Friday, December 28, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-45 in Texas

Evacuees on Interstate 45 leaving Galveston du...
Evacuees on Interstate 45 leaving Galveston during Hurricane Rita in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the eastern part of TexasInterstate 45 travels on a diagonal from Dallas through Corsicana, Huntsville, Conroe and Houston. This highway, which is technically an intrastate because it is entirely in one state, ends in Galveston on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Many will remember photos of the traffic backup on I-45 during the 2005 evacuation for Hurricane Rita. One side of the highway was completely jammed while the other side was empty. Contraflow lane reversal on interstates is now used for hurricane evacuation in many states.

Attractions near this highway include the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico which are in the Galveston area. Other area attractions have been mentioned in the Interstate 10 post for Houston and the Interstate 20 post for Dallas.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On the Road: Travel with Pets

Years ago our dog was a treasured part of our family and traveled with us wherever we went. Finding a hotel that permitted dogs at that time was very difficult, but today things are not so bad. Many hotels allow dogs, although some have a weight and breed restriction. Most hotels will charge an extra fee for them. Any people traveling with a pet need to research hotel options along their route to know ahead of time exactly where they can stay with a pet. They should not waste valuable time searching for pet-friendly hotels at the end of an exhausting day.


When we would go to dinner, we would have to leave our dog in the room. In order to make sure the dog did not bark at every person who walked down the hall, we kept the television on while we were gone. We found if we put on the Cartoon Network, our pupster would be more content. The happy music and cartoon voices must have been very soothing for her!

The safety and comfort of our dog during a trip was extremely important to us. Every car I owned during the time we had our dog had a sunroof, which we could open for more air for her. We always had a supply of water and a travel water bowl in the car. In addition, the back seat was covered in a thick comforter to make a nice bed for her. She traveled in more luxury than we did.

Even though traveling with a dog can be a lot of work, I never felt safer than when she was with us. Many people were afraid of her and that gave us an extra sense of security. We always felt that people would leave us alone because they did not want to fuss with her. Of course, anyone who would spend more than a couple minutes with her, would find she was the sweetest dog in the world.

I must explain the photo. We were camping in the Outer Banks when Hurricane Bonnie was approaching. We had just been told we had to evacuate and we were loading the car. Our beloved dog jumped into the car via the passenger door and sat behind the steering wheel. She was not going to let us forget her - not that we would! This was one of the few photos of our dog where she was not smiling, so it does not accurately reflect her personality. However, this photo does show how serious she was about protecting her family whom she loved.  She knew the hurricane was on the way and she wanted us out of harm's way immediately. That is why I love this photo so much. That is also why we love her so much and still miss her.

Merry Christmas, everyone!! Thanks so much for reading this blog!!

(Photo taken in 1998)
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-44 in Oklahoma and Texas

Panoramic picture of the Oklahoma City Memorial
Panoramic picture of the Oklahoma City Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 44 crosses into Oklahoma and becomes the Will Rogers and the Turner Turnpikes where drivers enjoy a speed limit of 75. Travelers also have the unique experience of driving under a McDonald's on the turnpike. I-44 joins the cities of Miami, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton and the Texas city of Wichita Falls. Attractions that are near this road include the Wichita Mountains and the Grand Lake o' the Cherokees. As mentioned in the post for I-40, the Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring the victims of the federal building bombing is located in Oklahoma City. One treat about this area is that gas prices are really good here, so fill up the tank!

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single drivers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On the Road: Food on the Road

I always have a dilemma as to what food to take on the road. Most families will pack a cooler and have picnics along the way to save money. When I am traveling alone, stopping to have a picnic by myself is not the safest of options.

I have found for me that it is better to take along a travel bag of healthy snacks and protein bars rather than a cooler of food that must be kept cold. I do not like to bother with ice when I travel. Sometimes I will take apples. After wrapping each one in a piece of plastic, I then use the plastic to wrap up the core until I can throw it away.


For me Subway sandwiches are the best option. I will get a foot-long sub and have the employee cut the sandwich into four sections. Each piece fits perfectly in my hand. By having the sandwich cut into these small sections, I am able to easily handle each piece with one hand. I do not need the other hand to help hold the sandwich. I get spinach instead of lettuce so bits of lettuce are not all over the car. One sandwich provides enough food for lunch and dinner. Whenever I go to Subway whether I am traveling or not, I have the employee cut the sandwich this way because it is just easier to eat it.

For breakfast I eat a Mint Chocolate Zone Perfect bar. I love these bars and have had them for breakfast for the last five years. I also like to carry one with me when I am running errands and get hungry. I love them!!

