Thursday, May 31, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-20 in Mississippi

English: Aerial view of the Vicksburg Harbor, ...
English: Aerial view of the Vicksburg Harbor, which is located on an arm of the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA. The harbor is located north of the main part of the city. View is to the west-northwest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 20 and Interstate 59 enter Mississippi together, but at Meridian, they part ways and I-20 continues its journey west through Jackson and Vicksburg until it reaches the Mississippi River. This area is rich in landmarks for both the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. If you are interested in haunted houses, Vicksburg is home to McRaven House which is described as one of Mississippi's most haunted houses. The Biedenham Coca-Cola Museum is also located in Vicksburg.

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.
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Preparation: Dry erase board


Several weeks before I leave on my trip, I write on a large dry erase board the list of all the projects I need to accomplish before I leave the house. I keep this board in my guest room which I use as a packing room. Having the dry erase board makes it easy for me to see where I stand on getting things done. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment to put a line through each item as I complete it. About two weeks before the trip, I move the board to my kitchen so it will remind me what I still need to do.

While some might consider this board a frivolous item, I consider it a necessity. Getting ready for a big trip is a huge undertaking, but it is not the entire focus of my daily life. I have other things to do. Using this board helps keep me aware of all that needs to be done. I am the one who needs to remember all of these projects. I cannot expect anyone else to remind me, so this this board accomplishes that purpose.

(Photo taken in 2012)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-20 in Alabama

English: I-20 & I-59 in Birmingham Category:Im...
English: I-20 & I-59 in Birmingham Category:Images of Alabama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 20 has a solo journey from the Georgia state line to the city of Birmingham, Alabama. At that point, it joins with     I-59 and the two interstates continue their path together through Tuscaloosa to the Mississippi State Line. During rush hour be careful of the juncture of I-20 and I-65 which is known as Malfunction Junction. Another area of concern on Interstate 20 is the eight-mile stretch between mile markers 147 and 155. This section is known as Bloody 20 and is considered the most dangerous interstate section in Alabama.

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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Handy things to take: Food list


Since I have been trying to keep to a healthier diet, I kept a list of foods that would be good options for me to eat on my trip. The foods were listed on graph paper in alternating colors with the first item written in red ink and the next written in black ink. This chart made it easier for me to read the facts for each item. Seven columns were placed on this page to give information on the following areas: calories, protein, fat, potassium, carbohydrates, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Any food I ate came from the list. This kept me on track and away from poor food choices while I was on the trip. I kept this list in a plastic protector pocket in my travel binder and that made it easier to locate when I needed it.


Does this work? It did for me. I have lost a lot of weight in the last seven months. By following this list and cutting out dairy since the month before the trip until now, I have been able to lose 45 pounds so far. I used to eat a lot of dairy products, so cutting them out really made a big difference. Since I have a tendency to eat out more when I am on vacation than I do while I am at home, I figured if I could keep my day-to-day food choices more regimented, I could afford to treat myself occasionally at the restaurants.

(Photo taken in 2012)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-20 in Georgia

Montage of Atlanta images. From top to bottom ...
Montage of Atlanta images. From top to bottom left to right: Atlanta skyline Georgia State Capitol Olympic Centennial Park Old World of Coca-Cola museum Downtown skyline Turner Field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 20 enters the state of Georgia at Augusta in the east and exits at the Alabama state line. I-20 crosses Atlanta where it intersects I-75 and I-85. Stone Mountain, the World of Coca Cola museum and the Georgia Dome are just a few of the numerous attractions available in the Atlanta area. Augusta is the home to the Masters Tournament and the National Science Center's Fort Discovery.

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.
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Travel Tales: LA to Akron 2012

Los Angeles skyline and San Gabriel mountains....
Los Angeles skyline and San Gabriel mountains.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I pull out of the garage to begin my long trip, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the number of miles I have to drive - 5000 round trip! I often think of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy takes a leap of faith and steps out into the abyss to finally find the Holy Grail. He puts out his foot onto what he thinks is nothing and the foot lands on a bridge. That is the way I feel when driving the first mile. I never know what lies ahead and I have to take a leap of faith that everything will be okay.

