The older I get, the more I map out the rest stops and sadly, if they are not monitored closely or have an attendant, they are often in deplorable condition. On the other hand, some states have rest areas that are exceptional in that they are stops with a purpose. Some are Visitor Centers with wonderful showcases of their state history. These are a few of the ones I have come across over the years.
This is one on I-40 east of Amarillo, Texas with its big star depicting the Lone Star State. I was crossing this state that “is-so-wide-I-don’t-think-I’ll-ever-get-across-it” in late September and I was very happy for their individual places with outside picnic tables that sported overhead covers against the sun. It was an underground building as well, which made a whole lot of sense to me. Inside was a marvelous display of their oil wells and other history.
The picture of my Sprinter snugged up against a semi surrounded by snow drifts, was not technically a rest stop. It was taken in about the same area of Texas, but during the winter. It had to have been taken in about 1987 because I still didn’t have the Alaska guard on it yet. Now that was a fun snow-in. I could no longer see to drive and when I finally saw this truck stop/restaurant, I pulled in along with everybody else with the same idea. Actually, though we were there for several days, it was fun talking and exchanging stories with all the other stranded people. The restaurant did a good business.
This next one of my Sprinter in front of the teepees, was also a rest stop in Texas. I was on Farm-to-Market #170 following the Rio Grande River and the Mexican Border through Big Bend National Park. I was actually on my way to visit a goat! No, not an “old goat,” just a goat. I had seen a program on TV that told about a beer-drinking goat at Terlingua and sure enough, I found him slurping beer. I always wanted to get back to Big Bend National Park country but haven’t done it yet. I was there only a week and it wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything that Big Bend offers.
Let’s go up to another teepee rest stop. It hardly seems possible that Lewis and Clark traveled the Missouri River and camped in this valley near what would later be Oacoma, SD., both on their trip to the Pacific Ocean in 1804 and on their return to St. Louis in 1806. Oacoma didn’t appear in history until 1890. The name Oacoma comes from a Sioux word meaning “a place between” meaning between the Missouri River and the bluffs. Sometime after 1956, Interstate 90, stretching for 3,101 miles from Seattle to Boston, came into existence.
As with the TX rest stop, this is also a historic site and museum. It has a magnificent view of the Valley and the bridge crossing the Missouri at Chamberlain, SD. A 55’ keelboat is on display, a replica of the one Lewis and Clark used for their trip. As the sign says, “They stayed the first time for several days because of the rain but that didn’t stop them from exploring the countryside, describing the pronghorns, coyotes, magpies, mule deer, jackrabbits, and other animals they saw.” Makes you stop and think about our runaway technology in all areas when you realize Lewis & Clark’s adventure was only a little over 200 years ago! This one of wagon wheels was also taken in SD but I don’t know where. Any of you know?
This next picture is not a bona fide rest area but it sure looked like fun to me. I was following the Kancamagus Highway (The Kanc) in Northern NH, a 35-mile drive through a magnificent American Scenic Byway in the White Mountain National Forest. It is Rocky Gorge country and these swimmers were having a ball playing in the Swift River, laying in the sunshine, and just enjoying whatever the day offered.
So I’ll just say again, I appreciate all the rest stops, especially those that offer a little history and information as well as the facilities. God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling.
The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”