Touring the Missouri State Capitol Building
January 2, 2015 – 2:39 pm | No Comment

Whenever our family passes through a state’s capital city, we like to stop and tour the capitol building. Free and open to the general public, most state capitol buildings offer guided tours (if you have …

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Aliens in Oregon: McMinnville UFO Festival
May 30, 2015 – 10:25 am | Comments Off on Aliens in Oregon: McMinnville UFO Festival

Portland, Oregon lays claim to general weirdness, but nearby McMinnville embraces quirky for a long weekend each May.

IMG_1348Published in LIFE magazine in 1950, grainy black-and-white photos taken in at the Trent family farm in the outskirts of McMinnville are considered the earliest credible UFO photos ever captured on film.

Embracing the notoriety, modern-day McMinnville have welcomed skeptics and believers to their otherwise bucolic downtown for the annual UFO Festival (now between its sixteenth and seventeenth year).

IMG_1355A four-day event, UFO Festival central is split between Hotel Oregon at 310 NE Evans Street and the McMinnville Community Center.

While the main draw is the family-friendly Saturday events and Alien Parade, a VIP pass to the UFO festival costs $70 and includes entrance to five speaker events. Lunch and breakfast with the speakers is an additional fee, and if you book a room at the Hotel Oregon, you’ll receive $40 in food and credit, a pair of tickets to a UFO event, and “surprise” amenities (let’s just hope there isn’t any “probing” involved).

IMG_1330The lineup of 2015 speakers featured a nuclear physicist, abduction/ET contact researcher, ufologist, the director of the UFO Reporting Center, and Travis Walton (who was allegedly abducted by aliens for five days in 1875).

IMG_1377Beyond the paid education component, the Downtown McMinville organization puts on a one-mile fun run ($12/person). The “I WANT TO RUN” tagline for this event makes me laugh every time I see this photo. While we did participate this year, I would register our whole family for a future event (as would Brian Bernier, who described his experience on the Run Oregon Blog).

IMG_1342Arriving one hour before the parade, we found easy enough street parking, shuttles ran every fifteen minutes between downtown and designated drop off points. Half the pre-parade fun is wandering around and checking out the elaborate and creative costumes (kids and big kids all get in on the action). Check out the eyeball costume I made with my oldest son.IMG_1358If you ever wanted to wear an aluminum foil hat, this here’s your chance!

IMG_1329We coughed up $5 for kettle corn and I purchased a souvenir t-shirt featuring a floating green alien head screen-print above the word “Believe”. A close second was a design paying tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy with the hashtag #LLAP (Live Long and Prosper, for those of us not hip enough to figure it out).

IMG_1359A crowd milled around local musicians playing a combo on the drums and didgeridoo and kids held tight to their free balloons. One man let me take a photo of his alien baby “Rebecca,” who seemed oddly at home in the perch of his backpack.

IMG_1347Local businesses clearly got into the spirit of things with sales and special food and drinks honed in on the extraterrestrial theme. My favorite examples were the “Take me to your Pinot” sign on display wine store and the gift shop that covered its lawn ornaments in aluminum foil.

IMG_1338Starting at 2PM, the Alien Parade was out of this world. Curbside real estate started getting slim in the last hour leading up to the first float—people marked their territory with lawn chairs and blankets. If you have bribed your children with the promise of Dollar Store tootsie rolls, plan to sit and people watch for a bit.

IMG_1363School marching bands, elected officials, realtors, and fire trucks, fell in line with a creepy abduction van, remote-control saucer, a kung fu students dressed in Star Wars attire. My personal favorite was the couple dressed in skintight metallic bodysuits (and try as I might, I can’t quite get this image out of my head).

IMG_1376

More information here:

News Register: http://newsregister.com/ufo-festival-2015

Oregon Live: http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/05/2015_ufo_festival.html

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A Tour of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans
November 18, 2014 – 1:47 pm | No Comment
A Tour of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Last month, I posted a story on how football fans traveling to New Orleans for a Saints game can save 15% off regular room rates at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans (simply enter code “FANN” when …

Football Season Savings at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans
October 20, 2014 – 9:03 am | No Comment
Football Season Savings at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Football season is finally here and nothing beats the thrill of cheering in the stands while your team wins an away game. For the true fans who will travel to New Orleans for Saints games, …

Helena, Montana GeoTour: Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Hills
October 15, 2014 – 10:55 am | No Comment
Helena, Montana GeoTour: Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Hills

Spoiler Alert! This post contains information and photos about the geocache containers hidden in Helena, Montana as part of the city’s official GeoTour. If you want to find them yourself, you may want to stop …

#MichelinQuest Geocaching Contest
September 16, 2014 – 12:15 pm | No Comment
#MichelinQuest Geocaching Contest

Celebrating 125 years of mobility, Michelin USA is running a contest that both celebrates the open road and captures the spirit of American adventure—from the days of the treasure map to the time of the …

Family Vacation in Helena, Montana
August 30, 2014 – 12:34 pm | No Comment
Family Vacation in Helena, Montana

