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Editorial: Who needs a long road trip?

It's three days before the Fourth of July, an occasion on which scores of Americans celebrate our great nation's birthday with picnics, fireworks and/or road trips.

With the cost of oil continuing to set records on nearly a daily basis, however, it's almost a certainty that many are reconsidering the "road trip" option, particularly if it happens to involve traveling out of the region in which they live.

This past Saturday, we began publishing a weekly series on "gas-saving getaways," stories that will present in-depth looks at points of interest to visit in our area. Later this week, we will publish a story out of the Forum Communications Co. St. Paul Bureau on inexpensive things to do in the Twin Cities area -- things not necessarily in our immediate backyard, but not as remote as -- say -- Yellowstone.

The first part of our getaways feature listed sites such as the Jeffers Petroglyphs, Pipestone National Monument, Fort Belmont in Jackson, End-O-Line Railroad Park in Currie, Walnut Grove's Wilder Pageant and sod house and Mountain Lake's Russian Mennonite culture as examples of intriguing area attractions. While the list included only southwest Minnesota communities, northwest Iowa should also be taken into consideration -- after all, the Iowa Great Lakes are well regarded as one of the most popular tourist spots in this portion of the Midwest.

Staying at home -- or close to it, anyway -- may be well be worth it this summer, and we're not just talking about dollars, either.