Travel: Motorcoach Guided Tours

Mary Ann and I just returned from a 10 day motorcoach tour titled “New England Fall Foliage Tour”.  Previously, we had been on a 14 day motorcoach tour of Italy and a 14 day motorcoach tour of Germany and Austria, but that was a long time ago, so we didn’t know what to expect.

On our tour, we visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, had lunch at Quincy Market in Boston, had Chowder at Mystic Seaport, ate lobster in Boothbay Harbor Maine and did a dinner cruise on Lake Champlain in Burlington VT. Since it was a Fall Foliage Tour we also drove through the Smoky Mountains in NC, the White Mountains in NH, the Green Mountains of VT, the Catskills of New York and Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

That sounds great doesn’t it? It was. But is was sometimes frustrating and very tiring at times also.

The tour company we used decided to replace the tour guides at the last minute and the new guides did not know the locations we visited. They tried to read a description off the internet. That was disappointing.

We logged 2900 miles and visited 16 states in 10 days, resulting in a rushed, not well thought out itinerary, trying to cover too much at our expense. On two separate days, we got on the bus at 8am and did not get to our hotel until 8pm.  Ugh!

There were 44 passengers and 2 tour guides and a driver. All passengers were age 55+ and 4 were from our Active Adult Community. We got to meet some interesting people.

This was a local tour company in Lula, Georgia that had been recommended to us by several neighbors in our Active Adult Community who had taken shorter trips. Maybe we just had a bad tour. The tour company did reply to my concerns and have made changes.

Several of our fellow motorcoach travelers told us that this would never happen on Collette Tours or Road Scholar Educational Tours. Our tour was not cheap, but these tours are more expense but apparently offer better planned out tours with more informed tour guides. There are also motorcoach tours by American Express,  Trafalgar and Grayline.

Shopping bus tour companies and really taking a detailed look at the tour is something I really didn’t think about before, but sounds like good advice now. Do you really want to change hotels every night and travel 2900 miles with a large group of 44 people trying to see as many sights as you can in an unreasonable amount of time?

It’s not how many hours you can spend on the bus or how many sights you can say you visited, is it? It’s a pleasant travel experience you are looking for.

Our hotels we stayed at were the Hampton Inns and Holiday Inns which are fine if you have a car, but they were not really close to anything to walk to. We only stayed in two hotels that were interesting, but we really didn’t have enough time to enjoy them and the area.

We now know more about motorcoach travel and are better prepared to research what we are looking for. Maybe taking a shorter motorcoach trip would be better next time, at least for us.

Robert Fowler

PS: If you do take a motorcoach tour, you may want to bring these items:
A pillow for your head (we bought one at Bed, Bath & Beyond)
A cushion for your back, if needed.
A small blanket or throw.  They keep it cool on the coach.
Hanging cup holder
Ear plugs
A medium size backpack to go under your seat

Active Adult Living

Passion For Walking

Saturday, I did my race walking in the Lifepath 5K and ended up with this trophy that looks like an Academy Award plus a $25 gift certificate.

Sitting in the awards presentation room after the race, I didn’t expect to get an award because I was walking, not running, but it looks like I beat out two runners in my age bracket and maybe had the best age adjusted time for all age 60+ male participants. I am not really sure how they determined the Overall Senior Grand Master.

In any case the trophy did it’s magic. I posted the above photo on facebook and got a lot of likes and comments. It was nice bringing it home to show Mary Ann, especially telling her about the $25 gift certificate to Recess Gastro Pub. We just lunched there last week and loved it.

Robert and Bob

Developing A Passion For Walking

Don sent me a congratulations and it triggered memories of when I started walking.  It was with Don, Lamont and myself at Park Place Active Adult Center in Johns Creek. We would walk the little over a mile loop of Newtown Park three times, a feat we accomplished a couple or three times a week for two years.

