Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On the Road: Rest Area Closures

Another closed rest area.
Another closed rest area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many states are suffering shortfalls in their budgets during these economic times. One way they have cut expenses is to close the rest areas. Each state has done this to a different degree. Some have closed almost all their rest areas while others have not closed any of them. Many states give motorists advanced warning by posting signs that the next rest area is closed, but a few states just place the closed sign on the location itself.

Check each state's website to get an accurate listing of rest area closures. An atlas will not reflect current and changing information on this subject. Motorists will now have to depend on gas stations and most welcome centers for their needs.

Also be advised that while it may be open, a rest area might not have any toilet paper. To avoid being caught in a bad situation, I take a small zippered plastic bag containing baby wipes into the rest room with me. Several wipes fit perfectly into the snack size plastic bag which keeps them moist. The snack size bag fits perfectly into my pocket. Baby wipes are more effective than toilet paper in handling rest room needs. I always carry them so I am prepared in case of emergency.
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-55 in Mississippi & Louisiana

Another perspective of the "New" Mis...
Another perspective of the "New" Mississippi State Capitol building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 55 spends just over 12 miles in Tennessee when it travels through Memphis, but then it runs north to south through through the state of Mississippi for 290.5 miles. I-55 links Memphis with the cities of Winona, Jackson and McComb in Mississippi before it links I-10 and I-12 in Louisiana west of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. The attractions of Jackson are mentioned in the posting for I-20. New Orleans and the many activities of the Lake Ponchartrain area are located at the southern end of this interstate highway.

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, January 22, 2013

On the Road: Weather

English: This is a snapshot of the larger LDL ...
English: This is a snapshot of the larger LDL put out by The Weather Channel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am glued to the Weather Channel for about ten days before I leave on a trip. My day of departure is usually pretty flexible, so I watch the Weekly Planner to get an idea of weather patterns. In driving from Akron to Los Angeles I have to be sure that I have at least three days of good weather for the trip. In addition, I have to be aware of systems that come off the Pacific and where I might encounter them as I drive west. On my last trip I had clear weather until I came out of the Mojave Desert and started down the Cajon Pass in California. That was where the rain clouds had stalled and I had low visibility and rain for those very tense 12 miles.

Many weather apps are available for smartphones. Some use a GPS location to give the current weather. Others require a person to enter the zip code of the city to provide the forecast information. I take a list of the cities I drive through and their zip codes just in case I need them. If I need to check an app, I do so when I stop for gas or food. I would never use an app or text while driving.

Another safeguard I have is checking with a friend who keeps an eye on the Weather Channel for me while I am traveling. If I see some ugly clouds in the distance, I call my friend to see if anything of concern is ahead. A call in spring of 2011 alerted me to some tornadoes in Missouri and I was able to avoid them.

My cross-country drive is difficult enough with perfect weather conditions. I do not want to be surprised by adverse conditions. By taking the time to be fully aware of weather patterns, I not only alleviate some of the stress of the trip, but also increase the safety of my drive.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-55 in Missouri & Arkansas

St. Louis on the Mississippi river by night. J...
St. Louis on the Mississippi river by night. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial aka. Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse are visible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 55 crosses the Mississippi River and enters the state of Missouri at St. Louis. This highway runs parallel to the river during its journey in this state and joins St. Louis with Cape Girardeau and New Madrid. In Arkansas it links Blytheville with West Memphis, where it intersects Interstate 40. Some attractions close to this highway include the many recreational activities available on and near the Mississippi River and, of course, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. To the west are the Ozarks with the Ozarks National Scenic Waterway and the Mark Twain National 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, January 15, 2013

On the Road: Hotel Safety Concerns

Since I travel alone, I do feel vulnerable at times, so I take several steps to make sure I feel safer in hotels. First, I try to plan to arrive at the hotel during daylight, so I can see what the surrounding area is like. If I do arrive after dark, I still assess the properties around the hotel and park as close to the entrance as possible. On one trip I had decided ahead of time where I would stay, but when I arrived, I noticed the area was not well lit and the hotel was the only one in an industrial type area. I left because I felt very uncomfortable.

I decide ahead of time what luggage I want to bring inside the hotel, so those bags have been conveniently placed in the back seat of the car. By making that decision while I am packing the car, I do not have to take time trying to determine what I am going to take inside while I am standing in the parking lot. I never open the trunk because nothing it contains is going inside the hotel. I do not want to be in a situation where someone can sneak up behind me in a parking lot while I am distracted. Any valuable item is packed in one of the bags on the back seat and is brought inside the hotel room with me.


