Monday, November 9, 2009

Missouri Welcome Center

Yesterday was just a gorgeous, warm fall day here in the Missouri Ozarks, a perfect day for a Sunday drive. My son Randy and his wife Lou Ann live near Conway, MO about 45 minutes from us. I had been told that the rest stop near the Conway exit on I-44 had been redone and expanded to be an official Missouri Welcome center. But I had no idea how well done it was, a tourist attraction it's self.

Years ago Route 66 came through Missouri from St. Louis to Joplin, MO..remember the song "I Get My Kicks on Route 66"?  There are still parts of the old Mother Road left, in fact people come through from all over the world to travel it. It is also quite important to Missouri tourist trade and economy. Today I-44 parallels Route 66.

Even though I'd been told how darling the new look is, I was completely surprised and pleased when I saw it in person. Every little detail was well thought out. The picnic tables are covered with buildings depicting business that were on the old Route 66. The vending machines set in an area that said Diner. All of the signage and graphics were exactly like they would have used during the hey days of traveling Route 66.

While honoring the past, the rest stop also is very modern and GREEN. There is a wind turbine that is used to supply electricity, state of the art rest rooms, TVs with current road and weather conditions. Since we were there on Sunday, the welcome center part was not open, but we certainty will stop again.

This following is taken from an article in the AAA Traveler.

The new $10.8 million I-44 Conway Welcome Center opened this summer with a new larger building including a tourist information center, triple the truck parking that it had before, better lighting, a playground and pet walk areas. Sections of the old Route 66 parallel I-44, so the center also features display boards about the Mother Road, 1950s-era neon signs out front, an inlay on a terrazzo floor tracing the route across eight states, and several picnic shelters that resemble buildings once found along Route 66.
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