Everyone needs a change in routine, even those of us who usually stay at home. So it is that the day before yesterday, my husband and I set out on a road trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle.
We went via I-5, the fastest route. We’re no strangers to I-5; when our daughter was a college student in Los Angeles, Sam and I took this interstate many times. Though we always enjoyed going to L.A. and other world class destinations in southern California, I have to admit that the getting there–driving through largely dry and empty rural areas–was a mite tedious.
But northern I-5 is a different matter. The highway winds through the Siskyou Mountain Range,
right past the majestic Mount Shasta.
Vegetation is lush; as one drives north, forests become thicker. Trees seem to grow taller right before the eyes.
Aside from the scenery which makes the trip enthralling, the rest areas in Washington state are experiences in themselves. Under swaying trees of emerald, lovely, clean rest rooms await to refresh the traveler. Clear maps with descriptions of local attractions hang from bulletin boards, protected from the elements by covers of glass. But the memories I’ll take home forever from Washington’s I-5 are of the friendly people who staff the rest areas and give out free coffee!
Stop at one of these rest areas and you’ll find volunteers from many different philanthropic groups. Last time I made the trip, the rest areas were manned largely by volunteer alumnae from college sororities. This time, we only made one stop. The volunteers at that rest area came from a local Christian church.
At the Toutle River rest area, a welcoming dad invited us to partake of “free goodies,” (his words) while his three sons showed us where the cream and sugar were and replenished the cookies. This rest station offered coffee, tea, hot chocolate, apple juice and water, along with several types of cookies that were so good they could have been homemade.
When the dad left for a break, I wound up having a lively conversation with the oldest son. As far as he knows, Washington is the only state left which gives out free coffee. When he was little, he said, he remembers traveling down the interstate with his Dad and stopping in Oregon for free coffee, too.
What a kind, caring, and neighborly thing to do, to provide refreshment to the traveler. It made me think of kinder, gentler times, when politeness seemed ubiquitous, and this country seemed graced with neighborliness wherever you’d go.
At various times in my life, I’ve worked with others to advance what I thought were worthy causes. Yesterday, as I chatted with the boy at the Toutle River rest station, I wished there were a movement to promote care for those traveling the road. I’ve never started a movement–always been a follower. Then again, perhaps free coffee on the interstate might be an idea I could bring back home.
What do you think? Does anyone know of any other state or locality genteel enough to do what Washington does? If not, shall we get the ball rolling? Coffee, anyone?