Friday, December 28, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-45 in Texas

Evacuees on Interstate 45 leaving Galveston du...
Evacuees on Interstate 45 leaving Galveston during Hurricane Rita in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the eastern part of TexasInterstate 45 travels on a diagonal from Dallas through Corsicana, Huntsville, Conroe and Houston. This highway, which is technically an intrastate because it is entirely in one state, ends in Galveston on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Many will remember photos of the traffic backup on I-45 during the 2005 evacuation for Hurricane Rita. One side of the highway was completely jammed while the other side was empty. Contraflow lane reversal on interstates is now used for hurricane evacuation in many states.

Attractions near this highway include the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico which are in the Galveston area. Other area attractions have been mentioned in the Interstate 10 post for Houston and the Interstate 20 post for Dallas.

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, December 25, 2012

On the Road: Travel with Pets

Years ago our dog was a treasured part of our family and traveled with us wherever we went. Finding a hotel that permitted dogs at that time was very difficult, but today things are not so bad. Many hotels allow dogs, although some have a weight and breed restriction. Most hotels will charge an extra fee for them. Any people traveling with a pet need to research hotel options along their route to know ahead of time exactly where they can stay with a pet. They should not waste valuable time searching for pet-friendly hotels at the end of an exhausting day.


When we would go to dinner, we would have to leave our dog in the room. In order to make sure the dog did not bark at every person who walked down the hall, we kept the television on while we were gone. We found if we put on the Cartoon Network, our pupster would be more content. The happy music and cartoon voices must have been very soothing for her!

The safety and comfort of our dog during a trip was extremely important to us. Every car I owned during the time we had our dog had a sunroof, which we could open for more air for her. We always had a supply of water and a travel water bowl in the car. In addition, the back seat was covered in a thick comforter to make a nice bed for her. She traveled in more luxury than we did.

Even though traveling with a dog can be a lot of work, I never felt safer than when she was with us. Many people were afraid of her and that gave us an extra sense of security. We always felt that people would leave us alone because they did not want to fuss with her. Of course, anyone who would spend more than a couple minutes with her, would find she was the sweetest dog in the world.

I must explain the photo. We were camping in the Outer Banks when Hurricane Bonnie was approaching. We had just been told we had to evacuate and we were loading the car. Our beloved dog jumped into the car via the passenger door and sat behind the steering wheel. She was not going to let us forget her - not that we would! This was one of the few photos of our dog where she was not smiling, so it does not accurately reflect her personality. However, this photo does show how serious she was about protecting her family whom she loved.  She knew the hurricane was on the way and she wanted us out of harm's way immediately. That is why I love this photo so much. That is also why we love her so much and still miss her.

Merry Christmas, everyone!! Thanks so much for reading this blog!!

(Photo taken in 1998)
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-44 in Oklahoma and Texas

Panoramic picture of the Oklahoma City Memorial
Panoramic picture of the Oklahoma City Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 44 crosses into Oklahoma and becomes the Will Rogers and the Turner Turnpikes where drivers enjoy a speed limit of 75. Travelers also have the unique experience of driving under a McDonald's on the turnpike. I-44 joins the cities of Miami, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton and the Texas city of Wichita Falls. Attractions that are near this road include the Wichita Mountains and the Grand Lake o' the Cherokees. As mentioned in the post for I-40, the Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring the victims of the federal building bombing is located in Oklahoma City. One treat about this area is that gas prices are really good here, so fill up the tank!

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single drivers 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, December 18, 2012

On the Road: Food on the Road

I always have a dilemma as to what food to take on the road. Most families will pack a cooler and have picnics along the way to save money. When I am traveling alone, stopping to have a picnic by myself is not the safest of options.

I have found for me that it is better to take along a travel bag of healthy snacks and protein bars rather than a cooler of food that must be kept cold. I do not like to bother with ice when I travel. Sometimes I will take apples. After wrapping each one in a piece of plastic, I then use the plastic to wrap up the core until I can throw it away.


For me Subway sandwiches are the best option. I will get a foot-long sub and have the employee cut the sandwich into four sections. Each piece fits perfectly in my hand. By having the sandwich cut into these small sections, I am able to easily handle each piece with one hand. I do not need the other hand to help hold the sandwich. I get spinach instead of lettuce so bits of lettuce are not all over the car. One sandwich provides enough food for lunch and dinner. Whenever I go to Subway whether I am traveling or not, I have the employee cut the sandwich this way because it is just easier to eat it.