(Photo taken in 2012)
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-44 in Missouri

Alley Mill, powered by Alley Spring, in the Oz...
Alley Mill, powered by Alley Spring, in the Ozarks of Missouri, in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 44 travels on a diagonal across the state of Missouri. I-44 begins just south of St. Louis and runs southwest connecting this city to Rolla, Springfield and Joplin. This beautiful highway, which cuts through the Mark Twain National Forest, has attractions nearby that include the Meramec State Park, Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Table Rock Lake which is located near Branson. For country music fans, I-44 is the closest interstate to Branson.

My favorite exit on this road is Exit 8 in Joplin. I am able to get gas at the Sam's Club where I also stock up on bottled water. Even though many hotels are available at this exit, rooms may be limited for a while since many construction workers are staying in this area. They are building a new hospital to replace the one destroyed by the recent Joplin tornado.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On the Road: Choosing a Departure Time

English: The face of a black windup alarm clock
English: The face of a black windup alarm clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My choice of departure time can be affected by several factors. The first consideration is the rush hour times for any major city along the way. I do not want to spend my time and gas waiting in traffic. I usually look at how far I hope to travel in the day and calculate the estimated time of arrival for each city.

When I try to determine how far I will get in one day, I use 70 mph as my normal speed, so if I drive for 12 hours, I would expect to cover approximately 840 miles. If I want to be settled in a hotel room in time for dinner, I would have to leave by 5:30-6:00 in the morning.

Another factor is how well I do in the morning. I usually hate to get up early. I would rather wake up naturally without the jarring noise of the alarm clock.

I always tell myself that whenever I wake up naturally is when I will get on the road. For the past few years that has been 3:00-4:00 in the morning. That gives me the luxury of having the road to myself. I usually have a problem with tossing and turning the night before a trip and not getting much sleep at all, so this year I tried an experiment. I went to bed really early the night before and rested as much as possible. I woke up at 12:45 and thought it was too early and tried to go back to sleep. When I woke up again at 1:00, I realized I was never going to get back to sleep and thought I would just get on the road. Although this is not something I would recommend to anyone, it did work for me that time.
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-43 in Wisconsin

Travelling northbound on I43 just south of Man...
Travelling northbound on I43 just south of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 43 begins its journey south from Green Bay and runs parallel to the eastern coast of Wisconsin along Lake Michigan. I-43 joins the cities of Green Bay, Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Kenosha. To the east of this highway are a variety of beaches and parks offering numerous opportunities for activities and water sports along Lake Michigan. To the west of this interstate is the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, When I 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 traffic.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On the Road: Credit Card Fraud at Hotels

Credit card
Credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes people who are employed at a hotel desk are working there for just a temporary job and not a career. If they can make an extra buck, they will. When my friends drove to Florida and stopped at a hotel on the way, the young desk clerk took their credit card, left the front desk and went into another room. The next week unauthorized charges for thousands of dollars appeared on their card. The clerk had stolen the credit card number.

I attempt to avoid this situation by trying to put different charges on different credit cards. For example, one credit card will handle gas charges while another will deal with hotels. At least that method will narrow down where the fraud occurred. When I travel, I try to avoid putting charges from the trip itself on my main credit card which has several monthly accounts on it. Changing credit card numbers on accounts while I am traveling is a hassle.

Another thing I do is take time to look over my credit cards while I am at the hotel desk. I make the comment to the clerk, "Well, I guess I'll use this card since it doesn't have anything on it." Although I carry just a couple credit cards, the clerk does not know that. I like to draw attention to the fact that the hotel charge will be the only one on that card, so the clerk knows if a problem comes up with the card, that hotel is the only place where the fraud could have happened. I know that might seem silly, but if it prevents someone from stealing my credit card number, it is worth a try.
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Friday, November 30, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in California

Interstate 40's time in California is spent entirely in the Mojave Desert. The cities of Needles, Ludlow and Barstow are connected by this interstate. Accommodations are scarce along this highway, so plan to stay in Needles or Barstow if necessary. Attractions in addition to the beautiful Mojave Desert include the Mitchell Caverns State Reserve, Amboy Crater, the Calico Mountains and Lake Havasu which is located near I-40 on the Arizona/California state line.

Be aware that all motorists will be stopped at a California Border Inspection Station when they enter California and will be inspected to make sure they are not bringing unwanted plants into the state. The Mojave Desert is an amazingly beautiful, yet desolate area. In driving through the desert, travelers should always make sure to have a full tank of gas and food and drink. In addition, they should prepare for hot weather during the day and cold weather at night.


Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.

