Friday, August 28, 2015

Change of Direction

Canyonlands National Park at sunrise
Canyonlands National Park at sunrise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When traveling in Utah, my passenger and I knew the national parks we wanted to see. Since this aspect of the trip to California was spur of the moment, we limited ourselves to only the national parks. We would see signs for state parks and other natural attractions, but we did not know whether we would want to take the time to see them. We had not done our research on any places other than the ones we wanted to see in our limited time.

The next posting will feature some national lands in each state. Some major national attractions and their proximity to the interstates will be highlighted with a short description of each. Vacationers who choose a major national park will be able to see what other federal attractions are near it. Just to be different I will list them in reverse alphabetical order.

Travelers who wish to take trips to these parks would be wise to invest in a national park pass. The cost of many national parks has increased and the purchase of a pass will save travelers a lot of money. Information is available at the U.S. National Park Service website. The Annual Pass costs $80 and is available to everyone. The pass covers the entrance fee for all passengers in a vehicle. A free pass is available for members of the military. A Senior Pass is available for residents 62 and older. This is a lifetime pass. The Access Pass is free to those citizens who have a permanent disability. Finally, the Volunteer Pass is free to volunteers with 250 volunteer hours with federal agencies.

Friday, August 21, 2015

On the Road: Travel Plaza Concerns

English: Love's Travel Plaza on I-40, New Mexico
English: Love's Travel Plaza on I-40, New Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I prefer stopping to get gas at a travel plaza. I do not feel safe stopping at a small gas station when I am by myself. The travel plaza has a lot of people traffic, but not all of these individuals can be trusted.

For many years, I used to stop at a travel plaza outside Albuquerque. I stopped on the way to California and I stopped on the way back from California. Every time I was there I saw a woman who approached me and said she had run low on fuel and did not have enough money to purchase any gas. I told her I did not carry any cash. I saw that woman at least eight times over the years! She must have been making a lot of money from travelers.

Travel plazas are perfect places for scams because most of the people are travelers stopping for just one time. My rule of thumb is I do not interact with any of the people at the plaza. If anyone wants cash, I look surprised and say, "Do people still carry cash?" Some people want to hitch a ride. I can honestly tell them I have room for only me in my car. The rest of the vehicle is packed solid. I try to not make eye contact with anyone. To further make sure no one would want to talk to me, I do not wear makeup and do not put forth any effort on the hair. I dress in old jeans and a t-shirt or a sweatshirt. I do not carry a purse or have one visible in the car. If anything, those who see me when I travel would consider giving me money!! When I travel, I am always on my guard.

Friday, August 14, 2015

On the Road: Hand Sanitizers

Millions of people travel our nation's interstates. Some of these people may not be feeling well and they touch gas pumps, door handles, faucet handles and many other surfaces leaving a trail of germs behind them. Travelers cannot wash their hands after touching each object in a travel plaza, but they can take another step of protection.

The companies who manufacture hand sanitizers have made travel sizes that help fight against germs. In particular Purell has Jelly Wrap Carriers that can attach to children's backpacks. Recently, I purchased a set of three of these so I can put one in the front seat of the car. I do carry hand sanitizer in the glove compartment, but since it is out of sight I do not remember I have it. Hand sanitizers wipes are also available.

I am so good about washing my hands when I travel. That leads to another problem. I leave the restroom and go outside where it is cold. I go back into the warm car. I seldom wear gloves, so my hands start to get red. If I do not do treat them, I will have cracked skin. I carry hand lotion with me so I can avoid this problem.

Travelers may be healthy in their own environment. When they travel, they are exposed to germs from different sections of the country. Keeping one's hands clean is one way to stay healthy.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

On the Road: Keep up with the News

Wildfire in Santa Clarita, California in Octob...
Wildfire in Santa Clarita, California in October 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I used to be such a news junkie, but I am not anymore. I guess I just got tired of the 24-hour news cycle. The most I will do is glance at the headlines on news sites. Since I do not have cable, the internet is my only source of information.

When I travel, I catch up on current events in two ways. Each night in the hotel I make sure to read or watch the news. The other way is to check the televisions in the travel plaza while I am on the road. Usually people come inside the travel plaza to pay for their gas, go to the restroom or to purchase food. These activities do not take much time. When I notice a group of travelers in front of one of the television sets, I know something unusual is happening. I make sure I join the group to see if the news affects my travel plans. In most cases the news involves the weather.

Last month two pieces of news affected travelers in Southern California. One item was the Cajon Pass fire. Interstate 15 was shut down because a wildfire had jumped the interstate and burned twenty vehicles. For those driving to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, this created a traffic nightmare. Two days later heavy rains took out a section of Interstate 10. Once again traffic was halted. Vehicles had a lengthy detour to exit the area. This information would have been available on the televisions in travel plazas. A quick check could have helped drivers avoid huge traffic delays.

One of the most reliable ways for me to keep informed is to have a person at home who knows the route I am taking. That person can be on the alert for any news situation that could affect my travel and can also be available to assist me in formulating a Plan B to deal with the dilemma.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

On the Road: Hot, Hot, Hot

Mojave Desert, 2011
Mojave Desert, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This has been a rainy summer. The weather has been such that many in our area have felt they have been experiencing a prolonged spring. That changed this week and we are enjoying temperatures in the high 80's and low 90's. Finally!! This type of weather brings with it the chance of dehydration and heat stroke. These conditions can sneak up on an individual and it becomes a concern to those who travel alone.

People in my neighborhood are surprised when I tell them I frequently suffer from dehydration and heat exhaustion. They know if I turn on my air conditioning for two days a summer, that is a lot for me. I seldom feel the need to do so. Even when the inside temp is 84, the house feels cool to me. If the temp is in the 90's, my neighbor will tell me if I do not turn on the AC, he will do it for me. When I mow the lawn on a hot day, someone will come out with water for me or to alert me my face is really red. They caution me to be careful. While on the road, I do not have anyone to notice if I am slipping to a problem.

When I travel, I try my best to stay hydrated. Sometimes I get involved in an activity and do not notice the signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion. When I fail to prevent these conditions, I have with me EmergenC to put in a drink. Since it is in a foil pouch, I am able to keep it in the glove compartment in case I need it. That helps me deal with my dehydration better than anything else. When I am hiking, I will take some tea and some water with me. I drink the water first while it is still cold. Later when the contents of the bottle I am carrying get hot, I find it easier to drink tea than to drink hot water. Also I take along EmergenC to put in the tea. In addition, before I hike, I make sure I eat something. I am more prone to heat exhaustion if I do an activity on an empty stomach. That includes enjoying boating or swimming! When I know I am overheated, I get a drink and I find some water and put it on my wrists. For me, putting my wrists in cold water cools me off immediately.

Hot weather also affects items in the car whether someone is traveling or is just running errands at home. In particular, I take care to make sure I drive with only one or two cds in the car. I make a copy of the original cd and take the copy in the car. If the cd gets ruined by the heat, I will just make another copy of the original, which is stored in the house. If I am shopping and need to purchase an item that could be adversely affected by the heat, I buy it just before I head home in an air conditioned car. These may seem like common sense issues to state, but keep in mind that some people still leave their children or pets in hot cars. Sometimes common sense things need to be discussed as often as possible.

High temperatures are create problems for travelers or for anyone. Heat can wreck vacationers' health and property. Respecting the power of heat is important.

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