Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On the Road: Fitness on the Road - Exercise DVDs

Earlier I discussed using a Wii as a method to keep up fitness regimens while on the road. However, not everyone owns a Wii and those who do own one, may find the Wii too bulky to pack for a long trip. Why not use the gym at the hotel? That is certainly an option, but I am usually too leery to use an exercise room by myself in a strange place late at night. I do get a lot of exercise while walking around seeing the attractions at vacation locations, but I need something for the rainy days that happen often during my long periods of time away from home.

This summer I decided to put together an alternative to the Wii for my travel needs, so I would have more than one fitness option. After I had dropped off a donation of my clothes that no longer fit to our local Goodwill, I looked through the store and noticed some exercise dvds. The great thing about these discs is they are always in excellent condition. People get rid of them because they do not use them. I wrote down the titles and then went on Amazon to read the reviews. If I did not know whether certain dvd workouts were too difficult for me, I checked the discs out of the library to try them. Armed with the names of the exercises dvds with the highest ratings, I searched local thrift stores and quickly found the ones I wanted. (I hardly ever pay full price for anything and pride myself on being an excellent bargain shopper!) The toughest one to find at discount was highly rated Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, but I found that while I was in Cleveland yesterday for less than half price.


I have put these in a cd wallet and will take some of them on my next trip. I have noted for myself which ones involve jumping, so I will not use them in a situation when I am not on the ground floor of a hotel. Others that involve Pilates or the Tracy Anderson Mat Workout would not disturb anyone staying in the room below me.

In order to do these exercises in a hotel room, I got a yoga mat. Actually, I did not seek to get the mat. The Tracy Anderson dvd had the mat included and the set was half price, so now I own my first yoga mat. I was determined I was not going to buy a strap for the mat, so I turned to Pinterest. I found a link to a Martha Stewart article that explained how to use a dog leash for a yoga mat strap. Problem solved and at no cost to me.

I do realize that most of these exercise videos are on YouTube. In some situations I am unable to get a solid internet connection on the road, so I wanted an option that was more reliable. I can play these dvds on my laptop in the hotel which makes the sessions convenient and private. I have also purchased ones that have 10-minute sections in case I do not have much time. This offers an inexpensive option for keeping fit on the road.

(Photo taken in 2013)
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-76 in Colorado & Nebraska

English: Exit 35 on E-470, which leads to I-76
English: Exit 35 on E-470, which leads to I-76 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The western section of Interstate 76 in Colorado and Nebraska is over a thousand miles away from the eastern portion in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I-76 travels on a diagonal from I-70 to I-80 and joins the cities of Sterling,  Fort Morgan, Keenesburg, Brighton, Dupont and Arvada. Attractions near this highway the many activities of the Rocky Mountains including Rocky Mountain National Park, Barr Lake, the Colorado Railroad Museum and the Pawnee National Grassland.

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, July 23, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-76 in Ohio

English: Akron, Ohio
English: Akron, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 76 is the closest interstate to me. This highway travels from the Pennsylvania state line to its intersection with Interstate 71 to the west of Akron. I-76 joins the Ohio cities of Youngstown, Boardman, Akron and Wadsworth. Attractions near this interstate include Lake Milton, National McKinley Birthplace Memorial, Ohio River, Nelson & Kennedy Ledges State Park, Punderson State Park, National Inventors Hall of Fame and Cuyahoga National Park. (The big black structure in the photo is the Goodyear Airdock, which is not open to the public. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to view the inside when it was opened for a day back in 1986. We love our blimps and get to see them frequently flying around Akron!)

Over the last couple years construction work has caused delays on Interstate 76. These multi-year projects began at the juncture with I-71 and currently are taking place from mile markers 5 to 12. The work can affect both sides of the interstate. The  mile-marker numbers will increase as construction moves to the east toward Akron over the next few years. The lane shifts can really slow down the flow of traffic since this interstate has heavy usage from trucks.

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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Friday, July 19, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-76 in Pennsylvania & New Jersey

I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) Allegheny Mountai...
I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) Allegheny Mountain Tunnel Traveling eastbound (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 76  begins its journey in New Jersey and travels  across the state of Pennsylvania from the eastern border to the western border. This interstate has other names such as the Schuylkill Expressway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The turnpike is 360 miles long and has a toll of about $40 for the length. (This cost is less if drivers use an E-Z Pass.)  I-76, which links the cities of Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburg, travels through the Appalachian Mountains. Driving this interstate can be a challenge especially in the winter. Attractions near this highway include the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, Flight 93 National Memorial Site, the Appalachian Trail, Laurel Caverns, Ohiopyle Falls and the Susquehanna River.

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, July 16, 2013

On the Road: Fitness on the Road - Using the Wii

My daughter bought me a Wii console several years ago. When the time came for me to depart on my trip, I could not bear to leave it at home since I was going to be away for months. I put the console in a neoprene laptop bag and the remotes in cosmetic bags. I also took the games out of their boxes and put them in a zippered cd case. These items did not take up much room and fit easily into my suitcase of valuable items.


