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May 29, 2012

Traveling the Great Route 66 Will Cost Plenty of Gas

Cal_hp_adAs my solo tour across country made its way into the heartland of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and into New Mexico, I quickly learned something about the route I had chosen for the trip. While it was quite nostalgic and interesting to ride this famous Route 66 (now called Interstate 40), what I didn't know was how windy the high plains could be. Nor did I realize that starting in Texas, there begins a slow but steady climb in elevation all the way to Flagstaff, Arizona, up to 7300 feet. I would have to say that this was probably the only error in judgement I made in the months of pre-planning and here's why... so you know not to make the same mistake.

First, the good news. It would have been far worse had I taken Interstate 70 across country into the Rockies as they are huge mountains with steep inclines, which would have been unbearable to drive with a loaded truck of furniture. Sure, cars passed by as if it were nothing but trucks do not respond as well to steep inclines as do cars. And it's not just my truck, it's all trucks. But let's get back to Interstate 40. The incline heading west on the 40 is miles and miles long, steady and slow, which seemed never ending. For a fully loaded truck, inclines use much more gas meaning you have to make more gas stops and spend more money. And, it exposes you more often outside the cabin of the truck adding the element of risk to your personal safety when traveling alone. It also leaves fewer choices in finding the best prices on gas as stations are far and few between along the 40 so filling up is absolutely necessary each time even if it means filling up at a high-cost station. In the small town of Needles, CA, near empty (both the truck and the town), the only gas station in town offered regular for $5.00 per gallon. There were no other choices so these are some of the traps you fall into that are to be expected.

Gas prices do fluctuate throughout the country so for the first half of the trip the truck did remarkably well on gas 'for a V10 engine' with thousands of pounds of furniture. I had budgeted about $1200 for fuel but did so unaware of the inclines and high crosswinds for the next thousand miles. Gas began to sift through then engine like water... sucking it down to make it up the inclines and fight the wind. And it got progressively worse the further west I headed. I asked a few natives along the way about the high winds thinking it was an anomaly but was quickly told that high winds are an everyday occurrence at this time of year in all the states I passed through. In my last hotel, the Hilton Gardens, a young woman in a baseball cap was delivering a pizza to a guest room. I asked her about the winds and how a woman keeps her hair in place if going somewhere special. Her reply, "you don't!"

What I found amusing when the headwinds began in Oklahoma was that there were no warning signs on the freeway to expect them. So I forged on but then when I hit New Mexico, there were signs everywhere that said severe crosswinds, which seemed too little too late. By then, I was in the thick of it with no turning back. It took two hands on the wheel to hold the truck steady against the buffeting winds, avoiding the swerve of passing 18-wheelers that were clearly fighting the wind as well. Cars seemed to fare a little better but those on motorcycles were in the fight for their life.

Signs began to show up that said if you see someone driving drunk, call this number... how funny I thought, how could you tell? The winds were so severe that everyone on the freeway looked as if they were driving under the influence with all swerving in unison as if to the rhythm of a slow dance. How much worse could it get, I wondered? It has to end sometime. It did not. It got worse in each state I passed through. In Oklahoma, the winds were head on at 30MPH, then by Arizona they hit 40MPH slapping the front of the truck with such force that the truck was pushed to the shoulder at times. It wasn't until I crossed into California that the winds and gusts were 50MPH... like driving in a bad storm with the sun raining down. From my hotel room, the howling wind sounded like a hurricane, but this is how it is here everyday.

The gas stops became more frequent and the gas prices higher as I approached the western states. My $1200 fuel budget quickly escalated to $1600. This is one of those lessons learned, to expect the unexpected. Be prepared for anything and everything.

One of the things that helped give me peace of mind was U-Haul's Green Gas Gauge that shows bars (like your cell phone) on when you're getting the best mileage. Unfortunately, driving uphill and in head on high winds showed the low bars, sometimes no bars, but when the inclines finally turned to declines, all 5 green bars showed up and often.

