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Archives for 2010

Car and Tire Themed Birthday Party

What can you do with an old tire? How do you decorate for a birthday party on a dime?

The answer is in creativity!

One reader sent in the idea of using an old tire to create endless birthday party decorations, such as unique “tire-track” birthday invitations, place cards, banners, paper tablecloths and more. We decided to check out the idea. If you have a child who loves tires, cars, and racing, these simple and inexpensive party ideas are perfect.

Let’s make some tire tracks for your car or racing themed party!

Car and tire themed birthday partyItems Needed:

Old tire, black paint, roll of craft paper.

I rolled out the craft paper, set the tire on one end, used a baby wipe to dip into the paint, and smeared the tire treads with black paint. Then I gently pushed down on the tire as I rolled it down the paper. It worked great!

After the paper dried, I was able to cut some very cool banners/streamers out of the tire tracks, along with set a table using the paper as a tablecloth.

cheap car themed birthday party decorating ideas

Please let us know if you have a simple idea you’d like to share. You can post pictures on our Facebook page too!

Happy Holidays From The Tire Zoo

The gift of tires from the TireZoo

Looking for a last minute gift idea? According to Twitter, many people sincerely wish Santa would bring them new tires for Christmas. Who can you surprise this year with the gift of safety? Call us in Anoka, MN at 1-800-421-2037 or in Bloomington, MN at 1-800-761-2013.

We wish you a very merry Christmas and safe travels!

Winter Fun in the Midwest

Tired of being cooped up in the house?

Ready to put some miles on your tires?

If the weather cooperates and the roads are good, many people look for fun things to do to get out of the house and enjoy the snow. Thanks to so many communities on Facebook and Twitter, we’ve collected a nice list of things to do and places to go around Minnesota. If you know of more, please leave us a comment.

Dog Sledding: Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, MN has their first dog sled run is this weekend. And Wintergreen in Ely, MN has dog sled adventures, as does WhiteWilderness and White Wolf Dog Sled Trips also both in Ely, MN

Snowmobiling: Here’s an official map of snowmobile routes in Minnesota by the DNR

Skiing: Whether you’re headed up north, down south, or toward the metro area, I bet you didn’t know Minnesota had so many ski options around the state.

Holidazzle Parade: This is the last weekend to take in the Holidazzle Parade in downtown Minneapolis, MN

How are MN Roads in the Winter?

how are MN roads in the winterThe question about Minnesota roads keeps popping up. Talk to anyone with plans to travel up here for the first time during the winter from a warmer, sunnier state and you’re likely to get asked about our snow covered roads, driving conditions, and the safety of travel in adverse weather conditions.

So I asked a few people on Facebook and Twitter the question, “How are MN roads in the winter?” and here are some of their responses. I did not identify people, but should they read this post and want to claim their description of MN roads, please tell us. We’ll go back into this post and gladly place your name!

Minnesota has frozen lakes and frozen roads, and sometimes you can’t tell the difference!

What road! Most of the time you can’t see it! lol

Before kids, I had a really sexy coupe Mitsubishi Eclipse. However I bought it with non-Minnesota tires on it. I was trying to go up small inclines and slipping backwards constantly. It was ridiculous – I was driving the most expensive car I ever owned, in the worst winter conditions, with crappy tires. I was constantly scared of getting in an accident or just getting stuck on ice. This is probably a (good, future post) blog for Tire Zoo 🙂

I really don’t see why people get so worked up about it. Take your time, pay attention (I AM a person who talks on the phone while driving, but never text, but obviously one MUST ignore the phone when roads are bad), don’t drive too slow for conditions either. Just be smart, watch out for the other driver, and be patient.

Depends on the road… the smaller roads with steep ditches near us are scary and cause a lot of anxiety however people in 4x4s seem to drive the same but the crazy drivers near the City with small vehicles bring about a another kind of scariness as you often see them in the ditch!!

About as wonderful as these @#%^! SD roads! 😉

You can’t publish words like that 🙂 LOL! They never bother me, I can usually get where I need to go if I drive according to the conditions. I think MN Spends a lot of money to keep them well maintained and safe. It’s the drivers that sometimes aren’t so good.

Well, my native Minnesotan mom would say the roads are “horse*BEEP”

Bingo for the Road

Travel Bingo, which we’ll also refer to as “Vehicular Animal Fatalities Bingo” is a fun game to play in the car on long trips. Yeah, we know it might not be for all people, but it sure makes a long car trip across Minnesota or the upper Midwest fun for kids and parents who work together to identify animals and other items left along the roadside. To print your free Travel Bingo sheet for your next road trip, click here .Don’t forget to pack a clip board, which makes it much easier to write.

Preparing for Winter Roads

It won’t be long and we Minnesotan’s will be preparing for winter driving. Yuck! Whether we like it or not, we have to drive in miserable conditions. Having a winter survival kit in the car is a must, but here’s a few other items I always make sure I have along, so I don’t drive myself nuts with worry.

