Friday, August 31, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-35 in Minnesota

Middletown, Duluth, Minnesota, Lake Superior
Middletown, Duluth, Minnesota, Lake Superior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 35 travels through the middle of the United States from the northern border to the southern border. I-35 begins in Minnesota on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth. The highway runs closely to the west of the St. Croix River for part of its journey. The cities of Duluth, Minneapolis and Albert Lea are connected by this interstate. Attractions along the way obviously include many water activities since Minnesota is known as The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Some of them include the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Mille Lacs Lake, Minnehaha Falls and Mineopa State Park.

Please share with other travelers 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 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, August 28, 2012

Preparation: Cable Concerns

If a trip lasts for at least two months, vacationers might consider checking with their cable providers for an opportunity to keep the cable services connected, but inactive. My cable is with Time Warner and it has an option that is called Seasonal (or Vacation) Disconnect. This feature is available to subscribers who are away from their homes for two to five months. I pay a reduced fee for each service that I have and that fee is much cheaper than the regular monthly cost. For example, last year while I was on vacation, I paid $15 for the internet and $15 for the cable for a total of $30 each month. My cable equipment stayed connected at my home while I was traveling, but the cable itself was shut off. I was not charged anything to have Time Warner flip a switch and turn on the cable again. Contact the cable provider to see if it offers such a service and what the costs might be. It might save some money.


For those who do keep the cable connected while they travel and who do pay for HBO, consider putting HBO GO on the ipad. I have done this and I really love it. All seasons of all HBO shows are available in addition to the movies the channel is currently running. Since I subscribe to HBO, this feature is available to me at no extra cost. I plan to experiment with this service on a future trip to see if the claim that one can get HBO GO anywhere is true!

(Photo taken in 2012)
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-30 in Arkansas and Texas

Remaining natural hot springs
Remaining natural hot springs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 30 links several other major interstates in Arkansas and Texas.  At its northern end in Arkansas I-30 joins Interstate 40 in Little Rock. The highway then travels on a diagonal southwest into Texas where it intersects I-20,  I-35 and I-45 in Dallas. This highway is the shortest interstate ending in zero and the second shortest of all interstates. Attractions located near I-20 include Hot Springs National Park and Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. Places of interest near Dallas are mentioned in the I-20 Dallas post.

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 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, August 21, 2012

Preparation: Managing Mail

One area of concern for anyone who travels is the mail. The post office will hold mail for up to 30 days for those on vacation. Since I am away for over 30 days, I have my neighbors pick up my mail and send it to me. To make this task easier for them, I get the Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes and boxes. This makes it simple to put the letters into the box or envelope and just mail them. Since the price is based on the size of the box no matter how much it weighs up to 70 pounds, I can purchase the postage stamps ahead of time. I do not want to inconvenience my neighbors any more than necessary.

If they wish, travelers can put in a temporary change of address with the post office. They can also use a Premium Forwarding Service. For a fee they can receive their mail weekly for two weeks to a year. Visit the United States Postal Service website for more details.

Some have wondered why I do not have my mail forwarded to me. Sometimes when I travel I am gone during the end of the year holiday season when tax documents are mailed. Our postmaster told me that some of these papers have instructions on the envelope that they are not to be forwarded, so I do not take the chance.  Another reason I do not have things forwarded is I do not want to pay a weekly fee!!


Over the years I have tried to reduce the amount of mail that comes to the house, so I really do not receive that much mail. My bills are all paid online, so I do not have to worry about them. One area of mail that I do double-check is the expiration dates on all my credit cards so the replacement card does not arrive when I am away on a trip. The bank informed me that a credit card or bank card can arrive up to two months ahead of the expiration date on the current card. Now I am aware of those dates and make sure my neighbors watch for those pieces of mail if I am out of town.

