Saturday, December 31, 2011

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-4 Florida

Interstate 275, approaching the Interstate 4 e...Image via WikipediaHere is the first installment of what will be an ongoing feature of this site. Each week I will have a post for a section or all of a particular interstate. Today's will be I-4 in Florida which runs across the state from where it joins I-95 outside Daytona Beach to its end where it meets I-275 in Tampa. This highway runs through Orlando, so a variety of hotels are available at its exits.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are the best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for your choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure you include the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when we discuss I-40, I would recommend Exit 145 in Oklahoma City. Many hotels and restaurants were located at this exit and I felt safe in the area. This exit was very convenient for easily continuing west without the hassle of dealing with early morning rush hour problems.

Thanks in advance for any suggestion you may have.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Preparation: Packing room


Time to look at how I prepare for my cross country trips. Hopefully in these next sections, you will find a suggestion that will make packing for your next trip easier.

I use our guest room as a packing room. All the luggage, bags, coolers, luggage straps, and other related items are located in this room. Also kept in this room are all the packing notes and lists. A dry erase board lists all tasks that must be accomplished before I leave. Items that are taken on the trip are placed in the packing room and then crossed off the packing list.

By using this room I can keep the clutter of packing out of the rest of the house. The room also helps me to keep my preparations organized. For example, if I need a cosmetic bag, I will find it in that room.

When the trip is over, I immediately unpack the car and take all items to the packing room. When I wake up the next morning, I have a clean house and can deal with the mess in the room later. I unpack the items and see which ones I did not use at all. Those items do not go back again. This helps me to be more efficient in my packing.

Are there any special steps you take when packing for a big trip?

(Photo of luggage taken in 2011)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why the interstate?


When you are planning your route, you might notice that smaller highways and roads can provide a more direct way to your destination. Consider these two reasons for choosing the interstate option. If you are traveling by yourself, you will probably find the interstate a safer option. The highway patrol maintains a presence on the interstate and more people travel the interstate. If you have a problem, your chances of getting help are greatly increased. If you travel a smaller road, another person may not come by for a long time.

The second reason is that the smaller road might be more direct, but you may have to travel through small towns where there is a lower speed limit and traffic lights. On the interstate you can make better time because you have higher speed limits.

I do want to point out that there are some instances when the interstate isn't the answer. When traffic is congested on the interstate, I will get off and take another route. However, I always make sure I know where I am going.

The interstate does not go everywhere, so sometimes you have to take smaller highways to get to your destination. However, if you are in this position, make sure you do your research on the area especially if you are traveling alone.

(Photo of I-40 in Arizona taken 2007)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Interstate Numbers

English: Map of the present Interstate Highway...Image via WikipediaIf you are going to travel the Interstate Highway System, you should have a basic knowledge of the meaning of the numbers. North-south routes are designated by odd numbers. The small numbers start on the West Coast and increase as one travels east. For example, I-5 runs along the West Coast through Washington, Oregon and California. On the East Coast I-95 stretches from Maine's border with Canada to Miami, Florida.

The even number interstates, which are east-west routes, start with low numbers in the south and high numbers in the north. The longest southern interstate is I-10 which runs from Santa Monica, California, to Jacksonville, Florida. The longest northern interstate is I-90 from Seattle to Boston.

You will notice three digit interstates which encircle and go through major cities. Sometimes I take those routes if I want to avoid rush hour traffic. If it is not rush hour, I will normally just take the regular interstate as I find that is usually the most direct route.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Interstates

A while ago I was going through my books and I found a Reader's Digest book about National Parks and other natural wonders in the United States. When I opened the book, a map fell out. As I looked at it, I wondered, "Where are the interstates?" Something I have taken for granted all my life hasn't been around for that long. In fact, for many people living today, the interstates did not exist when they were born.

When I drive across the United States, I am also amazed by this system of highways. I marvel at all the planning and work that went into the construction of such a great undertaking. Most people don't think about this as they drive the interstates, but I do especially when I drive cross country. I am so glad this highway system makes my trip easier and faster than it would be if the system weren't there. There is no better way to see the beauty of this nation than to travel the interstate highways. (Photo of I-25 in Colorado taken 2007.)

Welcome!

Welcome to the me, myself and the interstate blog. My name is Shawn and I have been driving back and forth from Ohio to California so I can visit my daughter who works in LA. Since some people have asked me to share my stories and tips concerning my interstate travels, I decided to start writing a blog.

If anyone finds a useful suggestion here, I will be very happy. Areas that will be discussed here will include preparation for the trips and the actual drives themselves. In addition, I would also like this blog to provide a forum where drivers can share their expertise on where are the best interstate exits to stop and also what travelers do to make their journey a more enjoyable and safe experience.

While this site is geared toward the people who make these trips by themselves, it is not limited to them. Anyone who enjoys driving cross country is welcome to participate.

As the site grows, I will be adding the option for your comments on your favorite interstate exits where you stop for lodging, food and/or gas.

I hope that you will find at least one beneficial idea that will make your trip easier.