4 Reasons to Quit Texting While Walking

We all know that texting while driving is a bad idea. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed nearly 3,200 people and injured over 430,000 in 2014 alone. No wonder getting caught can land you a ticket at best — and jail time at worst.

But while texting is deadly at 70 mph, it turns out plenty can go wrong at 2 mph on your own 2 feet. If you’ve been guilty of texting while walking, here are 4 good reasons to shake the habit.

1. You stop paying attention

People absorbed in their phones don’t tend to be upright citizens of the sidewalk. According to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a majority of adults have bumped into something or been bumped by a distracted walker. And even worse, the report adds that about 40 percent of teenagers have been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while walking and texting.

2. You can veer off track

When you’re multi-tasking, staying in your lane is not a given. Distracted walking changes your gait and messes with your spatial memory, making you more likely to stray from your path and into the street … or a fountain … or, true story, the path of a rogue bear.

3. You might become a statistic

Walking and texting can be deadly (even in the absence of bears). Pedestrian injuries and fatalities have been ticking up steadily over the past decade with the rise of the smartphone. In fact, between 2005 and 2010, distracted-walking-related injuries in the ER doubled, racking up over 1,500 visits. Yikes.

4. You may even get a ticket

In case the threat of injury isn’t enough to keep your eyes on the sidewalk, how about the threat of a fine? New Jersey recently introduced a bill to charge you $50 and maybe tack on some jail time for walking and texting. Similar measures have seen floor time in Arkansas, Nevada, Illinois, and (of course) New York.

So what to do instead? Make like a driver and pull over. Or better yet, just hold off until you get to your destination so you can enjoy your walk.

And while you’re at it, make sure you’re protected on and off the road. Along with your car, Esurance can take care of your motorcycleyour scooteryour home, and, of course, your peace of mind.

Esurance Homeowners Insurance: Now Taking Flight in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to some high-profile firsts: miniature golf and Pepsi were born there, and the Wright brothers launched the world’s first airplane into flight in Kitty Hawk. UNC-Chapel Hill was the nation’s first public university. And to top off its distinctions, the Old North State is home to the Biltmore House, the largest private home in America, with 255 rooms spanning 4 acres of floor space.

Protect your castle

If you also call the Tar Heel State home (maybe in slightly smaller digs), you have a new neighbor: Esurance now offers homeowners insurance in North Carolina.

Your home may be short on intricate winter gardens and Impressionist paintings, but it’s your own private castle. And that’s why we want to help protect it, inside and out. You can even add twenty-first century touches like identity theft protection and special computer coverage — modern must-haves that the Vanderbilts and the Wrights never saw coming.

The Biltmore Estate took 6 years to build. A free Esurance quote takes just a few minutes. Which is more impressive? We leave that judgment to you.

Find out more about North Carolina homeowners insurance here.

Save even more when you bundle

Secure yourself more savings with a little strategic thinking. We don’t cover homemade planes, but if you’ve got a car, you might save by insuring that too.

Not in North Carolina? Not a problem.

We’ve got homeowners insurance in plenty of other states (with more on the way). Plus, motorcycle insurance, renters insurance, and auto insurance. Check out the options in your great state and get a free quote from Esurance.*

*Insurance policies underwritten by Esurance are available only in certain states. Coverage is subject to state availability, individual qualification, and/or underwriting guidelines.

Planning a Coast-to-Coast Road Trip With America’s Great Authors (Southern Route)

Could Steinbeck have written The Grapes of Wrath without spending time in California’s Central Valley? Would F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels have been the same if he hadn’t met Zelda in Montgomery, Alabama? America’s great authors were enormously influenced by the places they lived and worked and the people they encountered. Join us on a literary pilgrimage across the U.S., from Steinbeck’s Cannery Row to Hemingway’s Key West.

Literary Road Trip — Monterey, CA to Key West, FL

Monterey, California

Your road trip begins in this historic central California town, the setting for John Steinbeck’s comic novels Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. Stroll down the former Ocean View Avenue (which was nicknamed “Cannery Row” in the novels, and officially given that name in 1958) and take a tour of Pacific Biological Laboratories, aka Doc Rickett’s lab.

Big Sur, California

Make a detour down Highway 1, across the famous Bixby Creek Bridge, and along the breathtaking coastal cliffs to the Henry Miller Memorial Library. The controversial novelist lived in Big Sur, which he called his “first real home in America,” from 1944 to 1962.

Salinas, California

Return to Monterey and take State Route 68 to Salinas, where Steinbeck was born and raised. You’ll want to visit the National Steinbeck Center, a museum and library devoted to his life and works (a Steinbeck Festival is held here every other year).

