My road trip east began with a foray through Texas. I ended up stopping to visit a friend working in a small town known as Kaufman, Texas. The wonderful thing about traveling by car is that you can get to just about anywhere. It will save you a lot on hotels if you arrange your travel plans to match places where you know someone. Most people will be happy to see you if you don't over stay your welcome. Offer to do the dishes and do them! Clean up the room you stay in, and chip in with dinner. If you travel with your dog make sure your hosts are alright with your pet. Don't presume everyone loves Fido as much as you do.

If you travel with a smart phone, like an iPhone, you can easily search motels that are pet friendly as you go. You can book on line an hour or two before hand if you know how much longer you feel like driving. Often booking ahead of time will grant you a discount of sorts. The thing is, you may want to see the place before you commit. Sometimes what looks good on paper, and even belongs to a franchise, is less appealing in real life. Take the opportunity to read reviews by other travelers. Read them carefully. If the reason they didn't like a particular hotel is because their six Irish wolfhounds weren't welcome, it may be no reason at all. However, if the reason was because there were long term renters who appeared to be drug dealers living in the room next door, beware!

If you don't travel with pets your options are much more open. IF you are a young person you can look into staying at youth hostels, you can also spend every other night sleeping on the train if you are adventurous, or at a camp ground. Renting an RV you can sleep in is another option. You can usually travel with a small dog in an RV without any problem. Some RV parks will not take you if your pooch is a Rottweiler or a Pit bull breed. Don't bother trying to convince them your dog has never bitten anyone, rules are rules.

If you decide to travel by plane be aware that it is very annoying to travel with checked bags. Waiting at the baggage carousel can add an hour to your travel time! The cost to check bags is getting higher and higher, some airlines even want to charge for the smaller carry one bags. If you are going to stay with friends of relatives consider mailing your stuff ahead of time. IT will save you a lot of time and hassle. Give yourself enough lead time and you can use parcel post, the slower cheaper method of shipping. Another option is buying stuff when you get there. If you are going to a foreign destination it's more fun. You can always look at the dress or pants you bought on vacation and remember you were in Mexico!

Kaufman, Texas is not too far from Dallas. I went there with my friend while I was visiting and listened to lots of great live authentic Texas Honky tonk. We also played tourist at the sons of Hermann Hall in deep Ellum in Dallas. Deep Ellum is a corruption of "elm" and houses such a large number of music venues that at one point the streets were often blocked to traffic. On Thursday nights anyone can bring a musical instrument or song, or in my friend's case, even a poem to the hall and jam. That night we heard a mandolin, guitars, even some homemade instruments. People were friendly and eager to share.

Kaufman itself is a cute little village with a lot of road work being done in the middle of town. Kaufman was founded in 1841. The recession has done a number on the jobs there, I suspect most everyone is commuting to the larger cities nearby. There was a thriving thrift shop that seemed enormous inside, run by some manner of Christian, I couldn't tell what sect. They had marked down coats while I was there, but not ALL the coats. It might have been more Christian of them to cut us a break, because we had very little money, but that didn't happen. I guess in all fairness, the money from the thrift shop was going to help needy families. Like a lot of places, the people who help needy families the most are other needy families.

On my way out of Texas I also stopped in Houston, a couple hours drive from Kaufman. There road work reaches new limits. It stressed the technology of my iPhone. I ended up lost in construction during rush hour for about three hours. If you can fly over Houston it's a better plan. Going south through Austin is prettier anyway. After Texas I drove east along the interstate 10 all the way to Florida. Anyone who hasn't driven this great country recently ought to do it again. As soon as you exit the large cities most people are generous, interesting, and happy enough to talk to you.

In Arkansas I was bored so I struck up a conversation with a man I met at Denny's. I think he went there to take advantage of the free wi-fi. He showed me the sites he was surfing and told me he'd been married once and divorced twice. He saw the questioning look on my face. In the state of Arkansas you can apparently get divorced as many times as you like. His wife, or should I say ex ex wife, decided she wanted to have the last word. . . .so she filed again, long after it had been recorded and divorced him again. Arkansas is the home of Wal-mart, so go ahead and play the tourist. Visit one of the largest indoor markets you'll ever see. You can even buy something, I won't tell.