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).

Last Minute Labor Day Road Trip Ideas

Labor day road trip

If a Labor Day road trip sounds like a good idea, you’re not alone. Over 30 million Americans will be hitting the highways for the long weekend, traveling across town, from state to state or around the nation. Like that idea but have no plans? Here are some must-stay places along some of the best American scenic drives that are not just a place to park, but also a way to extend the journey and experience the destination.

Hana Highway in Hawaii is a winding path with ocean on one side and jungles on the other that leads to one of Maui’s best kept secrets of quintessential Hawaiian tradition and charm, the town of Hana. Warning: With over 600 curves in the road from just east of Kahului to Hāna, virtually all of it through lush, tropical rainforest, you may have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road.

Where to Stay: Travaasa Hana, an oceanfront resort that features experiential programming based on five pillars – adventure, culinary, culture, fitness and wellness – inspired by Hana tradition. Guests can partake in net throwing classes (a revered Hawaiian skill), traditional Hawaiian spa treatments and meals made with locally sourced ingredients.

Trail Ridge Road in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is the highest continuously paved road in North America. With more than eight miles lying above 11,000 feet and a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet, Trail Ridge Road provides a stellar view of Rocky Mountain National Park’s golden aspen leaves and autumn mountain scenery.

Where to Stay: The Della Terra Mountain Chateau has 14 romantic suites, each with its own private balcony hot tub, amazing mountain view and warm breakfast for an authentic Colorado mountain experience.Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most visited sections of the National Park System, and features 469 miles of stunning views with old farmsteads, mountain meadows and one of the world’s most diverse displays of plants and animals. The parkway connects Shenandoah National Park near Waynesboro, VA (Milepost 0), with Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC (Milepost 469).

Where to Stay: The Carolina Inn is a historic property located on the campus of the University of North Carolina that allows guests to enjoy a variety of activities and experiences both on campus and in downtown Chapel Hill.

The Montana Scenic Loop spans the Northern Rockies in a nearly 400-mile long loop, featuring spectacular mountain vistas and abundant wildlife and wilderness within several National Forest lands. At the heart of the 400-mile loop is the Bob Marshall Wilderness flanked by the Great Bear Wilderness on the north and the Scapegoat Wilderness to the south.

Where to stay: Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana, is a year-round resort in Montana’s Rocky Mountains located close to Yellowstone National Park. Moonlight Basin features a world-class spa, and a variety of dining options and luxury accommodations that are perfectly suited for families or couples to create a well-rounded Montana vacation.

Labor Day travel will see upwards of 33 million people hitting the road for the long weekend, noted AAA in a USA Today report this week. That’s an almost three percent increase from last year, the highest Labor Day road trip travel volume since 2008, and the trend is expected to extend through the fall and winter.

How to Plan a Stress Free Summer Road Trip



Flickr photo by Stuck in Customs

2012 Labor Day Travel Trends

las vegasLabor Day is just around the corner, and new data from KAYAK shows just where travelers are searching.

If you’re planning a flight, Las Vegas, New York and Chicago are the top flight search destinations for Labor Day. Average clicked fares for travel to these destinations for the holiday weekend were $291, $300 and $254, respectively.

Of course, you’ll save money if you travel after the holiday weekend – 8 to 10% on average.
People may be flying to Chicago, but they’re staying in Atlanta. Las Vegas, New York, and Atlanta are the popular U.S. hotel destinations by absolute search share rank with hotels coming in at $183.74, $275.63 and $204.21, respectively.

What’s in the ATL? Atlanta search share increased 54% YoY, perhaps due to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Atlantic City ($276.97) and Myrtle Beach ($136.73) hotel search shares increased 49% and 41%, respectively.

Internationally, it’s all about Ireland. Dublin is the top trending destination YoY, likely because of the Notre Dame v. Navy football game on Sept. 1 in Dublin – flight searches surged 246% compared to last year. Will you be cheering on the midshipmen or the Fighting Irish?

London, Dublin, and Paris are the most popular flight search destinations for Labor Day weekend in Europe with average prices of $1071.24, $1355.32 and $1,200.03, respectively.

Within the Caribbean and Central America, San Jose CR, Panama City and Belize City are the most popular flight search destinations. Belize City saw a 50% YoY increase in search share.

So, now that you have that data in hand, where will you be traveling this Labor Day?

[Flickr via Moyan_Brenn]