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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Fuel-Friendly Vacations

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Monday, April 18, 2005

The Clarksburg State Park hosts campers.
Gasoline prices have become much like the weather: impossible to predict and impacting many facets of nearly everybody's everyday life.

On April 18, BusinessWeek online reported that crude oil prices were rocking at a $50 per barrel cost and also reported that OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] President Sheik Ahmed Fahd al-Ahmed al-Sabah has declared an expected 500,000-barrel-a-day oil production boost in May.

But whether that action will significantly impact United States vehicle fuel prices at the pumps remains to be seen, and with recent Berkshires-region fuel prices at well over $2 per gallon, the summer driving season is almost certain to be costly. Add in lodging and food expenses and throughway tolls, and road-trip vacation costs could mount up faster than a racing-day jockey.

Some folks may be willing to dish out mountains of cash or load up credit cards during their vacations but for those needing a bit of vacation money management, exploring regional attractions may be the answer. Day trips can keep fuel costs manageable. Bring along a picnic lunch or supper, and save food costs by eating tail-gate style. And there are plenty of places to visit that can deliver a new perspective on what's offered regionally.

A brick wall promotes Mass MoCA attractions.


One family-focused venue within a 75-mile radius of most Berkshires communities is the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in South Deerfield. The 18,400-square-foot facility features an 8,000-square-foot conservatory filled with butterflies, moths, and tropical vegetation. Amenities include a gift shop and food court; strollers are prohibited. The site is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week year-round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Adult admission is $8, children aged 3-17 $5, and children under 3 are admitted free. Additional information is available at 413-665-2805 or www.magicwings.com.

In the Berkshires, numerous state forests, nationally-acclaimed museums and theaters, and popular seasonal festivals delight visitors from across the country and around the world. Many Berkshire natives have yet to tour the Sterling and Clark Art Institute and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, pitch a tent at the October Mountain or Beartown state forests, or attend a performance at the Barrington Stage or the Williamstown Theater Festival.

Family excursions to any of these venues may remind the region's natives that culture, art, and outdoor opportunities abound within a few miles of home. Plan to visit museums during one weekend, arrange a subsequent weekend camping trip and follow up with "route tours," for example, drive along Route 7 from the Southern Berkshires to the Northern Berkshires. Visit the many shops, dine at a restaurant, and explore new terrain.

The Clark Art Institute offers fine art exhibitions.


Remember the words of The Wizard of Oz heroine Dorothy Gale: "There's no place like home."

Information about the Berkshires can be acquired at:


www.berkshires.org


www.berkshirechamber.com


www.williamstownchamber.com


www.hancockshakervillage.org


www.wtfestival.org


www.barringtonstageco.org


Susan Bush may be reached at 802-823-9367 or by e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net.
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