Archived Story

Spring travels are almost here; a story of Panama

Published 5:46pm Saturday, March 22, 2014

At the arrival of the first day of spring, we just know that some beautiful weather is in store for us, as we are all anxious to get out and start traveling again.

74th annual Tulip Festival

May 15

We are looking forward to tulips popping up as we near a one-day trip to Orange City, Iowa, for the 74th annual Tulip Festival.

We will take a tour of this unique Dutch community tucked away in northwest Iowa. We will see authentic Dutch windmills along the canal in Windmill Park, plus miniature Dutch windmills and beautiful Dutch architecture of shops along the way.

There will be plenty of outdoor and indoor activities, including the Volksparade,that will be available. This includes the indoor flower show and History Center, wooden shoe demonstrations and, of course, some of their famous Dutch bakeries with alphabet cookies.

The Church Basement Ladies in, “The Last (Potluck) Supper”

May 28-29

We have two days scheduled with openings on May 28. Please call our travel number if you would still like to join us. Fees are due by May 6.

A newsletter with information on our travels for 2014 is now available. It may be picked up at our outside south entrance door. Members will be receive theirs each month.

A winter in Panama

Our Winter Get-a-Way tour to Discover Panama was so welcoming with it’s warm temperatures.

We began our tour learning about the country of Panama, which is about the size of South Dakota. This country is rich with lush rain forests, rich history, diverse wildlife and a spectacular coastline.

And of course there is the Panama Canal, which serves as a maritime shortcut saving time and costs in transporting all kinds of goods world-wide.

Exploring Panama was most interesting with a local guide who spent the week with our group as we moved about on a deluxe motor coach.

We began our tour by exploring the ruins of the oldest Spanish settlement and exploring its history.

We visited the local markets that specialized in fresh produce, seafood, fruits and vegetables of many varieties. The locals are friendly and speak English.

Panama City is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama, with a population of 880,600. It is known as hub for international banking with a dense skyline of mostly high-rise office buildings. Many other residence high rises facing the ocean for an awesome view.

The climate is tropical, wet and dry, with the wet season stretching from May to December. From January through April, temperatures remain constant in high 80s. It was very comfortable.

We looked forward to our visit of the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center to learn about the Panama Canal. We learned about its rich past, present and future. With the beginnings in 1880, and the country having financial troubles, Panama negotiated an agreement with the United States, who then would manage the waterway. The construction of the canal was completed and opened on Aug. 15. 1914.

In 1999, Panama took over the operation from the U.S. and is now ready to celebrate 100 years with a third set of locks to open next year. This will allow larger ships and more cargo capacity to pass through and will also increase it to the length of four football fields. It is an incredible view as we watch ships proceed between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as they raise and lower the water levels for these large vessels to pass through.

The following day, we boarded the Pacific Queen for a luncheon cruise and a partial transit through the canal. Passing through two locks, we could see this incredible engineering feat first hand and watch its operation.

Next week I will continue to tell you about our Panama tour as we moved about their beautiful country.

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