Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-8 in Arizona and California

Map of Interstate 8Image via WikipediaInterstate 8 begins its journey in Arizona where it joins I-10 about 50 miles south of Phoenix near Casa Grande. Before ending in San Diego, California,  I-8 passes through El Centro and Yuma. Nearby attractions include Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in California and Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are 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 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.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Preparation: Choice of cooler

What type of cooler should be used for cross country trips? Pros and cons exist for each choice and every person has his favorite type. Wheeled coolers are a great convenience. They keep the drinks cold for a long time and are easy to transport once removed from the car. One bad aspect of this type of cooler is it takes up a lot of room. Using a slightly smaller cooler without wheels frees up a little more space. It keeps the drinks nice and cold, but is still a hard-shelled object that can make packing around it a challenge.

Another choice is the one I have been using for the last couple years. The soft-sided cooler may not keep my drinks cold for as long as a hard-sided cooler, but it is easier to wedge into available space. Another advantage is the cooler will fold down when empty. I find this aspect convenient when I get to my destination.

The last choice is to not use any cooler at all. Some prefer to go inside the convenience stores at the gas stations or travel plazas to get their cold drinks. It provides an opportunity to walk around and stretch the legs after many long hours of driving. Those who choose this option do not have to worry about buying ice!

The photo used for this post shows the two coolers I used for this trip. The red cooler is placed on the floor of the passenger side right next to the seat. Since it is a tall cooler, I can easily reach over and get what I need out of it.

The other blue cooler that is pictured is placed on the passenger seat. This one holds items that I need during my trip. Change for tolls, gloves, sunglasses, glasses, books on cd, phone charger, kleenex and baby wipes are some of the things contained there. Notice in the photo the flat bottom and sturdy sides of this cooler. I can rummage around for something inside without tipping the bag.


(Photo of coolers taken in 2012)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-5 in Southern California

The final segment of Interstate 5 in California stretches from Exit 418 to the Mexican border. I-5 runs through the San Joaquin Valley and then connects the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego. In the Los Angeles area other highways such as the 105, the 405 and the 605 connect to Interstate 5 in a north-south direction. Special care should be taken in this area to avoid rush hour traffic. Both Los Angeles and San Diego are places for long-term vacations, so if you recommend a hotel at your favorite exit, please note if it would be comfortable for a week or more.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are 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 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 taken in Valencia, California in 2012)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-5 in Northern California


California is the last state on Interstate 5's journey along the west coast. Since the state is so large, I decided to divide it in the same way The Rand McNally atlas does. This posting will deal with I-5 from the border with Oregon to Exit 423 which is west of Newman. This interstate goes through the cities of Redding, Sacramento and Stockton. Attractions that are within a couple hours of Interstate 5 include Lassen Volcanic National Park, Yosemite National Park, and San Francisco.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are 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 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 taken in California in 2012)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Preparation: Things that are always packed


I have several large cosmetic bags that are always packed. That way I can toss the cosmetic bags into my suitcase for any trip. While I never take the items out of the cosmetic bags, I sometimes rearrange the items in the several bags I own. Here are the items contained in the bags: bandaids, antibiotic ointment, black thread, white thread, sewing needles, earplugs, hair clips, dental floss, razors, nail clippers, emery boards, and neoprene wraps for ankles, wrists and knees. You might wonder why I have the neoprene wraps and sewing items. Every time I do not include them, I end up having to buy them. Now that I carry them with me, I don't get injured or tear any clothing!

I have doubles of some items like my curling iron, hair dryer and brush. One set I use while the other set is packed all the time. For example, the hair dryer I use in California or on any trip is not the one I use in Ohio. The suitcase that holds these items also contains my shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and body wash. It is always ready to go when I leave on a trip. With all these items already packed, all I have to do is choose the clothes I want to take and go!

(Photo taken in 2012)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-5 Oregon

English: Crater Lake is a caldera lake in the ...Image via WikipediaInterstate 5 continues its journey south as it runs through the state of Oregon.  I-5 parallels the Pacific coast and connects the cities of Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Medford. If you do travel along this interstate, I would recommend you take the time to visit Crater Lake, one of my favorite places in the United States. The water of this lake is the most amazing shade of blue I have ever seen. Also, do not miss the opportunity to take a boat ride to the island in the center of the lake. You will have the chance to climb a volcano!

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 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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Preparation: Luggage

Sometimes I switch up what luggage I take, but here is what I took on this trip. Two large bags are used for clothes. One is a regular large suitcase that holds all the tops and sweatshirts. The other bag is a large duffle bag that holds all other clothes. Both pieces of luggage have wheels. My medium size bag holds shampoo, conditioner, makeup, toothpaste, etc. This bag as well as the other two stay in the trunk of the car the entire trip. These suitcases do not contain anything valuable. I put my shoes in plastic bags, so I can use them to fill any available empty space. I do have a collapsible bag that I use when I reach my destination, so I can carry in all the shoes in one trip.

In the front seat I have the soft-sided cooler, the computer bag, the camera bag and another soft-sided cooler that holds items needed for the trip such as gloves, change, glasses, sunglasses, the GPS, etc. Anything I might need during driving is in that bag. All these bags go into the hotel with me.

In the back seat is the small wheeled suitcase that holds the changes of clothes and other items needed for the overnight hotel stays. The last bag is a medium duffle bag that holds any electronic item I may be taking with me. Jewelry is also in this bag. Both of these bags go into the hotel.

Even though these bags have been great for this trip, I am always on the lookout for new bags and luggage that will be beneficial for my drives. I am constantly experimenting with different combinations and different types  of bags. Although finding bags that fit well into the car is important, my primary concern is finding luggage that is easy for me to maneuver or carry.

(Photo of luggage taken in 2011)


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-5 Washington

A sign displaying two control cities (Seattle ...Image via WikipediaFor our next interstate we will look at I-5. Since this is such a long highway, Interstate 5 will be divided into four sections. The first will be I-5 in the state of Washington. This interstate, which begins at the Canadian border and continues through the length of the state, runs through the cities of Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia. Popular attractions nearby include Mt. Rainier National Park and Mt. St. Helens.

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 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.

Thank you in advance for any suggestion you may have.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Preparation: Packing List

One aspect that contributes to a pleasant and safe drive is the organization that goes into preparing for the trip. This is really important if you are traveling alone. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, you should not have to stop and wonder if you happened to pack the item you need. If you are organized, you will know what you have with you.

Years ago I would write down everything I wanted to pack for my trip. I would save the list and use it to make a new list every year. Now I have the list on the computer ready to print off whenever I need it. I revise the list when I return from my trip to accurately reflect what items have been used or unused.

One way to make the packing list is to put a piece of paper on a clipboard and take it with you during your day in the house. Notice what things you use. Write them on the list. When you get ready for your day, notice items such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, toothpaste, toothbrush. Think about what clothes you want to take. Write down every single item!

Visualize what your drive will entail. Think about things such as a GPS, cds, books on cd, tissues, change, sunglasses, atlas, drinks, food, pen and paper. Write it all down. Try to anticipate what kinds of emergencies you may encounter and make sure the have the items to deal with it.

Driving cross country is a huge undertaking. Having a packing list keeps you focused to make sure your  preparation is as complete as it can possibly be.

(Photo of packing list taken in 2011)