Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adventures in Rural Living

Cattails in the Snow

I live in Black Lake, New Mexico. It is five miles south of Angel Fire, 2 1/2 hours from Santa Fe, 45 minutes from Taos, and two hours from our county seat of Raton. And, most importantly at the moment, a 40 minute drive from my post office of record. Ocate Post Office is on the other side of the mountain, and in another county. It has no grocery store, no court house, no feed store, no WalMart, and no UPS store. In short the only reason to go to Ocate is to go to the post office.

When I first moved here,14 years ago, we had no mail service. Most of us of Twix, Tween and Beyond Black Lake rented a box at the Angel Fire Post Office. It did not come free because our post office of record (your US government at its best) was in Ocate. The Angel Fire Post Office then was not a government run post office but contract, and fees for boxes got expensive. After some lobby efforts we managed to get rural route delivery three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Doesn't seem fair since the Ocate Post Office was once in Black Lake I am told. Now Black Lake does not even have a zip code.

The above is important because I contacted an insurance agent in Raton about supplemental Medicare coverage. Deadline is the 7th of December. I am never quite sure where this information is published but I found out late. Then found out my local insurance broker does not handle health insurance. One in Raton (who used to be in Angel Fire) was recommended. A friend even provided me telephone numbers which were not correct because of the change in area codes. The 800 number was now 866 to make matters worse. Suffice it to say it took a while to make contact.

Once we hooked up on the telephone and email I offered to drive to Raton to complete the process, and she assured me we could handle this by phone, email, and post. She would just second day air me the papers to sign. This was Wednesday. Thanksgiving was Thursday. She called me Saturday to assure me the post office said the papers would be delivered on Tuesday.

No, they won't. I explained (once again) I did not get mail on Tuesday, and she suggested I could make an extra trip to get the papers in Ocate. It is winter. And while Pepe, our contract mail man makes it three days a week it is, in spite of all maps to the contrary, an unimproved rental car road. Maps call NM 120 to Ocate a highway. The earliest I will get the 2nd day priority mail from Raton sent Saturday is Wednesday. At two PM. That is important to know because mail departs the Angel Fire Post Office at 1:45. So the earliest I can return the signed documents to Raton is Thursday. And with the second day priority mail envelope she enclosed for return she might get them on Saturday - The Dead Line.

Or I can drive to Ocate on Tuesday (if it does not snow) after I find out their new limited hours. Then drive to Raton on Wednesday with the papers. That leaves Thursday to drive to Taos for the UPS office for another purpose unless I opt for the one in Trinidad, beyond Raton. I have gone to Google Maps to look for a short cut between Ocate and Raton which does not require a Humvee. My sister says I should just go straight to Raton on Tuesday (if by some miracle I do not get the envelope on Monday) and ask the agent to print out a second copy. This is the government we are dealing with. Medicare. Do they print second copies? And if so shouldn't I be able to print out that on my computer via the internet with some sort of access code?

I am now informed that UPS has a secret office in the hardware store in Raton. That would eliminate Taos and Trinidad. It would have been so much easier if I had just insisted on driving to Raton on this Monday. The weather is suppose to be nice and I would only have to reschedule the truck oil change.

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