I love highway rest stops. There. I said it. Rest stops, truck stops, I love them all. Those commercialized hubs on the major highways and over state lines gets my heart beating a little faster every time we go on the road. With the warmer weather around the corner, I have vacation/road trip on the brain, and with that comes memories of past road trips and so naturally, between needing gas and restroom breaks, there are the rest stops.
There is a sense of adventure in the anonymity of rest stops and an unspoken instant camaraderie with other road travelers. No matter where you go, they’re all the same–people striding purposefully toward the bathroom while others leisurely eyeball the cold case for something to munch. Then you have the tchotchke shoppers checking the token key chains, shot glasses, hats, and t-shirts emblazoned with the state bird or motto of wherever they are. Newspapers, magazines, local and state maps, and miscellaneous car paraphernalia round out the window shopping before heading over to the cashier to pay for the coffee or whatever it is that will get these travelers through to the next leg of their trip.
Where are all these people going? Coming from? Who are they visiting? Meeting? Leaving? Rest stops are like a pause in the journey. It lets you take a time out and assess how far you’ve come and how far you’ve yet to go.
Every vacation has a story and every road trip just begs for one. Some of my favorite memories have come from rest stop situations that enhanced our vacations like nothing else could have, from “lost keys” that ended up being on the air filter of the car engine while stopped in Memphis to a rest stop in Pennsylvania where I gave a woman back her wallet she thought she lost but simply left behind in the bathroom.
My favorite rest stop memory though happened just outside of Las Vegas where I found a coupon for 10 percent off a wedding service at a Vegas chapel. The initial reason for our Nevada trip was a whole other story, but we held on to the coupon and in the end, simply couldn’t resist. We got married on the way back to the airport on our last day in Vegas and then boarded the plane to come home. (Yes, we used the coupon.)
That particular rest stop has led me to the best road trip of all as this year marks 20 years with my husband—definitely the trip of a lifetime! So if you’re planning on any sort of road trip for your next vacation, be sure to enjoy the rest stops along the way. You’ll never know what you’ll find or where they may lead you, but at the very least it could be one of the best parts of the trip!