Toledo Talk

Highway Rest Stop Cookout

I travel around northern Ohio for business and I tend to patronize the same ODOT rest stops all the time. One thing I've noticed is that most of them are furnished with grills in addition to picnic tables and shelters. I never see anyone cooking out, nor do I have any desire to have a weenie roast in those places.

Was there a time when families routinely needed to whip out the charcoal and spend an hour cooking lunch or dinner on road trips? Would people be permitted to spend the night in their campers (or cars) and cook supper & breakfast on the grill at a rest stop?

I wonder because some of the ODOT stops have a dozen grills. It makes me think that the rest stop designers anticipated a great public need. Thanks for any insights.

created by viola on Sep 02, 2014 at 11:18:58 pm     Comments: 19

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I do recall grilling out as a child with my family on the road. Maybe it's a nostalgic nod to a time before the day all stops had fast food?

posted by upso on Sep 02, 2014 at 11:39:35 pm     #  

We have definitely stopped and slept in those roadside rests. We had no money when the kids were little and my folks live in Florida, so just a couple of times over the years, we traveled 75 and slept in the car overnight. We had a station wagon or a minivan on these trips and took lots of pillows and blankets, and it worked out fine. We cracked the windows and locked it up and were never bothered by anyone. In the morning, we'd have bagels and juice or whatever was left in the cooler and hit the road, no cooking. I always wondered about those grills, too. They're pretty little parks and you can take your dog and watch the people and interesting traffic and hang out as long as you like. Makes you wonder if they actually ARE picnic destinations for some people.

posted by nana on Sep 02, 2014 at 11:49:06 pm     #  

That's where "driveway campers" go on vacation.

posted by justread on Sep 03, 2014 at 07:56:58 am     #   3 people liked this

BBQ grill lobby.

posted by JohnnyMac on Sep 03, 2014 at 08:34:01 am     #  

upso posted at 11:39:35 PM on Sep 02, 2014:

I do recall grilling out as a child with my family on the road. Maybe it's a nostalgic nod to a time before the day all stops had fast food?

We never grilled out at a rest stop, but when I was a kid, we frequently packed our food and ate at the picnic table when we made a bathroom stop.

posted by clt212 on Sep 03, 2014 at 09:24:14 am     #  

Can't say that we've ever grilled, but we definitely have stopped and had sandwiches from a cooler. Did that as a kid and as "recently" as 15 years ago. Husband is from the UP, and not so long ago if you didn't get something in the Saginaw/Bay City area, your next option would be West Branch or Mackinaw City. Sometimes we'd leave at 2:00 or 3:00 in the am, so we could be at The Bridge by 6:30-7:00 and there would be nothing open except for a gas station or two. Used to do the same heading to the Smokies as well. There used to be no places (where you would want!) to stop in Kentucky. I do still see people grilling in KY and TN, mainly at the TN welcome center.

posted by llz on Sep 03, 2014 at 09:46:07 am     #  

Yeah, I remember when we were younger and going on trips with my parents we would stop to eat things we packed but never recall grilling.

posted by stooks on Sep 03, 2014 at 10:42:30 am     #  

....i kind of love the idea, honestly. would be a cool way to break the monotony of a long trip.

posted by endcycle on Sep 03, 2014 at 01:57:21 pm     #  

My luck, I would stop at the 1 rest stop with no grill.

posted by MIJeff on Sep 03, 2014 at 02:16:39 pm     #  

I did see a cool comercial for the Yoshi grilling mat the other day, throw it right down on any grill and dont have to worry about rust and gunk on the grill.

posted by MIJeff on Sep 03, 2014 at 02:17:37 pm     #  

Cold cuts, chips and pop for us on those rest stops between Ohio and Florida. Pack it up and keep moving until you get to the welcome center in Florida and get your free orange juice.

posted by Hoops on Sep 03, 2014 at 02:25:12 pm     #  

I remember the free orange juice.

posted by MIJeff on Sep 03, 2014 at 02:44:42 pm     #  

justread, you are hilarious! Now for my next thought: if highway rest stops are public property, and it has been established that you can cook meals there as well as sleep (and use the bathroom), wouldn't it be OK if homeless people wanted to live there?