Luggage and other items that are visible through car windows draw attention to a car while it is in a parking lot. I always notice a fully packed car in a hotel lot. Usually I wonder how the person was able to fit all those items into the vehicle. Then I wonder how attractive a target the car would be for thieves. I never notice empty cars. At the hotel I remove all items from my car that are visible and that can really be a pain when I am tired. I do not want someone breaking my car windows to try to get a cd, change or whatever. That would create a bigger problem for me. Since I always carry large soft cloth grocery bags, I can throw small items in them and easily carry everything inside the hotel.

During the recession many cities had to cut back on their number of police officers. I have heard many stories on my travels of how hotel parking lots are not patrolled the way they used to be in the past. The number of car break-ins has risen, so that is a good reason not to leave anything visible in the car.

Another consideration for me is to choose only hotels with interior corridors. That gives me an extra sense of security. Once securely inside my room, I use a large rubber doorstop as an extra safety measure to prevent anyone from getting in my door. It really works!!

(Photo taken in 2011)
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-55 in Illinois

Abraham Lincoln's tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery
Abraham Lincoln's tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 55 begins in Chicago by the shore of Lake Michigan and cuts southwest across Illinois. I-55 passes through the cities of Bloomington and Springfield before it ends in East St. Louis. For those interested in history, this is the land of Lincoln with many historical sites around the Springfield area. The Lincoln Home National Historical Site, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and Lincoln's Tomb are all located close to I-55.

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, January 8, 2013

Travel Tales: One Update & Some Info on Comments

Update: Today is moving day!! This is good news for me and for every person who has been through the ordeal of trying to talk to me on the phone during the last couple months. Although this has been the best visit I have ever had at my usual hotel, it has been challenging for me in dealing with really bad cell phone reception. Thanks for your patience!! I hope the next couple months will be better for calls since I will be living in a quiet neighborhood six miles from here in the valley instead of a hotel complex on the side of a mountain. (The photo below was taken in 2012 and the cell phone tower is visible to the right on the peak. The hotel is located on the lower left side of the mountain. That is why cell phone reception is so terrible.)


Comments Section: Almost all the people who read this blog know me. Anyone who has a question or comment usually calls me, but using the Comments section is another way to contact me. I am not known for faithfully checking my email, but I do work on the blog all the time, so that is where I will see any message right away.

Since I have never commented on any website or blog, I do not really expect people to do so here unless they feel comfortable. In the Comments section anyone can use the "anonymous" option to post, so the name does not appear on the blog. The comment comes to me via email first. If the content is personal and a request is made to not publish it, I honor that request and just answer the email if an address or number is provided by the sender in the body of the text. (It is an anonymous comment and I don't always have everyone's info with me.) If the comment is a general one, I click on a button which sends the comment on its way to be published on the blog site.

Hopefully, the phone situation will improve. If it does not, try the Comments section. Thanks!!!


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Friday, January 4, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-49 in Louisiana & Missouri

Sign marking the Future corridor of Interstate...
Sign marking the Future corridor of Interstate 49 in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 49 is divided into two sections at the present time. The older section, located in Louisiana, begins at Shreveport where it joins Interstate 20. I-49 travels on a diagonal southwest through Natchitoches and Alexandria and ends at Lafayette where it meets I-10. Attractions near this highway include the Antebellum homes near Natchitoches. Also to the south and southwest of the end of this interstate is the Bayou country which contains numerous national wildlife refuges and state parks.

The newer section of Interstate 49 was opened on 12/12/12 in Missouri. This segment, which links Kansas City, Harrisonville, Butler, Nevada, Joplin and Pineville, runs east of the Missouri/Kansas border in a north to south line. Future construction on this interstate is planned in Arkansas to join the two sections of I-49.

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 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, January 1, 2013

On the Road: State Speed Limits

English: Texas Legislator Pete Gallego (D-Alpi...
English: Texas Legislator Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) unveiling the new 80 mph speed limit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just because the Interstate Highway System is a federal project doesn't mean that the speed limits are uniform across the country. Drivers should be sure to notice what the speed limit is when crossing state borders. If I have spent my day traveling in Arizona and New Mexico, I have been enjoying a 75 mph speed limit. In the past this situation changed when I crossed the Texas border. The Texas officials were waiting for those who do not notice this change and I saw a lot of people being pulled over by the police. Also in some states like Texas the speed limit was lower at night than it was during the day. However, that situation is changing because Texas is in the process of raising their speed limits, but it will take some time to post the new signs completely across the state.

One problem with driving on the interstate all day is I get used to driving at a high rate of speed. When I enter a city, I have to be careful to reduce my speed to adhere to the lowered limit. Drivers also have to be very careful to reduce speeds in construction areas to protect the workers. The fines for failing to do so are very high. Some states have installed signs with lights that flash when construction people in the area are working. That is a big help. Some drivers do not pay attention to speed limits, but I do not let those drivers who want to speed through a construction zone bully me into going faster. I do not want to get a ticket!

Happy New Year, everyone!!! Have a healthy 2013!!
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