My goal was to provide you with an idea of the MPG the U-Haul Truck received overall but it wouldn't be a fair assessment due to the different weather and road challenges each day causing a significant variation in miles per gallon. So instead, next week, I'll provide a day by day MPG chart to demonstrate what a difference a day makes... due to weather and road conditions, inclines and declines, and all sorts of other unexpected surprises that can change your gas consumption from day to day.

U-Haul Fuel economy.Fuel economy gauge

U-Haul rental trucks have a low profile, rounded corners and advanced chassis skirts to reduce wind drag and raise fuel economy 20%.

All U-Haul rental trucks use cheaper, cleaner and more convenient unleaded fuel.

Use the fuel-economy gauge to save money on fuel and reduce air pollution.

Our sponosrs U-Haul and Bridgestone Tires are committed to going green. U-Haul trucks offer a much lower center of gravity and sleeker design that its competitors, which makes their trucks more aerodynamic in the wind. After crossing the country, it was clear that most moving consumers knew this as there were more U-Hauls on the road than any other brand. The others, Budget and Penske, are built much taller with flat box-like trailers that likely fared much worse in the wind than we did so inspite of the high winds, I was thrilled to be in my U-Haul and not in a competitor truck.

Bridgestone has also made an environmental commitment with the development of their tires as well as their One Team One Planet program. It is an honor to work with companies that are not only female-friendly but care about our planet and are taking action to make a difference. 

To read more about our story across country and one of the greatest young women in history, Sacajawea, who we honor with this trip, please click here.  

 

 

May 23, 2012

Driving Solo: First Weekend of Road Trip to LA

U-Haul - A better way to moveThe stars must have been aligned the first weekend of our "Women Traveling Alone" Safety Tour as every tree that lined the freeways was in full bloom with rich and radiant hues of green abundant against a pure blue sky. Norman Rockwell couldn't have painted a much more scenic backdrop himself.

Making it from Rhode Island via Canada to Detroit in my 17' U-Haul Truck (@Uhaul on Twitter and @UHaulCompany) over the weekend, which was loaded to the gills, took 2 days allowing only 300 miles on day one and 400 miles on day two. For some reason, the truck didn't like either Canada or Sonoco gas as it gave a few hiccups and burps throughout the country. Fortunately, it got over its little cold the next day. Not sure what that was all about but delighted it ended. Lessons learned, the earlier you start your road trip, the better all around. And here are a few reasons why.

1. If you are going through Canada or Mexico, make sure you have an up-to-date valid license and passport. Nowadays, you can get just a passport card instead of a full passport for crossing these borders however you cannot fly with a card. You must have a full passport to fly. The passport card looks just like a license only with different info on it. Allow at least 8 weeks before your trip to apply, which you can do online. If you're driving a moving truck, RV, big van or anything of the like, be prepared to be pulled over for an inspection if the border agents feel there's anything suspicious going on with you or your vehicle. I thought for sure driving a big moving van they'd pull me over, especially after 911, but they didn't entering Canada or the USA but I did see them pull over a few ahead of me. So, make sure your dirty laundry is not the first thing they see should they open the back of your truck.  

2. As a woman driving alone, you want to drive during daylight hours, allowing for unexpected stops or delays. While traffic was unusally clear over the weekend, it took some time to get used to handling the loaded U-Haul and how even the slightest breeze affected the steering of such a high profile vehicle. The difference between driving an empty truck home from the U-Haul lot to driving a truck fully loaded with thousands of pounds of furniture is considerably different. It definitely required 2 hands on the wheel at all times.

3. There a hundreds of 18-wheelers on the freeway and while most are professionally trained drivers, and you are not, it can be daunting to have so many pass at high speeds causing wind gusts in their wake, which can make your moving truck a little swirly, so plenty to get used to which takes a little time but after awhile you get your groove on and get in the zone and learn the ways of the road.

