Category Archives: Places

5 Great/Cheap Locales & Links

On occasion – ok frequently – here at On A Dime we extoll doing as we say and not as we did. In other words, skip sleeping in the car during a lightning storm but be sure to enjoy the sunset (calm) before the said storm.

This list, links, and overview offer some 20/20 hindsight from our recent road trip that will have you bypassing snafus in favor of success and we’ve broken it down into a concise little list to aid in visiting these awesome places. More in-depth articles to follow on individual areas of interest.

1) ZION (UTAH) – Utah’s first national park and well worth the time to visit. Do as we say, take time. We did this in too big of a hurry due to weather and enjoyed a hike in The Narrows but will return to explore more in depth. Weather, and we’re saying it again as it determines so powerfully how the visit goes and if you can roll with speeding things up – like we did – or delaying them then weather’s impact can be lessened. Absolutely take the EARLY shuttle from the visitor center as the popular hikes get more crowded throughout the day. Camp? Yes, however, make a reservation or get to the state campground at the noon checkout time for first come/first serve.  And here are your links. General Info. Camping (1/2 mile from the entrance). Free camping? Yes but always check current status by reading comments at the bottom of the camp listing.

2) GRAND CANYON (NORTH RIM ARIZONA) – This experience was so close to perfect that we cannot wait for the article to share. **Update – here’s our article on FREE camping at the north rim! We would’ve hit perfect if not for the weather, we endured a nasty lightning storm. This are is free. No park fees, no camp fee and there is a stunning view as well as trailhead within the camping area. You will traverse 27 miles of dirt/rock road but our Hyundai made it just fine. And here are your links. General Info. Camping. Free Camping at Locust Point.

3) LAKE POWELL (ARIZONA & UTAH) – In terms of lakes, you cannot go wrong with Lake Powell. The park entrance fee is $15 for 7 days but then the camping, ON THE BEACH, is free. You can choose fee camping at the resort or free camping and this place is heaven. And here are your links. General Info.  Camping fee and free. Top Ten Beaches.

4) PALO DURO CANYON (TEXAS) – We’re talking Texas and it’s pretty grand which is why this canyon is touted as the mini grand canyon. The soil is red and the sunrises and sunsets are stunning. We spent $5 per head to enter the park and then $12 per night to camp. There are a number of camping choices but none offer rim view sites. Recommended book to take along, LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. And here are your links. General Info. Camping. Free camping (an hour away, Lake Meredith, all sites are FREE looks worth investigating and we were sad to not have the opportunity).

5) WICHITA WILDLIFE REFUGE (OKLAHOMA) – If you ever wonder what it might have been like over a hundred years ago when Bison roamed free, wonder no more. You can camp on the Wichita Wildlife Refuge where Bison and Longhorns roam free. That’s correct, they’re not fenced in and it is stunning to see them placidly grazing on the open range. And here are your links. General Info. Camping.

These five stop-offs offer freebies and very inexpensive fees. If you are in any of these areas or road tripping, put them on your list and sit back and enjoy the money that is still in your pocket.

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Hike Narrows

Number One Hike And The 5 Reasons Why

And the winner for best day hike is………… Shore Acres State Park on the coast of Oregon and here’s why.

Amazing views

1) The hike can be as long or as short as you wish, it is out and back and a gradual slope. Under nine miles is basically the longest it gets and there are multiple parking lots, meaning that you can choose from three sections. The end points are Sunset Bay and Simpson Reef Overlook/Cape Arago.

Section of the trail along the ocean bluff

2) This trek has you breathless at the ocean views and lazing on – an almost deserted – white sand beach (we had it to ourselves much of the time). You’ll be speechless at the section that feels very Jurassic Park with lush greenery and an abundance of glorious ferns. We did not see dinosaurs but a couple of deer crossed our path and my guy was quick on the draw with the Nikon.

A beautiful gift along our hike

3) Shore Acres is one of the few areas that seems to fit the bill for a vast variety of people. You can bring loved ones in wheelchairs, the elderly, those that simply want to look at the view but not hike, little kids on bikes, picnickers, flower fans, and hikers and everyone will be pleased. Note that there is even a glassed-in building for anyone wishing to experience the coastal beauty but not the ocean breeze.

Enclosed overlook, wheelchair accessible

4) The price is right. It is $5 to park if you are not camping and this price is one-time, daily, and covers all state parks. The price for the Botanical Gardens? Donation only. Picnic, relax, enjoy the coastal air and views and feel no pain in your pocketbook.

Wildflowers growing along the trail

5) The beach is very clean and not overrun. We do wish to share that we were there on a Thursday in June so the weekends will most likely see more visitors.

