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Old 04-07-2016, 05:40 PM   #1
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The End of the Interstate Rest Area?

Last Thanksgiving, as I entered Illinois, I found out they closed a lot of their rest areas for budget reasons. Ok, Illinois is screwed up financially - its why I left.

Now, I just drove across Arkansas, I-30 to I-40 to I-55. Some of the rest areas were closed for remodeling, and others closed a long time ago permanently.

Based on a story I read, states are trying to save money anywhere possible. The government's logic is that nowadays there are plenty of private truck stops and gas stations along the way so that they don't need to provide that service anymore.

The problem is, what about us RV users? We don't necessarily fit in at truck stops, and can't use most normal parking lots. Walmart, in many areas, is putting up barriers to prevent trucks and other tall vehicles from entering their lots. Those that don't get very crowded at night with trucks. One I stopped at in Marshall, TX had the outer half of the huge lot full of trucks and a few campers. Another I stopped at was so full that some trucks ended up parking in aisles between other trucks.

Private campgrounds are technically fine at night (although many times it would be cheaper to get a motel room and park in their lot for 8 hours), but finding a place to park and eat lunch in peace is getting annoying.

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Old 04-07-2016, 08:49 PM   #2
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Some can manage money properly, some cannot. In the past I have obtained permission to overnight in church parking lots when they do not have an event. Cracker Barrel normally allows overnighting, with permission.

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Old 04-07-2016, 10:01 PM   #3
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Thankfully, not in Ohio. We're upgrading ours.

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Old 04-07-2016, 10:18 PM   #4
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I love to stop at rest areas. I think they reflect that states pride in their hospitality to travelers and such. Although I have seen some rest areas like you say closed, I'm also amazed at what some states do in terms of building very nice rest areas.

Take for example the first one from Texas, where that's ONE pavilion for sitting down and having a lunch. There were a few of them along with a children's playground and other amenities.

And in New Mexico, I found the second one. Didn't stay at that one long however as it was incredibly windy that day, but it was neat having spots like that.

So you may have stumbled across some that appear to present doom and gloom, I'm so often amazed at what I see.

And just another side note, there was one rest area in Connecticut that was closed for like two years. "under construction" in both directions. Then suddenly the state decided to put a crew on each side and actually do the work and now they've re-opened them. Nothing to write home about, but often times it takes a state a long time to actually perform the work.
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Old 04-08-2016, 03:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by NLOVNIT View Post
Thankfully, not in Ohio. We're upgrading ours.

X2.... Including a designated section for RVs. From their website:
Eastbound Service Plazas
From Indiana to Pennsylvania:
Tiffin River (MP 20.8)*
Wyandot (MP 76.9)*
Commodore Perry (MP 100.0)
Vermilion Valley (MP 139.5)*
Towpath (MP 170.1)
Brady’s Leap (MP 197.0)*
Glacier Hills (MP 237.2)

Westbound Service Plazas
From Pennsylvania to Indiana:
Mahoning Valley (MP 237.2)
Portage (MP 197.0)*
Great Lakes (MP 170.1)
Middle Ridge (MP 139.5)*
Erie Islands (MP 100.0)
Blue Heron (MP 76.9)*
Indian Meadow (MP 20.8)*

Eight service plazas* listed above offer overnight parking areas for RVs and travel trailers. The parking areas are open for occupancy for one night only and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. RV parking areas offer electrical outlets (20 and 30-120V; 50 AMP-240V), a wastewater dump station and potable water filling station for a $20.00 fee. Click HERE for more general information and rules for the RV parking areas.

We've stayed at a couple. It's just a parking lot, but nicely done. Nominal 40 ft limit, Payment on the honor system.

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Old 04-08-2016, 03:47 PM   #6
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I'm sure it varies from state to state, and even where in the state the interstate rest area is or would be. Those states with a good deal of VACATIONER or tourist-driven interstates are probably much more likely to keep the appropriate rest areas up and running than those areas where the interstates are more commonly used for commuting, by natives.

Examples - I-95 in much of the northeast is pretty bereft of really useful, state-run rest areas, at least between DC and, say, Rhode Island. But one of the nicest rest areas I ever saw was at the eastern end of I-80 in Wyoming, at Pine Bluffs - spotless rest rooms, picnic areas, plenty of parking, the whole nine yards.

The Jersey turnpike has commercial rest areas with gas, parking, some food court type stuff, and so on, about every 35 or 40 miles. They're named after famous Jerseyites, and range in scope from Walt Whitman and Thomas Edison, to Vince Lombardi.

From my point of view, the presence or absence of state-run, non-commercial rest areas is somewhat moot - if we want to pull over for lunch, a quick snooze or whatever, we just take an exit and head for the fast food place or truck stop with a suitable parking lot. No one's gonna rattle your cage for parking in their lot for 45 minutes.

I DO like the "welcome centers", though, because they give you an opportunity to take a couple of snaps, grab a map or two, and just make a better memory.

Here's West Virginia on, I think, I-68, Indiana on I-70, and Wyoming's Pine Bluffs along I-80.
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Old 04-08-2016, 03:58 PM   #7
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Lori is right on! Ohio has some great rest areas along the turnpike. Lots of parking both just for a stop or overnight at some rest areas. I especially like the easy access gas stations. I mean filling up with gas, not only diesel.
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Old 04-08-2016, 04:06 PM   #8
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I do like the Ohio rest areas. In the Southeast I hear they are getting private sponsors. So, we deal with a little advertising while we eat lunch. Sounds like a good tradeoff.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:20 PM   #9
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We encountered two awesome rest areas on I10 as new RVers. One was the Atchafalaya rest stop in LOuisiana. RV parking on the car side and another area for truckers, and security. Very nicely done visitor center. The other we liked was in the area of Luling, TX on I10. That rest area actually had walking trails and plant ID markers! We saw truck drivers with yoga mats working out at that rest stop, something I have never seen before.

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