A Not-So-Expensive Staycation

For a not-so-expensive (NSE) stayacation, we took a three-day weekend in early spring to visit a college friend of mine who lives in Buena Vista CO. Dan is the friend with whom I moved to Denver in 1999. In 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life, I talk about how I when I moved to Colorado I spent money I didn’t have and lived on credit cards.

Dan, his wife and one-year old son live in Buena Vista, which absolutely lives up to its name. Buena Vista is about two and a half hours southwest of Denver, about a half hour from Salida. Buena Vista and Salida are much smaller than Denver. Salida is the bigger, more artsy of the two.

We chose a staycation in Buena Vista so that we could visit friends, relax, ski and snowboard without the need to spend a lot of money. As it turned out, it was also Dan’s birthday weekend. We drove down Satur-day after we finished our Debt Free Guys’ work. We were there Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Saturday night after our arrival we went to a local whiskey bar, called Deerhammer Distilling Company, to celebrate Dan’s birthday. Deerhammer Distilling Company is a local whiskey distillery. It has whiskey as smooth as a horny Italian twenty-five year old and an uber creative whiskey-centric cocktail menu.

The room was packed with local friends and a guitar trio as good as Extreme, but with three people, so more Extreme. It was cold, but the sense of spring was in the air and caused a sense of unintelligible ex-citement. When it was time to leave, I paid the bill for Dan, Dan’s wife, David and me. We each had at least three whiskey cocktails. Dan must’ve had six alone. A bill that we expected to be well over $100 was-n’t even $70. We couldn’t believe the value we got for our money. In Denver, we could’ve only achieved that with a pair of double-ds.

The next day, we moved slower than planned, but faster than Mitch McConnell speaks. This was our stay-cation and we did what we wanted when we wanted. We got to Monarch Mountain to ski and snowboard. Not getting to the mountain when the rooster crowed actually benefited us. First, it allowed the ice to thaw, which made for more enjoyable runs. We left the icy east coast mountains for a reason. Second, it was NSE, as we only had to pay for half a day. This saved us 50 percent of the cost of a full-day’s pass on an already reasonably priced “Mom & Pop” mountain run by locals.

Afterwards, we stopped at a local brewery called Elevation Beer Company. Elevation brews and ages ex-tremely unique beers. One is aged in used Chardonnay barrels, another in bourbon barrels and yet another in rum barrels. They had a variety beyond the liquor-infused varietal, some of which were served in 750 milliliter corked bottles. If brewed in Denver, these would cost $14 or more. Off the grid, they cost half that.

That night, we had dinner at home, which consisted mostly of cured meats and cheeses that complement-ed our newly purchased beers and previously purchased wines. This was not a meal for the high cholester-oled or sodiumed. It was well worth it, though. Eating at home without a server and with the cost essen-tially divided by four, was NSE, delicious and fun. We could also be as loud as a pack of New Yorkers at the Jersey Shore and not risk angering other patrons.

On Monday, Dan and his wife had to work. After we had our home brewed coffee, we hit the road for Denver. Before we left Buena Vista, we stopped at a local favorite for breakfast. It’s a small-town break-fast eatery with no frills. The food was delicious, local and came with great service. Our bill was just over $20. Of course, because we had to drive home, we didn’t have our typical recovery Bloody Mary – a sort of forced money consciousness.

While the time spent with friends was priceless, the money saved with a staycation in a somewhat local, small town was NSE. Those of us who love to travel often overlook the closer destinations when we con-sider travel options. Spring, summer and fall are great seasons for road trips. With gas prices currently within the reasonable range, take advantage of the uniqueness and fun in the town or two next to yours for your own NSE staycation.

To learn more about NSE, see David’s video here. Maybe it will help you plan your next staycation.

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