Happy Wanderer: The Bay Area is my classroom


HILLS NEWSPAPERS: February 18, 2011

SMC Travel Writing students at Point Montara Lighthouse and Hostel

When I was a young mother, I often wondered what it would be like to raise a large family. I mean a big “Jon and Kate plus eight” kind of family, or a brood akin to the kids living with the old woman in the shoe.

After teaching a semester of travel writing to 24 Saint Mary’s College students, I have a pretty clear picture of what this would be like.

“You’re taking them all on a road trip EACH WEEK?” asked a colleague in disbelief. She makes her living leading press trips for journalists and never takes more than a handful of writers — and they’re all adults.

I, on the other hand, would be leading four half-day trips with no one to help but the bus driver, who, of course, had no obligation beyond drop-offs and pickups.

Week one was a short drive to Redwood Regional Park for a hike with six llamas. The students seemed smitten with their bucktoothed buddies and the trip came off without a hitch. No llamas spit during our time together.

The second week’s trip was a little more challenging — a day in Sonoma when the weather called for showers. Driving sheets of rain hit the windshield as we entered the Wine Country, and the wipers could barely keep up when suddenly we realized the driver had taken a wrong turn.

The mistake set us back 45 minutes, and we spent the day playing catch-up as we raced through the mission, Sonoma Square, the Cheese Factory and the historic Maysonnave House for lunch.

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