Friday, September 28, 2012

Your Favorite Interstates: I-35 in North Texas

Johnson Presidential Library Austin, Texas, 19...
Johnson Presidential Library Austin, Texas, 1971. Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library - Austin, TX. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 35 enters the state of Texas at the Oklahoma border and continues south through the state until it reaches the Mexican border. When it enters the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I-35 splits into two roads: I-35E and I-35W. The two sides join together again north of Waco and the highway continues through Austin. Since this interstate is so long, this post will end at Exit 217. Attractions for Dallas and Fort Worth are mentioned in the I-20 posting. Places of interest near Austin include Longhorn Cavern, Enchanted Rock, Pedernales Falls State Park, the Highland Lakes Chain and the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum.

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, September 25, 2012

On the Road: Using GPS

I own a GPS, but I do not use it all the time when I drive cross country. If I am traveling on a long straight stretch of road with no other interstate connecting, I will shut it off. I only use the GPS when I drive through major cities.

Sometimes I find the GPS will want to take me on a way I really do not want to travel. That is frustrating. I do not have time to try to determine which route is best while I am driving. That is a distraction that could lead to an accident. In those cases I travel the way I know works. A GPS can make a mistake and news articles will give examples of those drivers who faithfully followed the instructions of the GPS to their regret.

My first GPS (the one pictured) was getting old and I just got a new one for my next trip. I also have GPS on my phone. I find the GPS to be extremely helpful getting around Los Angeles, but I also look at the Thomas Guide before I go anywhere.


Researching a route is important for any trip. I want to know which way I am going in case a GPS is inaccurate or breaks. I always write down a list of the interstates I will be using while I drive across the country and keep it in my travel binder as a backup. I have driven the round-trip from Akron to Los Angeles so many times, I could really do it in my sleep!

(Photo taken in 2011)
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-35 in Oklahoma

English: The Oklahoma City National Memorial i...
English: The Oklahoma City National Memorial illuminated at dusk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 35 runs down the middle of the state of Oklahoma. In Oklahoma City I-35 intersects I-40 and I-44. The highway continues south through Ardmore until it crosses the Texas border. Attractions near this interstate include Turner Falls, Lake Texoma and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. The Oklahoma City National Memorial is an amazing place that is well worth a visit. The memorial is a beautiful tribute to the victims of the bombing of the federal building.

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, September 18, 2012

Preparations: Choosing the route

Which way do I go? An easy way to plan a travel route is to use Mapquest or a similar routing program that will give the shortest way to drive. If I am going to visit a place for the first time, I find it beneficial for me to do a little research as to the attractions available in the area. For example, if I travel from Cleveland to Los Angeles, I find the quickest way to reach my destination is to take I-71 to I-70 to I-44 to I-40 to I-15 to I-210. I do not encounter as many mountains on this route and the speed limit in Arizona and New Mexico is 75 mph. However, if I want to visit Las Vegas or see the Rocky Mountains, then I would want to take the I-70 route to I-15 instead of driving I-40. The lower speed limits and the mountainous area will make for a longer trip, but the beauty of the scenery will more than make up for it.


I plan my route around what I want to see, but I am also sure to take the weather into consideration as well.  I may want to see the mountains in a particular area, but if the forecast calls for rain, I will not enjoy the view.  I either change the timeframe of my trip or take another route. The weather always has an impact on my return trip from California. I love to take I-70 through Utah because the scenery is just amazing, but if snow is making roads hazardous in the Rockies, I would then choose to take I-40. If my trip is in the spring during tornado season, I sometimes have to opt to take a route that is more to the north to avoid any severe weather in Texas or Oklahoma. Scenery is important, but safety is more important. I always take a lot of time to plan my vacation routes. Since I travel by myself, I want to know as much as possible about the highways I travel. Every trip presents challenges and careful preparation helps me to deal with them.