(Photo of Mojave Desert taken in 2011)
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Monday, November 26, 2012

On the Road: Hotel Availability & Sporting Events

No Vacancy in Red
No Vacancy in Red (Photo credit: Lomo-Cam)
Sometimes when I am traveling, I start to get tired, but I will decide to keep driving until I get to the next major city. I always think my chances of finding a hotel with available rooms are increased if I am looking in a big city. However, this is not true at certain times of the year. In those circumstances when I reach my destination and start to look for a hotel, I sometimes find that I am unable to find an available room. When I am tired, this is a frustrating situation. In my case the reason for the lack of rooms was a big sporting event taking place in the town. In some cities football games and basketball games draw huge crowds from the surrounding area. Staying at a hotel and partying are just as important to some sports fans as attending the game itself. Rooms can fill up fast.

Be aware of sporting events, holidays and other special events that can hinder the chances of finding a room. One way to avoid this situation is to check online to see if any rooms are available. If all the rooms are booked at most hotels, a special event is being held that will probably affect the vacancy at all hotels. Another option is to make a reservation, but if only a few rooms are available, the price will be high. The last option is to stay at a hotel in a smaller town that will not be affected by the event.


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Friday, November 23, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in Arizona

The Tepees in Petrified Forest National Park i...
The Tepees in Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona, United States. View is toward the northwest from the main park road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40, which travels across the northern section of Arizona, offers a wide variety of amazing scenery from deserts to mountains. Cities linked by this highway include Holbrook, Flagstaff and Kingman. Keep in mind that cities with a variety of good hotel choices can be separated by great distances. I-40 intersects I-17 in Flagstaff and that city offers the best selection of hotels along this interstate in Arizona. North of this intersection is where I like to stay.

Arizona has shut down some of its rest areas.  In particular, the rest area west of Flagstaff is closed. My favorite place for gas on this stretch is Exit 9, which is the exit for Lake Havasu. I like to fill up the tank before I enter California and the Mojave Desert. Some of the beautiful attractions along this route include the Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert, Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater, the Walnut Canyon National Monument, Lake Havasu and the Grand Canyon National Park.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 the early morning rush hour traffic.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On the Road: Hotel Ratings

Tripadvisor Nantucket
Tripadvisor Nantucket (Photo credit: stevegarfield)
When I am trying to choose the hotel where I want to stay, I go on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp to find out what people have to say about their experiences at the hotel. Before I leave on my trip I do my research and make a list of possible places to stay. I try to have a few hotels listed for each city where I could possibly stop and also jot down the ratings for each.

When I read the ratings for hotels, I pay particular attention to the negative ones. They give me an idea of what problems travelers may have encountered at a particular hotel. For example, I was considering several hotels in one city and looked over the ratings. I found that some of the hotels were located near a train track and the reviewers felt the trains disrupted a good night's sleep. I would not have known how close the train tracks were to the hotel had I not read about it in the reviews. I do realize that some negative reviews can be written by rival staff from another hotel, but I also feel that sometimes a few of the good ratings are written by the hotel's employees. They are just one source of information. Reading the reviews on several sites gives me a variety of additional input that assists me in making a good decision about lodging.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in New Mexico

English: All Images used are from Wikipedia Co...
English: All Images used are from Wikipedia Commons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40 provides a scenic drive across the state of New Mexico. I-40 passes through the cities of Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Albuquerque , Grants and Gallup. Sometimes cities with a good choice of hotels are few and far between in this area, so be careful in planning where to stay. Attractions along this highway include the Sandia Peak, Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave, the Enchanted Mesa, the El Morro National Monument and the Zuni Mountains. (I never know where to stay in Albuquerque. I always make the wrong choice! Any suggestions would be appreciated!)

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On the Road: Hotel Discount Coupon Books

Traveling to Florida in the 90's, we would see billboards along I-95 for discount hotel rooms. When we would stop at the particular hotel, we were always told the discount rooms were gone. That is why I never paid attention to the hotel discount coupon books that were available at rest areas. I always thought they were just a gimmick to get people to stop at the hotel.

One year while driving to California, I decided to look at the books and try one of the coupons. It worked! I have used the Room Saver and Travel Buddy coupons with success every time since then. These coupons can also be obtained online. Since some of the rest areas on certain interstates have been closed, finding the coupon books has been a little more challenging, so the online option is a big plus.


Of course, one can always book reservations online. I do not like to do this because I do not want to be held to a certain destination. If I am tired, I will stop early. If I am feeling great, I will continue for as long as I can. In any event, if the decision to make a reservation is made, travelers should make sure to carefully check the details of the cancellation policy of the hotel in case their plans change.