4. When you leave early, you also leave plenty of time for gas stops or traffic delays, without getting your knickers in a knot about arriving late or after dark. At the end of each day, assuming it's still light out, I like to fill up with gas to quicken the morning start. I use the evenings and mornings in my room to reorganize notes, call ahead to the next hotel to confirm ETA, and prepare my food for the next day's drive so there's no fiddling around inside the cabin of the truck trying to find something to eat. All that I need is within eye and arm reach, allowing for a safe drive and less stop time. Less stop time means less time outside the cabin of the truck and more miles on the road.

So far, so good, however I do have to say how surprising I find it to see so many young women at some of these roadside travel service areas barely dressed, taking photos of each other, posing and giggling, just having harmless fun, yet from where I sit in the high profile U-Haul as I pull in, I also see men sitting in their cars, backed into a remote shaded spot, watching, staring, glaring... and the young women haven't a clue. One guy in an old Pontiac Firebird saw me pull up as he watched two girls taking photos of each other and for whatever reason, drove away in a hurry when I pointed at him. That's all it took. Whether he felt busted or was just on his way out we'll never know but his departure was unusual and behavior suspicious.

The goal of this journey is to help educate women of all ages, pay attention to your surroundings! There's always someone watching!

Bridgestone TiresOur sincere thanks to Bridgestone Tire and U-Haul for sponsoring (@Uhaul on Twitter and @UHaulCompany) this 'Women Driving Solo" safety tour. Through their support, we're able to help educate more women about personal safety on the road.

To read our opening story on this journey, 'Women Traveling Alone' please visit us at Road & Travel Magazine, and read about the journey of Sacajawea, the young Indian woman (teen) who helped lead the 1804 Lewis & Clark Expedition to a safe conclusion. 

Be sure to check back tomorrow for more tips of how to stay safe and sane on the road. I'll also share gas saving tips and how to better your MPG... leaving a lighter footprint.

May 17, 2012

Traveling Alone - What Women Need to Know!

Women Traveling Alone - Focusing on Your Personal Safety

Sponsored by U-Haul & Bridgestone Tires

by Courtney Caldwell

Driving around town is an everyday occurrence for most of us. Errands, going to and from work, picking up kids at school or soccer, grocery shopping, visiting family and friends, a girls’ night out… you know your area like the back of your hand.

But, what about driving into territory beyond your borders? Do you have a fear of driving outside your comfort zone? Do you worry about getting lost or even worse, followed?

The number one reason women stick close to home is fear of the unknown, what to do, what not to do, how to keep yourself safe on the road in unknown territory, never ming where to begin in the planning process of a big road trip. Whether you’re planning an across-country or across-town move, the very first place to begin your journey is with your homework and advanced planning.

I’m about to embark on a 3200-mile cross-country journey, driving a 17' U-Haul truck, and yes, all by myself. When I tell people of the road trip, they look at me dazed and confused, and then after a short pause ask, ‘you’re driving alone?’ That one question in itself speaks volumes to how much education is needed for women, and many men, on how to plan a road trip with fun, not fear.

Doing your homework and pre-planning are essential in making your journey safe and sane… whether across town or across country. It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80, as long as you carefully plan out every detail of your trip's route, hotel stays, gas stops, navigation, and every detail of your trip, you'll arrive at your destination safely.

U-Haul Moving TrucksIt is such an honor to have U-Haul as our ‘Women Traveling Alone’ road trip safety sponsor for a variety of reasons one of which is their connection and support to a young Shoshone Indian girl named Sacajawea, who served as an interpreter and guide on the famed Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1804. Her heroism in numerous life-saving contributions helped lead their two-year journey to a safe and successful conclusion.

Sacajawea, just a young teen at the time, not only provided guidance for hundreds of miles through the tough terrain of the northwest Rockies, then known as the Louisiana Purchase territory, she also demonstrated extraordinary courage and strength during numerous life-threatening events, often emerging as the hero who saving lives and supplies from devastating weather, potential enemy threats, and from capsized canoes. Sacajawea became known as the first woman to be included in a democratic vote on the all-male crew, sharing her knowledge and experience as to which route to take for most access to hunting for food and safe shelter in the wild.

