REAL ID for Travel

Does your driver’s license fly?  Beginning October 1, 2020 (just 18 months from now) air travelers will need a driver’s license or ID card known as a Real ID to board commercial domestic flights and enter certain federal facilities such as military bases.  A passport or certain other federal documents (those issued by the federal government’s Trusted Traveler Program) may be used as an alternative to a Real ID for travel or entrance to federal facilities.

Since the inception of the Real ID in 2005, states have been gradually implementing the security-enhanced features required by federal law.  So what is the Real ID and how do you know if you have one?

Used with permission, © Iowa DOT

A Real ID looks the same as any other driver’s license, contains the same information, is made of the same materials, and has the same security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication.

To determine if you have a Real ID,  begin by checking your driver’s license.  Most compliant states have issued the Real ID in conjunction with the state issued driver’s license; those licenses that are compliant will have a gold or black star in the top right corner. If you see that, you are likely good to go!

While that sounds simple enough, there is a lot of confusion.  Most states are now compliant with federal regulations, but 12 states remain as non-compliant or have been granted an extension to a given date.  Four states (Hawaii, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah) issued compliant IDs without a star.   Arizona and Kentucky have given citizens the option of a Real ID also known as a Voluntary Traveler ID or an old style driver’s license (non-compliant).   If for any reason your license does not have a star in the upper right corner, check with your state DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or local driver’s license bureau for more information.

As of this writing, driver’s licenses issued by Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota are compliant.  To learn more about Real ID and state compliance, check out REAL ID/Homeland Security.  Bottom line, if you plan to travel by air or enter a federal facility requiring ID, you will need a Real ID unless you have other proper identification; for travel, that would be a passport.  If you do not anticipate either scenario, a Real ID is not needed.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Fall Fun Ideas

Fall is here!  Here’s some ideas from my family to yours to make fall a special time for the family.

Rake and play in the leaves—assuming it doesn’t stir up allergies.  After the leaves fall, pile the raked leaves and let the kids and dogs jump and scatter.  Of course, you may have to re-rake a bit before bagging or composting.

Watch for slow-moving vehicles.  Harvest has begun so motorists need to be watchful of slow-moving vehicles and farm equipment.  Make it a safe season for everyone by sharing the road and slowing down.

Make a pot of soup.  Chili is especially good on a cool day.  Stews are a good way to use up the last of the vegetables harvested from the garden.

Pick apples.  October is national apple month and what a fun outing it can be to harvest apples either from your own trees or at a nearby orchard.  Some orchards provide entertainment as well as picking opportunities.  Use the apples to eat fresh or make apple crisp, apple pie, or apple butter.  Be sure to get a candied apple, too!

Search for a pumpkin or two for decorating or carving.  There are lots of pick-your-own pumpkin patches and some come with entertainment options, too.   Pumpkin carving or decorating parties are a lot of fun for all ages.  Carving pumpkins don’t make good pumpkin pie; instead choose a small pie pumpkin for cooking and baking.

Plant mums, bulbs, grass, shrubs, and trees.  Fall is the perfect time to plant as the cool days and nights allow plants to settle in without stress.  Water thoroughly until the ground freezes.  Consider mulching to keep new plantings from heaving during the winter months.

Build a bonfire.  The warmth from the fire is so special on a cool night and even more fun when s’mores are on the menu. Be mindful of fire safety.

Catch the football spirit.  Take in a local high school Friday night game or play touch football with the kids. Catch your favorite team on TV!  Tailgate with friends either at a game or before watching a TV game.

Try out an amazing corn maze.  Traversing a corn maze in search of the end or prizes is guaranteed to become a fun and exciting tradition for years to come.

Decorate for Halloween.  String up some lights or plug in the fog machine for a festive spirit.  Be sure all lights or electrical decorations are UL approved and plugged into GFCI outlets.  Add some carved pumpkins and maybe a big spider web.

Watch a scary movie.  Nothing sets the scene for Halloween more than a little “fright!”

Take a road trip.  Check out the changing scenery in your area as the farm fields go from green to golden brown to harvest empty and the leaves on the trees turn.  Or travel to the various parts of the state to see the “colors” at their peak time.

Take a hike.  Follow a path through the woods at a state or local park.  Hear the leaves crunch and smell the damp fall ground.  Pack a picnic to enjoy along the way.

Drink hot spiced apple cider or hot chocolate.  It just wouldn’t be fall without cider and hot chocolate to warm up after an outing on a cool fall day or evening.  And either beverage really goes nice with a fire in the fireplace!

Take a hayride.  Watch local listings for community hayrides.

For more ideas and where to find fall entertainment options, check out Travel Iowa.

Happy Fall!

