Priceless Products and Packaging: Truck Stop Treasures

Nebraska. This flatland is actually quite pretty.

Nebraska. This flatland is anything but plain.

Eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Southern Minnesota, USA:  December 2014

One may think that driving through the flat land of Eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Southern Minnesota could be a mind and butt numbing prospect, I’m not going to lie. There are some stretches that certainly induce a conscious coma. However, someone dreading this drive in a minivan with the family during winter around the holidays simply isn’t looking at the positives.

Positive One: Reading! Kurt, my husband, decided to drive the entire route on Day 1, so I caught up on my reading, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There by Rolf Potts. It was quite pleasant, actually, at least for me. Additionally, I tweaked my knee after falling while skiing two days before our road trip (more to come on that in another post), so I had no choice but to stay off it while in a car.

The snow blizzard ghosts can be quite hypnotic.

The snow blizzard ghosts can be quite hypnotic.

Positive Two: Ground Blizzard Ghosts.  Also, when driving through Nebraska, you can enjoy the swirling of mini ground blizzards. The light snow churns up in whirls and patterns, and as a nerdy English teacher, I can’t help but think of Henry David Thoreau and a passage from Walden:

For the first week, whenever I looked out on the pond it impressed me like a tarn high up on the side of a mountain, its bottom far above the surface of other lakes, and, as the sun arose, I saw it throwing off its nightly clothing of mist, and here and there, by degrees, its soft ripples or its smooth reflecting surface was revealed, while the mists, like ghosts, were stealthily withdrawing in every direction into the woods, as at the breaking up of some nocturnal conventicle.

kids sleepingPositive Three: Instant naps for overly tired kids. My kids, Eddie and Kasey, are pretty good travelers. When we lived in Australia, we embarked on a fair number of road trips, so the kids don’t complain much when they’re in the car. But, they can fall prey to the “How much longer?” When are we there? At one point on Day 2, both kids, too bored to even play with electronics, took naps. This was a score since the excitement of staying in a hotel with an indoor pool off the interstate in Nebraska had amped them up considerably the night before.

A truck stop oasis

A truck stop oasis

The Positive WINNER: Truck Stop Treasures. But really, the best part about the road trip was checking out the offerings at truck stops. Truck stops are awesome to begin with. They are an oasis within the endless frozen farmland. Moreover, some fabulous merchandise definitely exists and rests on the shelves of Loaf and Jugs, Flying Js, Pump and Pantries, Pilots and many more… From skull and camouflage collections to pickled eggs, worms, designer incense and pig shot glasses. Soon Eddie, Kasey and I tried to find the most “unique” item at each stop. Here are some of our finds:

I can only imagine how "patriotic" your car with smell with this all-American designer scent.

I can only imagine how “patriotic” your car with smell with this all-American designer scent.

Native Americans from the plains checking out the residents from the savannah

Native Americans from the plains checking out the residents from the savannah.

Not sure exactly what this does...

Not sure exactly what this does…

A gun display, gloves and pickled eggs on the side.

A gun display with pickled eggs on the side.

Close up of the eggs.

Closeup of the eggs.

Just in case you and your music want to blend into the woods.

Just in case you and your music want to blend into the woods.

I was just intrigued by the brand: Bad Jewelry...Is Titanium that bad? Maybe Plutonium would qualify.

I was just intrigued by the brand: Bad Jewelry…Is Titanium that bad? Maybe Plutonium would qualify.

This says it all.

This says it all.

The skull and fairy collection. Precious.

The skull and fairy collection. Precious.

If the skulls are too scary, go for the happy-go-lucky frog.

If the skulls are too scary, go for the happy-go-lucky frog.

More skulls...

More skulls and cobras.

Here is where you can keep the skull collection.

Here is where you can keep the skull collection.

Nostalgia: I used to be the proud owner of 14 of these beauties (from a variety of states)

Nostalgia: I used to be the proud owner of 14 of these beauties (large pencils from a variety of states)

Corn dogs on a constant roll.

Corn dogs on a constant roll.

A variety of hot dogs exposed for all.

A variety of hot dogs exposed for all.

Beef jerky — in every way, shape and form.

Beef jerky — in every way, shape and form.

Get your cash and worms at the same time. The fish must be biting in Conifer, Colorado.

Get your cash and worms at the same time. The fish must be biting in Conifer, Colorado.

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6 thoughts on “Priceless Products and Packaging: Truck Stop Treasures

  1. What treasures! How could you resist them? I hate to think how long those corn and hot dogs had been turning – Days? Weeks? Months?! I think I’d rather eat worms . . . 🙂 most impressed that you can read in the car, I can’t even map read without puking! Hope your knee is feeling better now 🙂

    • Lottie!! Happy New Year. I know the hot dogs were repulsive — a serious conveyor belt of E-Coli. I’m sorry you can’t read in the car. It’s actually a skill I’m happy to have since I often grade papers in a car (if Kurt is driving).

      I hope all is well in Espana and that you guys are well. 🙂
      xxxx

  2. I must say, not one of my favorite drives but there are some interesting features…Scotts Bluff National Monument (NE) and the Amana Colony (IA) (like the washer/dryer) a former utopian community with many structures in tact. Lots of history amid the touristy feel. Oh, and Iowa does have waterfalls, always my favorite 🙂

    • Ana — You just made me look forward to another roadtrip. The Amana Colony sounds fascinating. And who doesn’t love waterfalls?!

      Thank for the suggestions and the comment. 🙂
      Cheers

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