Truck stops are usually built close to an existing exit off of the interstate. The exit probably existed before the truck stop. It is quite likely that there is a town close to the exit, beyond the truck stop. These towns are there for us to explore. All we need to do is take a walk.

Admittedly, I have not done this for awhile. Different things have made me think that I was too busy. The other day, I put down my IPAD and went for a walk in Gilman, IL. On the east side of the highway, there are 2 truck stops a Mc Donalds and Burger King with truck parking. There is also a Dairy Queen, a Burger King and a Monicals Pizza. Everything a trucker “needs” is right there.

I was about 8 ½ hours into my 10 hour break, and I decided to go for a walk. I set the alarm on my phone to go off 22 minutes after I left. That would give me about a 45 minute walk. Here is a little of what I discovered. After you cross the RR tracks there is another truck stop that I had forgotten about. There were a couple of antique stores, a Dollar General, the Crazy Horse Saloon, a hardware store, and a used car dealer. These were all within the first 10 minutes.

It took me another 10 minutes or so to reach the downtown area. These downtown areas fascinate me. Truckers seem to continuously complain about truck stops not having sit down restaurants any more. There may just be one an easy 5 or 10 minute walk away. Take a walk. There is something I like about sitting down to eggs and toast at a true small town restaurant. The regulars may look to see who this stranger is in their restaurant, but they tend to be friendly. They probably don’t see enough truck drivers walk the ½ mile or so into town.

These small towns are waiting there for us to discover. In Belgium, Wisconsin I found a great trail about a mile west of the truck stop. It as close to the Hardware/Liquor store. They had just the torque drive set that I needed. These towns also have sidewalks. I enjoy looking at the architecture of the older homes, and their front porches. Each one is unique. They aren’t like a 100 home subdivision with 5 different floor plans.

Get out and take walk in the evening, or in the morning. You may find that hardware store, or the grocery store that you need. It could be the world's largest grandfather clock, a small lake, or a great trail. Don’t forget to patronize the places that allow us to park, but get out there and discover Farmersville, IL, Lebanon IN, etc. What have you got to lose, besides a few pounds?

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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