The return trip to Akron is different. All but one of my adventures are over and I am going home. I can clearly see what has to be packed into the car. All of it is going with me. It is time to go back to my world...

After being in a holding pattern for a week for severe weather considerations, I was finally able to leave Los Angeles early Monday. This was a source of stress to make sure conditions were the best they could be. I waited out even the rain in the forecast because rain storms can sometimes turn into something more dangerous. My journey was difficult enough on its own, so I was willing to wait for clear weather. My patience paid off and I had beautiful weather for the entire trip home.

I left Los Angeles at 6:00 that morning so I could avoid any delay from the rush hour traffic. An unexpected treat was to see snow on the San Gabriel Mountains. The Mojave Desert was as beautiful as it always is in the early morning light. The first stop on I-40 was Exit 9 in Arizona - a great exit for gas. Arizona and New Mexico provided great scenery which I really enjoyed. I decided to make an adjustment to my usual gas stops when I noticed the prices were higher at Exit 277 on I-40 in Arizona, so I decided to stop instead at Exit 16 on I-40 at Gallup, New Mexico. With the higher speed limits in the Southwestern states, I was able to cover a lot of miles that day. By the time I got to Amarillo, I thought it was a good idea to stop for the evening. I got gas again at Exit 75 on I-40. Even though I felt great, I did not have an appetite. All I ate that day were three Zone Perfect bars...chocolate mint of course!

The next morning I left Amarillo a little later than I wanted. Once again it was a perfect day, but that was the kind of day I waited to have. Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois passed quickly by me. I got gas again for the last time on I-40 at Exit 140 in Oklahoma City. When I was on I-44, I got gas for the only time at Exit 8 in Joplin. My only time for gas on I-70 was at Exit 162 in Effingham, Illinois. I still did not feel hungry, but I was able to eat a burger later in the day. I was really surprised to see that everything was in bloom. That made the scenery even more beautiful. People had told me the winter had been warm, but I did not expect it to be summer in April.

By now it was the middle of the night, but I did not feel tired since I left so late in the morning. I do have to admit that my Harry Potter audiobook was starting to lose my attention, so I put in cds that I knew would keep me awake and singing. An unexpected turn of events came just after Indianapolis when everyone was directed off the interstate. We were given no directions as to which way to go, so I just followed the truckers. After a while, they guided me on an unmarked detour back to the interstate.  One advantage about driving I-70 in the middle of the night was I was able to avoid construction and rush hour traffic. My last stop for gas was north of Columbus on I-71 at Exit 131.

I stopped for gas seven times on my trip and usually at the same places. I know that does not seem like enough times for gas, but I own a Honda Civic which has incredible gas mileage.

Akron, Ohio
Akron, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was not at all tired, so I continued home arriving in Akron at 6:30 on Wednesday morning. I do want to point out that if I had been tired, I would have stopped. In fact, I had so much adrenaline going, I did not go to sleep until after 11:00 on the night I arrived.

After a lot of planning and attention to detail, I have successfully completed another cross-country round trip. It was a leap of faith that turned out okay.  Now I have to plan for the next one!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-20 in South Carolina

Approaching the eastern terminus of I-20 on I-95
Approaching the eastern terminus of I-20 on I-95 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 20 begins the journey west from its intersection with I-95 at Florence, South Carolina, and continues 1,535 miles until its juncture with I-10 at Kent, Texas. This highway runs through Columbia where it intersects both Interstate 26 and Interstate 77 and continues to the border of Georgia at Augusta. If you are in the mood for some beach time, you will find the I-20/I-95 juncture is not that far from Myrtle Beach and the surrounding beaches.

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.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Travel Tales: Goodbye LA

Making a cross-country trip is not easy and I try very hard to be as prepared as possible for any situation. Even though I give this preparation my best effort, I can never anticipate everything. My journey of 2500 miles each way is always filled with surprises and I worry about everything at least a hundred times. (People who know me will consider that a conservative number!) Getting ready for the return section of the trip involves three areas - packing the car,  watching the weather, and dealing with stress. Although it does not involve the preparation that the first segment of the journey requires, the return trip has unique situations.

