The Thing? What is it? Well it's a cheesy tourist trap in the middle of Arizona that is affilated with a Dairy Queen. The writeup in Roadside America is pretty good, but they took the perspective of tourists at The Thing? I was a The Thing? rebel. My friend Emilie and I discovered all sorts of hidden ways into the museum. My personal favourite was the heavy steel revolving door that only swung one way at the exit... right next to an open wooden door. Figuring how I could have gotten in for free was worth the 75 cents every time; it just added to the surrealism. Works great with giddy been driving all night mood.
I don't know how they do it, but the prices at Flying J's always seem to be 5-10 cents a gallon cheaper than anyone else nearby. Since they are truck stops, they are always open 24 hours, and they have a decent selection of junk food.
I really like Dr Pepper. Really really like it. So when I discovered the Dr Pepper Museum, I had to stop. The tour is really funny, you can see a 4 oz plastic single serv can and a Dr Pepper can from the 60's (with the logo "Fizzy, Man, Fizzy"), and can buy yourself 10-2-4 pins. This is enough to drag even me off of I-35.
One of the coolest things about Dr Pepper is the non-uniformity of its taste. Alas this currently is working against me, as the Dr Pepper one can get in Seattle is of such an inferior quality that I have been forced to consume Coke. This is not true of everywhere of course. My last hometown (Las Cruces, NM) was the Land o' Dr Pepper. Not only could you buy really good Dr Pepper everywhere there, but there was an interesting local knockoff called Doc Holliday. However even the Dr Pepper that can be obtained there pales in comparism to The Best Dr Pepper in the World.
If you get off of I-95 at the Niantic, CT exit (south CT 161), you will see a Mobil station about a block south of the exit. I would always stop there and buy a can or two of Dr Pepper. For some reason, they always managed to get this interesting version with a strong (but unlike Cherry Coke, not overpowering) cherry flavour. I would stop there whenever driving from Boston to New York. Alas, the last time I took this trip, the Dr Pepper was quite normal. I will keep stopping there of course, and will keep hoping that the old Dr Pepper will return.
Whenever crossing a state line, one should always stop at the Welcome Center. Nearly every state (at least every state outside of New England) gives out free maps. There are some exceptions (California replaces the Welcome Center with the Fruit Inspection Checkpoints and Arizona's Welcome Centers seem to be located everywhere but at the state lines), but these are high quality maps, suitable for collecting.
As for New England, yeah you can't get free maps at the state line, but there is an almost acceptiable substitute- free maps at toll booths. These can be kind of amusing. The Mass Turnpike maps cover I-90 with a neon line reminiscent of a highlighter. The New York State Thruway maps, like the old Five Hudson Valley Bridge maps, are created with the assumption that no one would ever want to travel off of the Thruway and into the rest of the state. Remember, whenever you stop at a toolbooth, request your map.