1. Cell phone and charger. I know it’s not the end all, but it helps put my mind at ease should we have car trouble.

2. Plenty of blankets. Whether we use them in an emergency or not, the kids love having the comfy, cozy blankets in the truck. Some days even the truck’s heater isn’t enough to cut the cold wind that makes its way in. A blanket along side the door can be a really nice buffer.

3. A shovel. If you don’t need it, your fell traveler might. Having a shovel in your vehicle can help in a variety of situations.

4. Jumper cables. You never know when you might need to jump your car or help someone else jump their car. We’re known for Minnesota Nice, for a reason.

5. Ice scraper. Just because you get to park your car in the garage over night, doesn’t mean mother nature can’t dump a load of snow while you’re parked somewhere. You’ll want to be prepared.

6. Warm, practical hats and mittens. The cute ones you like to wear that match your coat are nice, but won’t save your digits in the icy, Minnesota wind. Always keep the thick, ugly, warm versions somewhere in your vehicle. This includes snow boots too.

7. All the rest of the items that are recommended in a winter survival kit.

And of course, always check your windshield wiper fluid, tire air pressure, oil, and gas level before leaving the driveway.

Where do Minnesotan’s find room to fit the kids or groceries? Very carefully. How do we haul food and gifts during the holidays? Plan months in advance, fill in every conceivable space, and always leave room for the critical, life-saving items.

Can you think of anything I’ve missed?

Tire Color Page

Click on the image to print this color page from a full-sized pdf.

Color a house made of tires.  How many tires can you count in this picture?

Take a picture of you coloring this page and/or your finished artwork and email it to us at and we’ll create a color gallery!

Things to Do With Kids in Minnesota When Cold Weather Arrives

The lazy days of summer are behind us, when it’s easy to find fun things to do with kids. In the summer, camping in state parks, picnicking at playgrounds, and catching a small-town baseball game are easy things to do.

When winter comes to the upper Midwest, however, it can be a little more challenging to find things that will get us out of the house for some fun.

Here are some of our favorite Minnesota (or near Minnesota) winter escapes:

1) Museums. A trip to Minneapolis or St. Paul gives us a grand choice of museums. Some of our favorites are Mill City Museum, the Minnesota History Center, The Works in Edina, and the Minnesota Children’s Museum. My son is asking to return to the Twin City Model Railroad Museum for his birthday. If the Twin Cities aren’t in your area, check your local museums. The Children’s Museum in Fargo and Kirby Science Discovery Center in Sioux Falls are also good getaways.

2) Waterparks. There’s something about a steamy waterpark in the middle of winter that makes things seem right with the world. The Great Wolf Lodge (formerly the Waterpark of America), near Mall of America, bills itself as the largest indoor waterpark in America, and it is big. We also enjoy The Edge in Duluth and Splashers of the South Seas in Grand Forks, North Dakota. A day at the waterpark can go a long way in keeping the winter blahs at bay.

3) Seasonal Activities. We love to go to the holiday lights parade in New Ulm, MN, the day after Thanksgiving. Visiting the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, MN, when it was 15 below zero gave us a special appreciation for the loggers in the camps. There’s a great tubing hill at Fort Ridgely State Park, near Fairfax. Sometimes we have to embrace the elements and take in some real winter fun.

4) The Library. Whether it’s our own local library or an afternoon trip to a neighboring town, we love to cozy up with a good book at a library. On those days when we just need to get out of the house, the library is a haven, and the quiet moments when we return home with bags full of books can’t be beat.

While winter fun can involve a little more planning than summer activities, it’s worth the effort to find new things to do or begin some family traditions. For information about all of the places I mentioned above, as well as ideas about things to do, any time of year, in Minnesota and beyond, I invite you to read my blog, Travels with Children.

About the Author: Linda (minnemom) is a mom of four young children who enjoys finding new adventures near and far.


Fantasy Artwork of Tires Needs a Name

When fantasy artist, Jerry Lindberg, heard about the TireZoo blog and our efforts to provide families with travel safety tips and fun, he offered to create an original fantasy art drawing to serve as a printable color page. The drawing is a signed original, not yet seen anywhere else. Jerry always names his artwork, so we thought it’d be fun to give you a glimpse of the piece and have you submit your ideas for a name. Within the next few days, you will be able to return to our blog and print your own copy of the color page.

This piece needs a name.

Leave your name ideas in the comment section below. Also tell us if you’re a fan of the TireZoo and/or Jerry Lindberg. How did you hear about us?

Minnesota Crossword Puzzle

This Minnesota themed crossword puzzle will keep everybody busy on your next car ride. This puzzle is meant as a family activity, as kids of all ages will know some of the answers. Good Luck!

Print your free Minnesota themed crossword puzzle

Answer Key