In honor of Sacajawea, U-Haul has painted her mural on both sides of our moving truck to celebrate her accomplishments and help shed light on her exceptional contributions to the beginning of what shaped the U.S. today. Her story is one of bravery and the true meaning of persistence.

Her contributions were chronicled by Lewis & Clark in their personal diaries naming Sacajawea as the only person on the expedition who never complained or panicked when confronted with dangerous or devastating circumstances. Level-headed and fierce, she faced each event as it came, contributing significantly to a successful and safe outcome.

Sacajawea was married to a Frenchman twice her age, who had traded her for goods and supplies with a tribe who had kidnapped her at 12 (away from her Shoshone family and friends). While little is known about her husband’s contributions to the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Sacajawea’s accomplishments earned her a place in American history. Add to that, her journey included a pregnancy, childbirth in the wild, and then carrying her infant on her back during the expedition. The baby boy nicknamed Pompey, spent the first two years of his life living right along side his brave mother.

Sacajawea’s story is one of true courage and inspiration. It is with great pride that I have the opportunity to share her story as I traverse the U.S. in my 17’ U-Haul truck with her mural painted on each side, sharing her tale with everyone I meet along the way.

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2011 International Car and Truck of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel MagazineWe'd also like to extend our deepest thanks and gratitude to long-time partner and sponsor, Bridgestone Tires, for their support of tire safety and helping people understand how to choose the right tires for their vehicle. As one of the leading tire companies in the world, Bridgestone is committed to not only helping women stay safe on the road but also to keeping our environment clean with their One Team One Planet message. Bridgestone Americas is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home. This commitment includes efforts such as developing tires with improved fuel economy, manufacturing products and providing services in an environmentally responsible way, and establishing wildlife habitat and education programs. For full story, click here.

 

March 30, 2012

Truth About Nude Vacationing

Do You Dare to go Bare

Discover the Truths About Nude Vacationing

Vacationing at nudist resorts is the one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. It is a booming niche market with over $400 million in annual revenues. A recent Roper poll showed 25 percent of American adults have gone skinny dipping. If nude recreations interests you, but you’re a little unsure of it read these seven myths that may just lead you to making your next vacation as bare as you dare.

Those high walls and locked gates seem just so imposing. Everyone knows there are nudist colonies in America. Yet, everyone also wants to know, "what really happens inside the walls of a modern nudist resort?"

Swimming Nude

To dispel some of the myths about nude recreation, Tom and Mary Clare Mulhall, the owners of The Terra Cotta Inn Clothing Optional Resort and Spa located in sunny Palm Springs, California share some of the secrets about nude resorts. The Terra Cotta Inn Clothing Optional Resort, was reported by AOL.com to be one of the top 10 "world's best clothing optional resorts." More importantly, The Terra Cotta Inn is considered one of the most mainstream nudist resorts in America and perfect for couples trying nude sunbathing for the first time.

Once you learn about the top seven myths about vacationing at nudist resorts, you will want to pack the sunscreen, some good books or magazines, your iPod, sunglasses, and if you have kids at home, pack them off with the grandparents. Because it will be time to experience your most fun, romantic, relaxing vacation ever.

Myth #1 All nudist resorts are the same
As experienced naturists know, all clothing optional resorts are unique and different. They have their own personality and character. Most cater to families and their kids. Many are charmingly rustic campgrounds and parks. Others like Terra Cotta, which appeal to first timers, are not for kids. That way you can have a nice relaxing, pampering, romantic vacation. It is very important for your first nude sunbathing experience to find the nudist resort that is right for you. If you go to the wrong place, you will probably never try nude recreation again. [Full story]

 

March 19, 2012

The Azamara Quest Cruise Ship Review

Azamara Quest Cruise Ship Review by Ben Lyons

By Ben Lyons

As the cruise industry has exploded over the last twenty years, so, too, has the size of an average cruise ship. What was considered a megaship a little more than a decade ago has now become a medium sized ship, with 70,000 ton floating hotels now the norm rather than exception. This dramatic growth has brought about numerous changes to the cruise experience, and for many, the newer, supposedly better ships seem to be nothing more than flashy floating resorts.
 