(Photo taken in 2011)
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-35 in Missouri and Kansas

English: Downtown Wichita, Kansas
English: Downtown Wichita, Kansas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 35 cuts across the northwest corner of Missouri. I-35 passes through Cameron and Kansas City before it crosses into Kansas. The highway is toll-free until Emporia, Kansas. At that point it becomes the Kansas Turnpike and has a toll through Wichita until Exit 4. Attractions near this interstate include the Riverfront Park casinos in Kansas City and McConnell Air Force Base near Wichita. I-35 passes through the beautiful Flint Hills between Emporia and Wichita.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single drivers 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, September 11, 2012

Preparation: Readying the Car

2001-2003 Honda Civic photographed in College ...
2001-2003 Honda Civic photographed in College Park, Maryland, USA. Category:Honda Civic (2000) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One month before I begin my drive, I take my car to the service station to get it checked out. I make sure the oil is changed and the tires are rotated. My mechanic road tests the car to make sure it is in good condition for the trip. In particular he checks the air filter since I travel through the desert. I also carry with me the warranty papers for my tires.

Going in to have my car checked a month ahead of time gives me plenty of time to get any problems with the car fixed. If something major needs attention, I will not be as stressed if I have enough time to deal with it.

I always have the same mechanic work on my car in Ohio and the same mechanic work on it in Los Angeles. That way I have people I know and trust who always do the work. I also feel comfortable enough with both mechanics that I can call them if I have any problems while I am on the road. They both know my car very well.

I have had my mechanic Jim in Barberton, Ohio, for a long time and he was highly recommended by friends, but finding a mechanic in Los Angeles took a little more effort. I went on Yelp to read the reviews of various stations. I finally found Olive Auto Center in Burbank. The location was convenient for me and I could walk back to the hotel if I had to do so. I was very fortunate to find an honest man to work on my car. Even though I have an out-of-state car and I am a woman, I have always been treated well by Ali and his staff. I trust them completely, so take that as a recommendation for anyone needing auto work in the Burbank area!
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-35 in Iowa

Red Rock Dam and Lake, also known as Red Rock ...
Red Rock Dam and Lake, also known as Red Rock Reservoir, on the Des Moines River in Marion County, Iowa. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam in 1969 for flood control on the Des Moines River. The dam is located approximately 36 miles (58 km) east-southeast of the city of Des Moines, Iowa. County highway T15 crosses the dam. View is to the north. Photograph color-corrected by contributor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 35 runs down the middle of Iowa for the entire length of the state. This highway intersects       I-80 in the state capital of Des Moines. Attractions near this interstate include Pilot Knob, Dolliver Memorial State Park, Lake Red Rock and Lake Rathbun. Also located east of Interstate 35 is a treat for those interested in hot air balloons. In Indianola is the National Balloon Museum and U.S. Ballooning Hall of Fame.  (That is for you, Sue!!)

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, September 4, 2012

Preparation: Credit Card Payments

Credit Card Issuers
Credit Card Issuers (Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT)
With the popularity of online transactions, making credit card payments is easier than ever. Many years ago before I used this service, I had a problem with the payments since I was on the road and did not get my mail. I also did not own a laptop at that point in time.

Fortunately, I have a fantastic credit card company. Discover permitted me to prepay my card when I went on a lengthy vacation. I would just work off the amount and not worry about it. I do not know if Discover still does this today since most people can now manage their accounts online, but at the time it was the only credit card company who would permit this. (I think a lot would depend on the financial situation of each individual with his credit card company, but I do not think it would hurt to see if this option is still available.) What I learned about Discover during that time many years ago is it was the only credit card company who would work with me to find a solution to a potential problem. I have turned to Discover for advice and assistance many times over the years and it has never let me down. I advise anyone who has a travel dilemma involving a credit card to call the company and see how it can help....especially if it is Discover.

When I am leaving town, I always let my credit card companies know I am traveling. This information helps them to determine if the card is stolen or not when they see unusual activity. I also write down the numbers of all credit cards and the 800 numbers to use to contact them. I take only two credit cards with me when I travel to make keeping tabs on them easier.

If I find myself in a situation where I will be away from home and the internet, I always check with my credit card company to see what options are available to me.
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