On Earth Day, 15 "Intrepid Travelers" and special guest Mayor Elizabeth Pearson celebrated the first anniversary of the "green" travel club of Laguna Beach Seniors by taking the bus.
Fourteen minutes after boarding the No. 1 at the downtown depot, we got off at a bit of paradise just north of town: Crystal Cove.
We walked the beach, admired the historic cottages, lunched at the Beachcomber and "” except for the mayor, who is too young to qualify "” flashed our $1.50 all-day senior bus passes for the photographer.
Intrepid Travelers is the brainchild of Pat and Ed Chatlin. As delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, they were fired up by Robert Kennedy Jr.'s call to action that echoed through Red Rock Canyon: "Each one of us can make a difference to help our planet."
They arrived back at John Wayne Airport resolved to take their first step by riding the bus home to Laguna Beach. Weighted down with flags, luggage and supersized convention signs, they boarded the bus only to discover their new resolution lacked one essential element: exact change.
The driver was so impressed with their gung-ho spirit that he gave them a free ride.
When the new Susi Q Senior Center opened in February 2009, the Chatlins approached the staff with the idea for a green travel program called Intrepid Travelers.
It would be for active seniors and would use Orange County Transportation Authority to explore Orange County.
The Chatlins and Kerri Stoner, a bus convert, have since planned and directed trips to Dana Point Harbor, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Sherman Gardens, the Noguchi Plaza, Bowers Museum and Crystal Cove.
The Intrepid Traveler motto is "The Bus Moves Us," and the only rules of the road are to bring exact change and wear comfortable shoes.
The benefits: fun and affordable adventures around the county, new friends and a budding awareness that the bus is a great first choice and not a last resort.
"It's very important for our seniors who can no longer drive to be able to use public transportation," Pearson said. "The Susi Q's Intrepid Traveler program helps to teach them how to use the bus, which gives them more independence "” something that is critical to them."
CHRIS QUILTER lives in Laguna Beach.