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|I-41 SB Exit 83
||N 43° 33.860' W 88° 25.849'||Lomira
Lomira rest stop - number 63
A bit north and somewhat west of Milwaukee is the little town of Lomira. It is basically a little farm town that grew up a bit, but still largely serves the needs of agriculture. The area is accessed by US highway 41, and the recently created (in 2015) I-41. The Interstate portion of US-41 coincides with the stretch of road between the Tri-state Tollway, and Green Bay, where it ends at the interchange with I-43. Outside of Milwaukee, the area is rural farm land, and classic white-bread Wisconsin. The closest thing to a tourist attraction is the nearby Theresa Marsh wetland area.
Despite the apparent remoteness of the area, it has enough traffic between Green Bay and Chicago, as well as the Twin Cities and other parts to the west and the north, that this section of the old US highway was designated to be part of the Interstate System. As such, it was widened, resurfaced, and given certain amenities, including rest stops. Like all rest stops, it welcomes you with a variety of trash and recycle bins.
This rest stop has become slightly notorious for a shooting, and then a strong arm robbery occurring only months apart. It is remote enough to have few visitors, and until recently was heavily shrouded by brush. Much of the brush has been trimmed away, so that the area can be more easily observed from the road, and it is more actively patrolled now. What a pity. A nicely landscaped isolation can be a nice thing, for the weary traveler.
The current six sided stone building was constructed when the site was originally updated from a simple wayside to a full fledged rest area. It serves the southbound lane of I-41, and is a twin to the Theresa rest area a few miles away, that serves the Northbound lane. It contains the following amenities:
ParkingYou can't rest if you can't park. This rest area, in common with most, has separate areas for truck drivers and automobile drivers to park.
Tourists and casual travelers tend to stop briefly, get their bearings, grab a snack, and use the facilities, then they are gone. Truck drivers often stay longer, checking loads, taking naps,and tending to their paperwork.
In recognition of this, the auto parking area is in the more public front of the building, while the area for trucks and large vehicles is more isolated in the back.
Officially, overnight parking is not allowed for automobiles, and there is a limit of six hours per stay. In practice, no one wants tired drivers out on the road.
Rest stops, particularity those out in the country, all have picnic areas, and are located in park like settings. Most Wisconsin sites are planted in local vegetation, and have displays of local or historic interest.
This particular stop is located near the Theresa Marsh, a protected wildlife area. The marsh contains something like 6000 acres. While this is a preserve, it is not in its natural state. Originally, this was a tamarack forest. It is a popular spot for watching and sometimes hunting waterfowl.
The grass here is kept closely cropped, in part for tick control. Hedges are kept trimmed down, in part due to a couple of closely spaced assaults here. The site has it's own tools and equipment, with local crews coming out to keep growth in check, while others come to clean the pavilion and empty the trash and recycle containers.
Picnic tables are dispersed throughh the grounds, for those who wish to stay a while, before going in their way. Following the usual practice, these are mounted on concrete slabs to protect against ants, and to anchor them in order to prevent theft. Yes, there are people who will steal a picnic bench if they can, even from way out here..
In addition to the pedestrian walkways, there is a pet exercise area - leashes only. This allows for the sometime neglected four legged members of the family to get out,stretch the legs, and do what needs to be done - very democratic.
This rest stop is set within a wooded area, surrounded by natural forest, and is in close proximity to some local farms.
PavilionLike all rest stop, and government buildings in general, this place is built massively. It is built of stone, with concrete floors, and a steel superstructure. It is topped by an anodized roof that is supposed to look like copper. Unless demolished to make room for something else, this structure will last for hundreds of years.
The structure was built in 1989, and replaced a little wayside shack that featured primitive rest room facilities. The grounds were enlarged in 1994, again, to reflect the increase in traffic and the possibility of this becoming an Interstate. While this stop includes no tourist information area, it is a full service stop, with fountains, tap water, phones, a weather monitor, vending, and available maps. Like all rest stops it is open 24 x 7, 365 days a year, and is completely handicap accessible.
While the state does it's best to make these buildings aesthetically pleasing, and to provide a bit of variety and creativity in their design, they have always reminded me somewhat of bunkers. For durability and a life far out on the road with sparse maintenance, there is a certain look imposed upon the structures. The sparse windows, along with the massive walls, make for lowered heating and cooling costs, as well as good protection from vandalism and heavy weather. The stone exterior will never need to be painted, and is unlikely ever to need repair.
