Once upon a time, driving was a thrill. You’d finally earned your driver’s license, and you were eager to drive everywhere, anytime.
But over the years, driving became more of a chore, the required mode of travel to get from here to there. The thrill was tempered by stoplights, construction, constant gridlock and dangerous drivers who swerved from all directions. Plus, there was no opportunity to do much else with all that time… except drive.
The passenger seat started to look real good…
If you’ve made that transition, you’ll be pleased to know the Fox Valley Park District has an invitation for you – 38 invitations, to be exact. This summer, the Park District signed a three-year lease for usage of a 38-passenger Freightliner Bus that brings new meaning to the term “getting around.”
“Luxurious,” said Jen Huber, the conductor for the Park District’s 75-some trips per year. “It’s similar to riding first class in a plane.”
It’s been a long wait – nearly 10 years – for this magic bus to materialize. But just like a clunker car that depreciates in value over the years, maintenance costs for the District’s old, 20-passenger bus began to add up. To save costs and increase efficiency, it was time to upgrade.
Besides nearly doubling capacity, the new Freightliner comes with amenities galore. Most notable is the on-board restroom, which has opened the door to potential travelers who previously would have declined to travel on longer trips.
“Having a bathroom makes all the difference, especially on longer trips,” Huber said. “The new bus is much more accommodating for our customers in so many ways.”
Once seated, you’re surrounded by sensory – a large TV monitor up front is visible to all, with smaller consoles throughout. Drop-down trays are available with each seat, as well as spacious, overhead compartment storage.
Increased exterior storage is a huge plus, as well. “We need that space coming back from some of our shopping trips,” Huber said with a laugh. “But it also gives us ample room for coolers of food and beverages and for large walkers that some of our guests need to bring. We just slide them underneath and there’s plenty of room.”
Most trips depart from the Prisco Community Center, the Park District’s version of grand central station with an average of six trips per month – even more these days with fall color trips and holiday tours upcoming. Here’s a sampling:
Brunch Bunch: Each month features a restaurant trip for brunch enthusiasts, including Starved Rock Lodge (Oct. 29), Cozymel’s in Wheaton (Nov. 12) and Drury Lane in Oak Brook (Dec. 10).
Gardeners on the Go: Another monthly treat that includes lunch, these trips visit various greenhouses and nurseries, including Dollinger Pumpkin Farm in Channahon (Oct. 10) and Ted Greenhouse in Tinley Park (Nov. 14).
Fun Fridays: Field Museum Jurassic World Exhibit (Sept. 22), Chicago Maritime Museum (Oct. 27) and Park Forest House Museum (Nov. 17).
Fall Diddly Craft Show, Belvidere (Oct. 14): Get out your Christmas lists; this is one of the biggest craft shows in the Midwest!
Open Spaces, Hidden Places, Chicago (Oct. 15): Explore Chicago’s most iconic and unique architectural treasures that are not normally open to the public
Galena Wine Tasting and Shopping (Oct. 20): Does it get much better than a fall day in Galena? Bring home as much wine as you’d like, too – and you don’t have to drive!
Starved Rock State Park: A favorite destination, trips include Oktoberfest (Oct. 23), a brunch trip (Oct. 29), historic trolley tour (Oct. 25) and Christmas in Vegas (Dec. 4). And don’t miss the trek in January for the annual eagle viewing atop the park’s bluff on the Illinois River.
Sandhill Cranes Adventure Trip (Nov. 11): Take a short trek to Indiana to view an incredible wildlife spectacle as thousands of Sandhill Cranes with the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during their annual fall migration.
Shows: Include a Johnny Cash tribute in Joliet (Nov. 15), 42nd Street at Drury Lane (Nov. 29) and Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Dec. 17), among many others.
Casino Trips: Upcoming trips include Isle of Capri in Iowa (Oct. 24) and Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee (Nov. 21).
Click here to view pricing and detailed descriptions. All of these trips are affordable, enjoyable and relaxing. Best of all, there’s no driving necessary and no parking hassles. It’s the next best thing to having a personal chauffeur!
Your trip is boarding…
Jeff Long (email@example.com) is the public affairs and communications manager for the Fox Valley Park District.