posted by viola on Sep 03, 2014 at 03:39:37 pm     #  

yeah, that will go over like a lead balloon, Viola. :) I can't see the state allowing tent cities on the rest stops, regular people would stop stopping due to the panhandling and such, the johns and garbage cans would get overloaded and deterioration would set in OR our taxes would go up to pay for the increased maintainance. Not sure thats a good solution for the homeless either. Assuming they could live there successfully is like assuming Spencer-Sharples was gonna be a success because the blacks knew how to live off the land. Just because they don't have a permanent place to live in the city doesn't mean they will do better in a tent in the country. Plus, how would they get to the grocery store??? :)

posted by nana on Sep 03, 2014 at 03:57:49 pm     #  

We used to do that. Cookout at a rest stop on road trips. Then Dad would stretch out on the front seat and listen to the radio while Mom found something for me to do while she went over to see the big rig trucks. Mom like the trucks.

I'd play with the grill fire a while, get smart with nosy nellies who wanted to know why I wasn't in school. One lady I told her I was a midget and I thought she had a nice ass. Another I told her my Dad was an undercover cop and he testified in a big cop case and now the bad guys put a real price on his head, so we were on the lam. That lady interrupted Dad to ask him something, and when Dad woke up he told her to mind her own damn business. Then he told me to knock off the shit.

Most evenings the battery would go dead, but Dad kept a spare in the trunk, and I knew how to swap it out. So I'd swap it out while Mom cooked dinner on the grill. Sometimes Dad would go out after dinner and 'borrow' a little gas from a trucker, usually a dump truck because they have gasoline engines. You should have seen the time Dad got diesel by mistake and poured it in our tank! Boy, did he get creative with his swearing that time. Daddy could really turn the air blue when he wanted, and I think it was six shades that night.

But then Dad got a job at Jeep and Mom welded her butt to the sofa, and the welfare people made me go to school. But it wasn't so bad, because it turns out that the kids at school didn't know anything hardly, so I started up a crap game in the gym locker and branched out into hall passes and pot, and it was a sweet deal for a while.

I kind of miss the old carny days, moving from show to show, the girls at the kootch tent, old Smokestack Smiley that ran the ring toss and Handles Harry that had the roll down. But that's life, I guess.

posted by madjack on Sep 03, 2014 at 04:14:07 pm     #   3 people liked this

Well done madjack, very well done sir Because surely no one can top that post, I say that's the grand finale to this thread !
Don't forget to tip your waitress.

posted by foodie88 on Sep 03, 2014 at 07:32:34 pm     #   1 person liked this

madjack posted at 04:14:07 PM on Sep 03, 2014:

We used to do that. Cookout at a rest stop on road trips. Then Dad would stretch out on the front seat and listen to the radio while Mom found something for me to do while she went over to see the big rig trucks. Mom like the trucks.

I'd play with the grill fire a while, get smart with nosy nellies who wanted to know why I wasn't in school. One lady I told her I was a midget and I thought she had a nice ass. Another I told her my Dad was an undercover cop and he testified in a big cop case and now the bad guys put a real price on his head, so we were on the lam. That lady interrupted Dad to ask him something, and when Dad woke up he told her to mind her own damn business. Then he told me to knock off the shit.

Most evenings the battery would go dead, but Dad kept a spare in the trunk, and I knew how to swap it out. So I'd swap it out while Mom cooked dinner on the grill. Sometimes Dad would go out after dinner and 'borrow' a little gas from a trucker, usually a dump truck because they have gasoline engines. You should have seen the time Dad got diesel by mistake and poured it in our tank! Boy, did he get creative with his swearing that time. Daddy could really turn the air blue when he wanted, and I think it was six shades that night.

But then Dad got a job at Jeep and Mom welded her butt to the sofa, and the welfare people made me go to school. But it wasn't so bad, because it turns out that the kids at school didn't know anything hardly, so I started up a crap game in the gym locker and branched out into hall passes and pot, and it was a sweet deal for a while.

I kind of miss the old carny days, moving from show to show, the girls at the kootch tent, old Smokestack Smiley that ran the ring toss and Handles Harry that had the roll down. But that's life, I guess.

He's cracked the code for writing a Steely Dan song.

posted by justread on Sep 03, 2014 at 07:47:04 pm     #   6 people liked this

^best comment

posted by justareviewer on Sep 03, 2014 at 08:45:41 pm     #  

My thanks to Foodie88 for the kind words; two bits to JustRead.

posted by madjack on Sep 04, 2014 at 04:34:45 pm     #