“Truck stop” no longer refers to a wide spot in the road where mom and pop put in a diesel pump, opened-up a five-stool diner and started serving chicken dinners. Prepare to be dazzled as you discover America’s finest truck stops. By the time you get home, you will feel sorely tempted to give-up life in the cubicle for a freewheeling life in the cab of an 18-wheeler.
Travel experts note it costs less to take the family on a Disney Caribbean cruise or a tour of Europe than to take The Great American Family Road Trip. The time may have arrived, however, for rediscovering America, loading Mom, Dad and kids into the old family truckster and heading out on the highway. Your family vehicle is fully equipped with gadgets and widgets for reducing whining, “When are gonna get there?” and the highways themselves are now equipped with mini-resorts cleverly disguised as “truck stops.”
Even the average, ordinary truck stops along the clover leaves now stuck just about everything required for good life on the road. Of course, clean restrooms with showers are just a given, as are two or three popular fast-food emporiums. More importantly, though, when you stop with the trucks, you can pick-out a coffee maker or microwave oven adapted for use with the truckster’s power-ports, and you can update your road warrior’s wardrobe with the latest styles from Dickies and Nascar—the full range of sizes and colors for men, women, and children. Naturally you will find classic collections of the best road trip soundtracks on CD, and you often will find hand-crafted jewelry from local artisans; or, motoring along Interstate 8 or Interstate 10, you will see lots of custom-crafted terra cotta pottery.
However, even these amazing amenities and accommodations barely begin revealing myriad wonders waiting at America’s very-very best truck stops…
• Jubitz, known as “the world’s classiest truck stop,” welcome weary travelers with a movie theater, game room, and lounge featuring live music and dance lessons. Frequent Jubitz visitors can recite long lists of country music legends who began their careers at Jubitz or just stopped-in and played a set while touring. The restaurant and deli serve-up all-American favorites in trucker-sized portions, and the store stocks far more than just conveniences; it has everything required to sustain life on the road…forever. Jubitz also features clean, comfortable motel accommodations and an outpatient medical clinic . Of course, factory-authorized mechanics are standing by to repair anything and everything on your rig.
• Porky’s Truck Stop, just south of the Mason-Dixon line in “South of the Border,” South Carolina qualifies as an Interstate Highway theme park. You could devote days to discovering all of Porky's unique attractions. Start by ascending to the top of the 200-foot viewing tower, from which you will behold Porky’s wedding chapel, drug store, gift shop, antique store, and indoor flea market. Porky’s even has its own onsite fire department. Choose among four fine restaurants, fuel with any of the major nationwide brands, and relax at the comfortable motel with cable and wi-fi.
• The Boise Stage Shop cannot rival Porky’s and Jubitz for glitz and glam, because the northern routes just do not carry as much traffic as the southern and central highways. The Stage Stop has, however, elevated old school truck stop style and service to the level of fine American art. Serving the motoring public since the days when people piloted Model-T Fords along dirt highways, the Boise Stage Stop is simply about great food, exemplary service, and a nice quiet place to set-a-spell.
• The Iowa 80 Truck Stop happily breaks-up the monotony along this stretch of Interstate 80. Conveniently located at Exit 284 on Iowa’s piece of the coast-to-coast highway, the Iowa 80 Truck Stop claims distinction as the world’s largest. The parking lot stretches to make space for 800 big-rigs, and the dining room comfortably seats 300 hungry truckers. In addition to fine roadside dining, Iowa 80 has a huge food court and extremely well-stocked convenience stores. More importantly, Iowa 80 has a dentist, a barber and a 60-seat movie theater. The Super Truck Showroom stands out as the jewel in Iowa 80’s crown, spreading across 30,000 square feet and stocking every replacement part and custom accessory known to the world of internal combustion. “If that weren’t enough to make you flip your lid,” Iowa 80 is also home to America’s Trucking Museum.
You cannot just sit there idling when all these roadside wonders beckon. Just load-up the gang and go. No need to pack, because America’s truck stops will keep you well supplied with everything you need. By all means, do not forget to pick-up a clever dashboard bobble-head to commemorate your visit.
Robert Wilkes is an on the road freelance blogger for TruckersReport as well as a regular poster on their Truckers Forum.