Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-10 in Eastern Texas

Took this awesome pic of i-10 and i-45 right a...Image via WikipediaThe length of Interstate 10 in Texas is too much to handle in one post. Therefore, I will once again divide the highway in the same manner as Rand McNally does. This post concerns I-10 from Exit 462 to the border of Louisiana. Major cities along this stretch include San Antonio, Houston and Beaumont. San Antonio is the location of the Alamo and Houston is home to the Johnson Space Center. In addition, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston are within an easy drive of I-10.

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, February 24, 2012

Handy things to take: Dollar bills and quarters

The next new section of this blog is Handy things to take. This fourth section offers suggestions for items that may be useful for drivers to include in their packing. The first post will deal with the subject of cash.

How much cash a person takes on a trip is a matter of personal taste. With ATM machines available, drivers do not have to carry a lot of money with them. However, an ATM does not provide small denominations of bills or change. On cross country trips, I like to take dollar bills and quarters with me for smaller purchases such as food. Paying with dollar bills provides the opportunity to give the cashier a more accurate amount of money. If a mistake is made by the cashier in giving change, it will not be a big one. The quarters come into play for vending machines, tolls, washing machines and dryers. For hotels and gas expenses, I like to use a credit card because it provides a convenient record of the major purchases I have made.


Where do I keep this cash? Certainly not in a purse. I always pack my purse in a suitcase, so it is never visible in the car. I keep one credit card and several dollar bills in the pocket of my windbreaker when I leave the car. I do not carry any visible items other than my keys into a travel plaza or rest area.

(Photo taken in 2011)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-10 & 1-12 in Louisiana

City of New Orleans montage composed of photos...Image via WikipediaWhen it runs through the southern section of Louisiana, Interstate 10 has a companion. Interstate 12  is a short highway that joins I-10 at its eastern and western exits. These interstates form an oval around Lake Pontchartrain and the surrounding area. Cities along I-10 include New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles. If visiting New Orleans is not an option of your trip, you will find using I-12 as a bypass of New Orleans will provide a shorter journey across Louisiana.

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, February 17, 2012

Preparation: Things to do list



I keep a list of tasks that must be accomplished before I leave on my trip. Examples of these chores include: turning off the water, opening the faucets, cleaning out the refrigerator, etc. In organizing the list I tried to group items in categories such as those pertaining to water, those concerning the refrigerator or those dealing with securing the house. Another approach is to divide items into those that can be done in advance and those that must be completed at the last minute.

When I first compiled this list, I went into each room of the house and determined what tasks I needed to complete. One room had plants that needed to be watered. The basement had a water heater that had to be placed on the vacation setting. Every room had unused electrical devices that had to be unplugged. I kept the list on a clipboard so I could add to it as necessary. The most important thing I do is revise the list every year.

I have this list on the computer and run it off about a month before I leave on the trip. Every year I write down special extra items at the bottom of the list. For example, one year I had to make sure I purchased a gift for a wedding before I left. That was something I would do only that year, so I wrote it at the bottom of the list. I did not type it on the list.

This list has kept me organized for my trips and has greatly reduced my chances of forgetting to do something important.

(Photo taken in 2012)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-10 in Alabama & Mississippi

English: Horn Island, msImage via WikipediaInterstate 10 has a short journey through the states of Alabama and Mississippi. I-10 joins the city of Mobile in Alabama with the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi in Mississippi. The main attractions for both states are the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico including the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Gulf Shores. For those who prefer their entertainment indoors, the area is also home to many casinos.

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.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Travel tales: Paul McCartney

Although I have been talking about trip preparation and favorite interstate exits, I would like to introduce some new sections to this blog. This first section will appear as needed for special situations that occur while I am traveling.

I was lucky enough to be in Los Angeles when Paul McCartney received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This was something I wanted to attend, so I had to make sure I was prepared. Since I was by myself, I wanted to have as little as possible with me, so I placed an energy bar, a bottle of water, and a small amount of change in a discreet bag that I could hold close. I was uncertain where to park my car, so I decided to take the bus. Going on the Los Angeles Metro website enabled me to familiarize myself with the route and choose the stop closest to the Capitol Records building. I got a copy of the bus schedule, so I could check the times for the return trip. When I arrived, I was happy I had taken the bus because parking was $20.



Waiting in line was an amazing time with strangers of all ages who bonded with a shared love of a man they had known for most or all of their lives. We were friends for nearly four hours. The crowd went wild when Paul McCartney came to the podium after being introduced by Neil Young. A sea of cameras rose in the air. I had the surreal experience of looking through my viewfinder and seeing Paul McCartney. Afterword, many of us remarked how we never expected to see a Beatle in our lifetimes. It was a magical moment.

(Photo of Paul McCartney taken on 2/9/12 in Los Angeles)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-10 Florida

: BeachImage via Wikipedia
Interstate 10 has a long journey across the southern United States. Even though it begins in Jacksonville, Florida, near the Atlantic Ocean and meets the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California, this highway is not the longest in the nation. I-10 is the fourth longest. This post will feature Florida's section of I-10. The cities of Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola are joined by this highway. The Atlantic Ocean is a short trip from I-10 in Jacksonville. If the opportunity presents itself, take a side trip to the amazing  Little Talbot Island which is south of Amelia Island. The state park on this island is one of my favorite beaches in Florida. Pensacola offers the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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, February 3, 2012

Preparation: Smaller bags in bigger bags


Years ago I would just throw everything I needed for my trip into my suitcases. When I needed to find something, I would have to rummage around in several suitcases until I found it. To accomplish this task, I would have to pull over to a rest area or travel plaza. While my attention was focused on my search, I had my back to anyone who may have come up behind me. This was not my safest option, so I had to become more organized.

Last year I had amazing luck when I found cosmetic bags on clearance and I purchased quite a few for a few dollars each. I decided to put them to good use in my packing. Medicine, vitamins and supplements were placed in their own bags. The ipod, Wii remote charger, change and makeup were each contained in separate bags. Any accessory or instruction that went with the item was also in that bag. For example, when I needed my ipod, I took out that bag and every cord, cover and instruction was in that bag. These bags kept things organized.

One might think that a problem with this method would be trying to figure out what was in each bag. Normally one squeeze of the bag would let me know what was inside it. To be honest, it really doesn't take a lot of time to unzip and zip the bag. As I look at the photo of these bags, I can tell exactly what is in each one.

Other things I have purchased for cushioning items are neoprene laptop bags. Last year one store had all sizes of a certain brand on sale for $5 each. I bought them in all sizes and colors and they have been really handy. I used them for cameras and other large items I wanted to protect in the suitcases.

The one thing I cannot stress enough in this blog is how important it is to be organized when a person is traveling alone. The time spent organizing suitcases and bags prior to the trip can help to alleviate stress while on the road. I have found smaller bags in bigger bags to be one way to accomplish that goal.

(Photo of cosmetic bags taken in 2011)