Veins and arteries carry needed nutrients to the various parts of our bodies and, in a similar way, interstate highways crisscross the mainland of the US so that 18 wheelers can carry freight to consumers who need and want it. Unlike our circulatory systems, though, the interstates are being added to continuously in order to reach more consumers more easily. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are 46,876 miles in the system at this point. Milesurfer.com states that on each mile of interstate per day an average of 60,000 people travel. That’s a lot of people on a lot of roadway.
When the first interstates were being built in the 1950s, there were truck stops here and there that mainly provided fuel for trucks and four wheelers traveling long distances. Gradually, as demand for hauling goods around the country grew, some truck stops started offering things like longer hours, full service truck garages, restrooms, restaurants, movie rooms, game rooms, souvenirs, laundry rooms and showers. There are even places with hair salons, wi-fi, dog washing facilities, workout rooms and cell phone shops.
Unfortunately, although truck stops have been given more politically correct names such as travel plazas and service centers, there is still a stigma attached to them in certain communities which, along with other issues such as funding, contributes to a lack of safe parking for trucking professionals along our interstates. Like many things in life, a large part of the reason for this is the few tend to discolor the reputation of the many. For example, there are those among tractor-trailer drivers who show their lack of professionalism by throwing their trash in parking lots, urinating between trucks, being loud and obnoxious in restaurants and ignoring driving protocol in parking lots and on the road. Other reasons include the tendency for truck parking lots to attract undesirables such as pan handlers and prostitutes. Understandably, not many people want any of these things in or near the places they live and work. But, providing safe places for the people who work hard to deliver the things consumers want and need to the places they live should be important to said consumers, even with the possibility of issues to deal with.
I personally don’t think I would have survived well out here twenty years ago. I can only imagine what a 10’ by 10’ living space would smell like after 3 or 4 weeks of laundry collecting in the bunk, not to mention what the inhabitants of said living space would smell like with no shower for that long. Then there’s the fact that the tractors didn’t have perks like refrigerators and non-idle temperature control. I have got to have my fridge for my milk and such that I can only get during our Wal-Mart trips. And I definitely prefer having a cab that stays at a decent room temperature all the time so I don’t have to climb into a would be sauna when returning to the truck after a break.
The major thing I think I’d I have a problem with is the social drawbacks. It’s difficult enough now to stay connected with access to cellphones and internet. Truck drivers used to only have their CBs and the occasional coin operated phone at a truck stop. I’m sure it can still be a lonely life, but at least there are more options now to help them keep in touch with friends and family.
Well, today we’re back home for a 34. (I’ll explain what a 34 is in a later post.) Time to check the mail and such before heading back out for more adventure.
Until next time, thanks for reading and drive safely 🙂