Walk down Main Street, looking for settings from East of Eden, Steinbeck’s spin on the Cain and Abel story. Stop for a meal at the Steinbeck House, the author’s childhood home, and pay your respects at the Garden of Memories Memorial Park, where Steinbeck’s ashes are buried.

Soledad to Bakersfield, California

Continue along State Route 68 to Highway 101. Head south, passing through the once-lonely town of Soledad, near the fictional ranch where Of Mice and Men was set. Then, cut east via State Route 46 and I-5 to Bakersfield, at the southern end of the Central Valley. Steinbeck was inspired to write his classic novel The Grapes of Wrath after investigating the region’s migrant labor camps (aka “Hoovervilles”) during the Great Depression.

Route 66

Take State Route 58 to Barstow, one of the celebrated stops on legendary Route 66. In The Grapes of Wrath, the peripatetic Joad family fled Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl and traveled along this “Mother Road” in hopes of a better life in California. A veritable time capsule of mid-twentieth-century America, Historic Route 66 is worthy of a dedicated road trip in itself. But if you want to save time, take I-40 east (the interstate follows essentially the same route) and make side trips now and then to explore the iconic highway.

Grants, New Mexico

As you travel east through Arizona and New Mexico, you’ll be passing through prime Louis L’Amour country. This prolific writer of Westerns set 28 of his 86 novels in these 2 states. Make a stop in Grants, one of the settings for L’Amour’s classic Flint (it’s called Los Alamitos in the novel). Old Route 66 is Grants’ main street, worth checking out for its kitschy hotel signs and retro diners. Make a quick detour south to El Pais National Monument to see the striking lava beds and caves described in the novel.

Sallisaw, Oklahoma

Route 66 continues all the way to Chicago, but you’ll say goodbye to the Mother Road in Oklahoma City. Continue on I-40 to Sallisaw and stop in at Sequoyah’s Cabin, built by the Native American who brought literacy to the Cherokee nation by creating a writing system for their oral language. (Not all American literary heroes were novelists.)

Oxford, Mississippi

Follow I-40 to Memphis and then go via I-55 and US 278 to the picturesque town of Oxford. Here lived William Faulkner, a writer practically synonymous with the South. Pay a visit to Rowan Oak, the stately mansion that was his home for more than 40 years. You can still see the plot outline of his novel, The Fable, handwritten on the wall of his office.

Montgomery, Alabama

Continue east and connect with I-22. Head southeast to Birmingham, then take I-65 south to Montgomery. In 1917, during World War I, F. Scott Fitzgerald was stationed here at Fort Sheridan. He met his free-spirited wife Zelda Sayre the same year, most likely at a dance at the Montgomery Country Club, though some reports say they met at afternoon tea at Winter Place, an antebellum mansion (454 Goldthwaite Street). Be sure to explore the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, located in the home where the couple lived for several months from 1931 to 1932.

Monroeville, Alabama

Continue south on I-65 to Evergreen and then southwest on State Route 21 to Monroeville. Harper Lee, author of the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird, was born and raised here. Stop in at the Old Courthouse (now a museum), which served as the model for the novel’s courtroom scenes. Then go for a milkshake at Mel’s Dairy Dream (216 South Alabama Avenue), which occupies the spot where Lee’s childhood home once stood. Look for the remains of a rock fence next door — it used to belong to the home of the Faulk family. Novelist and playwright Truman Capote lived here with his Faulk cousins when he was a boy. He and Lee became fast friends.

Orlando, Florida

Get on US 84 and head to Orlando via I-10 and I-70. Your next stop is 1418½ Clouser Avenue, the cottage where Jack Kerouac lived for several months in 1957 and 1958, and where he wrote Dharma Bums, his sequel to On the Road. The cottage is now owned by the Kerouac Project, which offers a residency program for writers.

Key West, Florida

Take Florida’s Turnpike and State Route 1 across the Overseas Highway to Key West, the laid-back, subtropical isle where Ernest Hemingway lived, worked, drank, and boxed from 1928 to 1939. His novel To Have and Have Not is set here, and he wrote many of his other well-known works in the studio next to his villa at 907 Whitehead Street, now the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.

Stop in at the villa, famously home to dozens of 6-toed cats. Then, pause for a beverage at Sloppy Joe’s Bar (201 Duval Street), where Hemingway was a frequent patron. The character of Freddy in To Have and Have Not was modeled after Joe Russell, the former owner of Sloppy Joe’s.

 

Can’t get enough literary travel? Take our coast-to-coast northern road trip. And make sure you have reliable car insurance to get you there.

