Lemoore grad and Idaho transplant creates 'Feelin' Groovy Tours' and will soon hit the road

By Ed Martin, Editor
Michelle Moreau Keener, a 1983 Lemoore High School grad, with her 1976 Volkswagen bus named Gwennie the Wandering Bird.
Michelle Moreau Keener, a 1983 Lemoore High School grad, with her 1976 Volkswagen bus named Gwennie the Wandering Bird.

A Lemoore native and Idaho transplant who proudly gets to live in what she and others hail as the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” – according to Rand McNally and USA Today – has decided she wants to share her experience in Sandpoint, Idaho with others, all of whom she believes will enjoy exploring the hidden gems and experiencing the scenic natural beauty of North Idaho.

To that end, Michelle Moreau Keener recently founded Feelin’ Groovy Tours, a travel business that she says is North Idaho’s first and only land-based tour operator – and she’s about to hit the road. This summer she intends to pack a fully restored vintage 1976 Volkswagen bus – named Gwennie the Wandering Bird – and provide guests a nostalgic journey in what she refers to as a “boxy-yet-charming, time machine of fun.”

Keener moved to Idaho in 2011 with husband and business partner, Tom, and quickly traded in her business suits for hiking boots, beginning a journey of discovery and experiencing a new way of living. Faced with a tough job market, Keener decided the timing was perfect for reinventing herself and pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a tour director.

Keener says Feelin’ Groovy Tours is designed for adventure seekers of all ages and tours may include family reunions, special celebrations, and team building.

Gwennie the Wandering Bird tour bus.
Gwennie the Wandering Bird tour bus.

“More and more people are looking for unique things to do in North Idaho, Eastern Washington, and Montana,” said Keener. “We offer guests a nostalgic kind of tour that will highlight the area's history, geology, famous and infamous personalities, hard-to-find attractions, attractions available only to Feelin’ Groovy Tours, a progressive dine around the lake experience, small group charters, and a Fantastic Voyage – a touring trifecta in which guests can see North Idaho by land, lake, and air all in one day.”  

Keener, a 1983 Lemoore High School grad, says that while she has certainly fallen in love with her new home, Lemoore still holds a very special place in her heart.

After graduating from Kings River Community College and earning a journalism and public relations degree at Fresno State (she sold advertising at The Lemoore Advance to help pay her school bills) Keener started working for Caltrans in its public affairs division. She also worked as a program coordinator for Gottschalk’s corporate office, was employed by the Fresno Art Museum, and served in Assemblymember Jim Costa’s office for a spell. She also worked for Lyles Services in Fresno, part of its marketing and recruiting division.

Her father served 21 years in the U.S. Navy and another 21 years with the Hanford Police Department, retiring as a commander.

A certified international tour manager and certified interpretive guide, Keener laughed when asked about the retro vibe: “We totally encourage singing along to all of the retro 70’s music on our extensive playlists – go ahead and channel your favorite Beatles, ABBA, or Fleetwood Mac artist - you just may even find a few tambourines, maracas, and a cowbell onboard… it really is the grooviest way to see North Idaho,” she stated proudly.

Her Idaho home in Sandpoint sits nestled at the base of three mountain ranges carved out by Ice Age floods occurring over 13, 000 years ago. According to Keener, It’s a wonderland of scenic, natural beauty.

The former Lemoore Tiger says that Feelin’ Groovy Tours aims to share this scenic beauty and all those hidden gems with guests who travel from all over the world to this little hamlet of 8,000 residents.  In addition to a totally “groovy” experience, Gwennie the Wandering Bird - whose air conditioning consists of six windows and a large touring sunroof - also offers guests binoculars, mister fans, umbrellas, and lap blankets. Seating up to seven guests comfortably, Gwennie is sure to be an adventure that guests will remember for years to come.

If things work out, she plans to visit Lemoore in late October in “Gwennie.” She credits Ron Johnson of Johnson West Motors in Lemoore, for helping with their VW’s restoration journey. “I remembered that many friends from LHS took their Beetles to Ron for servicing, and I've called him on a few occasions for his advice. If I can get to Lemoore this fall, I plan to stop by and show him our bus that his advice helped to restore.”

You can reserve your seat on Feelin’ Groovy Tours by visiting its website at www.FeelinGroovy.tours or by calling (833) 247-6689.

(This article is hopefully the first in a series entitled “Where are They Now.” The Leader encourages anyone who is formerly from Lemoore and has an interesting story to tell, to contact us at mayored1956@gmail.com.)

Lemoore grad and Idaho transplant creates 'Feelin' Groovy Tours' and will soon hit the road

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