It surprises me when people talk to me about how expensive it is to go places that are interesting, whether it’s a day outing or a long weekend getaway or a two-week vacation. It’s not that I don’t get it that the world is based on an exchange system where services and products are provided by one party and financial compensation is provided by a second party. I get that. It’s just that I don’t believe that everything in this world has to cost an exorbitant amount of money to be worth experiencing.
About a month ago, while Thomas and I were driving around town running errands, we drove past a retirement residence. I took notice of it only because there were so many seniors in the parking lot, wandering about on their own steam, with canes, with walkers, in motorized scooters, and in wheelchairs. And in the parking lot, along with all those seniors were a dozen restored antique automobiles.
We pulled into the 0verflow parking lot, hopped out of Thomas’ car and made a beeline for where the seniors were congregated. Why? Because Thomas and I love antique cars. His tastes tend to run to the cars of the 60s and 70s, but my tastes are for the cars of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
As always, I had a small digital camera with me, and I started taking photographs of these magnificent pieces of art (because, truly, they are masterpieces in their own rights when you step back and appreciate them for more than just the basic transportation concept). I was awestruck by the restored Ford pick-up truck that was not unlike the restored Ford pick-up truck that one of the characters in my book “Glass On A Stick” owns.
I caught sight of a 1956 Thunderbird and was drawn to it. You see, the character in “Glass On A Stick” who owns the Ford pick-up is already restoring a 1956 Thunderbird in the follow-up novel “Dream Catcher” (due out in 2013). The owner, Sandy Wilson, shared the history of the car with me, and then offered me the chance to actually sit in the passenger seat. Yes, I realize that most people don’t get emotional about sitting in an old car, but this wasn’t an old car. This was a memorable bit of history, and because of this, it was awesome.
An hour later, Thomas and I were getting back into his car in the overflow parking lot.
Total cost for this unexpected excursion? Nothing. Zip. Nada. A surprise courtesy of the Universe.
Of course, we learned from Sandy that every Monday evening in Bridgenorth, over in the Lions’ Club Park, classic car owners drive up to participate in the weekly Classic Car Cruise Show.
When we found ourselves just 15 minutes and 11 kilometers (or 7 miles for readers who prefer miles over kilometers) away from the show, we decided we’d burn less than a quarter gallon of gas to take in the sights. Oh, and what sights we saw. In fact, they were so inspiring, that five hours later, we both had hundreds of photographs, and had heard more than a few intriguing stories from classic car owners about why they chose to restore one vehicle over any other.
How much did this cost us? As I said before, less than a quarter gallon of gas. That works out to about a dollar based on the fact that gas in Chicago today costs $4.29 per gallon. That’s the mandatory amount of money it cost.
Of course, for such a magnificent afternoon, we gladly tossed money into the donation bucket, and we ate supper there. But you know, you can’t complain when soda and bottled water is sold at a buck a pop, and hotdogs go for $2.50 and hamburgers go for $3.00. You’d spend at least as much at a fast food restaurant. The proceeds all went to the Lions Club, to support the many community programs they run.
My point in sharing this is because far too many people have the misguided belief that having fun also means spending lots of money and going great distances to get value for their dollar. Not so. All you have to do is look around your own community to find great places to go that barely put a dent in your wallet.
They’re out there. They exist.
Now get out there and start having fun …. and lots of it!