Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Travel Tales: Akron to LA 2014 - Day 2

English: A photograph of Shiprock.
English: A photograph of Shiprock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The rain we had avoided on Day One of our trip caught up with us before we left the hotel. When I checked the radar, I saw we would have to drive through the rain only in Oklahoma City. On the television, I saw a weather reporter discussing visibility in the western side of the state. I did not think too much about it until we got to Clinton, Oklahoma. The fog was thick - really thick. I remembered the reporter discussing western Oklahoma and we had to deal with the fog until we crossed the state line. Texas does not put up with that! The rest of the day was sunny, but when we got into New Mexico, the wind picked up big time.

Our original plan was to stop in Albuquerque, but we made good time which meant we would get into that city around 3:00. We thought we could do more that day. A high wind warning was in effect for the next day, so we decided to continue north to Farmington, New Mexico which is east of Shiprock. I know that seems a strange turn to take, so I will explain. Originally, our plans were to go over the Rockies to Moab, Utah. That plan was ended when a snowstorm dumped a couple feet of snow on the mountains just before we left. We had to think fast because we wanted to see Utah. The safest route was to take I-40 to Albuquerque and then go north.

I make it a point to use interstates when I travel alone, but this time I had a passenger. In addition, interstates to do not take vacationers driving from the southeast directly to the National Parks in Utah. We headed north on US 550. We traveled through the beautiful land of the Navajo reservation and were treated to the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen. By spending the night at Farmington, we were able to take three hours off the next day's journey. Only two hours left to Moab!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Travel Tales: Akron to LA 2014 - Day 1

This year I could not begin my trip as soon as I wanted to do so. My time in Ohio had been filled with handling family obligations, recovering from injuries and coping with an unexpected death. The one piece of good news was that I would have a passenger on this trip and we would do some sightseeing on the way. Although we had a long trip ahead of us, we were excited to get on our way to visit the Utah national parks!

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)

We left later in the morning, but were on the road by 5:30. The temperature was 19 degrees when we left Akron, but the day was sunny. We were not supposed to have rain until Joplin. The traffic on I-70 and I-44 was light. The time went by quickly and by 6:30 that evening we were in Joplin and happy we had missed the rain. We considered stopping for the night, but did not see any hotel we liked. We made the fortunate decision to continue on to Oklahoma City.

I had researched hotels for the area between Joplin and Oklahoma City on TripAdvisor before leaving Ohio. I made note of the prices because I wanted to compare them to the prices offered in the hotel coupon books. The prices in the books were less. When we called ahead to check on availability of rooms, we found that talking directly to the hotel got us an even better price. Keep in mind we were traveling the week before Thanksgiving which was a great time to get a deal.

We got into Oklahoma City at 9:30. We planned at the time to stop at Albuquerque the next night.

(Photo taken in 2014)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On the Road: Thanks, YouTube

Photo of Wilson Arch. It is located about 24 m...
Photo of Wilson Arch. It is located about 24 miles south of Moab, Utah, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This year I was extremely late in leaving on my trip. I could not get away until just before Thanksgiving during the coldest weather of the season. Originally, I wanted to take I-70 and see the beautiful parks of southern Utah. However, snow-covered Rockies stood in the way. I could not risk unexpected snow while driving over them. Even intense wind was a problem because it could create a ground blizzard. After hours of research I decided I had to take the I-40 route, but I still wanted to see Utah. The problem was that no interstate takes drivers to that destination from I-40.

I could see other highways on the map and one in particular was four lanes. On message boards vacationers had discussed the best way to get to Moab. They used US 550. I wanted to make sure that road did not have any mountain problems, but it was difficult to determine that by looking at the map. I decided to check youTube and found a wealth of information. Many cyclists and drivers have uploaded videos of their journeys along the highways in this area. By watching the video for US 550, I could see I would have no problems dealing with snow covered mountains. I could also watch videos of the national parks in Utah to get an idea of what I wanted to see in the area. What a useful tool for any travelers!

In addition to this site, other sites have message boards where drivers will offer suggestions and information that cannot be found on regular sites. They will tell what the best route is to take and the conditions one can expect. They will also give their experiences with food, gas and lodging.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Travel Tales: Hiking in Los Angeles

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
In 2014 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to stay in a guesthouse that was within walking distance of the Santa Monica Mountains. I had an uphill walk in a residential area to get to Dirt Mulholland and its many other trails. The Verdugo Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Susana Mountains also offer amazing views and great hikes for visitors to the Los Angeles area.

I did a lot of research to prepare for my hikes to some ranges. One of the best sites was  www.LAMountains.com. Another great site was www.nobodyhikesinla.com. I was able to find all the info I needed from those two sites. Nobody Hikes in LA had links to other hiking blogs. It also described the trails and included the location, the distance of the trail, the elevation gain, the difficulty rating and the estimated time of the hike.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
A variety of sources will prepare hikers for their journeys. Yelp and Trip Advisor provide reviews from locals and tourists about certain trails. Google maps will provide the map of the area and also the satellite view. Travelers can also use that site to check traffic situations on the way to the destination. YouTube has many videos that hikers have uploaded for the convenience of others.

Hikers should be careful when parking their cars. Message boards will alert them to areas that have a problem with automobile vandalism. Another important aspect of parking is the fees. Hikers should make sure to pay all parking fees and obey all traffic signs. Those who think no one is watching may be surprised to find they have been filmed by cameras. Check Yelp for further information.

Vacationers will find their time well spent to hike these trails to experience amazing views of Los Angeles area.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spurs, Bypasses and Beltways: Washington and Wisconsin

English: Lake Washington; Interstate 90; Lacey...
English: Lake Washington; Interstate 90; Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge; Seattle, Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Washington shares Interstate 205 with Oregon. This highway begins at Exit 9 of Interstate 5 at Salmon Creek and travels south for 37 miles to Exit 288 where it rejoins I-5 at Tualatin, Oregon. Interstate 405 travels for just over 30 miles. It departs I-5 in Lynwood and runs south to connect with I-5 again at Exit 156 near Tukwila. I-405 is parallel to I-5 to the east of that interstate and Lake Washington. Less than two miles long is Interstate 705. It connects I-5 to the Schuster Parkway in Tacoma. The final auxiliary in Washington is Interstate 182. Just over 15 miles, I-182 joins I-82 to US 12 in Pasco.

Wisconsin has three auxiliary highways. The first for I-35 is Interstate 535. This highway is less than three miles long and connects US 53 in Superior with I-35 in Duluth, Minnesota. The two auxiliaries for I-94 are each less than ten miles long and are both in Milwaukee. Interstate 794 is just less than four miles in length and joins I-43/I-94 to WIS 794. Departing I-94 at Exit 305 is Interstate 894. It travels south and then east for just less than ten miles before rejoining I-94 at Exit 316.