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It being summer and all, with the economy still dumpy but you nevertheless needing a vacation, can you really blame us for organizing a series of travel features for this week's cover package?

We aren't ruining the fun by calling these recommendations "staycations" — in fact, we've agreed that the next person who uses that word in a story will earn an atomic super wedgie. (That's where the undies go all the way over the head.)

You'll actually have to drive at least an hour (but no more than four) to reach any of these destinations, which means you have a green light to outfit your ride with sunflower or pumpkin seeds for the spittin', wicked sodas or energy drinks for the sippin', and of course, road-trip tunes for the sing-along butcherin'.

Between three base-camp cities, Bryce Crawford, Kirsten Akens and I have you covered on picks for everything from art galleries, museums and hiking destinations to restaurants and drink spots and hot springs. For the more adventurous, we've also got earthships, llama treks and a serious zip line course.

There are, of course, abundant other natural destinations nearby, and you can always customize something unique like a brewery tour. The point is simply to get out, even if just for an afternoon, and to allow the unfamiliar to unclutter your mind for a moment. Relax. It's summer, and it's not here to stay.

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