Woods & Water

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Black Friday is here!

Black Friday is here, and so is the chance to save big on purchases you have been waiting for. I’m always in doubt: should I buy this or should I wait? Today is the opportunity to make that big spend you have been hoping for. Or, you could be spending money for someone else for Christmas.

Let’s go to trucks first. Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger would be at the top of my list. How loaded do I want it to be? That’s often a deciding factor. When you watch TV, you see some woman advertising 35% off the list price. If it can be done now, why can’t it be done all year long, or better yet, why not just lower the price so we can afford it to start with?

But if we are going to spend money, why not just do comparative shopping and take the plunge? The thing is the price of the items that make it loaded, equal to the price of the truck to start with. The best truck I’ve ever owned is the Toyota Tacoma, good enough to buy two, one after the other. However, I have never owned a Ranger, which my friend John Mackey is quite happy with. So that is a viable choice, too. I would include my Dodge, except that it only got twelve miles per gallon, and my Toyotas got 21.

For me, then, it would be a toss-up between the Toyota and the Ford. So let’s move on to a different topic that would make a great Christmas gift.

The past three years I have done more traveling than previously, so let me give you a few clues. First, you don’t have to spend a bundle to travel overseas, provided you do your homework in advance. There is a huge difference between last-minute shopping and buying months in advance.

To travel from here to Germany costs about $1,000 if you shop early. The Euro is currently worth about $1.30, so plan accordingly. There are plenty of decent places to stay reasonably and an equal number of places to eat. A few things to keep in mind: You will not see an ice cube, even if you ask for it; beer is cheaper than water. Water comes in two kinds: Still and bubbly. It costs about $3 per glass, while beer costs less than $2. There are bakeries everywhere, and most carry fresh goods that are very flavorful. Sausages come in about 2,000 different kinds, and I have never had a bad one, including the airport food at Frankfurt. They are complemented with mustard and a hard roll.

Other favorites include schnitzels, fish of many varieties, and ice cream (which may come disguised as spaghetti or lasagna). It is extruded vanilla ice cream, then mixed with strawberries, then topped with white chocolate, and it covers the dish, all for about $6.

Don’t be afraid to try new foods. You may be surprised, but you won’t be disappointed.


I may be stretching a little when I say Arizona is local, but compared to Europe, it’s local. A round-trip ticket is about $400. Since you are still in America, the dollar is the currency to spend. Should you choose Arizona (one of my favorite states) there are lots of places to visit, from the Grand Canyon to the O.K. Corral. We are taking a train from Williams to the Grand Canyon, complete with a fake hold-up while we are there. Spring training is a great place to see, too. There are at least five different ball parks, shared by at least two teams each. One week I saw eight different teams in a week. Prices are much less than regular games, too.

Keep in mind that I am just touching the tip of the iceberg, too. Every state has something special. I have kayaked in the straits of Juan de Fuca, where we saw whales way too close. I have climbed down ladders left by the Anasazi, got passage on the Mississippi on a steamboat, had my picture taken beside the cowboy in Winslow, AZ, taken a hot air balloon ride over the Sonora Desert, taken five zipline rides by old Mexico, and a whole lot of other things, too.

There is plenty to do right here in the good old USA.

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