Whatcom County seniors tour the world one trip at a time

By Sarah Sharp

So often people say, “Travel while you’re young!” The Whatcom Senior Tour Program staff provide this piece of advice to senior residents over the age of 50: “Travel now!”

Travelers often come home from one of their tours with a collection of tales to share – from raising a glass on Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland to watching hundreds of hot air balloons drift into the New Mexico sky.

Other trips embrace the simple beauty of exploration, whether the sights be 10 miles away or 1,000. Bellingham resident Bridget Schroeter found unexpected awe on a tour through the International Buddhist Temple in Richmond, B.C.

“The Buddhist temple was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot,” Schroeter said. “It was exquisite – better than some of the ones in Thailand.”

J. Patrick Mitchell and his wife Marilyn take trips with the Whatcom Senior Tour Program at least once a year. But one train trip that will always stand out among their memorable travels took place in northern California.

As a train buff, Mitchell marveled at the historical and world-famous selection of trains they rode. At one point in their weeklong trip, they wound through towering Sequoias on a rolling train excursion – a venture that satisfied his two passions for trains and trees.

“I would recommend any of their tours,” he said. “In fact, I often invite friends to come along.”

For more than 20 years, the Whatcom Senior Tour Program has been partnering with six senior centers throughout the county to offer a wide variety of tours, said Cheryl Willis, the tour program coordinator. She creates each travel opportunity with a mature audience in mind, making it effortless and accessible to all ages and abilities.

“I’m really proud of what [Willis] does in putting together short-term trips, day trips, as well as international trips,” Mitchell said. “They just do a great job.”

A few upcoming trips include a trip to B.C.’s Mayne Island on August 23, a Mariners baseball game against the Yankees on August 24, a historical cruise around Bellingham Bay on August 30 and  a trip to Washington D.C. and Williamsburg on October 13.

For a full list of available trips, visit the Whatcom Senior Tour Program page on the Whatcom County Council on Aging’s website, wccoa.org.

All trips are open to the general public and range in price. However, those who do not have membership with the organization pay an additional $10 for day trips and $15 for extended trips.

The cost of each tour includes all transportation expenses and a guide. To reserve a spot, call 360/733-4030, extension 1015.

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