(Photo taken in 2012)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in Oklahoma and Texas

Tenkiller Ferry Lake and dam.
Tenkiller Ferry Lake and dam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40 travels through the middle of Oklahoma and through the panhandle of Texas linking the major cities of Oklahoma City and Amarillo. One thing to keep in mind for I-40 as it continues west is that major cities are few and far between. The small towns along this route may have only one hotel. Take particular care in determining where to stay. Usually I stay in Oklahoma City on my way west. On my return trip east, I stay in Amarillo. My gas stops are Exit 75 in Amarillo and Exit 140 in Oklahoma. Attractions in Oklahoma include Tenkiller Lake, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Black Kettle National Grasslands and the Oklahoma City National Memorial for the victims of the bombing of the federal building. Sanford National Recreation Area and Palo Duro Canyon are located in Texas near this highway.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, since I am discussing I-40 in Oklahoma, 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 traffic.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Preparation: Packing List Update

iPad is a Wi-Fi 64 GB version (another one beh...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In previous entries discussing the use of packing lists, I have posted both my list for packing and my list for tasks to accomplish in preparing for a lengthy trip. In addition, I have included information about using a dry erase board as another method that keeps me organized in my preparation. These posts have been very popular, so I want to update this information.

This year I became the proud owner of an iPad and an iPhone 5. These devices have helped me to become even more organized than I already was. A month ago my daughter showed me how she used her iPhone to keep her grocery list. She did not have to write down the items she needed on a piece of paper. She listed them on her iPhone and was able to check them off as she shopped.

I decided to use this technology for my packing list. A few weeks ago I took the time to type my lists into the Reminders section of the iPad. The list has a small box in front of each item, so I was able to click on the box for each article as I packed it. For example, I had the new packing list for Baltimore ready to use on the iPad. As I packed each article, I checked the box and the item disappeared from that list and reappeared on the Completed section list. When I was finished with my packing, I was able to click the objects back onto the original list. The list was then ready for the next time I had to pack.

Since I have a MacBook, the iPad and the iPhone, my lists are available on each device. If I am running errands and want to check to see if I need anything for the trip while I am out, I just check the phone. When I complete the task, I check it off and that action appears on all three devices.

If I am able to do this, anyone in the world should be able to handle it. (Those who know me would completely agree with that statement!)


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Friday, November 2, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in Arkansas

English: Aerial view of the Hernando de Soto B...
English: Aerial view of the Hernando de Soto Bridge across the Mississippi River between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas, USA. The bridge was opened in 1973 and carries six lanes of Interstate-40 across the river. View is from the Arkansas side to the east-southeast across the river to Memphis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After crossing the Mississippi River from Memphis, Interstate 40 continues its journey west into Arkansas. I-40 travels through the middle of the state linking the cities of West Memphis, Forest City, Little Rock and Fort Smith. Along this highway are many beautiful state parks including Petit Jean State Park, Devil's Den State Park and Mount Nebo State Park. Interstate 40 also passes through the Ozarks with the Boston Mountains located to the north with the White Rock Wildlife Management Area.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Travel Tales: Short Trip to D.C.


In October we decided to take a short weekend trip to Washington, D.C. We had not been there in many years and we thought the beautiful fall weekend was the best time to visit. The trip along Interstate 79 in Pennsylvania and West Virginia was breathtakingly beautiful. I had to pull over several times because I could not pass up the opportunity to get pictures of the fall leaves at their peak.

We drove to the Silver Springs Metro station and took the subway to the Smithsonian station at the Mall. This station was conveniently located in the middle of the museums and we spent the morning visiting the exhibits at several of the buildings.

Our first new attraction was the National World War II Memorial which is located at one end of the Reflecting Pool. I love the use of water in memorials since I feel it adds a sense of life and movement. This memorial uses fountains, waterfalls, pillars and arches in a beautiful tribute to the soldiers and civilians involved in World War II. The Freedom Wall displays 4,048 gold stars. Each star represents one hundred soldiers who died in the war.


We visited the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and the other monuments in that area. Next we walked over to the Tidal Basin to see two other attractions that had been built since our last trip. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was an impressive tribute which included famous quotes from Dr. King. Visitors enter the area through a split in a mountain. This design comes from one of Dr. King's quotes, "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." The stone of hope is the monument of Dr. King.


The last new monument for us was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, which is located next to the King Memorial. This was an amazing place to visit. The accomplishments of Roosevelt in an extremely stressful period of American history are memorialized here. Once again water is a major component of this attraction and the waterfalls grow larger as one moves through each of the four outdoor rooms. This large memorial covers 7.5 acres, but we had no trouble walking around the entire area even though we had been walking all day. This memorial makes extensive use of granite which was also used in the Civilian Conservation Corps projects that I have seen in the Ohio area.

