Earlier today, Jasia asked whether the high cost of gas was affecting our research. Answer: sort of. Work at this time of the year is very busy, so my ability to research is severely hamstrung to begin with. Couple that with the price of gas, and heading to a cemetery a few counties away or a repository a few hours away just doesn't make a lot of sense.
To get around this situation, I've found myself using FindAGrave.com a lot recently, despite my initial (and continuing) reservations about the site. I've also been using Google Books to find tidbits of interest and then ordering photocopies from libraries in Ohio and Georgia. And I've been meaning to write about this, but if you can find someone with reasonable rates, by all means enlist their help in obtaining documents.
Columbia, Missouri, and Springfield, Illinois, are both less than two hours for me. While Columbia is primarily known as the home of the University of Missouri (Mizzou), there is a fabulous state-wide collection of newspapers on microfilm at The State Historical Society of Missouri whose facility is on the campus. And in Springfield you can find death certificates, obits, military records, etc., at the State Archives and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
I once read a message board post that indicated an individual would get Missouri obituaries from Columbia for (at the time) a few dollars per copy. Lacking time, I tried him out and was very happy with the results. As soon as I put together another list, I'll be using this person's services again. (If you need Mo. obits, contact me and send you his email address.)
Armed with a "to get" list of death certificates, obituaries and other assorted records of interest, a trip to Springfield has yielded big results multiple times in the past. Now, gas for that 4-hour round trip costs more than I want to spend, especially with the bulk of my research there having been completed. And can you put a price on the aggravation of three to four hours on a four-lane highway with many others who think 75 or 80 mph is a good starting point? (Yes, I often drive like my grandpa used to.)
I've been aware of a Springfield-based researcher for a few years, but decided now was the time to try her. Hiring out research takes away some of the fun, but her fees are very reasonable, she doesn't screw around (like someone I almost hired on the East Coast last winter) and she's very fast. Molly has a website, so I don't think there's any harm in giving her some free advertising: Illinois Genealogical Research by Mollx. Again, highly recommended.
And of course, there's always RAOGK.org.