Late snow plays spoiler to May travels

Published 5:18 pm Saturday, May 11, 2013

May was not meant to be a traveling month for us this year.

Both May trips were canceled due to the weather. Snow the weekend of May 3. Unheard of.

The Tulip Festival at Pella, Iowa, got its share. With all the snow we had, we made a good decision early on to forego that trip for this year.

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The upcoming trip we had planned on May 15 was to the Old Log theater in Excelsior. The Mahalia Jackson show was canceled by the theater as they were experiencing water damage from the melting snow.

Then a week later, it was announced that the Old Log theater had a buyer and is selling their 75-year-old theater. The Don Stolz family, who have owned the theater all these years, wanted to find a buyer who’s interest in the theater remaining a “vibrant regional and artistic community asset.”

The new owners are making plans to continue operating the theater as always, and plan to open shortly after updating. We have been thoroughly entertained for the past 26 years, with visits once or twice a year for their hilarious productions.

On April 25 we made a return visit to our close neighbor of Owatonna. Highlighting the trip was a tour of the Winton Guesthouse, which is located on the Gainey Center property.

Another treasure in Owatonna is the Wells Fargo Bank, which was built in 1908. The premier pieces of prairie school architecture was one of Louis Sullivan’s most famous banks.

Visitors may drop in and take a self guided tour without appointment.

A special interest of this trip was our visit to the State School Orphanage Museum. Harvey Ronglien is perhaps the only living resident of the orphanage, which closed its operation in the 1940s. He has a most interesting story to tell of his life there.

A tour of Cottage 11, where he lived as a child, has an excellent video. We also were able to walk through the furnished rooms, with audio in every area.

We also drove by the cemetery, which only bore wood crosses. Recently the children’s names were added in lieu of the numbers child had while living there.

At 1 p.m. on May 20, we will host a travel show on our 2014 February tour to Panama. We will have a representative here to show videos and share what our tour will have to offer. The dates of the tour are Feb. 4 -12, 2014. We will explore a country of lush rainforests, rich history, diverse wildlife and spectacular coastline. The show is open to the public, and you don’t need to be a member to join the Mower County Senior Travelers. Passports will be required.


Upcoming Trips

•June 13: “War Horse” at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis. We will depart at 9 a.m. from the Walmart parking lot.

•June 27: Clear Lake, Iowa. We have a fun day planned at our neighbor to the south. We are looking forward to a tour of the popular dance spot at the Surf Ballroom. The clouds still move overhead, and the Surf continues to play live music, including big bands every other Sunday night. A busy schedule of events keeps the ballroom hopping.

The Buddy Holly story ends there as his last performance was there. Holly, along with Richie Vallens and The Big Bopper, died soon after in a plane crash a few miles out of the city.

The host of bands and guest conductors will be recognized by many of our group.

We will have a scenic boat cruise on the “Lady of the Lake” boat and visit the community gardens, which have expanded each year.

The Thursdays on Main is a big event with live bands, car shows and many stands of interest in their central park.

•July 10: “Happy Days” at the Marion Ross Theater in Albert Lea. Opening night will have a guest appearance with Marion Ross.

•July 31: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. This Biblical story can never be told enough. This up-lifting show will have you humming the songs when you leave the theater. A wonderful choice of entrée will be selected that day.

Our June Newsletter will have a list of other destinations that planned with the Senior Center. New ones are added for the remainder of the year. A message box at the south entrance out under the overhang, is available.