Esurance and this website are not affiliated with, maintained, authorized, endorsed or sponsored by the authors listed in this post or any of their respective affiliates.

Planning a Coast-to-Coast Road Trip With America’s Great Authors (Northern Route)

America’s landscapes — its rural towns and big cities, its open plains and mighty rivers — have provided inspiration for some of our most beloved and acclaimed literary works. Check out this lit-themed road trip from Oregon to Maine, and visit the places where authors like Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Mark Twain lived and worked.

Literary Road Trip — Portland, OR to Bangor, ME

Portland, Oregon

Start your pilgrimage at a legendary mecca for readers: Powell’s City of Books. Covering an entire city block and stocking no less than a million volumes, Powell’s is the world’s biggest independent bookstore. Pick up a few tales to read on your journey and then hit the road.

Ketchum, Idaho

Head east on I-84 through the Columbia River Valley and drive to Ketchum in the rugged mountains of central Idaho. Ernest Hemingway spent his final years here, on a secluded estate above the Big Wood River just north of downtown. The house isn’t open to the public, but you can visit Hemingway’s modest grave at the Ketchum Cemetery (1026 North Main Street).

Riverton, Wyoming

Continue east via US-20 and cross into Wyoming on US-26, keeping an eye out for bison as you pass the iconic pinnacles of Grand Teton National Park. Your next stop is Riverton, where much of Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain was set.  The mountain doesn’t actually exist, but you can visit the Riverton Post Office where Ennis sent his postcard to Jack.

Denver, Colorado

Next, head south via US-287 and I-80 to Denver. The narrator of Jack Kerouac’s classic On the Road passed through Denver many times. Make a stop at My Brother’s Bar (Fifteenth and Platte), where Kerouac and Neal Cassady, the model for Dean Moriarty in the novel, were regulars.

Red Cloud, Nebraska

Go east on I-70 and continue on US-36 through the rolling prairies of eastern Colorado and Nebraska. Stop in Red Cloud to visit the home where Willa Cather lived from 1885-1890. The Nebraska landscape had a profound effect on Cather and influenced many of her works.

Iowa City, Iowa

Cut north back to I-80 and head east to Iowa City, designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2008 and home to the acclaimed Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. Many important authors have been involved with the workshop. In fact, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. spent 2 years teaching here, from 1965 to 1967.

Stroll down the Literary Walk on Iowa Avenue, which showcases the work of 49 writers who have connections to Iowa. Then, drive past the Vonnegut House at 800 North Van Buren Street, where the author began work on his classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

Oak Park, Illinois

Continue via I-80 and I-88 to Oak Park, the leafy, historic Chicago suburb where Ernest Hemingway was born. Take a tour of the Hemingway Birthplace and Museum to learn about his early years. You might plan your visit to coincide with Oak Park’s annual Hemingway Birthday Bash and Hemingway 8K Running of the Bulls footrace (no actual bulls involved). This year’s event is happening July 15-17.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Make your way to I-65 and head south toward Indianapolis, where Kurt Vonnegut was born (and a place he often used to represent middle-class American values). Stop in at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, which displays a collection of his doodles, letters, and personal artifacts. The library holds a Vonnegut Fest every November.

Mansfield, Ohio

Continue east along I-70 to Columbus, Ohio, then northeast on I-71. Make a stop at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. The Oscar-nominated movie The Shawshank Redemption, based on Stephen King’s short story, was filmed at this imposing prison.

New York City, New York

Link up with your old friend I-80 and follow it across Pennsylvania into New York. Your next stop is Manhattan. Head first to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (5th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets) — F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were married in the adjoining rectory in 1920. Just 9 blocks uptown is the famous Plaza Hotel. The Fitzgeralds spent many a madcap evening here, even reportedly frolicking in the Pulitzer fountain out in front. Scott set much of his second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, at The Plaza, as well as a pivotal scene from The Great Gatsby (in which Tom confronts Gatsby about his feelings for Daisy). The Plaza is also where Truman Capote held his legendary Black and White Ball, the so-called “Party of the Century,” in 1966.

Near the Plaza on 38 West 59th Street is the apartment where the Fitzgeralds lived for their first year of marriage. Other notable New York addresses include 228 East 48th Street, where Vonnegut lived for over 40 years, and 206 East 72nd Street, where John Steinbeck wrote East of Eden.

