Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.

Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.

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Old journal recounts the cost of a 1940 Minn.-California road trip

Posted by: under Road trips Updated: March 3, 2014 - 11:41 AM

Lyle Lundeen, an 89-year-old retired Navy pilot who lives in Bloomington, found an old palm-sized notebook that brought back some memories -- and some signs of the wrench inflation has thrown into road trips. His parents kept track of costs on a 1940 drive from Minneapolis to California. Cabins were $2. Gas was as cheap as 15-cents a gallon.

According to his calculations, the whole trek for four cost less than $120 for gas, "eats" and lodging.

Ace Star Tribune copy editor Bruce Adomeit put the somewhat staggering figures into context:

According to the inflation calculator at, $118.95 in 1940 dollars for the California trip is equivalent to $2,002.03 in today’s money.

Gas in Salt Lake City at 20 cents a gallon sounds dirt cheap, but that equals $3.37 a gallon in today’s dollars. shows that Saturday’s average price in Salt Lake City was less than that: $3.266.

Megabus moving to Union Depot in St. Paul

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under U.S. travel Updated: January 23, 2014 - 2:14 PM

Union Depot in downtown St. Paul is about to get a bit more traffic. Megabus, which famoulsy offers fares beginning at $1 to Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee, will relocate its St. Paul arrival and departures to the depot, at 214 4th St. E., effective Jan. 29. The buses had been using the parking lot of the Midway Shopping Center.

The 1920s Union Depot has been restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Soon, it will also host Amtrak train passengers.  

“We are pleased to offer a more convenient, sheltered location in St. Paul for customers departing/arriving to the area,” said Mike Alvich,’s Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations. “Union Depot is a beautiful facility where customers can safely relax prior to boarding.”

The terminal building offers free Wi-fi, power outlets, comfortable seating, a Greek restaunt and 24-hour security. 

Cowboys explore future of rural communities

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under U.S. travel Updated: January 16, 2014 - 10:43 AM

The wonderful, colorful National Cowboy Poetry Gathering convenes for its 30th year Jan. 27-Feb.1 in Elko, Nev., and this time around will focus on the future of rural agricultural communities and the next generation of cowboys and ranchers. Jessie Veeder, a 29-year-old who writes and sings about life on the family ranch in North Dakota, will be among the artists there to celebrate traditions of ranching and cowboy culture in the American West. A gallery exhibition will also bring together more than 50 leather carvers, rawhide braiders, metal workers and the like, all under the age of 40. In addition to poetry, music, handcrafted gear, hands-on workshops and films, the poetry gathering, put on by the Western Folklife Center, will offer discussions about how to keep young people working on the ranch and how those who have stayed are making ends meet.

Tickets to the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at, by calling 775-738-7508, toll-free 888-880-5885, or by stopping in to the Western Folklife Center’s ticket office, 501 Railroad Street, Elko.


Are Minnesota tourist traps worth the trip?

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Minnesota Updated: December 30, 2013 - 5:17 PM

The editors at Smarter Travel have come up with a list of the 10 most overrated tourist traps, and what to see instead. Frankly, I think it’s the work of cynical, seen-it-all travelers. The Blarney Stone? Sure, I didn’t lean back in a death-defying pose to kiss the stone (which is required if you want to partake in that ritual), but the castle in Ireland is lovely. Stonehenge? I’d love to go, despite the fact that it is near two roads. The Pyramids at Giza? Who wouldn’t want to see those, even if there is a Pizza Hut in their shadows? But the list got me thinking. Was it really worth a drive to see the world’s largest ball of twine in Darwin, Minn.? (Yes, if only to marvel at one man’s vision and drive.) And is there a reason — overhyped attraction, overdone kitsch? — that I haven’t yet visited Paul Bunyan and Babe? One tourist destination that gets overlooked is the Jeffers Petroglyphs, a sight no one could called a tourist trap. Lovely. Tell me what you think of Minnesota “tourist traps" -- to avoid or don't miss.


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