Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's a Rest Stop?

This blog, much to my amazement, has readers from 100 countries in addition to the United States and Puerto Rico. This particular post is for those who live elsewhere. What I'm writing about should be familiar to most of those living in the United States.

In my traveling around I've made reference to stopping at rest stops. I realized yesterday as I was doing that again that rest stops may be a bit unique to the United States. For much the same purposes, for example, we stop at gas stations in Central Europe. I remember the first time someone suggested to me to stop at a gas station for the toilet in Central Europe. I shuddered, for in the United States, many gas stations would not have facilities anyone would wish to use -- but yes, there are others that make available very clean facilities.

So here's a rest stop:

A rest stop always has a small building with toilet facilities and drinking water. One may find a map display or perhaps also tourist brochures for the more immediate area. Wi-Fi is also becoming available at many rest stops.

This particular one has signs announcing that helicopters might be in the area, working on installing an electrical line. The sign cautioned drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not the helicopters.

It had one sign quite unusual:

This sign gives information about an invasive species, asking people to keep their eyes open for that. On the sign is a 800 (that means toll free) phone number to call if one sees this beetle.

As one approaches a rest stop, there are signs that separate auto and truck traffic. The two vehicles require different parking sizes so sorting them out helps. Also the rest stop provides a place for a long distance truck driver to do that -- rest.

This particular one yesterday had quite a collection of trucks.

 Rest for families too. This rest stop had a playground and picnic tables. And across the auto parking lot in a grassy area was an area for walking for dogs.
In some states even more happens at rest stops. In Iowa most rest stops are also a history display. The one near Sioux City, IA, for example, is all about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, since the group camped near the site of the rest stop. When traveling with my children once in Mississippi we found a rest stop that served Coca Cola for free. In hot weather, that was a good treat!

The heading on this blog says sometimes things will be mundane -- so perhaps rest stops fit that description. But I know rest stops may be a bit unique. I remember taking a Russian visitor with me to Duluth. When we stopped at a rest stop she said, "Oh, this is marvelous. In Russia we have to pee along the road."

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