 

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Passports, Global Entry, and TSA Pre-Check

There are several people in our building planning to do some international travel in the near future. As we were all discussing the various trips we are planning we began forming a list of questions about what needed to be completed before leaving on those trips. For some of us we needed to apply for our first passport. When applying for your first passport you need to appear in person. You will need to go somewhere that takes passport photos as well to attach to your application. Be sure to allow plenty of turn-around time to receive your passport well before you plan to travel. We discovered you can go to the Recorder’s Office at many of your local County Courthouses to appear in person to apply for your first passport AND they are also able to take your photos. Some Post Offices also do that saving you time from going to more than one place.

Some countries require that your passport be valid for six months beyond the completion of your trip. You will want to check the requirements of the countries you are planning to visit and you may need to renew your passport before you leave. You will still need new photos but you can renew by mail and not have to appear in person. Again, make sure to allow for plenty of turn-around time.

Once you have your passport you may want to consider enrolling in a Global Entry program which expedites your entry back into the United States. If you are planning to do quite a bit of international travel it may be worth looking into. You would start by enrolling in the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

There is also TSA Pre-Check  to consider. It allows you to enter a separate security line and you do not have to remove your shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets. There is an option to add that to Global Entry.

I wish you all safe travels ahead whether you are traveling internationally or domestically!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Exploring Iowa via Adult Learning Vacations

Recently I learned about a learning adventure/vacation opportunity for adults offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach designed to experience and explore Iowa in unique ways through a travel course.  Little did I know that this opportunity existed.  The courses are arranged by Diane Van Wyngarden, tourism specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, and are part of the Road Scholar Program.  Each learning adventure has a theme of study.  For a week, a limited number of participants travel together following the theme and learning insights and history from experts about the various communities involved in the study.  Transportation is by motorcoach or boat.

This year, the adventure is one that really intrigues me–the Mississippi River, the Great River Road, and other fascinating points of interest along the way.  If this also intrigues you, check out Iowa Road Scholar or contact Diane Van Wyngarden at dvw@iastate.edu for more information about this adventure and other Iowa learning adventures.

Road Scholar programs are open to adults of all ages with most participants 50+ years of age who enjoy learning experiences rather than touring.  For more information about Road Scholars see www.roadscholar.org.

 

 

 

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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The Pioneer Woman

I love to travel and was fortunate to recently go on a trip with a wonderful friend to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to see the Pioneer Woman sites. After watching her show on the Food Network it was a real treat to get to see the Mercantile and the Pawhuska area. We stayed at a hotel in downtown Pawhuska within walking distance of the Mercantile. We were happy we did that as it allowed us to easily walk to the Mercantile at off hours that were not so crowded. Several thousand people visit the Mercantile every day and it is not uncommon to have to wait in line a very long time (up to two hours) to be able to eat in the restaurant. We made sure we were there for breakfast by 7am and ate a very early dinner to avoid the lines.

There are two stories at the Mercantile. On the main level are the deli/restaurant and the retail shop. You can have a sit down meal or go through a line to pick up prepared foods to take with you. There is also a coffee shop on the main level where you can buy coffees and specialty drinks. I did not try the Cowboy Coffee or the Spicy Cowgirl coffee but they were popular choices with the patrons who were there at the same time I was. My two favorite menu items were the Olive Cheese Bread (which I will try to recreate at home!) and the Prune Cake. My friend and I were leery of trying the cake but our very friendly and knowledgeable server highly recommended it. We were not disappointed!

Upstairs at the Mercantile are a coffee bar, bakery, and a nice relaxation area to enjoy the treats you purchased. They also sell several types of candy. The picures on the wall were all taken by Ree and were a joy to look at. There were very nice restrooms on each level – they have thought of everything!

The Mercantile was actually a mercantile originally known as the Osage Mercantile back in the 1800s. The Drummond family has done an amazing job restoring and refurbishing it. It is well worth the visit. It is a fun and family-friendly destination. Check the website ahead of time and also check with the deli when you arrive as tours of the Lodge where the Pioneer Woman shows are often filmed are available on certain dates. The tours are free and directions are given to you if you are lucky enough to be there on a day tours are available. Tour tickets are not available in advance.

The Mercantile is closed on Sundays and Pawhuska is a small town but it has a lot going for it and many interesting things to do in the area. Pawhuska is known as the gateway to the Tallgrass Prairie. It is definitely worth a drive through the prairie if you have time. Pawhuska is also the home of America’s first Boy Scout Troop. It is a fascinating area of the country to visit. If you are a follower of the Pioneer Woman and watch her shows on TV I highly recommend you add this to your vacation destination list.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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TSA tips

It’s time for our annual trip to Boise to visit our son and his family so it was also time to check with the TSA to be sure that I can pack my small sewing scissors in my carry-on bag. I check with the TSA every year to be sure that rules have not changed and that my scissors are still allowed on the plane.

