National Public Radio has started a new series of pieces about vacations on the cheap. It reminds me of a book we published a few years ago about some of the wonderful little museums of Pennsylvania and it occurs to me that that book might currenlty make a fantastic resource for some inexpensive, yet fun-filled vacations for a whole new group of citizen’s of the commonwealth, especially in these tough economic times. It worked for me, though technically, it was before the book was published.
The book is titled The Best Places You’ve Never Seen and it’s a delightful little guide to some of the more eclectic small museums here in the Keystone state. It’s also the source of some of my own personal favorite memories of the days I spent courting my wife. Before the book was published we realized that while the author had provided some pictures for the book, the book could probably benefit from a few more, so several members of the press decided we’d go to some of the museums included in the book and snap a few pictures of our own to augment those provided by the author.
Kate, my wife, (but back then just my girlfriend) agreed to take a vacation with me into the Pennsylvania Wilds to hit a few of the museums that would be included in the book. On the trip we visited the Eldred World War II Museum, the Ole Bull Museum and the adjacent State Park, Tom Mix’s Birthplace and Museum, and the Zippo Case Museum. The museums themselves were a hoot, especially the Ole Bull Museum and it’s eccentric curator and occupant, Ole’s grandniece Inez, but the real fun was the week we spent camping on the trip. We couldn’t afford hotels and the press certainly wasn’t in a position to pay for anything so we did it as cheaply as possible. Since that first camping trip, we sort of made it a habit to do a lot of camping. We camp at least four or five times a year and now we bring our young daughters camping with us. Our older daughter, now five, spent her first night in a tent at three months old. We’re planning our next camping trip for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
It seems the point of the NPR stories, and the book, and this here blog post, is that fun doesn’t really have a price tag. Fun is made by people and places. It doesn’t take reservations or plane tickets— it takes the right attitude and probably the right company. I’m grateful that a book we once published helped me discover that, and on the way, it also helped me find a mate who taught me just how cheap fun could really be.
(on the left is a picture of some vintage Zippo-themed silk neckties we found at a thrift store just down the block from the Zippo factory in Bradford, PA. Cost—twenty-five cents a piece)