Today’s Mug Shot should be sponsored by ODOT, but it’s not. It’s totally my views and opinions!
I love this mug! It’s just a sweet mug, all old timey and quaint! I bought it at the souvenir shop at one of the service plazas on the Ohio turnpike. I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember which trip, but it’s dated in the 90s, so likely it might have been a soccer trip. Mom and I traveled to see indoor soccer a lot when we had season tickets for the Detroit Rockers in the 90s.
But what the mug reminds me about, what I want to tell about, is the service plazas on the Ohio turnpike! There are three between Toledo and where I got off the turnpike for Cleveland when I was writing for The Great Indoors. The publication is produced in Cleveland and the editor is also a minor league baseball fan, so we’d travel for baseball in the soccer off season when I was on his staff. I got to know those plazas pretty well, especially the Commodore Perry one, at the half way point! Now, there’s a Starbucks there, so it’s a good rest stop en route when you leave Metro Detroit at 3AM to be in Cleveland at 6 to have breakfast and get to an afternoon baseball game in Pennsylvania!
The service plazas on the turnpike have not just Starbucks, but Cinnabons and Max and Ermas with game rooms, souvenir/sundries shops and standard fast food fare and maintained pay-at-the-pump gas islands. They also have WiFi and penny squishing machines, one of my favorite attractions! They are nice places to relax for a few moments off the road on a trip. They have comfortable, clean facilities with touch-free flushing toilets and sinks and abundant stalls in the ladies rest rooms to keep stops to a minimum, if preferred, too.
Ah, but the turnpike plazas have not always been a pleasant oasis for road-weary travelers! I remember the days of comparative little huts with one fast food joint or a greasy spoon and three or four working stalls in the ladies room. That is not nearly enough, especially in the summer for the route to Cedar Point. I remember coming home from events east in the summer. The one thing you never wanted to do was “need” to stop on the Ohio Turnpike! If you were lucky enough to find a turnpike plaza with a working toilet, you didn’t expect it to be clean and by Sunday afternoon, it was always bring-your-own TP!
In the late 90s ODOT started remodeling all of the service plazas. Now they are the stops you kinda look forward to! A somewhat overpriced snack will keep the kids from being cranky in the car while you take a minute to unwind with a Frappuchino! My favorite bonus, the restrooms are maintained and clean! Even on Sundays in August, there is toilet paper and you can go in with flip-flops on and still have dry feet when you get back to the car!
Starting at the end of this year, we’ll have EZ Pass on the turnpike too. (FINALLY!) The Ohio Turnpike has definitely come a long way from when it was just a good place for a Michigander to get a ticket! Improvements in the service plazas have really made it the way to travel across the north part of the state in comfort and style.
To quote the Pretenders, WITHOUT the sarcasm - WAY TO GO OHIO!
(please read the comments for a big correction!)