Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Growing Old in Northwest Montana

Growing Old in Northwest Montana My mother always said, “Getting old is not for sissies.” But it beats the alternative! Now that I am the Beatles’ song, and fast approaching that moment when I must accept Medicare, I cannot ignore the fact of aging. Watching my cat Kevin struggle a few weeks ago with something the Vet determined was an idiopathic blockage – meaning he could not pee but it was not because of crystals so common among male cats, and it was treatable and is likely to re-occur – watching that, I realized my mother was so very right. Kevin is 14, not ancient but old for a cat. His struggle mirrors what I might get to expect not too far down the line. And it cost us $500. So I amend my mother’s mantra: getting old is not for sissies, and it gets expensive to boot. At least I have insurance. But until I reach 65, the co-pay can be as catastrophic as the illness. But if you’re going to get old, Flathead County in northwestern Montana is a pretty good place to do it. The medical facilities up here are Medicare friendly; in fact, many cater to the older crowd. The facilities all are first rate and modern, I feel safe here. Today I saw a report on air quality in the state, and Flathead County received a grade of A – so the air is clean and clear. Also, as a registered Montana vehicle owner, I have free access to every state park anywhere in Montana, anytime. Not only that, because my car is old, too, I am allowed to have a lifetime registration on it now with no annual renewal. Another perk: when I turned 62 I paid $10 for a National Parks card that allows me free access to any and every national park or monument in the United States. I happen to have one in my back yard, Glacier National Park, which is rated as the third best overall park in the country behind Yellowstone (which happens to be eight hours away by car) and Yosemite. And Flathead Lake is just down the hill. The only drawback is that so many of our friends and family live far, far away, and though we have more time now, we do not always have the means to come to you. So, the pitch continues: Flathead County has a population of only 87,000, or two-thirds the size of my old haunt, the city of Salinas. Yet we have all the shopping you could ever need from Kehoe’s amazing rock shop to Costco, and we even have our own symphony orchestra and chorale. Canada is just ninety minutes away, Glacier Park an hour. We have our own international airport (a big name for a place with three gates, but it gets us anywhere we want). If you like scones, and especially if you hate scones, Glacier Perks, literally four minutes from our door, is the place to be. They also make the best espresso on two continents. And, of course, Blokker’s bed and breakfast is always open; reservations highly recommended but not required.

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