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Seeing the sights

Negaunee Senior Center offers group travel opportunities, hosts interest sessions for upcoming Iceland, east coast trips

From left, Gerry Penney, Larry Blandford and Bob Kayl enjoy the sights at the Maine Narrowgauge Railroad Museum in Portland on a 2017 senior center tour. This is one of 30 group trips coordinated by the Negaunee Senior Center since 2011. (Photos courtesy of the Negaunee Senior Center)

MARQUETTE — For those who are looking for a group getaway in the coming year, the Negaunee Senior Center is hosting informational sessions Wednesday about upcoming travel opportunities through the center.

Attendees of Wednesday’s interest sessions will have a chance to learn firsthand about a “Heritage of America” trip to New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., scheduled for Oct. 11 to 20 and a trip to Iceland scheduled for April 13 to 21, 2020.

The informational session for the Iceland trip will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday and the “Heritage of America” interest session will be held at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The deadline to sign up for “Heritage of America” is April 11 while the Iceland tour opened to the public Monday with a sign-up deadline of Oct. 14. Attendees of the Iceland tour need to have a valid passport by the time of sign-up, organizers said.

A representative from Collette Tours, the agency coordinating flights, hotels and guides for the trips, will be present at both sessions to give an overview and answer specific questions about the destinations and group travel logistics, organizers said.

The Grand Tetons in Wyoming are pictured. Group travelers with the Negaunee Senior Center enjoyed the beauty of the Grand Tetons durin the center’s 2018 national parks tour. (Photos courtesy of the Negaunee Senior Center)

The tours offer a comfortable and convenient way for seniors to travel, Negaunee Senior Center Director Kristy Basolo-Malmsten said, as the tour company provides a knowledgeable guide with arranged lodging, flights, sightseeing and itineraries for the group, which can help reduce the stress of planning and taking a large trip on your own.

“It’s good to have somebody who knows the ‘ins and outs’ guiding them,” she said. “They have a guide with you the whole time, they’ve stayed at the hotels, they’ve been to the sites.”

During the “Heritage of America” tour, attendees will see some of the “pivotal places in our nation’s history,” as they travel through major cities of the east coast, such as New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. over 9 days, Basolo-Malmsten said.

Attendees will get a chance to explore places such as Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Shenandoah National Park, Charlottesville, Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Arlington National Cemetery the Smithsonian Institution, Mount Vernon and more on the tour.

With the guide accompanying the group, travelers will get a chance to see the sights with someone who is “immersed in those areas and knows the little ins and outs and the neat places to eat and the important places of historical significance,” she said.

An sight from the Negaunee Senior Center’s 2016 tour of Hawaii is pictured. The Negaunee Senior Center regularly organizes opportunities for group travel, with interest sessions for trips to the east coast and Iceland scheduled to take place Wednesday at the center. The sign-up deadline for the “Heritage of America” trip to the east coast is April 11, organizers said. (Photos courtesy of the Negaunee Senior Center)

For those who sign up for the April 2020 trip to Iceland, they’ll have a chance to “explore the land of fire and ice” over nine days. Travelers will get to see Reykjavík, the Golden Circle, Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss Waterfall, Geysir, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Breidafjerdur Bay, Lava Exhibition Center, Vík, Skógar Museum, Skegafoss, Jekulserlen Glacial Lagoon, Vatnajettkull National Park & Glacier, Seljalandsfoss and more on the excursion.

With Iceland’s recent popularity as a tourist destination and the “natural beauty” of the country, it’ll be “an exciting time to go there,” Basolo-Malmsten said, noting that Iceland was a travel destination requested by many.

A guide knowledgeable about the history and culture of the country will accompany the travel group throughout Iceland, she said. The guide will be able to “make recommendations of where to eat and neat things to bring home for gifts for family and friends,” Basolo-Malmsten said, adding that the guides have a “wealth of knowledge” about the area.

“You have people that are either staying in the area or living in the area picking the things that are most appealing, most representative of their region to showcase for the travelers,” Basolo-Malmsten said. “Which is really neat because if you got to a place, you don’t necessarily know what those things are.”

The senior center also has a “Beautiful Vermont” tour from June 6-14, 2020 that takes travelers through Vermont and portions of Canada, giving attendees a chance to enjoy museums, scenic attractions, tours of Morse Farm Maple Sugar Works, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory and a cider mill, along with a dinner cruise on Lake Champlain, a visit to Stowe Village and more. Registration will open to the public Jan. 20. A passport or passport card is required for sign-up.

Group travelers on the Negaunee Senior Center’s 2018 Canadian Island trip listen to a tour guide telling stores of old Quebec City. (Photos courtesy of the Negaunee Senior Center)

The center started offering the trips in 2011 after local seniors had expressed interest in group travel experiences, Basolo-Malmsten said.

“It was definitely something that people were asking for,” she said. “And once we started doing the tours we realized the value for our seniors and sustaining senior services as well.”

Since 2011, the senior center has taken 30 trips of this type, bringing groups to destinations such as Hawaii, Scotland, Spain, Canada, New York City, Portland, Virginia Beach and more.

The trips allow senior center staff and local seniors to get to know each other better while serving as a fundraiser for the senior center, Basolo-Malmsten said. It’s also an opportunity for attendees of the trips to make new friendships and get to know one another better in a fun setting, she said.

Basolo-Malmsten encourages those who haven’t traveled with the senior center before to reach out to her and/or attend an informational session so they know what to expect.

“We do have a good idea of how these things go and can help them answer some of those general questions to determine if this is a fit for them,” she said.

The first two weeks of registration for any given trip is open to seniors living in the Negaunee Senior Center service area, which includes the city of Negaunee and the townships of Richmond and Negaunee.

After the two-week period, the registration opens up to the general public, Basolo-Malmsten said, noting that anyone over 21 from any locality is welcome to attend and register for the trips.

Basolo-Malmsten advises interested parties to call the center at 906-475-6266, email seniortravel@cityofnegaunee.com or visit http://cityofnegaunee.com/residents/senior-citizens-center/ for more information on the upcoming trips.