15 Mar 2014, 9:43pm
Automobiles Commuting Data visualizations Travel
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Comments Off on Where to find alternative fuel stations in Texas

Where to find alternative fuel stations in Texas

If you’re going to invest in an alternative-fuel vehicle, you might want to check where you can fill up. The city you’re in makes a difference.

For those relying on biodiesel, you’re good to go in Austin and not so bad in San Antonio, recent data from DriveBiodiesel.net shows.

Dallas has a broad mix of E85 and natural gas pumps, according to E85Locator.net and CNGLocator.net. Houston has a decent spread of E85 stations.

West Texas? One station, in Midland. Natural gas.

One thing’s for sure, if you want to take a road trip in an alternative-fuel vehicle, plan well. Some places will leave you with fumes.

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8 Jul 2013, 10:42pm
Automobiles Commuting Data visualizations Oil and gas prices Travel
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Comments Off on Record high gas prices changing how Americans drive

Record high gas prices changing how Americans drive

With wild swings in gas prices pushing ever higher, U.S. drivers are slowly curbing their habits.

Regular-grade gas averaged more than¬†$3.60 a gallon nationwide¬†in 2011 and 2012. It’s never been¬†so high, even when adjusted for inflation. The last records were set during the Iran hostage crisis three decades ago.

High prices, along with recessions, have tugged at America’s driving addiction, bringing down¬†mileage in 1979 and¬†again¬†in recent years. But¬†unlike gas prices, which can¬†arc 40 percent in a year,¬†driving habits die hard.

The¬†difference jumps out when you¬†juxtapose¬†the data¬†in a graphic. Mashing data like this¬†can sometimes be confusing when you have¬†two separate axes,¬†but I think there’s an interesting pattern here.

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21 Mar 2013, 8:39pm
Travel
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Comments Off on Bluebonnets along Texas highways expected to be spotty

Bluebonnets along Texas highways expected to be spotty

Wow. Look at this gorgeous rolling ribbon of road and bluebonnets.

This Texas Hill Country highway made msn.com’s top 10 scenic drives in the U.S.

Bluebonnets along Texas Highway

Texas Hill Bluebonnet Tour, from msn.com's "10 scenic spring drives"

“If you want to see fields and fields of bright blue flowers resting atop a bed of emerald green grass, look no further than the annual Texas Hill Bluebonnet Tour,” it says.

But not all is so flowery.

“Wild about wildflowers? Too bad,” says an Express-News story posted yesterday, which lament’s this year’s spotty blooms.

Unlike last year’s lush bounty, fed by more than 10 inches of rainfall, this¬† year’s blooms will be small and scattered due to just a third as much rain since Jan 1, according to the report. Meanwhile, look for the color to peak in early April.

27 Sep 2011, 11:03am
Travel
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2 comments

The curse of Street View

Eifel Tower from Street View

Picture of the Eifel Tower from my latest "trip" to Paris

Lots of people have their Internet compulsions and addictions: Facebook, Farmville, YouTube, eBay, video games, and so on.  My wife is a recovering Pinterest addict.

My web vice is Google Maps Street View.

I’ve always been a spatial kind of guy.¬† I instinctively know which way is North.¬† I was telling my mom how to get home from the airport when I was four.¬† My degree is in Geography.¬† I have no need for a GPS.

And I love to travel.¬† Mostly, I’m a it’s-not-the-destination-but-the-journey kind of guy.¬† I love watching the scenery go by, seeing new places in fast-forward.¬† Of course, that comes from being a transportation-enthusiast.¬† Getting from Point A to Point B is often my favorite part of vacations.

So now that I can essentially do that from my desk for a huge chunk of the world using Street View, it can quickly consume a significant quantity of my time.¬† more »

1 Sep 2011, 2:37pm
Travel:
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Comments Off on A little weirdness on the road to Central Arkansas

A little weirdness on the road to Central Arkansas

Downtown Heber Springs, Ark., a beautiful, friendly town that swells from 6,000 to 30,000 during tourist season.

Heber Springs, Ark., a friendly town of 6,000 that tourists swell to 30,000.

Driving through the pine forests of East Texas, on the way to Central Arkansas, you pass signs for places like New Boston, Pittsburgh, Mount Pleasant and even Paris.

It’s almost like pioneers started running out of names¬†by the time they got to Texas.¬†

But things get a bit more imaginative once you arrive at the Arkansas border. Names there start off with morphed incarnations like Texarkana, and later dish up tidy permutations such as Arkadelphia. 

The one that¬†snapped me¬†to attention¬†on my trip last weekend was “Okolona.”

