Posted July 25, 2017
South Carolina has South of the Border, the world’s largest ball of twine sits under a shelter in Kansas, Tennessee has Rock City and Minnesota is home to the SPAM Museum. Yet, probably none is as famous the world over as Wall Drug – relentlessly, ubiquitously, hawking “free ice water” to draw visitors to the king of kitsch for 81 years. While the town of Wall is smaller than the tip of a pen on the Rand McNally, no one else has a photo-op magnet, for youngsters and oldsters alike, that’s better than Wall Drug’s big ‘ol “Jackalope.” Behind the ice water billboards, the Jackalope and all the rest of Wall Drug’s crazy-quilt allure, there’s energy.
Posted July 20, 2017
People have been fascinated by celestial bodies since antiquity. Cave drawings, such as those as Lascaux, France, include depictions of the stars. The Pleiades and Orion are mentioned in the book of Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible.
Next week, some descendants of those ancient star-gazers will congregate in one of the remotest parts of Nebraska for the annual Nebraska Star Party, July 23-28 at Snake Campground at the Merritt Reservoir. Since 1994 the event has attracted hundreds of people eager to capitalize on the dark nothingness in a sparsely populated patch of the Great Plains that’s mostly unspoiled by human illumination. They come, they camp, they scan the heavens. This video from the 2015 event captures the flavor of the setting, you know, with the lights on:
This part of Nebraska is dark enough to see many of the night’s lights with the naked eye, but Clete Baker, an organizer for the five-day star party, says most participants will opt for enhancing devices – most of them made with natural gas and oil.
Posted July 18, 2017
Thinking about packing for the beach: Everything must be lightweight for the tromp to the shore – and as water-resistant as possible. You know all the tents, umbrellas, blankets, towels, buckets, pails, shovels and whatnot will be wet and sandy coming back, so … thank goodness for energy.
Oil and natural gas are a beachgoer’s buddies. Thanks in large part to those two, we’ve got plastics, synthetic materials and fabrics that are functional and durable for beach leisure, yet light on your load – especially on the straggle back to the car or beach house with a 2-year-old on one shoulder. Your time at the beach is made better, safer and more enjoyable because of modern, versatile natural gas and oil.
Posted July 14, 2017
With around 108,000 registered boats in a state that is home to 3.6 million people – about one boat for every 33 residents – getting out on the water is broadly popular in Connecticut. No question, keeping this New England state’s boating appetite sated takes a lot of energy, and not just for filling gas tanks. Today’s natural gas and oil move us, but they also make summer recreation, including boating, better.
From electricity (in Connecticut nearly 49 percent came from natural gas-powered generation in 2016) for manufacturing to petroleum for materials and gasoline for engines, energy is both the glue and the driver of summer’s maritime adventures. Even the transportation of boats to sellers, homes and marinas, typically on trucks and trains, depends on traditional fossil fuels.
Posted July 12, 2017
Beaches seem to get all the glory during the summer. Consider how often you see depictions of a sunbaked shoreline, a crowded beach, people in sunglasses and bathing suits swatting volleyballs, tossing Frisbees and otherwise frolicking in or near water. Sounds great, yet the 61 percent of Americans who don’t live in counties directly on the shoreline are more likely to enjoy summertime sun, sand and water at a lake.
Nobody does lakes quite like Minnesota – you know, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (actually 11,842, but that’s not as snappy on a license plate). While Alaska has more lakes, Minnesota really is synonymous with the summer lake life: relaxing weekends, hopping on a jet ski and zooming off with friends or pulling out the kayaks and navigating the back channels. Energy makes these happen and makes them more enjoyable – as it does so many of the hobbies, activities and travels of summer.
Manufacturers like Polaris and Arctic Cat, both headquartered in Minnesota, juice up their jet skis with impressive engines and sleek bodies that cut through the water while the needle climbs on the speedometer. These high-end personal water craft are a complete-package energy product. Their bodies typically are shaped from fiberglass, an amalgamation of glass fibers that usually is formed using natural gas. And don’t forget to fill up that gas tank and check your engine’s oil before you head out for a long day on the water!
