Sunday, June 2, 2013
OUR OKLAHOMA “STAYCATION” : Vacation #1
May 31-June 2, 2013
For those of you who are following the “Secret Getaway” story line please know I haven’t forgot you and will be adding the next segment to that long site seeing trip soon. I’m going ahead and posting about our “staycation” now because several fellow Oklahomans have asked me to.
As some of you already know I stumbled across a book in the library one day titled “The Great American Staycation” I read it and then reviewed it. As I read it I also thought about it and those thoughts formed into a plan. This plan you can read about on my “Mind Your Pennies blog here. “
This blog post is about actually doing our first attempt at a staycation this year. I don’t mean the first time we’ve visited sites around home, I mean the first time we’ve truly treated it as a vacation. There is a tremendous difference in your attitude when you tell yourself “I’m on vacation” rather than “Let’s do something.”
We plan on doing some sort of staycation every four weeks throughout the next year, up until we take our next big Walt Disneyworld trip, then maybe again afterwards. I’ll post those trips as we take them to encourage others to visit the great state of Oklahoma.
Following the suggestions in the book I started off by truly planning out numerous things to do on our vacation. I cruised many websites and made copious notes as I went. Being a freak about such things I did them in this fashion.
First I made a list in word of all the small towns and big cities within a 100 miles radius of us that I could think of. These were listed alphabetically in bold blue, yep the list is color coded, you’ll see why as I go along.
Then starting with the town nearest our home I googled the name of the town and the words “calendar of events”. Events that were happening during the weekend of May 31-June 2 2013 were added in green to the list. The admission price was posted in red.
I then checked their tourism or city webpage for ongoing things like museums, historical homes, zoos, nature parks, historical sites and just about anything else I could think of we would be interested in. These ongoing points of interest were added to the list in black, under the appropriate town/city. With the admission price again being in red.
As I worked my way through the various towns/cities I watched for other points of interest subjects I hadn’t previously thought of. An example would be a Civil War battlefield let me to the Oklahoma Historical society webpage which listed NUMEROUS historical sites in towns I hadn’t thought to add previously.
I worked on this on Tuesday and Wednesday between chores and other projects, then Wednesday evening, despite being nowhere near finished with my research I printed out three copies of the 27 pages of places to go and things to do. These I dispersed between the three of us to look over and mark what we personally would be interested in.
After dinner, Thursday, we had a family meeting and settled on going to two towns about two hours north of us to visit. We planned out our route and schedule, agreeing to leave the house around 6:00 am on Saturday for a one day staycation on Saturday.
I live in Oklahoma, if you have seen any national weather at all you KNOW what happened here on Friday. The entire state was besieged with tornadoes and flash flooding, including the area we were planning on attending outdoor events all day Saturday.
Enter Bonus #1 of a Staycation: You can change your plans at the last minute without losing a lot of money or feeling deprived.
Had we been on a standard family vacation such weather would have left us with nothing to do, except hunker down and grumble. We knew the area Bonus #2 of a Staycation and therefore knew ahead of time that the area for the huge outdoor picnic and festival we were planning on attending as part of our day would be at the very least boggy if not underwater.
So late Friday night we looked our list over again and changed our plans, without ever spending a penny on fuel. Instead of driving two hours north of our home we instead changed our plans to do things in Tulsa, a mere 45 minutes away, where we knew the town was still there and for the most part it would be high and dry.
We of course changed from a fairly hectic one day schedule to a very laid back day of relaxation. This I believe would be Bonus #3. Because we were not going near as far it meant we could sleep in later and move at a much more leisurely pace Bonus #4.
So instead of leaving at 6 am we chose to leave at 9 am. This was a very good thing because I was up until after two tracking the storms through our area. It had been a long night. A night that made me glad we were in our solid home rather than our fifth wheel when the 60-70 mph winds came through our area. That would definitely be Bonus #5!
We started “vacationing” Friday night with our traditional vacation bedtime milk and cookies routine. While we don’t normally eat after dinner at home, while vacationing we have either milk and cookies or ice cream every night before going to bed.
Saturday morning we all dressed in what we would normally wear on vacation. This brings up Bonus #6—NO PACKING!
Stepping outside after a stormy night the misty rain soaked pine trees of our property smelled just like a similar morning in Walt Disney World, only the walk to the transportation center wasn’t near as long. Bonus #7.
Even with the three hours of extra sleep I found myself making this comment as I was the last one to get in our truck to leave. “Note to self…do NOT put toothpaste from a brand new tube on your toothbrush without turning the light on in the bathroom. You will end up foaming like a rabid dog at the mouth.”
I had accidentally, in my efforts to let my eyes get accustomed to being back open so quickly, put three times the normal amount of toothpaste on my tooth brush and soon had a very foamy mouth. It took me several minutes to get thoroughly rinsed before leaving. Yep, even stay at home vacations will give you something to be teased about in the future.
We sang a few verses of “C is for Cookie” as we started down the driveway, because that is something we do for every vacation trip. Tradition, is important you know. Only this time we weren’t pulling the fifth wheel. I don’t think I’ll count that as a bonus because I love my fifth wheel.
Our first stop was Golden Corral in Tulsa. You see when we vacation we generally at least once in every 2-3 week vacation trip eat an all you can eat breakfast buffet. At Ft. Wilderness in Walt Disney World we eat at Trail’sEnd restaurant there at the campground. So we opted to start our vacation day with a buffet in Tulsa as well.
