Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Take a break

interstate-highway-mapWe’ve almost completed our drive back to our winter home in central Texas after working this summer in western New York and we are so thankful for the Interstate Highway System.

The Interstate catches a lot of flak for being impersonal and robbing one of the traveling experience. Yes, that’s true, but it has two important functions. One is if a traveler must get from A to B in a most expeditious manner and the other is what interests us.

Pulling our home behind us through one small town after another, winding down small, unshouldered highways, can sap a lot of fun from the traveling experience. Additionally, it can be difficult to find a place to simply pull over.

On the Interstate, however, we always find multiple lanes so it’s OK to drive a little slower. There are no signal lights or sharp turns. You aren’t as worried about traffic pulling out in front of you. It’s definitely easier driving.

Plus, most states have pretty good rest stops. Some, in fact, are amazing.

The bonus for rest stops on the Interstate is they almost always have abundant truck and trailer parking. It’s so easy to pull the trailer into a roomy parking spot and take a break.

There are rest rooms, of course, and picnic tables. Most have vending machines. The majority of them have information posted about the area. Some are staffed with folks to help travelers find where they’re going and to promote tourist events. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one with coffee and maybe a cookie.

They’re almost always quite clean. Some have janitorial staff on duty 24 hours a day. Of course, that also serves as an implication of security. Some actually have security on duty or, at least, signs saying they do.

One cannot help but consider whether this is money well spent, but I have to think it is. Giving drivers an occasional break from the hypnotic effects of freeway driving is an important safety issue. Granted, many of the rest areas are much fancier than necessary, particularly some of the welcome centers when one first enters a state, but having a place where drivers can easily and quickly take a break is something worth preserving.

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