"Taking you places you've always dreamed of and beyond"
Meet the Happy Trail Tours Family!
Happy Trail Tours, primarily a motor coach vacation company is nestled way up in the northeast region of beautiful Minnesota in Forbes ... a small rural community surrounded by evergreen trees, rivers, lakes and taconite mining companies. The office has been located in the home of Grant and Marge Ellis since 1983 when the "Happy Trails" story began blazing it's adventurous trails!
Happy Trails Tours, INC...30 Years Strong! "Taking you places you’ve always dreamed of and beyond"
In 1983, Happy Trails Tours blazed its first trip to Nashville, TN with musical group The Country Songbirds of Zim. Making all the travel arrangements and organizing the tour was Marge Ellis, and good friend, Archie Hill. The 11 member singing group had their own little fan club and when people heard they were going to Nashville, the phone lines began to ring! Fans of the Country Songbirds and folks from the surrounding communities joined Happy Trails for their maiden adventure, filling TWO buses! Of course, history has proved that this tour was the first of many more to follow.
In the early 80’s a six day motor coach vacation to Nashville cost a total sum of $279 per person double. That included motor coach, hotel accommodations, Opryland Theme Park, the Grand Ol’ Opry and a hand full of meals. That was 30 years ago. Those days are long gone but fun to look back at.
Marge and her husband Grant’s home was where the office was located until Marge’s retirement in 2010.Archie retired in 2000 and passed away in August 2010. Diane Olds, Marge’s daughter, joined the team over 20 years ago and continues the business with her husband, Larry. “I’ve learned so much from my Mom and Archie over the years and am honored to carry the torch for such a wonderful company. Marge and Archie were delightful storytellers who loved traveling and adored their captive audiences. You could always count on Marge’s homemade oatmeal cookies, too! Customers continue to share memories of those earlier travel days when the two were on board leading a tour out.
Diane continues to write her own tours and strives to offer quality vacations along with some unique destinations that other companies don’t. Happy Trails Tours has often been noted as a “trend setter”, too. We banned smoking on all of our motor coaches long before it was ever mandated by law. At first they thought it might hurt the business but instead it did the exact opposite! We were also one of the first motor coach groups to visit Precious Moments in Carthage MO back in the late 80’s and we've recently taken two bus groups to Churchill, Manitoba to see polar bears in their natural habitat.
It was in early January 2012 that Diane received a call from the RFD Magazine telling her they had stumbled upon a Happy Trails Tour on the internet. It was “Old Barns, Tractors, Gardens and Farms” and they wanted to feature it in the March/ April publication. RFD also has a radio station in Nashville, a theater in Branson and a television network. Of course, the idea sounded great to Diane and so she agreed. To her amazement, when the magazine was delivered to nearly 60,000 subscribers, the phone lines began to ring. The first questions every caller asked was, “Where is Forbes? And how can I get on this “Old Barn tour?” Passengers came from all over the nation. Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio! There were even some Old Barn fans from Minnesota and Wisconsin, too! “I’m amazed at where all the calls came from. Hopefully by the time our visit on the phone was over, they felt a connection and trust in us to handle their vacation plans.
Yes….after 30 years, Happy Trail Tours is still alive and well today and their roots run deep throughout Northeast Minnesota. Like any company, we've come through many changes but continue to thrive. Though the economy and fuel charges have skyrocketed, we still average about 20-30 tours a year that travel throughout the U.S and Canada. Thanks to all of our good customers for their faithful support, we are still “Taking You Places You’ve Only Dreamed And Beyond” and look forward to many more wonderful "Happy Trails" in the future.First off ... let's introduce you to the Happy Trail Tours family.
Diane Olds In the late 80's, the company started to grow quickly and Diane began helping in the office. By the fall of 1991, she was escorting the tours! Today Diane designs and creates the tours and writes the tour brochures. She spends hours on the computer looking for neat places to go that offer new and exciting travel experiences that are often unique just to Happy Trails! When she needs a change of scenery from the office and the computer ... she jumps on board one of those big beautiful motor coaches and escorts the group on one of the tours she's created!
For the past 27 years, the office of Happy Trails was located in the home of Marge & Grant Ellis in Forbes. Beginning in January 2010, Marge decided to slow down the pace and retire. A simpler life, after 27 years with the operating the company felt very inviting. So Happy Trails Tours moved from Marge and Grant's home in Forbes to a mile further south on Highway #7 (just over the tracks) to Zim. This is where Diane Olds, Marge's daughter, and her husband Larry live.
Diane and her mom, Marge, have worked together at Happy Trails Tours for almost 20 years as a team writing tours, promoting them, designing brochures and getting to know what their customers are looking for. The great thing about retirement is that you can still work IF you WANT to. And that's exactly what Marge is doing. She is still actively working because she loves it and Diane loves having her expertise in the office. She continues to be a vital part of the company in many levels and we can only think of one thing that has changed since the company moved to the new office. Marge is not making Diane's lunch everyday like she did over the past 20 years. No! That job is left for the new CEO, Diane, who is now making lunch for her mom.
The two of them continue to work together planning fun places to go. And who knows...you might even see Marge on a Happy Trails tour every now and then. (She's still baking her famous oatmeal raisin cookies, too).
Then there's Lynnie Aro.
Lynnie joined the Happy Trail family in August 2005 and has really been a vital part of the business. She handles the office with ease, always busy with endless tasks, enjoys visiting with customers as they call in and is one of our top motor coach escorts. After Lynnie's first time escorting experience to Branson, Missouri ... it was evident that the travel business was her "calling". Lynnie is also a delightful storyteller ... so if you happen to be on one of her tours, you're sure to have a wonderful time.
Let me introduce you to Gloria Hegg.
Gloria is from Bear River, MN and escorted her first tour on New Year's Eve in 2006 to Chanhassen, MN. It's no wonder the customers enjoy her because she, too, is a storyteller, has a great sense of humor and thoroughly enjoys the people that she meets through this business. We're excited about bringing Gloria into the Happy Trails fold.
It takes a lot of commitment .... a genuine care for people .... and a love of travel to successfully own and operate this type of business. Our escorts and drivers make every tour that blazes a trail a memorable one. Join us and see for yourself. Hopefully while reading this, you've been drawn in a little closer to the Happy Trail Tours family. Perhaps you'll join us in the near future. So, whether you've been with us many times or just considering a bus tour for the very first time ... we would like to extend a warm welcome to the fold.