Sadly, a good part of my life revolves around this nations truck stops. Some are better than others, and many are far worse than you can believe. Our choices are getting limited by many things these days. The option of fast food or sit down meal is one of the more prevalent. The days of the “Mom and Pop” truck stop with “home cooking” are definitely a thing of the past.
Today, I’m parked at the Flying J, All American in Breezewood, Pa. For no other reason than I have shower credits on my Pilot card, and there are no Loves close by. Granted there is a very nice TA right across the street, but I don’t have shower credits on that card. There’s no way I’m buying 50 gallons of fuel at these prices ($4.56 per gal) just to get a shower. The All American does have at least one redeeming quality. It is one of the few Flying J’s that retained an individual restaurant when they were bought out by Pilot, I believe it was actually a Petro before. The Perkins restaurant here is open 24 hours, and serves some very good food for a fairly decent price.
It used to be that a truck stop’s restaurant was an identifying feature, a customer draw even. Not so much any longer, and I feel it’s a loss we’ll mourn for years to come. These days, we’re bombarded with a lack of choice. Subjected to the plethora of fast food joints that have invaded the truck stop industry. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer locations where one can get an honest to goodness “home cooked”, sit down meal. The ones that do have a restaurant, like TA (Travel Centers of America) and Petro, have the same menu items in all locations, even if they happen to change the establishment’s name. The repetition is terminally boring, and so very disappointing. I miss the days when you could go into a restaurant and get a meal based more on local cosine, and old family recipes, with a home cooked flair.
I have very opinionated ideas on what makes a good truck stop. A subject perhaps for it’s own post. Suffice it to say I have a few favorite stops, and yes they were selected because of their dining facilities. Unfortunately, they are disappearing faster than any endangered species in history. The large corporate locations have taken over, making it very difficult for Mom and Pop to compete. One of my favorites, has been no more for more than a couple years now. White’s Truck Stop on I-81 exit 205 in Raphine, Va. was such a pleasant little place with a fabulous restaurant. Now it’s become a Petro with the standard Iron Skillet restaurant. So sad to see the tradition of friendly customer service depart in favor of corporate earnings. Another favorite,is Shoemaker’s, I-80 exit 395 in Lincoln, Ne. They have a great little restaurant with a quint “old school truck stop” feel. I hope it never sells to the corporate giants to be assimilated into the collective.
I guess, for the most part I’m stuck with choosing between McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, and a plethora of fried chicken joints. Arby’s of course, but to be honest, that is one of my favorites among the fast food joints. Thank goodness I have a high metabolism, and have never really had to worry about weight gain. Naturally, now that I said that, I’ll probably explode in mythic proportions.
What are your favorite stops? Do you choose based on a set of standards known only to you, or do you just pick whatever’s available? What would be your idea of the “Ideal” truck stop?