We would start out as social walkers and we always look forward to seeing each other and catching up. We talked about everything under the sun from cars,sports, old jobs, moving, travel,  family, medical, current news, etc. Three guys sitting around a table would probably never talk about all the things we did, but there is something about walking and talking that makes it easier.

Walking as much as we did, we got pretty good shape.  We were all about equal speed walkers but after the talking started to die down at the end of lap two, then Don would push us a little faster about the pond and we were off to the races.

Senior Centers and Retirement Communities are excellent places to walk with people.

So when the North Fulton Golden Games came along I though we should be a shoe in to win the walking contests. When the guy who was 10 years older than I was beat me by 20 yards in the half mile walk, well I was stunned.  He was a little short guy that was 77!

Come to find out that he was race walking, which is a more efficient technique for walking fast.  I researched race walking.

I convinced race walking coach and judge Jim Norvill to come over to Ocee Park a few Sundays to teach me how to race walk. It seemed complicated. It took me a while to learn, in fact I am still learning!

Race walking demands your full attention. You are always checking your walking technique. Are you looking straight ahead, shoulders down, arms swinging naturally at almost 45 degree angle, toes up at the heel strike, not over striding, rolling to a toe push off. You develop a cadence. Your body remembers the routine but you have to constantly check yourself.

With time you get better. You know your personal best and try to do better next time.

Fitness Walking Competitions

A competition is when you find out how you are doing.  It’s something to look forward to and is motivation for your hours of practice.  Competitions can  be local, regional, national or international.  Fitness Walking Competitions are given by local track clubs, the USATF (USA Track & Field), Senior Games (National Senior Games) and several other organizations. Race walking is an Olympic sport.

You hear people say they don’t like to compete anymore. I say give it a try. You always look from the perspective of competing with yourself (remember personal best).  You are a winner for just getting out there and joining in.

But if you are lucky enough to feel the thrill of competing with others, you will experience something you thought you would never feel again, and it’s exhilarating. Some improve themselves to a level  that they though was impossible.

Competitions  also  give you an opportunity to travel to the event and spend a few days in the area while you are there.  Last year or two, I was  in walking competitions in  Minnesota,  Albuquerque,  Birmingham AL, Greensboro NC, Spokane WA as well as many around the state of Georgia. My friend Michael has been to walking completions in almost 50 states!

And finally when the competition is finished you will be happy that you gave it your best and motivated to do even better next time.

Remember, exercise is a habit.  Develop a workout routine to make it work.  There are many benefits of fitness walking and I would encourage you to give it a try.

Robert Fowler

My walking competition schedule for the first half of 2018 is:

Jan 6 – Sat Braselton  LifePath 5K – Done. 35:36

Jan 21 USATF SE Region Masters Indoor Race Walk Championship in Winston Salem NC.   Registered for both 1mile and 3K.

Jan 26? Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville – Indoor Race Walk – Dates not confirmed

Feb 11   Sunday Indoor Race Walk 1500M Indoor Race Walk at Lakepoint in Emerson GA.

March – need event

April 7  Track Lab Series Lawrenceville GA  1500M RW in AM
Discovery HS

April 14  Track Lab Series events in Lawrenceville GA  1500M RW in PM
Discovery HS

April 21, 2018 ***Either the 5K or 10K in our 41st annual TD Bank Reedy River Run on Saturday, April 21, 2018 in Greenville SC.

May 16-19 South Carolina Senior Sports Classic 5K and 1500M Race Walks in Florence SC.  Afterwards will head over to Myrtle Beach SC for vacation

May 27 12th Annual Mark Trail Memorial Day Meet – 3K RW
Discovery High School Lawrenceville GA

June 2-3, 2018 USATF SE Region Masters Outdoor Championships – 3K Race Walk in Birmingham, Al

July 26-29 National Outdoor USATF Masters Championship 5K and 10K Race Walks in Spokane WA. This is an outdoor event with all the track and field events.  Afterwards taking a river boat cruise down the Snake and Columbia Rivers to Portland.