Highway Rest Stops • Carolyn Drake • Magnum Photos

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Travel

Highway Rest Stops

Carolyn Drake captures the spaces where road trips take their interludes

Carolyn Drake

Carolyn Drake Georgia Welcome Center. Rest area. 2015. 20-E. Georgia. USA. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Thomas Bradley, rest area attendant. 20-E Georgia Welcome Center. Georgia, USA. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Rest area on I-10 WB. Wilcox, Arizona. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Bounleuth Chanthalangsy from Laos. He lives in FL and is going to GA. Rest Area I-75 S. Columbia County, FL. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Rest area. Georgia Welcome Center. 20-E. Georgia. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Gary Mullane is driving from Tallahassee to Orlando. He has long distance relationship with his wife, and is going home from visiting her, but was stopped by a tire problem. Rest Area. Paynes Prair (...)
Carolyn Drake Zach Sarkis traveling with younger brother and his friend. From Western New York on the way to New Orleans for New Years. Rest area at MS Welcome Center on 20W. Mississippi. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Rest area. Georgia Welcome Center. 2015. 20-E. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Family on the way to San Diego. Phila Green (mom), Jacob Green (dad), Rylie (daughter in white), Mykinzee (daughter in pink). Rest area on I-10W. Fabens. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Bianca and George Marinoff having lunch. They live in Rialto, San Bernadino County. George was born in Juarez, they met in Mexico and have been married for over 50 years. They're on their way home (...)
Carolyn Drake Rest area right after grapevine. USA. I-5N. California. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Rest Area 6. Cook County, Georgia. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Dwight Knight. He owns Knight Ranch west of Gainsville, FL. Went to North Georgia looking for bulls. Rest Area 4. Dolly County, Georgia. 201 © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake The Wakefield family. Rest Area 4. Dolly County, Georgia. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Joyce Joubert in pink with little chihuahua dog named Daisy Dukes after the dog in the ‘Dukes of Hazard. WB 1-10. Mesa, Arizona. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Rest area No. 19. Bibb County, Georgia. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Thomas Bradley, rest area attendant. 20-E Georgia Welcome Center. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Jayda Maldonado and Julian Maldonado with father Marcelino, looking at the map. Theyre going to spend X-mas in North Carolina. Rest area No. 19. Bibb County, Georgia. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Tahpainga Landavazo gets in her family's broken down camper. The family has a blog on Facebook called “Traveling Across the U.S." They're spending a year on the road seeing all 50 states. Rest Area (...)
Carolyn Drake Rest area No. 19. Bibb County, Georgia. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Attendant Patricia Bishop. Sacaton rest area on WB I-10, Arizona. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Kelsi Barnard going to Stone Mountain where there is fake snow. Her family is from Florida. Rest area No. 19. Bibb County, Georgia. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Safety rest area. Ward County, Texas. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Joe White with US and New Mexican flags. He takes them down at the end of the work day. Native las Cruces. Anthony Welcome Center. New Mexico. 2016. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos
Carolyn Drake Barbara Mastriano and Joey Hart from Jacksonville. Their engine exploded just before they reached this pull off. They were going to pay a surprise visit to his parents for his birthday (today). Wai (...)
Carolyn Drake Diego Armas and Laura Camila from Columbia. Driving to Tennessee from Florida. Rest area No.10. Turner County, Georgia. 2015. © Carolyn Drake | Magnum Photos

Road trips have an almost mythical status in American culture; open roads have inspired countless artists and writers, the expansive landscapes, the empty highways, roadside attractions, pit stops, the passing ghost towns, as significant, if not more so, than the eventual destination. Highway rest stops, therefore catch people during the interlude moments of their journeys. Magnum’s Carolyn Drake photographed the goings on at highway rest stops across America, photographing weary travelers stretching their legs, taking cigarette breaks, eating roadside picnics and walking dogs. The more surreal moments appear in the red-lit glow of nightfall, where we see one visitor taking a break to play some violin.

“The rest stops didn’t feel very distinct,” she says. “These are state-funded projects and usually bare boned; a cluster of trees, a bathroom, a parking lot. I enjoyed talking with the workers there and wish I had sat down to record interviews with them. A lot of them are retired, living in remote places, working there part time to barely make ends meet but they had stories and opinions about the travelers they had seen coming and going over the years.”

For Drake, the American road trip that sticks most in her mind is The Great Unreal by Onorato and Krebs. “I can’t drive long distances with my camera in this country without thinking about this work.”

Published as part of Magnum’s On The Road series, exploring the road trips across America, taken by Magnum photographers. See more stories from this series here.