Happily, there are a few companies that have bucked the trend of the bigger is better rule. At 30,000 tons and carrying only 694 passengers, the Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey of Azamara Club Cruises blend the amenities and positives of a big ship experience, including multiple dining venues, numerous balcony cabins and a spa, with some of the spirit and personalized service found on smaller ships. There aren’t long, bustling lines at the buffet or the gangway, and forget an incessant string of announcements exhorting you to the belly flop contest by the pool. Instead, Azamara focuses on destination rich itineraries to many ports larger ships haven’t yet found or can’t reach. Straddling the line between luxury and mainstream companies, they also offer one of the best deals in the cruise industry. [Read full story]

 

December 01, 2011

Leasing or Buying a Motorcycle: Which is Right for You?

Leasing or Buying a Motorcycle: Which is Right for You?

If you’re in the market for a new motorcycle, deciding how to pay for it can be difficult. It’s important to consider your goals and lifestyle before leasing or buying a motorcycle.

Buying a motorcycle
If you plan to keep your bike for several years and would like to customize it, then buying may be the right option for you.

Advantages of buying a motorcycle

  • Full ownership – After paying off your motorcycle loan, you’ll no longer be responsible for monthly payments - just gas, insurance, license and registration fees, and repair and maintenance costs. Since the bike is yours, you can customize it or resell it as you wish.

  • No mileage fees – There will be no limit on the amount of miles traveled per year. That means more road trips with your new bike.

Disadvantages of buying a motorcycle

  • Higher upfront cost –You’ll be responsible for a down payment, license, registration and dealership fees, and taxes.

  • Higher monthly payments - When buying a motorcycle, you’re paying for the entire cost of the bike, which means higher payments per month.

  • Post-warranty repairs – Since most buyers keep their bike past its warranty expiration, you’ll have to pay for future repairs out-of-pocket. Find all tips here.

 

October 06, 2011

Find Fall Foliage in Lincoln's Boyhood Home of Indiana

Abe Lincoln's Boyhood Home in Indiana, USA

by Carol Troesch, Spencer County Visitors Bureau


Southern Indiana is known for its rolling hills, endless outdoor recreation, and great family fun, but did you know that it’s also the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln? Because of the area’s mild autumn days and cool evenings, it also produces some of the most striking and vibrant autumn colors, which makes it a great fall destination!

The fall foliage season, when the changing palette of deciduous trees is full of blazing color, is a terrific time to visit places that can offer not only an amazing views, but also allow you to enjoy some relaxing family activities.

Lincoln State Park in Lincoln City, Indiana

Here, you can enjoy the rich colors of fall as you visit the fertile ground of Lincoln’s childhood home at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City. The memorial is located on the site where Lincoln lived with his family from age 7 to 21. The Visitor Center features two Memorial Halls, a museum with a variety of exhibits, and an orientation film. From the Memorial Center, it is a short walk up the Lincoln Boyhood Trail to the gravesite of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died of milk sickness in 1818. FULL STORY

September 26, 2011

Take Time for Yourself with a Dude - At a Dude Ranch

Best Guest Ranch Vacations for Women

A Directory to the Finest Dude Ranches for Women by Patti Schmidt

The Homestead Ranch
Matfield Green, Kansas
Prairie Women Adventures and Retreat
[read our story about The Homestead Ranch]

The Homestead Ranch is a 4,000-acre working cattle ranch in the Kansas Flint Hills. Wildlife is abundant and Native American arrowheads and tools still crop up in pastures and creekbeds after spring rains. Owner Jane Koger, a fourth-generation rancher, and her mostly women ranch crews have been handling things for 20 years. William Least Heat Moon wrote about Jane and the others in Chase County in his book PrairyErth, the American Library Association's Best Work of Nonfiction for 1991. The county is the geographical center of the U.S.

