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Spreading their wings

Trips far and near give travelers a taste of culture, history, adventure

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September 5th, 2014
Ruth Ellerthorpe (left) and Lucille Joseph are two of the brains behind Cedar Crest’s most popular club: Trips and Travel. They plan more than a dozen day trips, overnights, and cruises throughout the year for their neighbors.
Ruth Ellerthorpe (left) and Lucille Joseph are two

From Hyde Park to Honolulu, no destination is too far—or too far-fetched—for Cedar Crest’s Trips and Travel Club. 

Manned by a core group of four Cedar Crest neighbors—Ruth Ellerthorpe, Lucille Joseph, Helen Grotheer, and Al Pischl—the club plans and organizes day trips, cruises, and overnights to destinations both celebrated and unsung. 

But they rarely revisit. 

“Some places are worthwhile to go back to, but there’s so much to see and do around this area where people can learn and spread their wings and enhance their knowledge in some way [that I rarely rebook],” says Ruth, chairperson and founder of the club. 

Most trips are her brainchildren, though she takes requests at the group’s quarterly meetings in January, April, July, and October. Meetings and trips are open to all members of the Pompton Plains, N.J., community, but are limited to 48 travelers. 

The big benefits for travelers: all details planned, transportation secure, and no organizing required. Ruth and her group plan the destinations, reserve the coach buses, and arrange for accommodations. 

“I always enjoy the fact that wherever we go, it’s going to be great. I’m Ruth’s number one fan,” says Lucille, club member and frequent traveler. Lucille plans the club’s frequent casino trips to Mohegan Sun in Pocono Downs, Pa.

“Most people get off the bus and say, ‘That was wonderful!’ because Ruth puts in so much effort,” Lucille says. 

Fun-filled schedule

That’s not just Lucille’s opinion. The trips are just as popular as they are frequent. 

The club takes at least one trip a month. This summer, they’ve visited Coney Island, N.Y.; Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.; and Tanglewood, Mass., for its outdoor music festival, parade, and fireworks show. The latter, an overnight trip, included sightseeing of the area’s museums and landmarks. 

This month, the travelers head to the Old ’76 House, a restaurant in Tappan, N.Y., that had a part in the Revolutionary War. While there, the group will receive a historical account of the wartime events. Then they’ll head to Sunnyside, in Irvington, N.Y., home of Washington Irving and the legend of Sleepy Hollow.

“Tanglewood on Parade is a repeat trip, but we are going to all different places than we did four years ago,” Ruth says. As of May, she had a waiting list for this popular destination.

Most notable on the schedule: a seven-night Hawaiian cruise aboard the Pride of America, a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, from January 22 to February 1, 2015. “This is what we’re really pushing for right now,” says Ruth. As of May, eight people had signed up, and several more had expressed interest. 

This isn’t the first “big” trip the club has planned. Last year, they floated down the Mississippi River aboard a steamboat. And they’ve taken two river cruises in Europe, visited the Panama Canal, and strolled the streets of Las Vegas. 

A few favorites

Though they rarely repeat trips, both Ruth and Lucille have their favorites of trips past. 

“My favorite trip was going to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J.,” Ruth says of the oldest existing guide dog school in the world. “It was such a simple, beautiful thing to see how those dogs work.”

For Lucille, Christmas trips take the cake. 

“My favorite was the trip to Buyer’s Choice in Pennsylvania, where they make the Christmas dolls with the oval mouth,” she says. She also says she enjoys holiday getaways to West Point for the West Point Army Band’s Christmas concert in Eisenhower Hall, and to the Apollo Theater in Harlem—a trip they took last Christmas season.

For others, Ruth says boat trips are always popular, so she’s sure to book at least one a year. And her famous “mystery trips,” in which Ruth plans a secret destination and activities and takes reservations, fill up quickly. 

“I try to do at least one mystery trip a year because they fill up so fast,” Ruth says. “It shows they have confidence in our planning.”

Coming home

“I enjoy traveling with people here at Cedar Crest because they are so cooperative and appreciative,” Ruth says. “I do the research beforehand, and we really just enjoy ourselves.”

Not only do Cedar Crest’s travelers enjoy getting away, they also enjoy coming home. 

“Cedar Crest is a wonderful place to live,” Ruth says. “Everyone is so friendly, and it’s like living in a little town with stores, a medical center, a dentist, and a theater.”

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