Driving Across the United States is Surprisingly Fun and Educational

Formerly being a airline travel enthusiast, I never considered driving across the United States until an unfortunate incident forced my ex-fiance and I to change our travel plans. We had flown out to Las Vegas, to attend a business convention late one night. The next morning, I turned on the television, only to find that planes had flown into the World Trade Centers in New York. It was 9/11, which devastated us and everyone around us. At Caesar’s Palace, all the tvs were tuned to the tragedy, instead of the usual horse racing or other sporting events. You could hear a pin drop as everyone watched the tragedy unfold, live. The convention closed early due to the horrible tragedy. We were given t-shirts as we left the convention center, in memory to the people who perished in New York and Pennsylvania. Fortunately for us, my ex had already rented a van to get around with, as rental cars sold out quickly when all the planes were grounded. In Las Vegas, the airport is right in the city limits, very close to the Strip. With the planes all down, all we saw was an occaisional military jet fighter circling the city now and then. It was eerie and a reminder of the possible danger to the area. We left and drove over to Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles, our spirits lifted as we visited the coastline, stopping at lovely places like Balboa Island for lunch, Laguna Beach (full of interesting boutiques and restaurants) and Dana Point, where we stayed in a beautiful oceanfront hotel. Later, we went over to Burbank, and attended the second taping of the Tonight Show, with Jay Leno. The experience was surreal, nobody felt like comedy, so the show was subdued. Jay wheeled out a motorcycle that he was going to auction off for charity, and Arnold Schwartzenegger, Tom Cruise and others came to sign it. Being in the studio was fascinating, the temperature in the large room was cold, to keep the many hot stage lights from bursting, one of the producers told us. We had front row seats, because we got in line very early. If you go, make sure to go much earlier than told to, because it takes a lot of time to park, and the line to get in is very long.

After leaving downtown L.A. we drove around Beverly Hills and Hollywood. I liked Beverly Hills, seeing the beautiful homes was my favorite. Signs were posted everywhere saying that forest fires can happen and gave a daily rating to how much of a chance there was of having one. Interesting. Some movie stars’ homes were on regular streets like yours and mine. Others were high up in the mountains, shielded by gates, high walls and ominous “keep out” signs. I don’t blame them, with all the crazy people in the world. All the posh shops were nice, but a shopping spree there was out of the question unless we won the lottery and were rich like the Hilton family – one piece of clothing could be the cost of a new car or even, house in downtown Beverly Hills. Wow. We drove all over, taking pictures, stopping at fast food places like In and Out Hamburgers and Krispy Kreme Donuts. We also stopped in lovely ethnic restaurants to eat Mexican, Thai and Indian food. The Mexican restaurants were my favorites, most were authentic and gave large portions.

We drove through the desert, going back east, saw Hoover Dam, which was immense. Because of the tragedy going on in New York, everyone there was on edge, so we weren’t allowed to stop on the bridge, just drive past it and park elsewhere. It was very scenic to see the dam, built long ago, with Art Deco influence on the well-built bridge and buildings. It was incredibly hot but the heat was dry, not humid. We drank gallons of soft drinks and bottled water to keep from being dehydrated. The vistas of tall mountains and large amounts of water being pumped by this powerful dam were really fascinating for this midwestern girl.

Our next state to visit was Utah, land of amazing rock formations and mountains. We only saw the southern part but what we saw was breathtaking. Bright red rocks jutting out of the ground, tall mountains and an endless night sky full of stars. We parked on the side of the road and watched the sky for an hour, deep in the desolate parts of the mountains. Without city lights (or any other civilization, for that matter) we could see everything, including the Milky Way. It was both beautiful and surreal at the same time. Utah is loaded with natural wonders and incredibly scenic.

Next, we drove to Colorado. It was so scenic driving up and down the mountain roads of this colorful, beautiful state. The whole state is a photographer’s dream, especially with all the colors of the fall.The aspen trees were turning yellow, since it was now autumn, and the huge mountains all around us took my breath away. It felt and looked like the Old West to me. We stopped at an old mining town, even got to eat buffalo burgers (made of yes, real buffalo meat, which was good). If we’d had more time I would’ve spent a week there, but my ex had to get back to his job so time was limited.

Just east of Denver, everything got amazingly flat. Prairies are desolate and finding signs of life off the highway were few and far between. When we saw a gas station, we’d stop at it, because who knew how long it would be until the next one came along. People there were very friendly. We stayed overnight in a lovely old-fashioned hotel, and ate at the family restaurant next door. True Americana at its best.

We started seeing hills again in parts of Iowa, which we weren’t in for long. Next came Illinois, where we stopped in Chicago. Having been there many times in my past, we stopped at places I liked, like WaterTower Place, the theater and the art museum downtown. There is a lot to do and see in this impressive city, just do it during the summer, because the winters there are cold and brutal. Chicago is a big city, with a long skyline as you drive past it. Much bigger than my hometown of Cleveland.

