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Bit by the travel bug

Fox Run a secure home base for this longtime traveler

Created date

May 21st, 2014
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Virginia Becker retired in 1988, and she’s traveled just about every year since then. Her travels have taken her as far as Japan and Africa and many places in between. Some of her most memorable adventures include an African safari and an archeological dig in England.

Virginia spent her career working for Michigan Bell, which later become Ameritech. She worked in several departments, including personnel, public relations, and data processing, and she eventually became the director of employee benefits. Around the time she retired, Virginia bought a house in Gross Point, Mich., that she shared with her mother for several years. 

Seeing the world in the name of science

Virginia has travelled extensively with the Earth Watch Institute, an organization that sends volunteers on research trips with scientists. In exchange for assisting the scientists with field research, volunteers are able to deduct travel expenses as charitable donations on their income tax returns.

With a group from the Earth Watch Institute, Virginia travelled to Yorkshire, England, to assist an archeologist on a dig in search of Roman artifacts. She says her group uncovered an ancient necklace and a coin on that dig. She’s also taken Earth Watch trips to Switzerland, where she helped with an archeological dig for dinosaur bones, and to Scotland, where she and other volunteers went on a birding expedition on the riverbanks. In total, Virginia says she has taken about 12 scientific research vacations with Earth Watch.

“It’s not arduous work; they make it comfortable for volunteers,” Virginia says. “On my first trip to Yorkshire, the archeologist would do lectures in the evening about what he was working on. We had a day off once a week and they took us on tours to famous sites like Hadrian’s Wall.”

Travel buddies

Virginia has also taken several non-working vacations. In the early 2000s, she and her friend Janet Rex took trips to Japan, Tuscany, and Turkey. Later, the two ladies also embarked on another adventure together, this time a bit closer to home. Virginia and Janet made several visits together to Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich., to learn more about its maintenance-free lifestyle, and eventually both women decided to move to the community. Virginia moved to Fox Run in 2008, at which point, she says, keeping up her house was starting to become a burden.

“I’m getting older and didn’t want to stay in the house and do all the windows and roof again,” Virginia says. 

At Fox Run, Virginia chose a Fairmont-style apartment home. Her spacious home features two bedrooms and an open living and dining room.

“I use the other bedroom as a den,” Virginia says. “The second bedroom has a huge closet space, so I can stash a lot of stuff in there.”

Now that she’s living at Fox Run, Virginia has formed friendships with many of the other 1,000 active retirees who also call the community home. She also reconnected with an old friend, Joan Hanpeter. Virginia says she had been a bridesmaid in Joan’s wedding many years ago. The two women kept in touch over the years but didn’t see each other often until they both moved to Fox Run.

“I know more people here at Fox Run than I did when I was living in Gross Point,” Virginia says.

Virginia has continued to travel since she moved to Fox Run. Living at the secure community makes travel easy for residents. With the peace of mind that their homes and belongings are safe while they’re away, thanks to Fox Run’s 24-hour security and on-site maintenance teams, they can simply lock the door and head to the airport. 

One of Virginia’s most memorable recent trips was a 2012 African safari. 

“We rode around in dune buggies and got to see all of the wild animals,” Virginia says.

Staying active is easy

When she is at home at Fox Run, Virginia has no trouble finding ways to stay engaged and have fun. She has continued to play golf with two leagues outside of Fox Run and periodically hits the green with some of her neighbors. Most evenings, she has dinner with friends and neighbors at one of Fox Run’s on-site restaurants. After dinner, she often gathers with friends in the clubhouse for a game of RummiKub or to watch a movie.

“There’s wonderful stuff to do here,” Virginia says. “They have everything.”

As international travel becomes a little less convenient as she ages, Virginia says she’s still able to satisfy her travel bug on a smaller scale.

“The nice thing about Fox Run is they have these day trips,” Virginia says. “The next one will be to Lansing to visit the art museums.”

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