I was surprised this year at the changes on the TSA website and I thought I would share some of them with you. Previously, there were only about four pages of items allowed or disallowed on a plane. This year, there are forty-four pages. It was surprising to see all the different items that appeared on the list. Last year I wanted to bring an antique sewing machine home with me and eventually needed to call the TSA to be sure I could bring the machine on the plane. This year, I discovered that I could travel with a sewing machine, bread machine or even a microwave oven. There were many more food items than I had ever considered packing in my carry-on. The TSA even seems to have a sense of humor, as seen in the comments.

Magic 8 Ball

  • Carry On Bags: No
  • Checked Bags: Yes

For Carry-on bags: We asked the Magic 8 Ball and it told us…Outlook not so good!

For Checked bags: We asked the Magic 8 Ball and it told us…It is certain!

The TSA also has a hints page with travel hints for various holidays; travel with children or with seniors, traveling with pets, and other special situations. I read some of the posts and they were both helpful and funny. Be sure to check these sites before your next trip as the information does change over time.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Rental Car Insurance: Do You Need It?

With family members spread across the US, I find myself flying to their destination and then renting a car so that I have my independence during my visit.  Even though I reserve a car in advance and have already checked the box declining rental car insurance, I get the standard question at the car rental counter:  “Do you need/want rental car insurance?”  Put on the spot, you might not know and therefore, feel compelled to purchase. And that’s  exactly what rental companies are counting on and the commissions for selling you the coverage.  For me the answer is usually “no,” but that may not be true for everyone.  Here are some guidelines on how to find out if you need rental car insurance and help you make an informed decision when you’re at the rental counter.

Talk to your insurance agent.  Coverage from your own auto policy usually applies when you are using a rental car for personal, nonbusiness purposes. By accepting counter coverage, you may be paying extra for something you already have.  According to State Farm Insurance, you should ask your agent these key questions:

  • Does my auto policy liability, comprehensive and collision coverage and any deductibles extend to rental car agreements? Make sure that coverage also includes theft or damage to a rental car.  If you have collision and comprehensive coverage on your own policy, it generally will extend to a rental car. However, you will still be on the hook for your deductible. Your own liability insurance should cover if you do damage to others, but make sure you have adequate liability coverage ($1 million is recommended).
  • Does my auto policy cover administrative or towing fees for rental cars?
  • Does my homeowners or renters insurance extend to personal items in a rental car (off-premises coverage)? In most cases, homeowners or renters insurance will cover your possessions if they are stolen, even away from home. To make a theft claim, you’ll need to file a police report.  Check with your agent about the limits of your coverage; off-premises items are usually only covered up to a certain percentage of your personal property coverage. The deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance will apply.
  • Does my auto policy offer loss of income coverage to the rental company?
  • Does my auto policy offer personal injury protection or a MedPay?  If you have health insurance, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection on your car insurance policy, you may already have coverage comparable to what the rental company offers.

Talk to your credit card company or review the company’s policy on rental cars.  If you pay for a rental car with a major credit card, there’s a good chance that the issuing company offers secondary insurance at no charge.  Secondary insurance typically covers additional expenses and deductibles beyond an existing auto policy.

Be familiar with the coverage options provided by your employer.  Coverage extensions of your auto policy or credit card may not apply if you rent a car for business.  Likewise, if you rent for pleasure, your company coverage may not be apply.

Having done your research, you will know whether you need coverage from a rental company or not. Further, there are companies that sell standalone policies for rental cars if you don’t want to buy insurance at the counter. You will need to decline the rental company’s coverage to use a standalone policy.

If coverage is warranted, never sign anything or agree to coverage without reading the policy thoroughly and understanding what coverage is included or limited. Should something unfortunate happen, you don’t want any surprises. Most rental companies have their policies available for review online so you can read them in advance of renting.   If you have no auto policy or your existing policies do not cover rental cars or you have limited auto coverage, the following should be considered at the counter or from a standalone policy:

Liability or supplemental liability.  This protection will pay for damage you do to others’ vehicles or property. A typical limit is $1 million. Liability coverage is a must.

Collision/loss damage waiver. In place of collision or comprehensive coverage, counter policies offer LDW OR CDW which helps cover damage or repair costs, administrative fees, and towing.  Technically it is not insurance but rather a waiver and the waiver typically excludes coverage for damage caused by speeding or driving on unpaved roads.

Personal accident insurance.  This insurance covers medical costs (ambulance, medical care, and death benefits) for you and your passengers if you’re involved in an accident.

Personal effects coverage.   If your personal belongings are stolen from the rental car, this coverage pays for loss up to a set dollar amount.

