Delaware Town Gives Beach Vacations To Wounded Vets

Bethany Beach week for military families
Flickr, Patrick Nouhailler

If you want to see the transformative power of travel, read this Washington Post story about the military families who’ve enjoyed this Labor Day week on the beach. The town of Bethany Beach, Delaware, not far from Washington D.C., coordinated with local homeowners to open their beach houses and small businesses to donate goods and services for 25 wounded military families. Each “VIF” (Very Important Family) has been treated to free meals and groceries, golf games, spa treatments and even family portraits.

For soldiers suffering from war injuries both visible and unseen like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, a stress- and cost-free vacation can provide a great deal of comfort. This is the first year of Operation Seas the Day, and 70 families applied for the program, with more than 50 homeowners offering their homes to the veterans, but the town agreed to keep it small for the inaugural year of the program.

The military families will head home on Sunday, so if you are in the area this weekend, be sure to offer your thanks for their service. If you’d like to donate or volunteer for next year, sign up for news at OperationSeasTheDay.org

AAA Says Labor Day Weekend Travel Will Be Highest In Five Years

AAA
Eric Polk

A report by the American Automobile Association shows a bright spot in the nation’s economic news.

The AAA predicts that 34.1 million people are planning to take a trip of more than 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, up from 32.7 million last year and the highest in five years.

The rise is due to increased consumer confidence, with one poll saying it’s at a six-year high. A slight dip in fuel prices may also be a contributing factor.

The AAA says the average trip will cover 594 miles and travelers will spend $804.

Are you planning on going anywhere this Labor Day weekend? Are you feeling more or less confident about the economy and is this affecting your travel plans? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Photo Of The Day: Melting Landscape

Photo of the day - Croatia melting landscape

Today’s Photo of the Day may look like a painting, but according to Flickr user GogoTheGogo, the effect came from the heat of the boat rather than a post-processing effect. The melting landscape from the Croatian island of Cres is a fitting embodiment of the hazy dog days of summer, which will reach its end for many of us this weekend with the arrival of Labor Day. We may miss the long days and the beach trips, but the humidity and stickiness will be gladly traded for crisp fall days and comfy sleeping weather.

Post your coolest natural effects in the Gadling Flickr pool for another Photo of the Day and enjoy your last weekend of summer.

Highway Hypnosis And How To Avoid It

hypnosisI’ve logged about 4,000 road miles (all solo) in the last few weeks, most of it in stunningly monotonous landscape. Fortunately, I’ve never fallen asleep at the wheel, but I’ve definitely had to pull over for a power nap on a number of occasions in the past.

What I tend to get is “highway hypnosis,” also known as driving without attention mode (DWAM), or “white line fever (I always thought that was a reference to a different kind of white line, but what do I know?).”

Highway hypnosis is a trance-like mental state brought on by the monotony of the road. In other words, you’re zoning out, and while one part of your brain is still able to operate your car, the other half is in la la land. If you’ve ever driven a stretch of highway and have no memory of it, you’ve had white line fever, baby. The important thing to take away from this is that it’s nearly as dangerous as nodding off at the wheel.

A 2009 survey conducted by the CDC cited that nearly five percent of adults had fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days. Those are some scary statistics, as are those from a 2007 National Sleep Foundation poll that stated more than one-half of American drivers (at the time, over 100 million people) had driven while drowsy.

Thousands of people die every year due to drowsy-driving and highway hypnosis-related crashes. Some experts claim falling asleep at the wheel is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, because you have zero reaction time. With highway hypnosis, your reaction time is so compromised, you may as well be asleep.

With Labor Day weekend looming, I thought I’d provide some tips on how to avoid highway hypnosis, and what to do if you need to pull over for some zzz’s, after the jump.roadPreventing highway hypnosis

  • Listen to music. When I’m getting tired, it has to be loud, fast, and I have specific songs to get me going.
  • Avoid driving at times you’d normally be asleep.
  • Avoid driving on a full stomach. I will attest to the dangers of this. Before driving back from Santa Fe a week ago, I devoured a final carne adovada plate – with posole and a sopapilla – to tide me over until my next New Mexican food fix. I regretted it the second I got behind the wheel, and no amount of caffeine could help.
  • Caffeine, caffeine, and more caffeine, but if it makes you want to jump out of your skin, know when to cut yourself off. An edgy, irritable driver is a danger as well.
  • Roll down the windows for some fresh air.
  • If you have a headset or Bluetooth, call someone to help keep you alert.
  • I play mental games, like testing my memory or recalling conversations.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch your legs.
  • Shift around while driving. I use cruise control so I can bend my right leg, and I also do one-armed stretches and neck stretches.
  • Keep your eyes moving to avoid zoning out. I also keep eye drops on my console because mine get dry on long drives.

energy drink
Time out

  • If you need to pull over for a power nap at dusk or after dark, don’t choose a rest area (great for pit stops, not exactly known for savory characters, even during daylight hours). Find a well-lighted, busy location, like a gas station, fast food restaurant, or large hotel parking lot if you can swing it. Personally, I avoid stopping at deserted rest areas all together.
  • Keep your cellphone charged and at the ready in case of emergency.
  • Lock all of your doors.
  • Crack a couple of windows, but no more than a few inches.
  • If you’re in the middle of nowhere and just can’t stay awake, you may have no other option than to stop at a pull-out or side road. Just try to avoid this if at all possible and drive to the next exit.
  • Be honest with yourself: if you know a nap isn’t going to cut it, suck it up and get a motel room, campsite, or sleep in your car. Being behind schedule sucks, but being dead: much worse.

[Photo credits: hypnotism, Flickr user elleinad; road, Flickr user Corey Leopold; rockstar, Flickr user wstryder]

Watch this video to learn how peppermint oil and a really bad hairstyle can help keep you alert!

How To Stay Awake Without Caffeine

Seattle Is The Country’s Most Expensive Labor Day Destination

seattle public market by mclean robbinsWant to save money on this long weekend? Don’t head to Seattle. The Emerald City is the country’s most expensive destination for this upcoming Labor Day weekend, based on the cost of its lodging, according to a new survey by CheapHotels. The survey compared hotel rates for 20 popular U.S. destinations for the Labor Day weekend period spanning August 31 to September 3 (Labor Day).

The cheapest available three-star hotel is a hefty $312 per night, perhaps due to a large event, the annual Bumbershoot Festival, taking place that weekend. This music and arts festival typically drives around 100,000 visitors to the city each year. As a result of its popularity, hotel rates are around 65% higher than normal, according to the survey.

Budget travelers can find much more affordable rates at other national destinations, though. In Washington, D.C., or Miami Beach, for example, they can score a three-star hotel room for around $100 per night. And the usually in-demand Orlando is a bargain hunter’s dream. In fact, it’s the country’s cheapest Labor Day weekend destination according to the survey, with an overnight rate of only $63.

If you’re looking to save costs, we’d also suggest avoiding Virginia Beach ($309), Atlantic City ($286) and Philadelphia ($269).