Virtual travel keeps members on the ‘move’

Dorothy Callaci 1484
A screenshot of the Santa Fe Railyard

During the pandemic, the RTC has featured virtual trips to places like Santa Fe, New Mexico.

If you’ve ever wondered what speakeasies were like during Prohibition, or where to find the famous tree from the beloved novel “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” or how the Mafia operated in New York in the 1980s, check your Si Beagle catalog.

Trip coordinators Sandra Eisenberg in Westchester, Janice DeNave in Manhattan and Marion Mammana on Staten Island have each put together a tempting and wide variety of virtual trips with professional tour guides for the fall semester. All RTC members are invited to sign up. But you have to act quickly because these popular trips fill up fast.

In prepandemic days, the coordinators arranged active walking tours that usually included a luncheon for discussing the trip and socializing. Now, they have seamlessly turned the in-person outings into virtual trips. While the socializing is missing, the trips have been able to take retirees to more distant places and to historic times.

Maxine Plotkin, who has been retired for 25 years and is a veteran of RTC trips, reminisced about her escapes last semester to South Beach in Miami on a trip put together by DeNave and to Santa Fe, New Mexico, on a trip arranged by Eisenberg. “It’s like you’re right there, like you’re walking around even though you’re sitting in a chair.”

Mobility was not an issue. “Virtual trips are great when you have bad knees,” Plotkin pointed out.

Who wouldn’t want to learn all about oysters on the Wild City trip or explore the colorful history of New York newspapers on the Stop the Presses trip? There was so much to cover on a trip back in time to the Borscht Belt — the informal name for the mostly defunct summer resorts in the Catskill Mountains — that the excursion had to be divided into two parts.

Virtual trips, each listed with a brief description in the catalog, usually last about two hours, including time for discussion and comment at the end. A Zoom link from the trip coordinator is sent a few days prior to the trip to those who have signed up. The catalog also includes a quick guide for Zoom users and instructions for how to get help with Zoom.

Mammana said another advantage of virtual trips is that they provide an opportunity for homebound retirees to participate, and they also can accommodate more retirees than in-person trips.

All three coordinators look forward to the day when both virtual and in-person trips are offered.

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