The ruins of Pompeii were among the sites visited by Craig resident Julie Hanna and other participants on CNCC's recent spring break trip to Italy and France. About one-third of participants were ages 50 or older.

Courtesy photo

The ruins of Pompeii were among the sites visited by Craig resident Julie Hanna and other participants on CNCC's recent spring break trip to Italy and France. About one-third of participants were ages 50 or older.

Aging Well: Local programs make travel easy, fun

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Steamboat Springs and Craig recreation departments offer trips to residents 55 and older. There is limited availability for trips offered through Craig. For information, call 826-2004. There still is good availability for most trips offered through Steamboat Springs. For more information, call 879-4300, ext. 361.

CNCC trips

Community members may participate in all-day and multi-day trips offered through CNCC. Registration is free for Moffat County residents 62 and older. For a schedule of summer trips or to sign up for information about the 2009 spring break trip, call Mary Morris-Shearer at 824-1135.

Venturing beyond our remote valley for a bit of adventure isn't always easy, especially for older adults.

With this in mind, the Steamboat Springs and Craig recreation departments offer residents 55 and older the chance to attend all-day and multi-day excursions to fun and interesting destinations throughout Colorado.

At the same time, travel programs through Colorado Northwestern Community College, while not catering specifically to older adults, offer exciting and convenient opportunities for community members to experience near and far places in the company of young and older travelers.

Seniors program trips

While Craig and Steamboat each have a different schedule of trips, the two programs team up for trips to popular destinations such as Central City/Black Hawk as well as annual barbecues and picnics.

Registration for the popular Craig trips, offered April through December, is almost full. Last week, spots still were available in five of 17 trips including a Rockies vs. Dodgers game and a multi-day trip to Ouray and Mesa Verde National Park, said Pam Maneotis, Craig recreation facilitator.

Registration recently opened for Steamboat trips, which include 16 excursions and gatherings between May and December. The first trip is to the Colorado Mills Mall on May 14.

The schedule includes old favorites such as Colorado Rockies games as well as new trips suggested by past participants.

A visit to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail and a multi-day adventure to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad along the Colorado/New Mexico border are among new outings.

"We are always asking them where they would like to go," said Maria Bidgood, senior program coordinator with the City of Steamboat Springs.

Day trips range from $10 to $70, covering costs of transportation, any tickets and some meals.

Last year, about 50 different residents with ages in their early 60s to late 80s, took advantage of multiple trips offered through the City of Steamboat Springs.

One of the biggest advantages of the outings for older participants is they don't have to worry about driving - they can just sit back, relax and enjoy one another's company, Bidgood said.

Craig and Steamboat have vans or buses to use for the programs.

Registration for popular trips such as Central City/Blackhawk fill up fast, but residents can add their name to a waiting list in case there are cancellations.

CNCC trips

On Easter Sunday, Craig resident Julie Hanna found herself in an extraordinary place: Sitting outside a Parisian cafe, eating chocolate and banana crepes, taking in the spring scents of France.

"It just didn't get any better than that," she said. "It was swell."

In her 50s, Hanna's recent trip to France and Italy with CNCC was her first time traveling overseas. She was among 28 people on the trip, whose ages ranged from 15 to older than 60.

"It was a wonderful, diverse group," said Mary Morris-Shearer, CNCC's community education director, who attended the trip. "It just works out well to have multi-generations - the experience is so rich."

About one-third of participants in the college's annual spring break trips are typically 50 or older, she said.

The trips, led by knowledgeable instructors and packed with visits to exciting sites, can be a comfortable and fun way to get a taste for international travel.

The excursions also involve more than a little exercise.

"When they say be prepared to walk, they mean it," said Hanna, who estimated some people in the group walked an average of 10 miles a day.

While participants should be physically fit before the trip, they can choose to take buses or other transportation instead of walking. The trips also are flexible, allowing participants to opt out of certain activities or split into smaller groups, Morris-Shearer noted.

Past trips have included visits to England, Greece and the Czech Republic. Morris-Shearer aims to keep the trips less than $3,000, including airfare, lodging, some meals and admission fees.

The destination for the 2009 trip has not yet been determined. She will finalize plans in the fall and begin taking deposits in November.

Older community members also take advantage of summer trips offered through CNCC.

Morris-Shearer is finalizing a schedule that will include four day trips exploring areas in Browns Park and a multi-day visit to the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. Other outings will visit attractions on the Front Range.

Most trips are offered as classes that require registration. Tuition is free for Moffat County residents 62 and older though they may be responsible for travel costs and other fees.

Tamera Manzanares can be reached at tammarie74@yahoo.com.

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