The Other Side of 50 April 2012

Tripping together is safe and fun

By From page D2 | April 30, 2012

Canada, San Francisco, Reno, Italy and Fresno. These are just a few of the places that El Dorado County senior citizens have visited via a program offered by El Dorado County Senior Services.

The El Dorado County Travelers as they prefer to be called, have many stories to tell of some faraway and not so faraway places that they have visited.

“Basically along with the senior activities we also offer trips that are day trips, overnight trips and extended trips for El Dorado County residents and we work with organizations and provide travel opportunities all over the world,” said Star Walker, program coordinator. “The program has been going on and has been very popular for many years.”

Perry and Sharron Beckley, of Placerville, took their first trip on July 12, 2000 and are now senior volunteer group leaders.

Since then, they have visited Ashland, Ore.; Yellowstone; the Canadian Rockies, Vancouver, BC; Sequoia National Park; Hearst Castle; the Rose Festival in Portland, Ore.; Catalina; Mendocino; the Albuquerque Balloon Festival; Yosemite; and many more places.

“We began doing just day trips,” Sharron, 78, said. “It was so exciting to do it. It was such fun that we would give people prizes and all kinds of things.”

Trips are popular

The prices for the trips vary and all fill up quickly. All trips include transportation, most meals, admission to attractions and the longer trips include lodging.

For example, a trip to Yosemite includes one night lodging, Glacier Point Tour, most meals, and a visit to a cheese factory for $296 per person double occupancy. Another tour, a day tour of West Marin, costs $89.

“My very first day trip was about four or five years ago,” said Ileene Jensen, 78, of Placerville. “One of my friends encouraged me to take a day trip. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to but she talked me into it and it was a trip to San Francisco. It was a tour of the historic churches and chapels. It was a wonderful tour.”

Jensen added from then on, she started visiting the senior center and started volunteering to keep track of people who had signed up and the incoming fees for trips. In addition, Jensen goes on as many trips as she can.

“They just offer some great trips,” Jensen said. “One of my favorites was when we went to Angel Island.”

Perry said All West Coachline, the tour company which the center utilizes, will frequently hire a person who is oriented to the city the group is visiting making the tour experience even more educational. He added in Yellowstone, the guide was educated in geothermal studies.

“The drivers are excellent in that we want to keep our people safe,” Sharron said. “It’s really important.”

Perry added during longer trips, travelers don’t have to carry luggage. It is loaded onto the bus by employees and then placed in rooms awaiting the arrival of bus riders.

And the bus trips just aren’t for seniors, according to Perry and Jensen, passengers have taken family members along as well but that is providing there is enough room on the bus.

“One time we had three generations on board,” he said.

Safety in numbers

Sharron added as people get older, they can’t travel by themselves anymore so by going in groups they are able to do it.

“I became a widow, it’ll be 10 years next month, and back then my husband and I used to do a lot of things together,” Jensen said. “With the driving bit and everything, you don’t do it by yourself. The trips at the senior center have opened up a whole new world for me. And they take good care of you.”

Patty Buehlert, 79, of Placerville, likes the ease of going on the trips.

“I only go on day trips,” she said. “The last one I went to was “Gypsy” and there was a guy on the bus who said he could talk to us about the area. He talked the whole time. I loved it.”

For people who are interested in participating in the tours, there are fliers available at the senior centers in Placerville, 937 Spring St., 530-621-6158; El Dorado Hills, 990 Lassen Lane, 916-358-3575; and Pollock Pines, 2675 Sanders Drive, 530-644-4008.

Information can also be found in the Mountain Democrat and Senior Times. They can also call the senior center as well.

Once they receive the flier, there is a simple form to fill out and submit and payment isn’t due until a pre-set deadline date.

Some upcoming trips include: Ring of Fire Musical in May ($98), Sunset Celebration Weekend ($77), Academy of Sciences in July ($85), West Marin ($89), El Dorado in Reno in September overnight ($185 single, $155 double), Fleet Day in San Francisco ($136), Autumn in Yosemite in October overnight ($341 single, $296 double), Day at the Races in November ($86).

There also are trips to Italy and beyond planned.

Easy to sign up

“Not only can people come in and fill out a form, I have also made it so that people can phone in and leave a message or e-mail me that they want to go on the trip,” Walker said.

“A lot of people don’t want to sign up because they don’t have the money but I want to let people know that they don’t have to pay when they sign up. The money is not due until at least a month before the trip,” Walker said.

Walker also said the trips are in high demand and those who are interested should sign up as early as possible.

For more information call Walker at 530-621-6255.

Charlotte Sanchez-Kosa

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