Posted July 10, 2017
Dawn breaks on a summer morning along Montana’s Blackfoot River. A group of veteran fly-fishing anglers finds a good spot to start their day and watches as the rising sun sparkles on the easy-moving water. Taking in the stillness around them, they spot an elk drinking from the other side and begin connecting flies to lines at the end of graphite rods.
It’s truly a scene right out of the film, “A River Runs Through It.” And while the Blackfoot’s rocks might not have cryptic messages secreted under them, the thrilling anticipation for fly fishing at daybreak, felt by Norman and Paul Maclean in the movie, is palpable. Indeed, fly fishing enthusiasts in Montana and across the country hunger for the experience year after year. Energy makes a sport nearly as old as Montana’s craggy mountain peaks a modern-day source of idyllic joy. It’s what energy does: More than just serving as fuels, natural gas and oil improve the experiences of so many of the summer things we enjoy.
Fly fishing demands a lot of skill, as well as learning how to master its specialized equipment. You don’t just stagger into a Montana river or stream and start pulling in succulent trout. Yet, thanks to natural gas and oil, the equipment itself is strong and reliable.
Posted July 7, 2017
Ever since the early 1960s, when Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys popularized the “California Sound” and surf music, the union of surfing and sunny Southern California has been “epic,” “cranking,” “radical” – all surfing shorthand for awesome. You can surf in other states, but it’s hard to beat Cali for catchin’ a wave and sitting on top of the world.
Energy makes wave-catching “epic.”
Sure, surfing is riding high on the waves, the sun glinting in your eyes and the briny smell of the ocean in your nostrils. It’s also that surfboard under your feet, which is where energy comes in. Whether you choose a shortboard, funboard or go with an old-school longboard, energy keeps you cruising on the crest of the Pacific Ocean’s chilly blue water.
While the ancient Polynesians and then Hawaiians used wooden surfboards for their sport, since the 1950s most surfboards have been made using layers of petroleum-based products to create durable, light and buoyant boards.
Posted July 5, 2017
It’s summertime, and the living is easy in South Carolina. This time of year it’s hard to beat a little bit of porch-sitting and sweet-tea sipping. A little whisper of a breeze and a cool drink feel pretty good as the temperatures rise and the air thickens. The living is as easy as parking yourself in a rocker, a hammock or a porch swing – with a pitcher of sweet tea nearby.
Iced tea is the national drink of summer. About 80 percent of the 3.8 billion gallons of tea consumed in the U.S. in 2016 was iced, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. In South Carolina it must be sweet tea. Unsweetened tea is what Brits drink hot and Yankees drink cold. (And neither of those affinities is held in much regard in Savannah or Charleston.) However you like your tea, energy figures prominently in the mix. Natural gas and oil help nearly every step along the way, from drying the tea leaves, to packaging the tea bags to the manufacture of sweet tea jugs. Making things better – it’s what modern, versatile energy goes.
Posted July 3, 2017
When Huck Finn and Jim floated down the Mississippi on their river raft, the waters around them swirled and frothed in the wake of massive, wedding cake-tiered riverboats, their paddle wheels churning the “Big Muddy” while tall, fluted stacks belched sparks and clouds of black smoke.
The golden era of riverboat transportation is gone, yet along the state of Mississippi’s western boundary, marked by its river namesake for some 350 miles, descendants of those proud, historic river belles still ply Ol Man River.
With names that include the Steamboat Natchez, American Queen, Queen of the Mississippi and American Duchess, the current incarnations of the boats that were familiar to Mark Twain evoke some nostalgia for a different era – while deploying modern energy to paddle up and down waterways safely, more efficiently and more comfortably for today’s passengers.
Posted June 30, 2017
Ah, NASCAR and North Carolina. They’re like a fantastic couple on a fine summer day: close, warm and comfortable. Their easy relationship surely reflects stock car racing’s deep roots in the Tar Heel State – based on innovation and energy-driven technologies, resulting in pure, heart-pounding excitement. Energy makes it so – in the materials, components, fuels and more that thrill racing fans all across the country.