There's a lot of random stuff to see along the narrow strip of middle America that is I-80 -- Buffalo Bill's Ranch and a generous handful of RV parks, for example -- but the crown jewel of that stretch of road is most certainly the I-80 Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa, which proudly bestows upon itself the somewhat dubious distinction of being the world's largest truck stop. It's a monument to transience that's something of a destination in its own right, so on my really long drive over the weekend from Michigan back to Denver (it's my home state), I stopped through to see what kind of fabulous crap middle America might buy. I was not disappointed.
The front of the place houses most of the knick-knacks and such the truck stop has to offer for people who either favor home decor that comes from truck stops or forgot to get somebody a souvenir. The second one seems more likely, but then again, this carving featuring not one but three wolves was prohibitively priced:
For the thriftier person who enjoys mystic-wolf-type tchotchkes, several shelves of smaller figurines were also available: Yeah, that's Jesus there in the lower left-hand corner, and no doubt the Lord figured prominently into the other home-decor options. Some of them, though, were just flat-out bizarre. Nevertheless, the I-80 Truck Stop is not all about worthless paraphernalia -- there's also a large collection of crap you can use. My eight-year-old son and I particularly enjoyed the wide array of coon-skin caps. Being that the I-80 Truck Stop is pretty much a single-store mall with multiple wings, there's a few places you can go from the front section: a truck-themed restaurant, a more conventional truck-stop convenience store (except with way more stuff), an upstairs section with a barber and a dentist -- seriously, that place has everything. We opted, though, for the rear section, home to a semi-truck showroom, a DVD store and, the thing I really wanted to see, a shitload of wolf T-shirts. Of course, there's also a more disturbing side to the I-80 Truck Stop, as we can see from the obese woman I spotted casually browsing through the confederate flags, and while I did end up taking that last T-shirt with the Eagle and the Declaration of Independence home, it was admittedly somewhat ironically. The truck nuts, though -- there was not a single thing ironic about that.
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