Thursday, May 7, 2009
Get Your Kicks at the I-44 Conway Welcome Center
If you get the urge while motoring west – or east for that matter on Interstate 44, roll into the new Conway Welcome Centers near mile marker 111. The Route 66 themed facilities feature amenities that both casual and commercial travelers enjoy.
I attended the official ribbon cutting for the sites Monday, May 4. Along with hundreds of Route 66 fans, historic car owners and surprised travelers, I boogied to music performed by Conway, Mo., high school students.
After checking out the restroom facilities, I hit the playground, pet areas, and the vending area. Machines offer sandwiches, drinks and snacks – a much better selection than I expected. The picnic shelters seemed the best place to chow down and I had my choice of mini-pavilions built to resemble diners, garages, filling stations and other businesses seen along the “Mother Road”.
Even the parking areas are cool. Dozens of passenger vehicles can park in the car area and drivers of up to 75 large commercial and recreational vehicles can take a break in the large, well-lit “back 40”. My commercial driver friends say that compared to the former rest area at this location, that’s at least three times the number of spaces for them to rest from the road. That’s important. I want everyone driving near me to be well rested and up to the task.
First-day visitors raved about the Route 66 map floor inlay, historical displays and friendly tourist-information aides. While children christened the playground with their antics I heard their elders reminisce about trips taken in years gone by.
Next time you’re traveling on I-44 down from St. Louie or Joplin, Missouri, stop into a modern tribute to a legendary era. It’s so, so pretty!