We ate until we were stuffed, then sat and chatted leisurely over the meal. Our schedule for the day was light and therefore relaxing. Gary and I qualify for their Senior Discount and so it cost the two of us $14 for breakfast. Sean paid his own way all day because that is what he does when he travels with us on vacation. I guarantee you that was a lot cheaper than Trail’s End!
When we finally decided to leave the restaurant we decided on window shopping at Restore. I know to some of you this doesn’t sound like a vacation thing to do, but for us it is. Our schedules are generally so tight we don’t window shop anywhere and none of us are clothes hounds. We like to window shop for things we have planned for the future.
Right now our big plans for Gary and I are to completely re-do all our outside decks because they are in very bad shape, including a summer kitchen. While Sean is planning on building his own home this year. So Restore was the perfect place for us to window shop, especially since we'd never been there.
We found many possibilities for things we had planned for our remodeling and building projects and spent a lot of time looking things over and discussing options. Something we would not have normally done while at any building materials store. Normally if we were going there it would have been with a list in hand, straight in and straight out. So this was a relaxing visit for us of over an hour long.
While shopping for house parts may not be your idea of fund, you may love bargain shopping at outlet malls on your vacations. This is basically the same thing, just a different type of item.
From there we went to our favorite movie theater in Bixby, OK to see not one but two movies. Something we NEVER do. Oh we will sometimes go see a single movie, but never two on the same day. Because of things falling together just right we were able to pay for one movie each at the matinee price and see the second one free!—One of the perks of having friends with passes they couldn’t use and a big reason we decided to stay in Tulsa for the day, the passes would expire soon. The movies I did pay for were done on a mystery shop—which yes I do mystery shop occasionally when we are vacation if it’s something we want to see or do. Why not get paid to have fun?
We decided to pay for the one movie and see the other for free because when visiting amusement parks we see numerous shows in one day. The two movies we chose were: “Iron Man III” and “AfterEarth”. If you click on the hyperlinks for those two you can read my movie reviews of them. That took up several hours of our day and cost Gary and I another $15 for a total of $29 to that point.
Plus $1.50 for movie candy ($30.50) I had purchased at Wal-Mart on sale on Friday and had in my purse. We drank beverages from our packed from home ice chest prior to going into the movie. Granted I’ll get that $15 back plus $5 more later, but for out of pocket total right now the $15 gets added in. This cost was at the senior citizen matinee discount by the way. We used senior citizen discounts all day long and saved considerable money in doing so. On any vacation you can save considerable cash by using whatever discounts are available to you, and we do.
We came out of the theater over five hours later, suddenly starved, so as we do when vacationing we looked for a quick service restaurant. Normally we eat one table service and one quick service each day we are in parks on vacation. Since we had eaten the buffet for breakfast that meant fast food for dinner. We pulled into Taco Bueno, spending just under $10 for the two of us to eat. Again we used a senior citizen discount. This brought our total to $40.50.
I’ll admit we did do one errand, we stopped by the motor bank and made a deposit while we were out, but we did no extra driving to do so. We did this because that was our travel account and we hadn’t filled up the tank of the truck before we “left for vacation” and would be doing it on the way home. Bonus # 7—being able to re-fund your vacation money as you go along without a major hassle.
From Taco Bueno we did more window shopping. Again for building materials and ideas for not only future projects, but future staycations.
Yes, staycation ideas. One of the things suggested in the “Great American Staycation” was taking classes on subjects that interest you. Home improvement centers often offer free or near free how to classes, as do craft stores. So we were checking their schedule of planned events. We are constantly working on one project or another, so free training can be a big plus on these projects.
Another errand was performed while there. We had a return with us and I returned the item for Sean for $12, which covered his one movie ticket and part of his meal cost, bringing his “vacation” costs down considerably. He unfortunately doesn’t get near the discounts Gary and I do. He gets AAA and ones from our his auto insurance company and that’s about it.
Because we had walked so much during the window shopping segments we joked as we meandered back to the car about being half way around World Showcase or we were climbing the hill into the Land in Epcot. Everyone was relaxed and in good humor. It had been a simple but very relaxing day. Who says vacations have to cram packed with do this and do that?
For our night time treat we opted for hot fudge sundaes from McDonald’s at $1 each bringing our total to $42.50 for a day of relaxing entertainment.
After we got home I realized another couple of bonuses Bonus #8, not having to hire a house or critter sitter. No starting and stopping the mail and other deliveries either. We didn’t need to since we were staying in the “Patterson Bed and Breakfast” and of course Bonus #9, we got to sleep in our own beds.
Sunday morning we got us late, 10:00 am for Gary and I and noon for Sean, had donuts for breakfast—another vacation tradition, then slowly slipped back into or normal life of chores and building a project.
This wasn’t exactly a whiz bang staycation, but it was so relaxing. It was also under budget. I had budgeted $200 for the weekend, with fuel and everything, once I get paid this trip will have cost us under $40 now that is Bonus #10!
Bonus #11 is NO UNPACKING!
In four weeks I will have a much more extensive list to choose from, be better budgeted for a more eventful vacation trip here in Oklahoma. I’ll do this by continuing to search calendar of events for that time period listing the June 30-July 7 in green (thinking about using a small amount of vacation time up to take advantage of the July 4 holiday).
I’ll remove the events that expired this weekend from the current list. Jan who says stay tuned for more Oklahoma staycations in OK