When we told people we were going to Montana on a family vacation, most everyone asked us if we were going to Glacier National Park or to Yellowstone National Park. Opting for the road less …

Road Trip Health Care at MinuteClinic
May 28, 2014 – 10:20 am | No Comment
Road Trip Health Care at MinuteClinic

If your family is anything like mine, whatever ear infection, case of pink eye, or sore throat will emerge the minute your car passes out of your health care coverage zone. So much so, I’ve …

Geocaching Favorite: Travel Bug Hotel
April 23, 2014 – 10:50 am | No Comment
Geocaching Favorite: Travel Bug Hotel

A recent spring break road trip had us out of the frozen tundra and driving through Alabama on our way to the white sand beaches in the Florida Panhandle. As usual, we tried to find …

Saving for Vacation: A Year in Review
January 2, 2014 – 1:35 pm | No Comment

January 10 marks the one year anniversary of our “Saving for Vacation” challenge—a total budget makeover using the Mvelopes money management tool in conjunction with Money 4 Life financial coaching.
Throughout the year, I gave updates …

Saving for Vacation: Financial GPS
October 22, 2013 – 7:45 pm | No Comment

A failure to plan is a plan to fail. ~Winston Churchill
Three additional months into the 2013 Saving for Vacation challenge, much has happened. First, everyone (kids included) survived a summer vacation full of regional travel …

Saving for Vacation: Crunching the Numbers
July 22, 2013 – 3:26 pm | No Comment
Saving for Vacation: Crunching the Numbers

If  you’re following our “Saving for Vacation” financial journey with Mvelopes and Money4Life financial coaching, progress made in the last few months has been in the category of data analysis.
Within the Mvelopes tool, you can …

Saving for Vacation: The Long Boring Part in the Middle
May 31, 2013 – 9:47 am | One Comment
Saving for Vacation: The Long Boring Part in the Middle

Like driving through Kansas or Illinois or any state boasting “mile after magnificent mile,” we have reached the part in our Saving for Vacation challenge that can be best described as the long boring part …

New Geocaching GeoTour in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
May 7, 2013 – 6:44 pm | One Comment
New Geocaching GeoTour in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Earlier today the folks at VISIT Milwaukee announced the official launch of the new geocaching GeoTour titled “Discover Milwaukee’s Neighborhoods.” Timing the launch date with National Tourism Week—an event recognizing travel and tourism as one of America’s largest and …

Amish Country Itinerary in Lancaster, PA
May 3, 2013 – 2:23 pm | 3 Comments
Amish Country Itinerary in Lancaster, PA

If you’re looking for a great weekend road trip in the Northeast this spring, consider Lancaster, PA.  From the Amish country, to the railroads and museums, to the amusement parks, this itinerary is great family …

Saving for Vacation: Tortise and the Hare
April 20, 2013 – 7:22 pm | One Comment
Saving for Vacation: Tortise and the Hare

Month four into our Saving for Vacation challenge—a year-long quest to change our financial behavior and save for a family trip of a lifetime—we are in a period of financial stillness. Having evaluated our debt, …

Camping Gear Review: DoubleNest Hammock from Eagles Nest Outfitters
April 3, 2013 – 8:59 pm | No Comment
Camping Gear Review: DoubleNest Hammock from Eagles Nest Outfitters

The DoubleNest Hammock from Eagles Nest Outfitters is lightweight, durable, and easy to hang. This double hammock is a fun addition to your family camping gear.
With robins arriving and trees budding, many of us are …

Saving for Vacation: One Paycheck at a Time
March 30, 2013 – 7:13 am | No Comment
Saving for Vacation: One Paycheck at a Time

Two years ago, author and motivational speaker Jon Acuff gave the keynote speech at a women’s blogging conference. Moving the audience to tears with his insight on creating balance between blogging, social media, and our …

Kid-Friendly Activities for Springtime in New York City
March 19, 2013 – 7:35 pm | No Comment
Kid-Friendly Activities for Springtime in New York City

March 20th marks the start of spring, and here’s hoping that warm weather will follow! It’s a great season for weekend travel, and New York City is always a favorite destination for families in the …

Saving for Vacation: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
March 15, 2013 – 7:37 pm | No Comment
Saving for Vacation: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

This week was all about getting two steps forward and then taking one step back. You know, the moment where you realize all of your kids need new shoes at the exact same time or …

Turning One Vacation into Two
March 4, 2013 – 8:00 am | No Comment
Turning One Vacation into Two

Today’s guest post comes from Jake Redman, founder of ModHop.com. On ModHop.com, Redman has leveraged his personal travel experiences to help others get the most out of their travel experience, providing them with the information …

Saving for Vacation: The Budget, Part 2
February 28, 2013 – 3:07 pm | No Comment
Saving for Vacation: The Budget, Part 2

Continuing from last week’s post on creating a monthly budget, the last two weeks have been all about creating a Spending Plan and creating a Funding Plan. To quote Wes, the hip-and-trendy financial coach with …