Dear Annie: I want to take a cross-country road trip -- just me, myself and the highway. My plan is to drive through the Southern half of the United States. Anything I should make sure not to miss? Also, I'm having trouble sorting out the logistics. This trip would take about three to four weeks, depending on how I split up the driving. I don't want to do more than about two to three hours per day. Should I rent an RV, rent a car or use my own? Will it be safe to do this trip by myself? (I'm a woman.) I've traveled by myself before and felt confident and self-assured, but those trips have all been by plane, never by car. Any and all advice would be appreciated. -- Solo Soul-Searching
Dear Solo Soul-Searching: It sounds like you'll be going the route that takes you past the Grand Canyon: There really are no words to describe the majesty. And that's just one of many memorable sights you'll be seeing. There is so very much of this big, beautiful country to take in. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I'm glad you're making for yourself.
Preparation is key, and it's good you're taking your safety seriously. AAA offers the following road trip tips:
--"Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
--"Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
--"Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
--"Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
--"In case of an emergency, keep a cellphone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call."
You might also invest in a satellite messenger, which should be available at most major sporting goods stores. (Hikers use them on trails.) This will allow you to share your location with friends and to communicate with emergency service teams should you find yourself stranded. They have far greater coverage than cellphones.
Lastly, if you're not already a AAA member, I recommend joining. You can stop by a AAA center for help planning your road trip.
Dear Annie: I have to weigh in on the letter from "Scared," who was terrified of turning 40. My goodness! I heard a long time ago that "middle age is 10 years older than you are," and I loved that quote! My age has never been an issue for me (coming up on 86 in a few weeks), and I freely admit my age to others.
To be hung up on age is very sad. I hope they can get over this sense of "getting older," which I welcome. (Though it's not "getting old"; there's a difference.)
Being active and interested in everything, life is wonderful, I cherish my faith, family and friends! -- Grace Nelson
Dear Grace Nelson: May we all live with as much joie de vivre as yourself. Thanks for the beautiful letter, and happy birthday!
Annie Lane's weekly column, "Dear Annie," can be found at creators.com.