You know, Oklahoma’s just a short jog to the west, I thought. Could it be? Is this some sort of¬†an Arkansas¬†localism? Perhaps it was pranksters?¬†¬†

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23 Dec 2010, 1:20pm
Oil and gas prices Travel
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Comments Off on Gas prices top $3 a gallon in unusual run-up

Gas prices top $3 a gallon in unusual run-up

Fall-gas-prices

Just two days before Christmas, average U.S. gas prices have topped $3 a gallon. And you can expect prices to keep rising into spring and summer. 

This isn’t a typical run-up.

Prices usually peak in the summer and slide down after Labor Day. In recent autumns, regular unleaded dropped an average of 22 cents a gallon, even when you exclude the freakish plummet in 2008 after the economy popped.

But this autumn, gas prices shot up 30 cents a gallon.

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23 Nov 2010, 10:57pm
Oil and gas prices Travel:
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Comments Off on Being thankful will cost you more this year

Being thankful will cost you more this year

AAA-Thanksgiving

You’re going to pay¬†a little more for a lot of things¬†this Thanksgiving.

If you drive anywhere, gas will cost about 20 cents a gallon more than a year ago. Texas prices average $2.68 today.

If you fly,¬†tickets will cost about 4 percent more. On top of that,¬†at some 70 airports, including¬†San Antonio’s, you now face security scanners that see through your clothes or agents who will touch in ways that few people would dare.

Staying home? Cooking a traditional turkey meal will cost 13 percent more in Texas.

Meanwhile, 9.6 percent of U.S. workers are looking for jobs. Experts, revising predictions, now say unemployment will remain higher than thought for years to come.

Yet, Americans seem ready to celebrate, an AAA survey indicates.

About 42.2 million people will¬†make a trip of at least 50 miles this holiday weekend, up 11 percent from a year ago. On average, they’ll travel¬†816 miles and spend $495, nearly the same as last year. Nine out of 10 will go by car.

“When purse strings and heart strings compete in a tug-of-war, especially at this time of year, the heart wins out,” AAA President Robert Darbelnet said.

And so it has. Some things you can’t put a price on.

21 Sep 2010, 10:04pm
Commuting Passenger rail Roads Safety Toll roads Travel:
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Comments Off on Big plans for Texas’ worst highway (including tolls and rail)

Big plans for Texas’ worst highway (including tolls and rail)

Planners and pundits have long decried Interstate 35 as Texas’ worst highway.

MY 35 segment_map

Notorious traffic backups and numerous crashes on I-35, especially on the stretch from San Antonio to Austin, have spawned big-ticket projects such as the SH 130 tollway and Lone Star commuter rail. Putting two and two together from such thinking eventually led to the now supposedly defunct Trans Texas Corridor.

But more big plans are in the making.

Four committees, each looking at a segment of I-35, are holding public meetings this month to wrap up draft plans on what to do with the highway, its feeders and parallel roads. Billions of dollars worth of projects are eyed, including this for South and Central Texas:

  • Convert¬†one I-35¬†lane each way into toll/carpool lanes from Buda¬†to Georgetown
  • Remove tolls and widen SH 130 to six lanes from Seguin to Georgetown
  • Build high-speed passenger rail from San Antonio to Dallas
  • Build passenger rail from San Antonio to Laredo
  • Widen I-35 from San Antonio to Laredo

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3 Sep 2010, 9:13pm
Travel:
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Comments Off on Holiday travelers defy sluggish economy

Holiday travelers defy sluggish economy

Labor-Day-travel

The¬†nation’s¬†economic recovery seems to be¬†slowing down, but¬†not travel plans¬†to enjoy the last days of summer.

Some 34.4 million Americans are making¬†trips¬†this Labor Day weekend, according to an¬†AAA survey, up¬†9.9 percent from¬†last year’s dismal showing.

Vacationers will also spend more this year, the survey shows. Median spending is expected to be $697, up nearly $50.

Travelers are expected to pay more for airfares, 9 percent higher; car rentals, up 7 percent; and hotels.

But one thing they won’t¬†be spending more on is¬†gas.¬†Regular unleaded, now averaging $2.68 a gallon,¬†is down almost 20 cents¬†from the spring,¬†an AAA report¬†says. Texas prices are averaging $2.51.

Meanwhile, nine out of 10 people are traveling by car this holiday weekend.

8 Aug 2010, 2:09pm
Aviation History Roads Travel
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3 comments

Road trip to Midland and Odessa, Texas

Polikarpov I-16 at the CAF museum, Midland, Texas

Polikarpov I-16 at the CAF museum, Midland, Texas

Rolling forward on my 2010 resolution to get out of San Antonio more, I took a three day trip to Midland and Odessa, two cities, indeed a region of Texas, I had not visited before in the nineteen years I have called the Lone State home.¬† I set out on the last Thursday in July, which proved to be a very good time to go. more »

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