Back in January, while driving to the Appalachian Mountains to see my son, I stopped at a rest area that was extraordinary. I say extraordinary because I’m used to the simply functional rest areas, well-landscaped but not particularly restful. I’d made a quick stop at this particular rest area the year before, just long enough to use the necessary facilities, and didn’t think much of it.
Having more time on my January trip, and being tired of driving, I decided to ventured down the covered walkway beyond the restrooms. Through glass doors, I saw an inviting fireplace and entered what turned out to be an information center lobby with a comfy sofa across from the fireplace and large windows looking out at gentle slopes.
I think the fire place might have run on gas, but it was still cozy. I took a moment just to sit and admire the fire. I noticed a room off to the side with a display of a local artifacts. The dulcimer caught my attention.
On the other side of the lobby was an information counter staffed by a friendly older couple (older than me). I complimented them on the coziness of their rest area, and they happily told me it was a sustainable rest area. They told me about their LEED Gold certification, passive solar heat, and solar hot water collectors. The facility also has a rain water cistern tank and a bio retention basin with a chemical spill basin, along with a nature trail and bio-swales. I had to look up bio-swales: landscape elements designed to concentrate or remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water.
I was impressed by this green rest area on top of a hill just east of the town of Wilkesboro, NC. Maybe it’s not such a big deal to some, but I am thankful that there was a moment in time when this good idea was agreed on and allowed to materialize in this place.
It gives me hope.
If you’re ever headed that way on Hwy 421, stop in and rest a while.