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Dear Jerry:

These days, my husband and I are traveling frequently by car. That includes Interstate 95 (I-95) from Maine to Florida.

For the Christmas holidays, we drove 95 south almost its entire length. If you answer my letter soon, we can utilize your advice on our trip back north in January 2015. My Maine neighbor also reads “Ask Jerry” religiously and sends us your columns while we are on vacation.

Here is the problem. It is one we have long experienced while driving on I-95 and other highways. It has to do with stopping along the way at restrooms. When we notice the signs for gas stations, restaurants, lodging, etc., we know such stops will have restroom facilities. Unfortunately, they often take you well away from the highway. Returning to the highway in the correct direction can be confusing and time-consuming. Surprisingly, the employees who work at these gas stations, restaurants, lodgings, etc., are not necessarily helpful or informative.

I hope you can offer a useful suggestion.

Mary C.

York, Maine

Dear Mary:

Watch closely for the signs that say “Rest Area.” Other key words to observe are “Welcome Center” and “Service Plaza.”

On I-95 and other highways (East Coast, West Coast, and in-between), these basic “Rest Area” facilities are close to the highway, easy to access and have plenty of parking. As you depart after using the restrooms, these Rest Areas are exceptionally simple for returning to the highway. In fact, when you leave the facility, signs automatically direct you to the same direction you were headed before you exited the highway. If you were en route via I-95 South, you would not even have the I-95 North option. Accordingly, the confusion you encounter when driving to gas stations, restaurants, lodgings, etc., does not exist in the “Rest Area” scenario.

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As long as you pay attention and focus on the “Rest Area” signs while driving, you will save time and inconvenience. Regarding Interstate 95, you can also locate travel books specifically devoted to I-95. You can borrow them from certain public libraries. You can purchase them inexpensively in the “Travel” section at your local bookstores. For new and used copies, you can visit online shopping websites (e.g., www.amazon.com, www.froogle.com) or booksites (e.g., www.abebooks.com, www.bookfinder.com).

Some of these paperback publications are devoted almost exclusively to I-95 “exits.” An example is “The I-95 Exit Information Guide” (Tom Gilligan). I use that example because it demonstrates how specialized a book of that sort can be. On the negative side, there is no recent edition of that particular book.

Other publications cover additional aspects of this lengthy I-95 highway. An example is “Drive I-95: Exit By Exit Info, Maps, History and Trivia From Maine To Miami” (Stan Posner and Sandra Phillips-Posner).

As is usually the case, be sure to obtain the latest possible edition of the publication you select. Changes are always occurring. Speaking of I-95 changes, you can start enjoying the new express lanes. On I-95 and many other highways, I use those lanes whenever the opportunity presents itself. In my opinion, they are worth the extra cost for saving time and other benefits.

Meanwhile, I wish you safe traveling and a happy new year.

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Jerry Romansky is a syndicated columnist. Readers are invited to write in English or Spanish: Ask Jerry, Post Office Box 42444, Washington DC 20015. Email askjerry@earthlink.net and (because of spam situation) write the name of your newspaper in subject heading. Questions of popular interest are answered in the column. Unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

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