Monday, August 8, 2016

World's Largest Truck Stop

When scouting quick, overnight stopovers, many seek out the Walmart,  a few look for the Cracker Barrel; me, I'm partial to truck-stops.

So it seemed kind of fitting that I check out the world's largest.

Now I don't know for sure that the Iowa 80 is, in fact, the world's largest, but I said I was partial to truck-stops, not an expert on them, so if  they say they're the world's largest I'll just have to go with the flow.

Strategically located a little west of Davenport Iowa, right on Interstate 80, and only 20 miles or so south of the Lincoln Highway where I was doodling along with the late evening summer sun in my eyes, I hung a left and went to check it out.

Not only is this place big, it's kind of confusing if you've never been here before.

Even if you have been here before it might still be confusing since they were obviously in the middle of some remodeling of the auto/RV fuel island and parking area.

But fair warning, if you intend to spend more than a couple hours, don't try to use the south lot where I took these previous two photo's from. (The signage clearly indicates that anything longer than 25 feet or with a trailer needs to stay out of this section anyway, and they're not kidding! Don't try it!!) When you first drive up it does look like this is the front of the building, looking south onto the freeway, so making the assumption that this is the main lot would be understandable, but it's not.

There's only a few, small and discrete, signs hanging on the fence between this lot and the westbound off-ramp; signs you're not likely to look back at and notice when slamming to a halt after hours on the road and jumping out to sprint for the bathrooms and pizza; but they do warn that this lot only has a 2 hour parking limit.

So you can eat and run, but you can't stay.

This trucking museum is part of the truck-stop but it's a long ways from the main building, in fact it's got it's own dedicated parking lot.

If you want to stay overnight what you need to do instead is go back around to the west side of the complex, snaking between the new auto/RV fuel island (Yes, there are diesel pumps there, but they are separate from the gas pumps and might be hard to spot at first. Typical of BP stations!) and the old, abandoned but not yet removed fuel island until you come out on the other side and find a freshly paved and painted parking lot with no time-limiting signs in sight.

From this over-nighting lot you can also see, way way over there, the Trucking Museum which is part of the truck-stop but which I didn't bother with.

Yep, this rather elaborate advertisement was just inside the west entrance.
I was more interested in checking out the non-museum innards of this mythological monster of a truck-stop.

Not wanting to look too much like a Rube, I left my usual camera in The Van and attempted to get by with the more discrete (Hopefully!) cell-phone camera.

Now clearly I don't use this camera much, as in not at all, but this screwed-up shot sort of mirrored my first impression of the place

There's so much going on in here you'd have to spend much of your allotted two hours just getting oriented.

In addition to the mall-style food court, which is adjacent to the convenience store and interspersed with souvenir kiosks, there's the wait-to-be-seated Iowa 80 Kitchen family-style restaurant, although, with 300 seats there's probably not much waiting required.

As well as the food, the convenience store, souvenir stands, gourmet coffee bar, Oh, and big, efficient and clean bathrooms, this place also has:

Barber Shop
Laundry Mat
Dog Mat
Gift Shop (Some of the stuff in here is pretty high end too!)
Driver's Den
Private Showers
Movie Theater
Workout Room
TV Lounge

Not to mention the Chrome Shop down there on the first floor for all your basic, and lots of non-basic, trucking needs.

OK, I never did figure out what they were selling with this entire rig sitting there on the sales floor, and since I had no basic, or advanced, trucking needs at this time and was a little overwhelmed by the place, I bought a single refrigerator magnet and retreated to The Van for an evening DVD and some sleep.

And with the sun rising over the Trucking Museum into mostly clear skies the next morning, I prepared to continue with my trip.

Though I'm sure the Iowa 80 lived up to it's title as largest truck stop, and it has what most every traveler needs,


I have to admit, I still find the Bosselman Travel Center just north of the intersection of  I80 and US281 near Grand Island Nebraska to have as much if not more parking, especially for cars and modest RV's, pretty much the same amenities minus the massive Chrome Shop and Trucking Museum, but somehow a friendlier, more accessible atmosphere. (And they have a traffic light to get you safely back out onto the road, something Iowa 80 lacks but could use.)

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