The firs senior citizen day trips I know of took place in the 70’s and 80’s at the Tongue River meal site. At that time the Senior Center contracted with one of the restaurants in Ranchester or Dayton. My parents, Burl and Roberta Wilkes, were instrumental in getting the meal program started in the Tongue River Valley and remained active volunteers until their passing. During the fair weather season, the group would organize day outings to the mountains and dine at Arrowhead Lodge. Another favorite Tongue River day trip was to the Lodge Grass, Mont., senior meal site.
The Senior Center started sponsoring day trips in cooperation with the school districts. A big yellow bus transported individuals to various points of interest which always included a meal. In the early 2000s, Sheridan County School District No. 1 had a community travel program that included senior citizens.
Those trips were two to three days within Wyoming and surrounding states.
Now to senior trips of today. The Sheridan Senior Center, Sheridan Recreation District and Tongue River Valley Community Center formed a partnership in 2012 to make several day trips and two overnight trips possible each year. This partnership makes the majority of these trips a reality.
Chad Aksamit from TRVCC, Brooke Olson from Sheridan Recreation District and I coordinate the trips. Our plan is to have a variety of destinations with some educational or knowledge-gaining potential that are fun or scenic and accessible to seniors by van. The transportation is provided by two recreation district vans, a TRVCC small yellow school bus and — on short jaunts — the senior center mini bus. We hope people from all of the Sheridan County communities will join us on our travel adventures. Our target group is folks 60-and-older but we do have a waiting list for those younger than 60. If a trip does not fill up within two days of the registration deadline, folks on the waiting list will be contacted. (There is a $10 transportation fee for folks younger than 60 years old.)
“One of the greatest benefits of our co-op trips is the opportunity for family and friends from TR and the other towns get to spend time together,” Aksamit said. “Traveling to visit becomes more difficult as people age.”
“A couple positive benefits are getting out of the house and taking in a breath of fresh air,” Olson said.
I agree with Olson and Aksamit, it is great to share my love of our beautiful corner of the Earth with others and to hear every participant’s stories about their experiences that happened wherever we are visiting.
We get many compliments and “thank- you’s” for making these days special from everyone who participates.
“Just wonderful” is expressed over and over.
“Beautiful” and “I didn’t know this place existed” is expressed often.
On June 18, we traveled to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area for a boat tour of Bighorn Canyon. One lady, who loves history, was very impressed with historic information shared by the boat captain and a young lady park ranger.
Two ladies expressed their amazement with height of the canyon walls. (second only to the Grand Canyon.) Everyone was thrilled at the sightings of bighorn sheep, moms and babies.
A family member visiting from Montana said, “The trip was a great way to meet new people. Not just for me but for everyone.”
For a list of summer trips check the Senior Center’s Center Stage newsletter, the Senior Center website at www.sheridanseniorcenter.org under the publications tab or The Sheridan Press on Saturdays.
Guest columnist Jean Harm is the assistant activities director at the Sheridan Senior Center. Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.