This rest stop is close enough to the small town of Lomira, that it can use city power, water, and sewer, which is not always possible for rest stops. It does feature a satellite dish for data services.
A planting of native flowers and hedges enhances the front of the building. They also partially conceal a stone half wall which sets off a large open patio or plaza area at the front of the building. The inside area is lined with benches for sitting outside on nice days. A small shed, to the left of the photo here, shows a small matching shed which holds the lawn care, maintenance, and cleaning equipment.
Though this may appear to be a square building, it is actually six sided. The back o the structure has a partially shielded service door, and the windows for the rest room. There is a small service room inside that contains electrical panels, heating and air conditioning, the plumbing, and some supplies, as well as a small office area for whatever paperwork is associated with running a rest stop.
In addition to the patio area, the pavilion is surrounded by walkways, landscaped lawns, trees, and hedges. The outside area is lit at night, and the pavilion is lit constantly.
These nearly indestructible buildings are a welcome sight to the weary traveler fighting boredom, fatigue, or heavy weather - or just in need of taking a rest room break.
Inside the pavilion are the expected bathrooms, vending machines, maps, and bulletin boards. The vending machines are a handy, if somewhat expensive, way to augment the traveler's supply of food and drink. The building is lit, unlocked, and open to the public 24x7. These buildings are always spotlessly clean, and the surrounding grounds nicely manicured. These services are provided by local groups, generally from the Wisconsin Council of the blind, or a related organizations dedicated to providing employment to the otherwise unemployable.
On the wall opposite the windows is a bulletin board for local and safety announcements, a drinking fountain, and waste can, as well as a dispensers for maps, and for a few local tourist brochures. Tourist brochures are becoming a thing of the past, largely due to the Internet. They are missed by seasoned travelers. At one time a collection of maps, brochures, and guidebooks procured for free at rest stops made a handy set of souvenirs and mementos to look back on. Such things, when available, are usually now only found at the welcom areas found at the rest stops at the state borders.
In common with most public buildings, the interior is largely composed of tile, concrete, and brick. these materials are easy to keep clean, last forever, and are nearly impossible to vandalize. The high traffic nature and 24 x 7 hours of the facilities demand such materials. There is a map of Wisconsin inscribed upon a concrete circle, set in the tile floor in the middle of the main concourse.
A pair of large windows flank a bench, and offer a view of the highway and farmlands outside. They also give a good view of the parking area, for those who want to rest a while but keep tabs on their car. Just outside the windows can be seen the plaza, some recycling bins, and a few benches for use when the weather permits. Set above the bench is a large current freeway map or Wisconsin, with the location of the rest area marked in red.
Unlike the old time waysides and more primitive rest areas, these are always comfortably cool in summer, and well heated in winter. They serve as little bits of comfort, communication, and civilization out on the road. Speaking of comfort and the amenities of civilization, this brings us to the original primary purpose of the rest stop - the rest rooms.
This particular rest area is near enough to a small town that it is able to partake of a municipal water and sewer system. This allows it to use standard plumbing fixtures, rather than the more stingy and more campground style types used in some of the more remote areas.
The rest rooms are completely tiled in grey, and feature forced air hand dryers, a stainless steel changing station, and stainless steel sinks. There are liquid soap dispensers, and a trash bin for paper towels, though I could see no paper towels. There are glass mirrors above the sinks, and changing station, rather than the stainless steel types found at some stops.
The completely tiled floor contains several drains for ease of cleaning. Other surfaces are all either tiled, or of painted concrete block. This is sanitary, and easy to clean.
A single frosted pane of glass provides natural lighting, while the remainder is provided by florescent fixtures. The single window makes heating and cooling easier, and the sparse windows in the building as a whole, make vandalism less likely.
This has always been the primary function of a rest area. Still, they have come a long way since the old days of waysides with pit toilets.
An attempt has been made to smarten the place up a bit, with a band of blue tiling set partway up the wall, to break the monotony of grey tile.
In the near future, the florescent tubes will likely be replaced by LED systems, Yet, the building as a whole was designed to last for many decades, and also designed to need little attention during its lifetime.