Playing these games and doing the exercises helped to keep me fit while I was traveling. In particular I used My Fitness Coach. This Wii game selects exercises to fit the physical condition of the person who is using it. The user puts in her age, current weight and goal weight. Choices can be made for the type of exercise that is desired. Upper body, lower body, cardio and yoga are just some of the choices. Also the length of the session can be set from 15 minutes to 75 minutes. I love this program. My other favorite is the Just Dance video game series, which is a fun way to do a cardio workout.

When I first lost my weight, I used walking as my exercise for at least an hour a day. I was fortunate to be staying in the Burbank area at that time, so I knew I would be safe on my own on these excursions. If weather prevented me from going on my walk, I would march in place in front of the television for an hour. Even though I was away from home, I wanted to make sure I kept my my exercise regimen. (I had dropped five sizes in jeans and I did not want to lose ground in that battle.) However, as a traveler I did not always have the time to determine the safety of the neighborhood where I was staying. That is why I like having an indoor option.

Using the Wii helps to add variety to my workout, but I do not take these items when I am going on a short trip. They go with me when I will be out of town for a month or more. When I use any exercise program, I try to be very considerate of anyone who might be in the room below me!! No jumping!!!
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-75 in Florida

English: Beach at Wulfert, Sanibel Island, Flo...
English: Beach at Wulfert, Sanibel Island, Florida, looking north towards Captiva Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although it had a long trek through Georgia, Interstate 75 spends much more time in Florida, where the highway ends its journey south. Along its 470 miles, I-75 links Lake City, Gainsville, Ocala, Tampa, Bradenton, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Naples and Hialeah. Attractions near this interstate include the Gulf Beaches, Silver Springs, Weeki Wachee, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Marco Island, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Ichetucknee Springs State Park, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, and the Atlantic Ocean beaches near Fort Lauderdale. In addition, Orlando and its many activities including Universal Studios and Walt Disney World is just a short drive away from I-75. The southern section of this interstate travels across the state and does have a toll in some areas.

Many times when I am leaving the Tampa area to return to Ohio, I leave at 4:00 in the morning so I can complete the trip in one day. The fog can be quite thick along this interstate, so be careful. Also rain storms along this road can be quite intense especially in the summer. Drivers who find themselves unable to continue driving in a heavy downpour should be cautious when pulling over to the side of the road. Florida interstates frequently have canals or large ditches running along the outside of the road.

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, July 9, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-75 in Georgia

English: Photo of part of Providence Canyon fr...
English: Photo of part of Providence Canyon from rim near entrance road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 75 in Georgia travels 355 miles connecting the cities of Dalton, Marietta, Atlanta, Macon, Cordele, Tifton and Valdosta. Attractions near this interstate include Stone Mountain, the Okefenokee Swamp, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Underground Atlanta and the World of Coca Cola Pavilion. Please take great care in planning when to drive through Atlanta. Rush hour can be a nightmare and the roads around the airport can be extremely congested. That is why I try to go through Atlanta late at night.

To the west of this interstate on Highway 27 (Exit 109) is an amazing side trip to the Providence Canyon State Park, which is located west of Americus and south of Columbus. For those who have not had the experience of visiting Bryce or the Grand Canyon, viewing this park is like seeing the other parks in miniature. The views are breathtaking and well worth the side trip.

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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Friday, July 5, 2013

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-75 in Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee from Lookout Mountain.
Chattanooga, Tennessee from Lookout Mountain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 75 has a journey of just over 161 miles in the Tennessee. This highway joins Jellico, Knoxville, Cleveland and Chattanooga. In addition to the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains National  Park, attractions near I-75 include Lookout Mountain, the National Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the Lost Sea, the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee River, Fort Loudoun Lake, and Raccoon Mountain Caverns.

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, July 2, 2013

On the Road: Credit Card Fraud at Restaurants

Vacationers spend a lot of money at restaurants when they travel. What always amazes me when I am dining is how many people hand over a credit card to a stranger who then walks out of the room with it. Diners never give it a second thought. They probably do not realize that a device called a credit card skimmer, which is available for sale on the internet, enables any person to swipe and read a credit card. I am not that trusting of a person to think that no one at a restaurant would ever use such a device on my credit card. When people are on vacation, they use their credit cards more often and the chance that the credit card could be stolen increases dramatically.


To avoid this situation I try to use prepaid or store-value cards for restaurants that can be purchased at grocery stores and at the restaurant itself, or I pay cash. That is my personal choice. Others maintain that if a credit card number is stolen, one is not responsible for the charges. These people feel if they carry cash or a prepaid card for this purpose and lose them, they are out of luck. That is also a valid point.

Speaking of credit cards,  I try to make sure I check my credit accounts when I arrive at my destination and I keep tabs on them regularly throughout my trip. Several years ago when my credit card number was stolen on the way to my destination, I notified the bank and had it send the replacement card to its branch at my destination. I showed my identification at the branch and picked up the card. This was not an easy process. The people at the branch were fine, but trying to get through to the corporate part that I was on vacation was more difficult. They kept sending forms to my home address. I would advise anyone who has a credit card dilemma while on the road to be very clear to the bank as to where you are located. Most credit card companies are fine, but some do lack simple common sense.

(I do have an explanation for the photo. I know there is no longer a Master Charge! I was taking photos of vintage items I want to sell to an antique dealer and thought I would put this photo to good use!)

(Photo taken in 2013)

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