Sunday, July 24, 2011

Road Notes: Quality, Rest Stops & Mowing

Twelve days, seven states and 3,000 miles maybe 85% on Interstates, we were pleased to return to New Mexico from southwest Wisconsin. Our new car, a Toyota Avalon purchased from Beaver Toyota, treated us well. The weather did not. Between the heat and the humidity, it was unpleasant. While loading our luggage in Wisconsin, I felt as if I was working in a sauna.
With one exception, we found that mostly the roads were acceptable. Sometimes stretches of road had deteriorated. Some times roads were being repaired.
The exception was I-76 from the Nebraska border into Denver. The right lane was so shattered that drivers routinely chose the left lane.
Going south from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I-380, heavily traveled every day, was jammed for miles by the closing of one lane. A Pawlenty for President RV was stuck in the jam. We have read that Pawlenty’s campaign is stuck, too.
Rest stops varied from nonassuming and functional to palaces. Iowa had a couple of serious palaces with signs offering several hundred words of explanation of the area’s significance. Texas, as one might expect, offers the best palace. The buildings serve as small museums. They perch on a hill on I-40 east of McLean with spectacular views.
New Mexico goes the other way.
North of Las Vegas along I-25 on the west side of the highway, there is a rest stop without facilities at mile marker 360 and another, with facilities, at mile marker 375. That’s 15 miles. Obviously the one without facilities should be closed.
Let’s just say that the other one needs work. We stopped there because we were going south. It was last Wednesday, July 20. The wood pillars supporting the portal are eroding. (I couldn’t find my camera, so there’s no photo. Sorry.) The signs designating the men’s side are hand lettered. A clue.
The report from the women’s side starts with a wobbly toilet. The lock is broken. The grate has come off the hand dryer, one of those hot-air things, exposing the wires that heat the air. The stall is coming unscrewed.
A part of the New Mexico Department of Transportation called District Maintenance Patrols is supposed to maintain rest stops.
Of the seven states we traveled, New Mexico and Colorado, where it rains the least, paid the most attention to mowing along the shoulders of the highways. Iowa, home to much rain, seems to have given up mowing. The delightful result is miles and miles of flowers along the highway.

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