(Photo taken in 2011)
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-29 in Iowa and Missouri

English: Fishermen on the Missouri River in Co...
English: Fishermen on the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge is in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 29 enters the state of Iowa at Sioux City. This highway runs south along the western edge of the state near the Missouri River.    At Council Bluffs  I-29 crosses both I-80 and  I-680 and continues the journey south until it crosses into Missouri. After going through St. Joseph, the interstate reaches its end in Kansas City. Numerous attractions in the Kansas City area include the casinos along the Missouri River and the Harley-Davidson Plant Museum and Tours. Many recreational activities are available along the Missouri River in both states.

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, August 14, 2012

Preparation: Back to School for Everyone

English: Picture taken approaching the Target ...
English: Picture taken approaching the Target store in West Hollywood, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although I love Target at all times of the year, I must admit the Back to School clearance time is my favorite. Even though I do not teach anymore and my daughter is no longer in school, I look forward to all the little treasures that Target offers during this time of the year. Students are also going off to college and the dorm students need a variety of items that can also be of use to travelers.

The group of vacationers that benefits most, of course, is the campers. Items that are available for dorms will also help to stock an RV kitchen. Products such as can openers, plates, utensil sets and bedding are available year round, but this dorm group will be less expensive and will be discounted sooner to make way for Halloween merchandise.

The best way to evaluate what merchandise can be utilized is to walk down the aisles and look at the items as they could pertain to travel. A plastic pencil pouch could be used for makeup brushes, change or jewelry. A mesh laundry bag could be used to pack shoes or beach towels and then used for its regular purpose when I reach my destination. Neoprene laptop cases can hold and protect many items. Memory foam, that is far less expensive in the dorm collection, can be used on a hotel bed during a long term vacation or under a sleeping bag to make camping more comfortable. Backpacks can be utilized for a variety of purposes.

When I see an item that could be useful, I wait until school is back in session. Then the markdowns will begin. That is when I will purchase what I need and what I hope I can use. As always, one of my Target philosophies is to purchase the item now and figure out how I will use it later. If I decided to think about the purchase, I find the product is usually gone!
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-29 in North Dakota and South Dakota

The falls of the Big Sioux River at Sioux Fall...
The falls of the Big Sioux River at Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 29 begins its journey in the north at the Canadian border and runs along the eastern edge of North Dakota by the Red River.  I-29 joins the cities of Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota, where it is intersected by I-94. In South Dakota this highway continues along the eastern side of the state linking the cities of Brookings, Watertown and Sioux Falls.  In Sioux Falls Interstate 29 is crossed by I-90. The Big Sioux River flows nearby and one of the area's attractions is the falls of the Big Sioux River.

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 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, August 7, 2012

Preparation: Getting the House Ready

In addition to making sure it is securely locked, I prepare the house for my departure in other ways. I empty the refrigerator and unplug it to save energy while I am away. I also unplug all electrical devices such as televisions, clocks and the microwave oven to avoid using electricity. After turning off the water I put a very small amount of RV antifreeze in the drains so the pipes will not freeze if the power goes off in the winter. The thermostat for the furnace is set for 55 degrees and put on hold. The water heater is set to vacation mode.


I move all my plants to one location to make it more convenient for my neighbor to water them. My laundry room was chosen as the location because it is attached to the garage. That way my neighbor does not have to remove his boots or worry about tracking in snow. I fill bottles to provide water for the plants since the water will be shut off. One bottle will provide enough to water the plants each time and my neighbor does not have to take time to guess how much to use.


Other miscellaneous preparations include making sure all the blinds are closed and the windows are locked. I place a piece of wood in the track of the sliding door, so it cannot be opened. I also have plastic tube locking devices on this door and all ground level windows. Another task I do is clean the house. Although that might sound strange, I want the house to look great when I walk in the door after a long drive.

(Photos taken in 2012)      (HBL)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-27 in Texas

Capitol Peak, along the hiking trail in Palo D...
Capitol Peak, along the hiking trail in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 27 is a very short highway that joins the cities of Amarillo and Lubbock in Texas. The total length of this interstate is just a little bit over 124 miles.  At its northern end I-27 intersects I-40 in Amarillo. Attractions along the way include the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which is the largest state park in Texas.

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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