Friday, June 27, 2014

Iowa-80 Truck Stop… It’s Quite a Site to See

We got an early start and had planned a longer day than normal today. Generally we only travel a couple of hours and then stop for at least a few days.  But we are trying to move out of Iowa—the weather forecast is tornadoes.  The weather maps use red as a color to denote severe weather and very likely tornadoes.  The forecast for the entire state Iowa has been painted red and we just do not want to get caught in this nasty weather.  So far today we have had great travel weather, so we decided to keep moving.  I realized we might be able to make it to Walcott, IA—the home of the Iowa I-80 Truck Stop.  We had seen this truck stop on the travel channel and had always thought it would be fun to see.  I will admit I was a little excited about the idea of staying in this ginormous truck stop.  (Just to say we had done it)

We checked with Steve, as a truck driver, he has been a great resource for us through our travel.  He thought it would be a safe place for the night and a fun place to see.

We pulled into the truck stop, not sure what to expect.  We were too long for the RV parking area and so we moved to the semi-truck parking area.  The truck stop has 900 semi-truck parking spaces!  In addition, they have 250 car parking spots and extra spaces set aside for RV's and buses.

Fun information: The truck stop has a 300-seat restaurant, a gift store, a Super Truck Showroom.  There is a dentist, a barber shop, a chiropractor.  There is a workout room, laundry facilities and trucker’s TV lounge.  There is a 60-seat movie theatre!  They have a Verizon store kiosk and 24 private showers.  There is a Food Court that has a Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and a Caribou Coffee.  They have a convenience store, a custom embroidery and vinyl shop.  There are 10 gas islands, 16 diesel lanes, a fuel center, a 7-bay truck service center, a 3-bay Truckomat truck wash.  There is a CAT Scale, a Dogomat Pet Wash and a large Trucking Museum.  I feel like I should finish with… and a partridge in a pear tree.

Anyway… we parked in the back of the lot.  Some, less than friendly, truck drivers have blocked into stops in the past at truck stops and so we want to give trucks plenty of space and not be in "their area".  When we parked we were clear away from any trucks.

We took 2 spaces, so we could open our slides.   I felt very comfortable here—we were out of the way, it was not too loud because there were only a couple of trucks even near us and the weather was mild so it would not be too hot.
We went into the truck stop and explored all of the little shopping areas and restaurants.  We settled on the buffet, mostly because I was too tired to make a decision and there were good salad choices.  The food was average, not great.

We walked back to the RV and see that the parking lot is quickly filling up.  Now there are trucks all around the RV—but still plenty of spaces.  We put up the satellite dish and watch a little TV before settling in for a quick night sleep.

About midnight the truck stop came ALIVE!!!  Suddenly trucks were pulling in and out (it felt like they were driving right through our living room).  The loud air brakes feel like they are going every few minutes.  I was up and down all night long.  I could not say how many rotations of trucks were around us through the night.  By the time we got up to move forward for our next day… I felt exhausted.  I regularly hear of people primarily staying at Wal-Marts and truck stops while full-timing.  I assure George this is not in our future.  In fact, I cannot image he is going to have ANY luck getting me to do this again.

In the end… I am glad we did it—so we can say we did.  It is a crazy big truck stop and so I recommend everyone go see it.  But, stay at a nearby campground or expect to feel like you are sleeping in the middle of a 4 lane highway.
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