Long Island, New York

Next, cross the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and take I-278 and I-295 to Long Island, where the Fitzgeralds lived from 1922 to 1924. Drive past the Fitzgeralds’ former home at 6 Gateway Drive in Great Neck, the tony suburb that served as the model for West Egg in The Great Gatsby (he began writing the novel here). Then, take a tour of Oheka Castle in Huntington. This sprawling, opulent estate may have served as the inspiration for Gatsby’s lavish mansion.

Hartford, Connecticut

Head back to the mainland and take I-95 northeast to Hartford. Mark Twain, though most closely associated with Missouri and the Mississippi River, spent a large portion of his life in Hartford. Stop in at the Mark Twain House & Museum, where Twain lived from 1874 to 1891 and wrote many of his most celebrated works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Concord, Massachusetts

Continue northeast on I-84 towards Massachusetts. This richly historic state is a treasure trove of literary landmarks, from Melville’s Berkshire farmstead to Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck in Concord. You can choose to visit Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond; the home where Ralph Waldo Emerson penned his greatest works; or Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott lived and where her beloved novel Little Women was set.

Bangor, Maine

If you managed to read all the way through The Shining, driving a few more hours north won’t scare you. Your road trip ends in Bangor, where master of horror Stephen King currently lives. Fans debate whether Bangor or the small town of Dexter was the model for the fictional town of Derry, where King set a number of novels including It, Dreamcatcher, and Insomnia. (In 1983, though, King himself told the Bangor Historical Society that Derry was based on Bangor.)

Landmarks from the books include the Thomas Hill Standpipe (which, as the Derry Standpipe, is the scene of a terrifying encounter with Pennywise the Clown in It); the Paul Bunyan statue (which came horribly to life in It); and the Bangor Auditorium (aka the Derry Civic Center featured in Insomnia).

 

As you cross the country on this literary pilgrimage, your journey will no doubt generate some memorable tales of its own. Before you set out on this or any road adventure, be sure you have the right car insurance coverage.

Esurance and this website are not affiliated with, maintained, authorized, endorsed or sponsored by the authors listed in this post or any of their respective affiliates.

Summer Solstice: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Longest Day of the Year

Ahhh, summer. There’s nothing quite like it. From swimming to road-tripping to eating dinner outdoors, summer’s the time of year we all look forward to. And it only seems fitting that the longest day of the year also happens to be during summer.

So as you prepare to enjoy the extra sunshine today, check out 5 things you might not know about the solstice.

1. Summer solstice has symmetry

Our summer solstice is, of course, the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice. So while we in the Northern Hemisphere (the half of the Earth that live north of the equator) celebrate the longest day of the year, those in the Southern Hemisphere (you know who you are) celebrate the shortest day of the year.

Summer solstice happens because of Earth’s 23.5 degrees tilt. As Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, different parts of Earth are exposed to the sun, giving us 4 beautiful seasons. And without that tilt, we wouldn’t have any seasons.

To see how long the longest day of the year will be where you live, check out this map.

2. Summer solstice has an official kick-off time

Summer solstice will arrive on June 20 at 22:34 (which is 10:34 p.m.), according to UTC time (Coordinated Universal Time), a 24-hour world standard based on Earth’s rotation.

So for those of us in the U.S., that means summer solstice 2016 will occur at:
6:34 p.m. EDT

3:34 p.m. PDT

5:34 p.m. CDT

Convert UTC to your local time by using EarthSky.org’s online table.

3. Earth is further from the sun

Summer solstice means Earth, on its elliptical path, is further away from the sun, not closer. In fact, the Earth is furthest from the sun (about 94.5 million miles) about 2 weeks after the June solstice.

Then, in the winter, Earth is closest to the sun (about 91 million miles) about 2 weeks after the December solstice. (There’s that symmetry again.)

4. The sun looks incredible during the summer solstice

Ever wondered what the solstice looks like from space? So did we. And thankfully, NASA photographed it. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft (SOHO for short) used an extreme ultraviolet imaging telescope to make a composite image of the sun as it reached its northernmost point in Earth’s sky. The result is pretty amazing and was featured in National Geographic magazine.

5. Celebratory parades date back to 1498

Though summer solstice has been famously celebrated for hundreds of years at monuments such as Stonehenge, a lesser-known celebration in England’s historic city of Chester dates back to 1498. Founded by the Romans, Chester re-enacts its medieval history by ushering in summer solstice with a costumed street parade. A family of towering wooden and wicker Medieval effigies and mythical creature puppets star in today’s Chester’s Midsummer Watch Parade.

About 500 people participate in the parade. Folks from all over the world come to watch. See photos from past celebrations here.

And when you want protect everything under the sun (well, almost everything), we can help. Get a free car, renters, motorcycle, or homeowners quote from Esurance today.