For breakfast I eat a Mint Chocolate Zone Perfect bar. I love these bars and have had them for breakfast for the last five years. I also like to carry one with me when I am running errands and get hungry. I love them!!

(Photo taken in 2012)
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-44 in Missouri

Alley Mill, powered by Alley Spring, in the Oz...
Alley Mill, powered by Alley Spring, in the Ozarks of Missouri, in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 44 travels on a diagonal across the state of Missouri. I-44 begins just south of St. Louis and runs southwest connecting this city to Rolla, Springfield and Joplin. This beautiful highway, which cuts through the Mark Twain National Forest, has attractions nearby that include the Meramec State Park, Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Table Rock Lake which is located near Branson. For country music fans, I-44 is the closest interstate to Branson.

My favorite exit on this road is Exit 8 in Joplin. I am able to get gas at the Sam's Club where I also stock up on bottled water. Even though many hotels are available at this exit, rooms may be limited for a while since many construction workers are staying in this area. They are building a new hospital to replace the one destroyed by the recent Joplin tornado.

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, December 11, 2012

On the Road: Choosing a Departure Time

English: The face of a black windup alarm clock
English: The face of a black windup alarm clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My choice of departure time can be affected by several factors. The first consideration is the rush hour times for any major city along the way. I do not want to spend my time and gas waiting in traffic. I usually look at how far I hope to travel in the day and calculate the estimated time of arrival for each city.

When I try to determine how far I will get in one day, I use 70 mph as my normal speed, so if I drive for 12 hours, I would expect to cover approximately 840 miles. If I want to be settled in a hotel room in time for dinner, I would have to leave by 5:30-6:00 in the morning.

Another factor is how well I do in the morning. I usually hate to get up early. I would rather wake up naturally without the jarring noise of the alarm clock.

I always tell myself that whenever I wake up naturally is when I will get on the road. For the past few years that has been 3:00-4:00 in the morning. That gives me the luxury of having the road to myself. I usually have a problem with tossing and turning the night before a trip and not getting much sleep at all, so this year I tried an experiment. I went to bed really early the night before and rested as much as possible. I woke up at 12:45 and thought it was too early and tried to go back to sleep. When I woke up again at 1:00, I realized I was never going to get back to sleep and thought I would just get on the road. Although this is not something I would recommend to anyone, it did work for me that time.
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-43 in Wisconsin

Travelling northbound on I43 just south of Man...
Travelling northbound on I43 just south of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 43 begins its journey south from Green Bay and runs parallel to the eastern coast of Wisconsin along Lake Michigan. I-43 joins the cities of Green Bay, Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Kenosha. To the east of this highway are a variety of beaches and parks offering numerous opportunities for activities and water sports along Lake Michigan. To the west of this interstate is the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

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, December 4, 2012

On the Road: Credit Card Fraud at Hotels

Credit card
Credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes people who are employed at a hotel desk are working there for just a temporary job and not a career. If they can make an extra buck, they will. When my friends drove to Florida and stopped at a hotel on the way, the young desk clerk took their credit card, left the front desk and went into another room. The next week unauthorized charges for thousands of dollars appeared on their card. The clerk had stolen the credit card number.

I attempt to avoid this situation by trying to put different charges on different credit cards. For example, one credit card will handle gas charges while another will deal with hotels. At least that method will narrow down where the fraud occurred. When I travel, I try to avoid putting charges from the trip itself on my main credit card which has several monthly accounts on it. Changing credit card numbers on accounts while I am traveling is a hassle.

Another thing I do is take time to look over my credit cards while I am at the hotel desk. I make the comment to the clerk, "Well, I guess I'll use this card since it doesn't have anything on it." Although I carry just a couple credit cards, the clerk does not know that. I like to draw attention to the fact that the hotel charge will be the only one on that card, so the clerk knows if a problem comes up with the card, that hotel is the only place where the fraud could have happened. I know that might seem silly, but if it prevents someone from stealing my credit card number, it is worth a try.
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