servicesGas is hovering around 2.50 a gallon, not to mention the beast that will get you there needs to be insured, lest some dingdong a quarter car-length away is getting their last driving texts in before the law passes.

The standard entertainment fodder, the motion picture, will set you back ten bucks a head (if you only see one feature while past the ticket kid) and they’ve even raised the matinee prices!

Dark times indeed, recessioneers.

I propose a day built around free entertainment you may have overlooked.  Enjoy your public and city services.

Even if you’re not a ball fan, there is some romantic nostalgia about listening to a sporting event on the radio.  Radio?  Whats that?  It’s something you’re practically issued at birth.  The Windy City and St. Louis has representation on the dial, as well as our own River Bandits.  Radio, incidentally, was the frequency to be on during the Swing marketing regime.  You could still have some civic pride without the embarrassing visual that it was your team in the powder blue and the mascot was a sunglasses-wearing monkey who is an implied jazz enthusiast…or something.

If you flip over to the public radio side, you’re going to find premium music and entertainment programming.  Some of these operas, classical music, news, and comedy/quiz shows cost 5 figures a year to syndicate in this town.  They only ask that you toss them a few shekels during fund drive week.  If you don’t remember when that is, they’ll kindly break into programming like an audio Jerry Lewis every five minutes to remind you.  There’s a lot of great stuff out there floating in the ether if you’ve got a decent command of the weekly program guide.

Most cities, like Davenport, have multiple parks. I have never driven by Vanderveer and not seen people having a good time at any given hour of the day.  If you consider physical fitness a good time, there’s more than enough of that in store if you have a decent pair of running shoes.   Borrow a Frisbee from someone and toss it around in one of the city’s numerous Frisbee golf courses.  In general, most of those outdoorsy types are some pretty mellow cats, so don’t worry about cliques.  And as far as flora and fauna, if you’re over 16, gasp, it may cost you a DOLLAR to gawk at the displays!

I’d be remiss to not mention the greatest entertainment savings of all, your local library.  Preaching to the choir, I know.

“But Froogs, how would I get there,” says the cynic.   Davenport Citibus is free on Green Saturdays.

national-parksOr explore a historic house. Or visit one of the natural wonders of this country. Celebrate National Parks Week (April 18-26) and discover some of the special places of America.

The United States established the first national park in the world in 1872 with Yellowstone National Park. Since then, the National Park service has developed hundreds of parks, recreation areas, historic sites, monuments and memorials throughout the country. Everyone’s familiar with the famous sites, like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite but there are many more worth visiting ranging from the seashores of North Carolina to Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home in Kentucky to the volcanoes of Hawaii. The National Parks offers tons of services including ranger talks and ranger-led walks, preservation of the natural and historic treasures and multiple recreational opportunities, almost all of which are free or very low cost.

While it might be a little late to visit a park this week, now is the perfect time to plan your summer vacation or your next weekend getaway. Be sure to check out the books available at the library including:

National Parks of the American West for Dummies

Haunted Hikes: Spine Tingling Tales and Trails from North America’s National Parks by Andrea Lankford

Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks by Lonely Planet

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States

Great Lodges of the National Parks by Christine Barnes

Yellowstone: a Natural and Human History by David Wallace