The rental company’s extra coverage might make sense in a few cases. For that reason, it’s important to understand your existing coverage and what the rental agency is offering.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Visit an Iowa Farm

Photo courtesy of and permission by Bloomsbury Farm, Atkins, Ia

Would your family enjoy visiting an operating farm?  A farm visit can be a tremendous learning experience and also great family fun.  Seeing how a farm operates and the effort that goes into growing crops or raising livestock provides appreciation for the food we consume daily or becomes an eye-opening experience on seeing non-traditional crops being grown.  Further its a great opportunity to try new products, foods and beverages produced from those crops.

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, check out Visit Iowa Farms at www.visitiowafarms.org where you will find a listing of farms across the state willing to host visitors.  The Visit Iowa Farms program is administered by the Value Added Agriculture Program of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Users of the site can find a farm by adventure type, county, or distance from a specific location.  Agritourism has continued to grow in Iowa and according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, there were 275 farms in the state open to the public.  Agritourism in Iowa has been growing steadily.

The site is also useful to farmers wanting to list their operation on the Visit Iowa Farms website.  Besides registering, there are also resources for business planning, marketing, and legal and regulation considerations as they set up and publicize their agritourism operation.

For more on what to do and see in rural Iowa, download the Iowa Tour Guide (2015) which gives many ideas and even planned tours through the state to see agriculture in many different forms.  Agritourism is all about connecting travelers or curiosity seekers to life down on the farm.  Check out the opportunities!  You’ll be amazed!

Photo courtesy of Jean Marie Martin and provided with permission by Loess Hills Lavender Farm, Missouri Valley, IA
Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Tips for winterizing your car.

BlizzardIt may seem really early to be thinking about winterizing your car or your home, but snow in November is not really that rare. These nice late autumn days are perfect for checking and stocking your car with the necessary supplies.

If you cannot check the radiator yourself, have someone else check the level of antifreeze. If the level of antifreeze is low, add some. This is also the time to change the windshield-wiper fluid to a fluid designed for winter. Be sure that the wiper fluid tank is full. Check your tires to be sure there is adequate tread left and that they are inflated to the correct level. If the tread is a bit too thin, you may want to replace the tires to be sure you have good traction in the snow and ice.

Even though it may be a nice day, check to be sure the heater is working well. You can easily test your emergency flashers by yourself, but you may need to have help checking the oil level, brake fluid and exhaust system. Protect yourself by being prepared.

You may also want to prepare a Winter Survival kit for your car. Keeping an extra jacket, gloves, or boots in the car is also a good idea. Remember that you should always be aware of the weather; especially if there is a storm in the forecast. Keeping the gas tank full in the winter is a good habit.  If you are stranded you should have enough gas to keep the car warm by running the heater. Stay off of the roads in bad weather if at all possible.

Take a bit of time now to make sure you are safe this winter

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Transporting Food Safely

 “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go!”

My siblings and I used to sing that song on the way to my grandma and grandpa’s house, riding along in our side-paneled station wagon. Chances are, this holiday season, you may be attending a gathering where you’re bringing food.  There are steps you can take to ensure your prepared food arrives at your destination safely. to avoid the risk of food poisoning.  Getting sick does not usually result in great memories.

Remember the two hour rule: Avoid leaving perishable foods at room temperature (or car temperature in this case) for more than two hours.

Important note: Just because it is cold outside, don’t rely on trunk temperatures to be low enough for food storage.  Sunlight could warm your trunk to unsafe temperatures, resulting in unsafe food temperatures.  The same goes for garages.  Don’t use these places for refrigeration!

When transporting food, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold at safe temperatures.

*Hot food must be kept at or above 140⁰F and should be wrapped well and placed in an insulated container, such as a cooler (Yes coolers work to keep foods not only cold, but hot as well).  I also like to wrap my hot dishes in towels for added insulation before placing them into a cooler.   IMG_0262

IMG_0265*Place cold foods in a cooler with ice or freezer packs or an insulated container with an ice pack so they remain at 40°F or lower, especially if traveling longer than 30 minutes.

 

When you arrive at your destination, place hot foods in an oven hot enough to keep the food at an internal temperature of 140°F or above. Place cold foods in a refrigerator. Use a food thermometer to assure that the food stays at a safe internal temperature. Try to serve foods soon after your arrival.

thermometer

Another option would be to transport your ingredients in a cooler, then make your dish on location.

People traveling a long distance might bring non-perishables such as breads and cookies. Those traveling about a half an hour or less can more safely bring perishables items such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products or foods containing these items. Close guests are also good candidates to provide salads, relishes and vegetables.

Keep these simple tips in mind to have a safe, happy holiday season with your family and friends!

contributed by Jill Jensen, former AnswerLine Specialist

 

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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