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Ready to hit the road?

Parkville community satisfies appetite for adventure

Created date

April 24th, 2012

Pack your bags and leave your worries on the doorstep. Many have discovered traveling is easier and more fun than ever when you live at Oak Crest. Nobody knows that better than Susanne Howard, special trips coordinator at the Parkville, Md., Erickson Living community. Similar to a travel agent, Howard plans trips and escorts Oak Crest residents to destinations all over the world. We ve been to so many places the Canadian Rockies, Alaska, the Panama Canal, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Nova Scotia, Memphis, Tenn., the Hudson River Valley, Myrtle Beach, S.C. and done so many different things. However, I draw the line at skydiving, rock climbing, and bungee jumping, says Howard, a former Baltimore County school bus driver.

Getting there is half the fun

Joe Smith has attended many of those trips since moving to Oak Crest in 2004. The first trip I went on was to Branson, Mo., says Joe. A friend of mine went with me, and we never laughed so much in our lives. After that I was hooked, and I think I ve been on at least 20 trips since. A father of 11 and grandfather of 27, traveling wasn t something Joe had an opportunity to do until after he retired. We had taken a few trips here and there to visit family in New Jersey and Minnesota. For our 25th wedding anniversary, our kids sent us to Bermuda. But for the most part we were too busy raising children to really travel much, he says. So when the opportunity for a trip to Alaska came up, Joe didn t think twice. Without question it was one of the best trips I ve been on, he says. The travel bug bit Joe s neighbor Shirley Bollinger at an early age. When I was growing up, once a year my mother and I would take the train to Washington, D.C., to visit relatives, says Shirley. I loved it! I remember always thinking that the train ride was never quite long enough. With trips to Nova Scotia, Alaska, the Panama Canal, Hawaii, Europe, the Mediterranean, and twice cross-country by train under her belt, Shirley knows firsthand how much work goes into planning for a trip. But, she says, since moving to Oak Crest 11 years ago, traveling has never been easier. [Howard] does a superb job of planning every detail of a trip so all you have to do is pack your bags and show up, says Shirley. At a monthly meeting called Residents on the Go (ROTG), Howard invites Oak Crest community members to share their travel ideas. It s an opportunity for residents to give their input on where they would like to go and what kinds of things they would like to see, says Howard. Once we get a list of ideas, I have someone who then helps me get an itinerary together. I try to factor in things like how much walking there will be, how readily available restrooms are, and how easily special diets can be accommodated.

Off the beaten track

All trips are advertised throughout the community with flyers, as well as on the community s in-house TV station. On average, 15 to 25 people travel with the group. Notable past trips include a ten-day paddle boat cruise on the Queen of the West down the Columbia, Snake, and Willamette Rivers, in Oregon, and a trip to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt. Susanne is great at coming up with fascinating travel spots, says Joe. She finds lots of interesting places that you might not necessarily think of on your own. Howard is busy planning trips for 2012 and 2013, including a trip aboard the Grand American Queen Steamboat from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. Other destinations include the Caribbean Islands; British Isles; Normandy, France; Atlantic City, N.J.; the trains of the Colorado Rockies; Ocean City, Md.; Canada; and the Tournament of Roses parade in Los Angeles, Calif. No doubt Shirley and Joe will be on one or more of those trips. I would never have the opportunity to travel like this if I had not moved to Oak Crest, says Joe. Over the years I ve been to so many interesting places and made so many friends. It s just been great!