On road trips, pit stops are essential – Daily Local

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For people in the witness protection program, rest stops might be a good place to hide.

Along the road, we usually rush from the car to the toilet. A simple nod or a hello! is discouraged. Nobody looks anyone in the eye. Speed ​​and quick return to the road are key.

However, not everyone is in a hurry. Some linger smoking outside a vehicle, while others walk a dog. Others find a secluded place, away from slamming car doors, to sleep.

I carry a blanket and pillow and like to nap at rest areas. Deep south on I-10, I once passed my welcome. I no longer wonder how the posted two-hour limit or overnight stay ban is sometimes enforced.

One day at dawn, while I was dreaming, an employee threw a weeder inches from my bumper. The grass didn’t look like it needed trimming, and I got the idea and quickly moved on.

I recently discovered that with a GPS device I can track mileage to the next rest stop. Something about the mile marker countdown to a stop gives us something to look forward to and breaks up long interstate drives. It’s nice to get out and stretch your legs.

Most states have reception centers at the border. I like to grab brochures. Just south of the Georgia line on I-95, you can get a free cup of Florida orange or grapefruit juice. I almost always stop immediately after crossing most states.

Curiously, in many reception centers, we are asked to sign a newspaper indicating the postal code of our hometown. How curious. They probably just want to know where to advertise, but that seems like a violation of that rest stop code of anonymity. I don’t want anyone behind a counter to know or care where I’m from.

And who is looking at those maps displayed at the rest areas? Do they really travel without? GPS is great, but having a paper backup is essential. An atlas or map gives us a range and a sense of place that a GPS does not.

I appreciate having security guards posted at the rest areas, as long as they don’t cut the grass at dawn. Years ago, international travelers were targeted at rest stops. Florida license plates then identified rental cars. The bad guys preyed on travelers with passports, with lots of luggage.

Those signs in New York State and elsewhere announcing an upcoming Geico SMS shutdown are wonderful and likely life-saving. Timely texting isn’t as vital as the most common reason for stopping at rest stops, but if drivers realize it’s easy to put on and take off and they don’t take for another minute or two they might stop and text.

Turnpike rest stops typically include gas and food sales. It’s nice to have a hot meal or a cup of good coffee. The food is better than before at the rest areas. And ever since the 2000 Republican Convention was held in Philadelphia, the turnpike has cleaned up and those restrooms are much cleaner. Typically, the facilities at most state-sponsored or turnpike stops nationwide are cleaner than the average gas station.

It must be cheaper to build two rest areas directly across from each other than one and a bridge. This cost to cross the highway must be prohibitive. At some toll road stops serving both directions, I have heard that drivers heading in opposite directions will exchange toll tickets to save money. I wouldn’t want to get caught doing that.

So the next time you look for me, I could hide under a blanket at a roadside stop. Or I’ll be this guy walking back and forth, standing alone, staring at the sidewalk. Anyway, while on the go, I’ll take a short break along the way, while heading elsewhere.

Bill Rettew is a weekly columnist and resident of Chester County. He doesn’t need a reason to leave. The best way to contact him is at [email protected]

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