Late at night, we arrived at my home, in the outer suburbs of Cleveland. The trip was a success, even if it was marred by tragedy, we made the most of the situation. It took us a week to get home, and someday I plan to do it again, but this time with more time on my hands. If you want to see what America is really like, rent a car (try not to use your own, due to the major wear and tear this kind of travel does to a car) and plan places to see before you go. We did this trip without planning and it was still a success. We’d driven through lovely state parks, past amazing scenery and met wonderful people. Next time I do this, I’ll go get a triptych at the auto club and plan it to see more of the off-the-beaten-path places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and Napa Valley. Driving is a really great way to see the details of our great country up close and personal, so make sure to give it a try.

Boutique – Online Business Vs Retail Shopping

Have you tried traditional means of selling with little to no success? Do
you have a product driven, home based business that you would like to grow
nationally or even internationally? Are you unsure how to successfully
advertise your web site on the Internet? Does your web site get limited
traffic? Have you been a vendor at various boutiques but want the
continual yearly income that is generated from your loyal customer base?

Retail shopping has been the general source of selling and purchasing
products for decades. With the expansion of the Internet and other various
creative avenues, business owners have been able to grow their business
substantially in less time. Boutiques that have a physical location have
been popular over the last 15 to 20 years. They are extremely enticing to
the growing number of women who enjoy scrapbooking, home decor, holiday
crafts, gift ideas and much more.

Listed below are 8 reasons why an online boutique could increase sales and
grow your business.

1. Year round income: Not only would you have a physical location for your
customers during various times of the year at boutiques, but they would be
able to easily continue to purchase your items year round.

2. It will bring shoppers to you: Retail stores spend hundreds or thousands
of dollars marketing their business. By advertising your online store when
you are a vendor at a boutique, your customers will have an incentive to
purchase additional products later.

3. Linking web sites: If a vendor from a boutique has a web site, the
online boutique can link to the vendor’s web site. This will generate
traffic to the vend’s web site thereby gaining exposure and sales.

4. Reclaiming old customers: For customers who have not attended a boutique
for years, they could look online to see what is available and either come
back to the boutique or shop on line.

5. Extra income without extra setups and tear downs: Physical boutiques
can be a successful means of establishing and growing a business. It takes
time and effort to set up and take down a booth each show. Once a vendor is
joined into an online boutique, it stays available to the customer night and
day without much added effort.

6. Not enough online boutiques available: A study recently done found that
70% of online shoppers would like to purchase more boutique like items.
There are very few on line boutique sites available.

7. Substantial growth: A person can grow their business without travel
expenses by selling online. National and International growth is possible.

8. Increase sells up to 70%: Some of the most successful business owners
contribute their success to selling online.

9. Eliminating cost of rental space: The average of cost of a rental space
at a virtual boutique is around $125.00. This is usually for a 3 day
exposure time. An online boutique is day and night, everyday, for a minimal
monthly fee.

It is rare today for a business not to have a web site. If done correctly,
web sites can be an invaluable tool for any business owner. The perfect
solution for businesses that do not have a web site themselves, however, is
the ability to tap into the online boutique web site. It is critical to be
educated and informed on the latest marketing and sales tools available.
The competition can be overwhelming without education and progressive
action. Not only will online boutiques become a fun and easy way for people
to shop, they will become a lucrative source of income for many vendors
wanting to expand their business.

Should You Own a Boutique? What You Must Consider

You may be debating the question of should you own a boutique. Through this article, you are presented with the points you need to ponder when it comes to whether or not the question of should you own a boutique is to be answered in the affirmative.

The first factor that you need to take into consideration when considering whether or not you should own a boutique is your experience. You simply do not want to dive into the boutique business without having at least some experience in the arena in which you will be undertaking your boutique enterprise. You must keep in mind that experience really does count in the retail industry… and must be a prime consideration when it comes to whether or not you should own a boutique at this juncture in your life.

Beyond experience, when it comes to your internal debate addressing the query of should you own a boutique, you will want to honestly consider whether or not you will enjoy owning and running a boutique. The fact is that you simply do not want to involve yourself in a business enterprise that you are not going to enjoy on a personal level.

In addition to experience and making sure you are getting into a business that you will enjoy, when it comes to considering should you own a boutique you need to be prepared to work hard. Many people think that owning their own businesses will give them a bunch of free time to kick back and enjoy life. In fact, the exact opposite is the case. When you own your own business, particularly when you are just starting a business like a boutique, you will be spending a huge amount of time at work on your venture. Owning and running your own business really is hard work on many different levels.

Finally, when it comes to should you own a boutique, you need to make sure that your finances are in order. You must understand that there is a certain degree of risk to starting any type of business, including a boutique. Therefore, you must make certain that you have the finances available to protect yourself and your family if your boutique business does not take off like you hope and plan.

By paying attention and considering the information contained in this article you will be in the best position of making sure you make a wise decision when it comes to should you own a boutique. In the end, making an educated decision is fundamental to deciding whether or not you should own a boutique business enterprise at this juncture in your life.