Some people spend their money on possessions. Ellen Lucas spends hers on experiences - exotic experiences in faraway places.
"I grew up in a family that traveled," she said. "When I was in second grade, we lived in Switzerland - my dad worked with Kaiser Aluminum."
The Lucas family traveled to Greece, Spain and Germany and eventually settled in Walnut Creek, Calif. Yet, the wanderlust didn't settle there. Travel was still an important word in the Lucas family vocabulary, particularly Ellen's mother, Claire.
So in September, when Lucas and her mother, Claire Lucas, 72, headed out for a mother-daughter trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, they both embarked toward their passion with zeal.
"We loved it," Ellen said. "The thing I like best about traveling is that it forces you to live in the moment."
After leaving the United States, the Lucas women landed in Quito, Ecuador, where they headed to the Galapagos Islands, 1,000 miles off the Ecuadoran coast.
"The Galapagos were amazing," Lucas said. "You could walk among all the animals there because they have no fear of man. I got to run on the beach, which was pretty great.'
Lucas, a cross-country runner, teaches physical education in Douglas County and is the girls' cross country coach at Douglas High School.
After the Galapagos, the Lucas women went to the Ecuadoran rain forest, where they viewed monkeys, exotic birds the color of the rainbow and the highlight - a sloth within arm's reach (until it moved a foot away in about an hour!).