Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rest Area...Closed

There aren't too many ways to get from north Georgia to the rolling hills of southern Ohio. In fact, as many other transplants can attest to, the only way to get anywhere quickly is on Interstate 75. In my twenty plus years of being a defector from the north I have driven this route many times. It is exactly 424 miles from the farm that I was raised on to the house that my parents moved to in 1985.

The first time I made the trip was during spring break 1986. My sister and several of our friends made the trip with us. The only memories I have of that trip are the stops at the roadside rest areas. We made the trek in a pickup truck and I was the lucky one who got to ride in the back of the truck, at night, in mid March. At the rest areas, I got to get out and stretch my legs, and this happened at least four times. On my recent trip, it was only twice.

I don't know a whole lot about state budgets and who decides when it is time to close a rest area, but, I think I speak for many when I say please stop.

The state of Tennessee has closed at least two rest areas on Interstate 75. The first to close was approximately 50 miles south of Knoxville over three years ago. I could handle this closure. I usually had just gotten started on my trip and didn't want to take the time to stop, or if I was coming south, I would need to get gas and would have to go to a service station.

The second location that has closed, much to my dismay, is the rest area welcoming you to the state of Tennessee coming south on 75 from Kentucky. Why did they do this? This was the rest area that everyone stopped at. It was always packed. The car usually had three quarters of a tank of gas, so, you didn't need to stop for gas yet. Lots of times, we would have picnics on the tailgate or on one of the picnic tables. Or, you would just have to use the facilities.

Rest Area...Closed. That's what the sign said. (Uh Oh) As many travelers will tell you, there aren't many places to stop north of Knoxville. It's just hills and slow moving trucks. I have always wanted to stop at exit 144, which is Stinking Creek Road. (Interesting name) Until now, I haven't had the time or opportunity.

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