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Mother may I?

When Ann Scholl was a little girl, she dreamed of a life of travel. “I wanted to be a flight attendant. But when I became of age to apply for the job, my mother would throw away the applications as they arrived. She never flew in her life and was afraid for me,” Scholl said.

Despite her mother’s objections, Scholl grew up to a life of travel and today has more than 20 years of journeys on her professional resume. From her position as director of a recreation department to her job assisting a travel agent to her current status as an independent group-travel leader, she has always been keen on making sure dthat planes, trains and cruise boats were part of the job.

For four years Scholl has led travel primarily with Mayflower Tours, a domestic and international tour operator based in Downers Grove, Ill., a city not far from her hometown of Yorkville.

Scholl paused at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., before betting on the ponies.

“I’m so lucky to do what I love, but you also have to love people to be a group travel leader,” she said. “When my friends ask, ‘Where are you going on vacation next?’ I have to explain that I’m not going on vacation. My job includes not only months of preparation before a tour but working long hours when on the road.

“There are also unexpected twists and sometimes emergencies that arise that are my responsibility when we’re far from home,” she said.

Scholl’s daughter, who fulfilled her mother’s dream to become a flight attendant, would approach her mother when she was new on her job and say, “Mom, you wouldn’t believe what happened …”

Scholl would laugh and say, “Oh, yes, I would believe.”

After having gone on 25 cruises on European and American rivers and waterways, taken in the sights on many continents and played games on a motorcoach that has trekked all over this country, it’s hard for Scholl to choose a favorite destination. However, the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, a tradition in the charming town since 1634, is an event to which she looks forward; it plays again in 2010.

“This five-hour production is put on every 10 years. It is the story about the life of Christ, and all the town people are in the play,” she said. “Visitors from all over the world come to see this beautiful drama, and we’re already booking for it.

“I also love the fall foliage tour in New England. It’s one of my favorites, and I try to do it every year.”

Scholl said her biggest reward in group travel has been the friendships that have blossomed. “And, that includes me. I’ve made many dear friends throughout the years,” she said.

One verse of a poem that Scholl recites at the beginning of every trip reads:

Life is sweet, because of the friends we made and the things in common we share;

We want to live on, not because of ourselves but because of the people who care;

It is doing and giving for somebody else on which all life’s splendor depends;

And the joy of this world when you sum it all up is found in the making of friends.

She added that she asks her travelers to offer that empty seat at the table to another traveler and share their experiences with each other.

“Part of the fun of traveling is not only seeing a new destination but making a new friend,” she said.