road trips

Today is Blog Action Day.  Bloggers around the world are contributing their ideas on this year’s theme, the environment.

Since this is a road trip blog, I offer these ideas for making your next journey more environmentally friendly.  And, if you already do some or all of these things, I thank you.

Take a Short Trip

Choose a destination that isn’t too far away, or that doesn’t involve much driving around once you’re there.  Try to minimize the time you spend in the car.  That way, you’ll have more time to enjoy your destination and you’ll reduce your emissions at the same time.

Pick Up Your Trash

Every single piece.  I’m sure you’ve been to as many trashed-up parks and rest stops as I have.  It’s frustrating to see how many people don’t care whether their used tissues hit the trash bin or the grass.  Don’t add to the mess, please.

Slow Down

High-speed driving wastes gas and doesn’t save much time.  Besides, it’s hard to appreciate the roadside scenery when it’s just a blur.  Let up a bit on the gas pedal and make the journey part of your travel adventure.

Combine Stops

Make your “pit stop” your “everything stop.”  Stretch your legs, walk the dog, wash your hands, check your map.  Don’t waste time and gas driving on and off the freeway every half hour.

Pack a Picnic

At your “everything stop,” enjoy a homemade lunch, and save the gas you’d have spent driving around looking for McFood.  You’ll save money, too.

Bring Your Bikes

If weather conditions permit, add a bicycling day or afternoon to your itinerary.  Bicycling is a great way to stay fit, get around and see the local sights.  Best of all, bicycling is cost-free and emission-free.

Thanks again for reading, recycling and reducing your impact on the environment.


So, how often do you wake up and tell yourself, “I just have to be in (insert location)!”?  After I returned home from my exchange semester in Ireland, back in high school, I just ached to be back in the green hills outside of Dublin.  That longing doesn’t  go away.  You shove it down, stuff a bunch of daily responsibilities on top of it, and get on with things.

Our next outing will probably be to the Maryland Renaissance Festival…an outing we’ve loved for nearly 15 years.  (Time to dust off the garb…)  After that, we’ll see.

Last year at this time, we were planning a trip to Germany.  Although things were kind of tentative (we flew space-available with Air Mobility Command), we had a plan and we were, in fact, able to fulfill nearly all of it.  I love visiting Europe because I can literally feel the stress fall off my shoulders and slide to…wherever.  I can stand tall, take my best shot at the local language and poke around museums, castles and cathedrals to my heart’s content.

We’ve had record-breaking heat here Between the Beltways lately.  October and “92 degrees” just don’t belong in the same sentence.  I really feel for our local farmers, who are suffering through this drought and wondering how long it will last.  Please spare a prayer or positive thought for our drought-stricken farmers across the continent…it’s going to be a hard year for many people.

We just returned from a trip to the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Delaware.  While the drive was fairly long (almost two hours), the museum was interesting.  They have several airplanes inside a 1944 hangar, and they have static display aircraft outside.  I counted at least five volunteers inside the museum.  They were very helpful and friendly.  The kids tried out the museum’s flight simulator and did pretty well – no one crashed and burned, whew!

After my son took several dozen photos, we did some shopping on base and tried to figure out where things were in relation to the front gate and flight line.  I worried a bit about traffic on our homeward journey, but things went well.  It’s nice to see that fall’s finally arriving; leaves are beginning to turn and farmers on the Eastern Shore have set up pumpkin stands.  Bread-baking season isn’t too far away.

It’s almost time for fall foliage in Monterey, Va.

This weekend’s road trip got me thinking about how fortunate I am to travel as much as I have.  Many people save for years to get to just one of the amazing destinations I’ve visited.  There’s nothing like that “wow” feeling you get when you see, say, the Grand Canyon for the first time.

There’s a tradeoff, of course.  I have to move every two years or so, whether I want to or not, because of the demands of my husband’s job.  This brings us to new places, and I truly enjoy exploring them, but it also means I sometimes forget which kitchen I’m standing in.  I’ve moved 10 times in 22 years.

Fortunately, I like new places and make a big effort to get out and experience the best of any place I live.  At our very first duty station, in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy, I met people who literally never left the base.  Ugh.  That’s so not me, but you’ve probably figured that out by now.

Here’s some info on two small but significant science museums I’ve visited, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the College Park Aviation Museum.

This weekend, I went to Almost Heaven (West Virginia) and had a truly wonderful musical experience.  Friday night, we went to a free SHeDAISY concert in Sugar Grove, W. Va., at our previous duty station.  Wow!  I am not usually a country music fan, but the SHeDAISY ladies are first-class performers and people.  They braved the mountain roads in their souped-up tour bus, posed for photos with the VIP’s and award-winning sailors, and delivered an incredible performance.  They sing beautifully, and their music touches the heart.  I’m sure Pendleton County will be talking about this event for years.

Last night, we drove down Route 33 to Bridgewater, Va. and listened to our favorite Shenandoah Valley Irish pub band, Scruffy Murphy.  Paul, Sarah, Mahlon and LB put on a great show, introducing several new songs and bringing guest blues harmonica guru, Dave, onstage for an awesome mini-set. 

If I’m on the road and listening to great music, I’m blissfully happy.  This weekend was brilliant.

If you’re on the road in southern Maryland, check out the Calvert Marine Museum.

I’ve been thinking in Navy-speak all weekend; we had a couple of social events to attend and I worked on my new travel Hub about Baltimore’s USS Constellation.  While I was racing from event to event, fall arrived.  I dragged out my old Ravens sweatshirt (grungy; time for a new one) and shivered while I wrote.

Fall is a great time for road trips, even before the leaves turn colorful.  The sunshine sparkles, but you don’t get too hot.  The sky seems bluer than at any other time of year.  It’s a great season for food, too – baked dishes and warm desserts finally taste good again.

A couple of years ago, I drove from Sugar Grove, W. Va., to Elkins, W. Va. on a shopping errand.  It was October, and I needed costume fabric.  I know many people say Vermont has the best fall colors in the U. S., but on that day, Pendleton and Randolph Counties gave those Vermonters a run for their money.  I have never seen such glorious leaves.  It was raining, and the dark tree trunks really stood out against the bronze-orange-gold-red of the leaves.  Each curve of the road revealed new shades of fall.

I think it’s time to plan another West Virginia road trip.

Yesterday we traveled to St. Mary’s City, Maryland.  The journey took us down Routes, 3, 4 and 5 (I am not making this up), through some lovely countryside.  I love crossing the bridge at Solomons Island and looking down at the sparkling Patuxent River.  For once I wasn’t driving, so I had plenty of time to look around at county fair signs, little shops and front yards.

St. Mary’s City boasts a college and a historic area.  I’ll write about the historic area later, for a travel Hub.  I really liked the college; we ate lunch at the student center and walked around the campus a bit.  It’s lovely; we saw attractive brick buildings, colorful flowers and, best of all, students who really looked happy to be there.  My daughter declared it to be her “backup college” – she hasn’t picked a first-choice school, but we have a few years.  She’s 9.

We all enjoyed our day at Historic St. Mary’s City.  My son’s favorite part was (surprise!) the “gun show”; my daughter really liked the tobacco plantation, probably because farm animals live there.  I tried hard to take pictures of the pipefish and sea nettles (jellies) in the river, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with pictures of sparkly water instead.  The river water is so brackish that they usually have tons of sea nettles around the replica ship, Dove, I was told.

On the way home we traveled on Routes 5, 4 and 2, through gorgeously green horse country.  Sigh.

Read about our visit at my latest travel Hub.

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