We’ll be adding OR and WA to our site in the next few weeks and give an update when the pages are complete. Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for all the latest adventure info and feel free to pass along our site and share the links if you wish. We are grateful and appreciate your feedback/suggestions in the comment section below. <3

Oregon Activity Links (will be adding to this and including it in our OR page in the next few weeks)

Birds Of Prey Sanctuary and Hospital 

Free Flowers

Free flower power is what we are celebrating in our post today and if you are in N. California or Oregon, do not miss these freebies!


We discovered Oregon’s Botanical Gardens, in Shore Acres State Park, and talk about an On A Dime Adventure/Life moment! This Garden of Eden is donation only and even the parking, at $5 for a coastal spot, is flat out heavenly. The $5 is paid once per day at any state park and good for all state parks visited on that same day or purchase a five-day pass for $10 per vehicle.

If camping is on your agenda along the Oregon coast, your options for on a dime fun are endless and we’ll have a full article in the next month on what we found near Bandon and Charleston.


Today, take a moment to stop and smell the roses and then get your trip planner out for Oregon!

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$1 Books And A Little Red Shack

If you are ever in Livingston, New York and driving lazily along route #9, watch for a little red shack. When you spot it, park on the grass and get the heck out of the car because you are in for the finest adventure on a dime there ever was. Melanie Nelson, a passionate bibliophile, has converted a gorgeous property that originally included an old inn, into the permanent site of possibly the biggest-little country book sale ever.

Melanie’s little book sale includes multiple buildings and 20,000+ books. Even more amazing is the fact that all hardcover books are one dollar and paperbacks fifty cents. The books are meticulously arranged according to topic and in great condition. True to her assertion that her inventory is not stocked with unappealing cast-offs, we found a wealth of desirable reading material and everything from Harry Potter and kids books to classics, philosophy, plays, biography, history, fiction, military, current popular titles, and beautiful art, music, and poetry selections.

Front porch

Kids shed

Stopping off along the road had never proven so magical and in addition to the quaint buildings overflowing with books was a tag sale that offered antique china teacups for twenty-five cents. The deals don’t end with teacups. If you are a record collector, be prepared to suffer serious danger of nostalgia overload upon perusing the thousands upon thousands of records stocked in the music building. A step back in time might just be a step forward for your psyche.

There was a palpable sense of yesteryear as Melanie sat on her porch, nibbling on a sandwich and chatting about her cats. When I purchased a hand-woven bag for two dollars and two Christmas ornaments at a nickel total, this timeless entrepreneur shook out change from an old jar. And something tells me that if – in the future – you purchase a teacup, it just may include chamomile steeping away.

tea cups

Sometimes it seems that people like Melanie are perhaps mystical beings placed on the planet to spread joy just because “why not?” Her complete fascination with all literature was contagious but what was most engaging was her obvious generosity and desire to make the books available on a dime.  As if the invitation to shop the always-open red shack and just leave your payment in the slot wasn’t enough, she also encourages patrons to bring a lunch and make themselves at home on the grounds.


If you cannot get to New York, visit her online and even if you don’t make a purchase, please give her a thank you. In a world filled with big box consumption, this woman is a reminder that life can be elusive in the self-check line of an overly air conditioned cavern, while it is easily accessible – courtesy of a genuine woman offering heartfelt, face-to-face moments – along a sunny country road.

About the Book Shack —-  the original LITTLE RED BOOK SHACK,  and  the WHITE COTTAGE ANNEX  a few steps away (in the photo), and the BIOGRAPHY SHED.  And opening 2013 The Kids Shed – AND starting September 2013 a 5th building for vinyl.   The important facts are — 20,000 used books for sale in the 3 room shack and  3 rooms annex, and the large Biography Shed, and now the Kids Shed.   And the vinyl collection.   ALL adult paperbacks 50 cents, ALL hardcovers $1.00.  Good clean used books of value, no junk. The books are clean and in very good condition, no exlibrary books,  shelved by topic– maps of buildings and topics are posted..  

           Also –A NEW ACQUIITION OF 6000 CLASSIAL VINYL LP RECORDS, from one collector, added to our current stock of vinyl- LPs priced at 1.00 each  ( boxed sets slightly cheaper), and Videos and DVDs, and CDs priced at 50 cents including foreign language videos— and cassetts and audio books 25 cents.    A building of thousands of clean children’s books priced at 25 cents each  ( 6  $1.00 ).   Also ephemera,  maps, postcards, and pictures.    Also available, a section of vintage magazines, including collection of National Geographic (pre-1945 only).. ALL  magazines are 25 cents each.    Also old newspapers 50 cents. The buildings are restocked weekly, all books shelved by subject.

ALSO NEW– SHOP ANYTIME, ANY DAY, ANY MONTH if you are passing by —- Self Service Shelves- Outside, on the roadside of the Book Shack- easily visible from the road invite you to stop and shop– Open the glass doors on the shelves and select your books–ALWAYS OPEN – 24 / 7 – year round.  Shop anytime and leave your payment in the mail slot in the door of the Little Red Book Shack 

Park right up on the grass near the Book Shack when you visit us.

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