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Day trips popular with North Huntingdon AARP members

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

In the last 15 years, North Huntingdon resident Marge Caulfield has rarely missed a road trip with the North Huntingdon AARP.

The North Huntingdon AARP organizes 15 to 20 trips per year, ranging from afternoons at local casinos to weeklong cross-country adventures.

Caulfield said she plans her schedule around the trips.

“I love people and getting to do new and different things,” Caulfield said. “Even if it's somewhere I've been before, things always change, and there are new shops and places to visit, and with the AARP, there are always new people to travel with.”

AARP tour director Lavona Douglas began organizing the trips 19 years ago. Pittsburgh-based travel agency AAA East Central helps plan the tours.

“Every year, they present a booklet of new trips and places to go, and I get information from the tourism bureau,” Douglas said. “It really enlightens us with things we can do.”

The North Huntingdon AARP has approximately 400 members, and many of them attend tours on a regular basis, Douglas said. Although day trips are the most common, the group also goes on a couple overnight trips each year, Douglas said.

Organizers try to keep the cost of each trip to under $100 per person, she added.

It's a rare occurrence for Douglas to have to cancel a trip due to a lack of interest, she said.

“In my 19 years, I can only recall canceling a trip four times,” she said.

In recent years, Douglas said she has been able to keep the AARP travelers guessing by offering a mystery tour. That means the travelers pay for their trip, get on the bus and have no idea where they are going, she said.

“There's always a lot of guessing, and I try to leave little hints here and there,” Douglas said. “But they never have any idea what all we're going to do.”

Although seeing new sites and experiencing new things is always exciting, Caulfield said she enjoys the group's camaraderie most of all. When a group gets on the bus, she said everybody tends to gets to know each other.

“I've made a lot of my close friends through trips,” Caulfield said. “You become very close when you travel together, especially when you don't have to worry about driving, parking or anything else, since the whole thing is arranged.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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