Category Archives: Away From Home

Turning short trips into memorable times when you can’t afford the time or money for the big vacation.

Summer Driving Vacations Still Affordable

It looks like gasoline prices will remain below $3.60/gallon for the rest of the summer.  So you can still take that staycation trip up to the lake that you were putting off without having to sacrifice your morning Starbucks until Christmas just to pay for the gas.

I’ve been an avid watcher of the financial channels CNBC and Bloomberg News for many years (as a complete outsider, of course) and the market prices for oil and wholesale gasoline remain “under pressure” as they have done for most of the year.  The oil producing countries are apparently keeping the spigots open and that’s helped the price of oil to drop below $100.00 per barrel in the last week or so despite the problems with Russia.  Adding to the pressure on gasoline prices has been the relatively weak demand here in the US over the summer, which is traditionally the season when demand peaks and prices follow right along.

One of my most memorable family vacations was one summer in the mid-60’s when my parents took my sister Donna and I up north to a lakeshore lodge up near Brainerd.  As soon as we unpacked, I headed straight for the little beach behind our cottage.  The water was so much clearer than the lakes near us in Minneapolis that I was astounded.  We did a little swimming, some canoeing, and my dad and I did a little fishing.  We also visited Paul Bunyan Land, of course, which was a lot of fun.  I’ll always remember the giant Paul Bunyan who said my name over the loudspeakers, and there was a chicken in a special cage that played Tic-Tac-Toe when you put a nickel or dime in the machine.  My mom and I loved that!

I’ve been lucky in that I almost always got along well with my sister.  She tells me we quarreled a lot when I was little, but I have no memories of that beyond occasionally playing tricks on her.  But we never had a problem with each other on car trips.  There was no “stop touching me” or drawing a line down the center of the back seat.  Now that I think about it, many of my favorite family memories involve the half dozen car trips we took together back then.

The longest trip we took was the summer we drove to Billings, Montana to see my dad’s parents.  We went through the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore, where I got to see the monument and try buffalo meat at the dining hall there that was featured in the famous Hitchcock movie “North by Northwest” with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.  We went as far west as Yellowstone National Park and got to see Old Faithful spout.

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2014 Minnesota State Fair Discounts

2014 Minnesota State FairThe Minnesota State Fair is nearly upon us, and this is a very exciting year for the fair.  They’re opening the new West End Market which includes the Minnesota State Fair History & Heritage Center, two new stages, and 5 new food vendors.

This year’s line-up for the Grandstand shows looks to have something for everybody, with stars like Toby Keith, Aretha Franklin, Kid Rock, Tim McGraw, and Garrison Keillor.

MN State Fair Ticket Discounts
Get discounts on tickets for admission and Grandstand Shows!

The fair runs from August 21 through Labor Day, September 1.  You can get discounts on admission tickets, Blue Ribbon Bargain Books, and all of the shows at the Grandstand through the Minnesota State Fair website.  I can hardly wait!