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Rest Stops Are More than Potty Breaks

Rest Stops Are More than Potty Breaks

Rest Stops Are More than Potty Breaks
By Françoise Rhodes, Host of Traveling With Françoise Television and Radio

I’ll admit it; I’m a rest stop junky when traveling.  Sure convenience stores are great for gas, snacks and fast foods, but if you really want to feel the excitement of road trippers from all over the world………you’ll find it at rest stops.

With parking available for automobiles, big rigs, RVs and motorcycles, for me rest areas or stops offer intrigue, information and an international flair. My first point of interest (after the restroom break) is the huge map with the big star showing travelers “You are here.”  Stand next to those maps for any length of time and you’ll hear languages from around the world, which I find fascinating.

I also find rest areas to be relaxing with people milling around, having picnics, walking their dogs and many taking hikes from the designated trails offered at many stops across the country. There is also a different type of excitement versus airport travelers where people sit and wait; at rest areas the amount of time spent there is up to you.

Rest stops have been around for a while; known as “Safety rest areas” they were constructed as part of the U.S. interstate highway system that was created in 1956. Envisioned as off-road respites where motorists could take a break, today you’ll find over 2,000 highway rest areas across the continental United States. Typically maintained and funded by the Departments of Transportation of the state governments, as for example, rest areas in California are maintained by Caltrans, many having full time staff and security surveillance. Varying in size and shape across the U.S., and each offering a different persona, don’t expect any one stop to be the same.

Speaking of staff, during the recession in the early 2000’s rest stops lost funding and became a little seedy with bad reputations due to lack of security and maintenance crews.  I’m happy to report that in today’s age with more travelers than ever on record government funding has returned and may offer full time staff, daily staff and surveillance cameras depending on the location and State.  Overall I’ve found about 95% of the stops I’ve visited the grounds are clean and welcoming with many now offering snack machines and soon WiFi.

As many stops are transitioning into Welcome Centers offering even more for the traveler, I hear there are still stops that seem unkempt and unattended. Take note of the signs posted with information on how to report a problem, and with cell phone in hand please make the call.

If you haven’t use a stop in a while give it a try and let me know your thoughts, and if you see me at a rest stop, please feel free to come over and say “hello” and then let’s talk travel!

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