(Photos taken on October 21, 2012)

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in Tennessee

The Clingman's Dome Observation Tower rises fi...
The Clingman's Dome Observation Tower rises fifty feet from the pinnacle of Clingman's Dome, the highest point both in the state of Tennessee and along the Appalachian Trail, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40 travels across the entire width of Tennessee. This highway, which enters the state near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, joins the cities of Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis. The area is rich with historical attractions from the Civil War and also places of interest in the history of country and blue grass music. North of I-40 is the beautiful Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On the Road: Credit Card Fraud at Gas Stations

Thieves can place a device over the credit card reader of the gas pump. This device can skim the credit card number of any card. Travelers will not notice anything is amiss. When they swipe the card, the station will be paid, but the plastic device will also read the card number for the thieves. This happened to me on one of my trips. Ten days later unauthorized charges were made to my card. No one touched my card but me. It was always in my possession. I had no reason to be alert that something was wrong. Now every time I get gas, I look to see if any plastic is on the reader.

One way to avoid this situation is to always go inside the gas stations to pay. For my last trip I thought I had a great plan to get a Pilot gas gift card to protect the credit card number. When I went to the station to purchase the card, I was informed the gift card had to be used inside the station. That did not help. In that case I will just use the credit card. Another Pilot manager told me Pilot hopes to have a card for the pump soon. We will see!


I have one main credit card that I use for everything. I have another credit card that I use just for trips. If someone steals my credit card number while I am on a trip, I can cancel that card and get a new one without disrupting any accounts that are paid by that particular credit card. Setting up a new payment account while one is on vacation is a hassle.

In the future if I ever feel my credit card has been skimmed at the pump. I will just shut down that card and get a new one when I arrive at my destination.

(Photo taken in 2012)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in North Carolina

English: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Fran├žais : L...
English: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Fran├žais : Le phare de Cape Hatteras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40 begins its journey across the United States in Wilmington, North Carolina. It travels northwest to Raleigh and Durham and then continues west through Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Asheville. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Chimney Rock are located near I-40. While beaches such as Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach are near the beginning of this interstate, travelers should consider taking the time to visit one of the best places on earth. The Outer Banks are home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast. It is a place of exceptional beauty and the site of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the Road: Choosing Gas Stops

Shorepower-L.W.'s Pilot Travel Plaza-Perry, Utah 1
Shorepower-L.W.'s Pilot Travel Plaza-Perry, Utah 1 (Photo credit: TruckPR)
The first few years I take any trip, I keep an eye on the gas prices as I near the half tank mark. I like to choose exits that have several choices for fuel. My favorite is Pilot Travel Plaza because I have to enter my zip code when I make a purchase at the pump. I like that extra measure of security. Another thing I like about Pilot is I can check the gas prices for all of their stations online.

I write down the location of the station, the number of gallons and the expense. Once I get the gas I still watch the highway signs to see if that was the best price available. If not, I note the exit number and watch for that station on the return trip. For example, I was coming up to Exit 277 in Arizona where I normally get gas. I started watching the prices as I was driving east and noticed when I got to that exit, the cost was higher than the cost at the other exits. I did not stop there and kept watching those numbers. When I got to Exit 16 in Gallup, New Mexico, I found a good price and got gas. I checked the cost at exits after that one and determined I had made the correct choice by stopping at Exit 16. That will now become my exit of choice.

Another way to check gas prices is to use a phone app like Gas Buddy. Since I am traveling by myself, I do not have that luxury. I do not use phone apps while I am driving.

After several years of making the same trip, I have compiled my list of stations where I will always stop. I take into consideration the location, the cleanliness of the facility, my feeling of safety and what food is available. Now I do not have to wonder where I will stop because I already know where I will stop. I usually chose exits with at least two travel plazas since I do not like to stop at the smaller stations. I feel safer with more people around me.

I try to get gas at the half tank mark for two reasons. The first is I like to make myself get out of the car and stretch my legs. The second reason is I try to keep the tank that full in case I get struck in traffic.
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-39 in Wisconsin & Illinois

Inside Cave of the Mounds
Inside Cave of the Mounds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 39 begins near Wassau and continues down the middle of the state of Wisconsin running to the east of Madison and Janesville. I-39 also travels through central Illinois and Rockford before ending near Bloomington. This interstate joins I-90 for a short distance and is crossed by I-43, I-55, I-74, I-80, I-88 and I-94. Points of interest near this highway include the Cave of the Mounds which is west of Madison and Devil's Lake which is northwest of Madison. The New Glarus area which is also known as America's "Little Switzerland" is also near I-39.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I 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 traffic.
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