The first area is packing. I am fortunate to have a nice garage, so packing for the journey to Los Angeles is a pleasure. I have the luxury of time and privacy to work on packing. I do not have this option in LA for the return trip. For a time I just try to guess what will fit in the trunk, but several days before the trip I pack the trunk of the car so I will know for sure and stop worrying about it. I throw the larger suitcases in the backseat of the car and drive to another location on the property where I am staying, so I can work on my task. Anything that can be placed in the front or back seat of the car will not be packed until I actually leave.

One thing I have found is that I can sit there everyday trying to imagine how everything will fit together and it never turns out the way I think it will. One year I thought I had things under control, but at 4:00 a.m. I was in the parking lot trying to arrange items in the backseat so that I would be able to see out the rear window of the car. I never know until the last minute how things will fit together and that is very stressful.

The next area is obsessively watching the weather reports. I am glued to the Weather Channel Weekly Planner for the week before I leave. I am adamant that I have three clear days for my journey. My trip is difficult enough on its own, so I do not need to add bad weather to the mix. I would like to think that my insistence on good weather is a major factor that contributes to the success of my trips; however, waiting for the perfect days can be very stressful. Fortunately, the hotel where I stay is very understanding of my situation and works with me on my departure date.

The two weeks before the return trip are very stressful for me. In fact, they are the most stressful of the entire experience. How do I handle the stress? Not well, but I am getting better at it. I know that and am even able to laugh about it sometimes. I am more quiet and more distracted because I have a huge task ahead of me that I take very seriously for my safety. People tell me I am not as humorous as I normally am and I do not smile as much. In the days before the trip I will even lose my appetite until the trip is finished. (I consider that a benefit!)


The time comes to say goodbye to the people I have come to know during my stays. Some of these people I have known for four years. They always say that the time between my trips goes by very quickly and they are correct, but I have to drive 5000 miles before I see them again and I always hope that goes well. I do not like to say goodbye, but it is especially difficult to bid farewell to my daughter.  She is the reason why I make this trip and worth every mile that I drive.

(Photos of Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA taken in April, 2012)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-17 & I-19 in Arizona

Quick peeks of the Red Rocks of Sedona can be ...
Quick peeks of the Red Rocks of Sedona can be seen from I-17. This view is seen as you are traveling south on I-17 just after passing Munds Park. Taken 10-4-09 by Brady Smith. Credit: USDA Forest Service, Coconino National Forest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstates 17 and 19 are both located in Arizona. Interstate 17 joins the cities of Phoenix and Flagstaff. Well worth a side trip to the west of I-17 is the beautiful city of Sedona. Another attraction is Grand Canyon National Park which is located near Flagstaff. Once again, be careful during rush hour where  I-17 joins I-10 in the area known as The StackInterstate 19 travels from Tucson to the United States/Mexican border. I-19 is the second shortest interstate at 63 miles. The nearby attraction of Saguaro National Park is east of Tucson.

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.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Handy things to take: Bedding

When I traveled to California, I resided in a partially furnished studio and one time I stayed in a guesthouse. In both cases I needed bedding. I found bringing my own bedding was easier and more economical than having to buy it every time. I used three large zippered plastic bags to transport these items. One bag was utilized for the memory foam. I wanted the bed to be comfortable and the memory foam made sure I accomplished that purpose. Another bag held two pillows. The last bag contained the sheets, mattress protector and towels.


If the zippered plastic bags proved too bulky in packing, I just used Target bags. I have found them to be the best and sturdiest of all store bags. If I put the items in smaller bags, I was able to wedge items such as sheets and towels into spaces easier. When I decided to use the option of small bags, I still took the folded zippered plastic bags with me since these bags fold flat. When I reached my destination, I put all the smaller bags into the larger zippered plastic bag so I would not have to make as many trips to get these items inside the hotel room.

(Photo taken in 2012)