Programs: Prairie Women Adventures and Retreat offers several programs: two three-day Prairie Ecology programs, which focus on the ecology and use of native prairie plants and four horseback riding programs, for those who want "just a little more time with the horses"; one branding vacation, where guests will help inoculate, brand, and band (turn bull calves into steers) them; and one pasture-burning program each spring. Program manager Ginifer Maceau stressed that this ranch does things "the preferred Humane Society way; for example, we freeze brand rather than hot-iron brand." She believes women are a lot more comfortable with that.

Amenities: Guests reside in a modern bunkhouse: up to two in the one private bedroom; the other 10 guests sleep dormitory style in the bunkhouse, which is heated, air-conditioned, and includes a hot tub on the deck. All meals are provided; the afternoon I spoke with Maceau, they were having teriyaki beef kabobs, rice pilaf, salad, fresh bread and lemonade pie with strawberries.

For more information: contact Prairie Women Adventures and Retreat / The Homestead Ranch Guest Programs at (620) 753-3416.
Website: http://www.guestranches.com/homestead
Email: ginifer@wheatstate.com

Wilderness Trails Dude Ranch
Durango, Colo.
Women's Week

The San Juan Mountains and the Los Pinos Valley lend this 160-acre ranch beauty; it also shares a fence line with the Piedra Wilderness Study Area. The Roberts family-Gene, Jan, Randy, Lance, and Erika, who have owned it since 1970- are responsible for its designation in Gene Kilgore 's Ranch Vacations as "one of the finest ranch vacation experiences in the country." At times of the year other than Women's Week, especially in summer, families provide this ranch about 95 percent of its often repeat customers.

FULL ARTICLE

September 15, 2011

Free Pocket Ranger App Powered by ParksByNature Network

Pocket Ranger App Powered by ParksbyNature Network


Have you thought about visiting a State Park? These parks are often within 50 miles from home, making it easy for visitors to come and go as they please.

ParksByNature Network is working with the Government to Save the Parks by marrying today’s technology that is often used to navigate through our days by bringing The Sanctioned and Approved Mobile Tour Guide to enhance your visit.

Pocket Ranger™ apps are offered in a “FREE” and “purchasable” Pro-Enhanced version formatted for Apple and Android devices.

These tour guides also translate into a universal mobile website for each participating state park system, making Pocket Ranger extremely accessible for everyone to use. With its innovative features, Pocket Ranger™ enhances a visitor’s experience before, during, and after an outing to a state park.  These guides deliver to users hundreds of maps, real-time location-based weather conditions, park overview, park history, calendar of events, reservations, photo sharing and social networking capability through today’s popular sites.

Did you ever lose child in a park? Well, the Friend/Family Finder feature can help reduce this problem. Users can sync their devices to locate and keep track of one another. Full story

August 23, 2011

Tips for Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Enjoying & Preparing for Great Outdoors

How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors with the Right Preparations

by John Ricci
Founder & Chief Adventurer, Wandrian Adventures

Now that it’s summer time in North America and people have time off and children are out of school, it’s time to hit the great outdoors. The great outdoors can give you most of the comforts of home (Usually not a microwave or a DVR, but everything else is possible) and with some proper planning and a can do attitude; you will be at home in the wilderness and sharing stories around the fire. Here are a few tips everyone should consider as they plan their own Great Outdoors experience.

I live by the Mantra of Know before you go….Know that you can be comfortable in the outdoors with the right preparations…. … Know the rules, know the weather, Know what you have access to (water, provisions, firewood, bathrooms etc.) All of the above are crucial to your comfort as well as safety and will allow you greater enjoyment.

Whenever possible, carry out whatever you carry in and leave only footprints and take only pictures. We are lucky to have National Parks like The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Baxter State Park and others to enjoy. The more we take care of them and tread lightly, the better chance others will have that same experience in the future.

Lastly, be prepared for the unexpected – weather, accidents etc. know that accidents can occur and know that you are prepared to handle them if you came with a plan.  There are several other things you should account for depending on where you are going and for how long, but the above covers all adventures, everywhere. Full Story