SELMA – If you’ve longed for a mini-vacation, but don’t want to hassle with driving or don’t feel quite safe to travel alone, you may want to book a spot on one of the Selma Nick Medina Senior Center’s trips.
Irene Boyd’s been serving as Senior Center’s volunteer trip coordinator for at least a decade and gets help from Myra Gallardi and others to coordinate the trips.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Boyd said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and Myra’s such an asset. We set all the prices and collect the money.”
There are a few safety rules to follow and passengers fill out a release of liability form prior to the trip. Some regulars have assigned seats and it’s okay to bring either a personal-sized snack bag or an insulated ‘Selma Senior Center’ bag. On longer trips, someone brings cookies and other snacks to share.
Their latest adventure was a Feb. 6 trip to the Piedras Blancas Rookery to view elephant seals and then to the quaint sea-side community of Cambria.
Selma’s Kathi Mehrten was among travelers and said she’s enjoyed previous destinations such as the Firestone Walker Brewery near Paso Robles.
“We took a tour and had lots of samples. What I like about the trips is somebody else is doing the driving and parking.”
Deanna Dunbar added, “and knowing where you’re going.”
Once in Cambria, Linda and William Forbes had lunch with Mehrten and Dunbar at the Cambria Café. They, too, have been on previous Senior Center trips.
“One of my favorite ones was to the Reagan Museum. That was just awesome,” Linda Forbes said. “We also went to the Getty Museum. It’s great not to have to drive through L.A. You just get on the bus. I’ve been to a few Dodgers’ games, too. That’s really fun. We all have fun with fellowship and the camaraderie. It’s a fun group of people.”
For this excursion, the bus departed at 7 a.m. and returned at 6:30 p.m. Best Tours and Travel driver Dennis Griffin made pit stops at Kettleman City coming and going. There is a restroom on the bus, but this allowed passengers time to also get a snack on the fast-food places at the stop.
Once parked, Friends of the Elephant Seals docent Betty Nelson shared information about the seals’ year-long habits at the stretch of beach near San Simeon. The baby seals were getting weaned, the females were coming into estrus and the males were looking to keep the species alive, even if that meant fighting off younger males with the same idea.
“One alpha will have 20-25 mammas,” Nelson said, “but he doesn’t care anything about the babies. The lesser males are trying to mate, but they get chased off. It is a bit like a soap opera.”
The Visit San Simeon website says there are up to 17,000 animals on the San Simeon shores during peak times of year of January, April and October. Read more at: https://visitsansimeonca.com/what-to-do/elephant-seals-san-simeon/.
As the momma seals tossed sand to cool themselves, the pups nursed and bull seals barked their dominance at the challenging males, the seniors snapped pictures and asked questions before boarding the bus to head to Cambria. There are two sections to the small town so while some disembarked in one area, others got off in another section.
Marc Swafford was playing music on his guitars for passersby.
“Cambria’s as beautiful as it gets,” he said in-between songs. “It’s laid back and they appreciate music. It’s kind of an artist community with a laid-back vibe. You get the mix of the pines and oaks which makes for a beautiful ambiance.”
Ginger and Duane Dye, of Corcoran, were basking in the sun on a bench on Main Street after their healthy lunch.
“It was delicious,” she said of their fresh sandwiches and soups. “We do love to travel! We love these little trips and look forward to them. They’re so much fun. You travel with a great group of people and they become like family.”
They’ve been heading out just about every month on the trips and say one of the most memorable was the trip to Yosemite two years ago
“We went up there and then got on the little trams in the park,” she said. See the routes here: http://bit.ly/2vl1VbW.
“You go at your pace and your leisure, depending on how long you want to stay at each stop,” Ginger Dye said. “Coming out, the bus driver stopped so we could see the rainbow waterfall. It was very unusual because it was the right time of year and right time of day. The colors were magnificent so that was really a highlight.”
Her advice for travelers was to dress for the destination, wear comfortable shoes and plan how much you want to spend as there’s typically shopping opportunities everywhere travelers go.
“You do a lot of walking so wear walking shoes. Dress casual and comfortably. If you come to the beach, you dress for the beach.”
She said they were especially enjoy the trips because they don’t have to fight traffic and get to enjoy the scenery instead.
“Our best driver with Best Tours is just fabulous,” she said of Dennis Griffin. “He’s very safe and conscientious. We love Dennis.”
Once back in Selma at the end of the trip, Boyd said she advises travelers to pay attention to the meet-up time so everyone doesn’t wind up waiting for one person to stay on schedule.
“Sometimes we have a straggler we have to wait for.”
They start planning for each year’s trips back in October when destinations are requested and seat prices are negotiated. The 56 seats on the busses fill up quickly, Boyd said, so plan now to ensure a spot. To reserve a seat, a $20 non-refundable deposit is required. If the bus is full, as is the case for the Laughlin trip, they will keep a waiting list as well.
If some hesitate because they’re unsure of what to expect, William Forbes said the trips are well worth the reasonable prices.
“Just do it. They drive and you relax.”