Aging Well in the Gorge April 12th 2016

Do you find it’s more challenging to drive these days? I do and I’ll give you my most recent example.

I’m headed east on Ninth street and stop at Union to turn left. There is a large truck parked to my left on Union obstructing my view. I quickly look to my right and see nothing coming. I look back to my left – looking around the pickup; watching for any clues of oncoming traffic. I see none, and am about ready to pull out, but now I can’t recall if I had seen any traffic to my right! I take another quick look to my right – again see nothing. Look back to my left – still trying to see around the pickup. There’s nothing and now’s my chance to go. But maybe a car has turned onto Union since I last looked. So I look again to my right. Now the car behind me is honking, while I’m whiplashing my head back and forth as if I’m at a tennis match.

I know I‘m not the only one whose had such an experience – which gives me a little comfort. But for many of us, as we age, our reaction times, reflexes and recall are slower.

But the National Institute on Aging offers several suggestions, so we can adapt and keep driving safely.
1) Leave more space between you and the car in front of you – if only cars wouldn’t keep pulling in front of me!
2) Start braking early when you need to stop. I go one step further. Whenever I see red braking lights in front of me, I immediately take my foot off the gas pedal.
3.) Avoid problem situations such as high traffic areas, left turns or as in my wife’s case, she avoids narrow residential streets.
4.) Drive in the right-hand lane where traffic moves slower so you have more time to make safe driving decisions. Let the NASCAR wannabes drive in the left lanes.
5.) And when in doubt, don’t go out. Stay home when the weather is bad. There is nothing that turns your knuckles whiter than driving through the Gorge on a windy, pouring-down, rainy night.

You can learn more about driving safely as well as getting up to speed on the new Oregon driver laws by attending an AARP Smart Driver class at the Center. The next class will be held from 8:45 am to 12:05 pm on April 18th and 19th. The cost is $20 or $15 for AARP members. Call (541) 296-4788 to sign up.

Meet friends and enjoy the best pizza while supporting the good work of the Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity at their Annual Pizza Feed at Spooky’s from 4:30 – 7:30 on Wednesday, April 13th. The cost is $12.00 for ages 14 and over, $7.00 for ages 7-13 and $4.00 for ages 6 & under. And this year there’ll be a raffle for some big prizes donated by local Habitat supporters.

The sun is staying up later, so you might as well to – which gives you time to enjoy Tuesday Night Music at the Center on April 12th when Martin and Friends will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and everyone is welcome. Donations are appreciated.

Until the mid-60’s women’s basketball players couldn’t go past mid-court so there were three players on each half of the court composing six players on a team. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket are Jim Heitkemper and Ron Sutherland.)

Country singer and songwriter Merle Haggard, who died on April 6th, was one of the most successful performers of the “Bakersfield Sound” – a honky-tonk style that was in response to the slick Nashville sound which was gaining popularity in the 50’s. But he wasn’t the only one.

For this week’s “Remember When’ question, who was the country artist that settled in Bakersfield, California in 1951, who recorded the #1 hit “Act Naturally” in 1963, and who chose his own nickname from the name of their family goat. (Because it sounded better than Alvis.). Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or stop by the office and shout out a loud “Heeeee Haw”.

Well, it’s been another week realizing once again, I don’t know as much I thought. Until we meet again, take time to “take it easy”.

“Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.” Robert Brault

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