I don’t know whether it’s aging that makes me more stressed than ever as I plan a trip, but I certainly had a stressful week recently getting myself from Shelter Island to Florida.

I had made train reservations almost two months ago. I wanted to be sure to get a room at a reasonable price. I reserved a car to rent upon my arrival in Palm Beach. I did everything the right way. My train was scheduled to leave Penn station at 3:15 Monday afternoon. I booked a Jitney out of Greenport for 9:30 a.m.

Everything was in place. Then the reports of snow kept coming in. What should I do? I was really ready to make this trip and did not want to miss my train. I made the decision to stay in the city on Sunday night. The hotel cost was worth it, reducing the worry factor.

So I got a Jitney from Greenport Sunday morning, getting me into New York with plenty of time to settle into my hotel. I made plans to meet my son for lunch on Monday provided we were not stuck in almost a foot of snow that some had predicted. He lives in Jersey and works right around the corner from the Algonquin where I was staying.

Monday morning I pushed back the curtain and saw snow free streets. Hooray! The trains should be running on time. I called my daughter to see what the snow situation was on the Island. She said there was snow and the kids were off to a late start at school.

I was secretly happy about that because maybe it justified my worry. I had done the right thing. So I sat in the lounge waiting for my train continuing to be anxious. It was late. Mechanical problems we were told. I guess it left Penn Station close to 45 minutes late, but at least I was settled into my room ready to relax and enjoy the journey. I was also looking forward to meeting other train people during the three meals I’d be having in the dining car.

The ride was bumpy and we arrived in West Palm Beach one hour and forty five minutes late. But I was there and it was warm and the sun was shining. As I moved about, the pleasant attitude toward seniors was almost palpable. Which is understandable considering how many of us there are here. It’s a very senior citizen friendly state. Medical facilities are everywhere and pharmacies are present on almost every corner.

The warm weather contributes to seniors’ sense of well being. No ice-cold weather, no snow, no stuck cars, no dead batteries — the things up north that make life stressful for older people. Road signs are in very large print so there’s no mistaking where to turn. Reading glasses are happily provided in restaurants for those who need them.

As we age, we tend to want our environment to be neat and orderly. Florida’s got it. Everything is very clean — streets , sidewalks and buildings. Even all the cars are spotless. One sport that carries over into later life is golf. Right now, I am in Naples where there are more golf courses than anywhere else in the country, I have been told.

Shopping is also very senior friendly. Publix (the large grocery chain here) offers a fleet of motorized shopping carts for those who need them and they will load groceries into your car.  The Publix in Palm Beach provides valet parking.

In general, dining out is less expensive than we are used to with the exception of the restaurants I  tried in Palm Beach. Their prices are equivalent to those on the Island.

Will I stay here for my golden years?

No. Two weeks is fine.