July 27, 2009

Going On The Go

Over the weekend, Jan and I returned from vacation.  We were on the road for 14 days and toured the Southwest, the Central Pacific Coast and the Central Plains before returning to our tiny village in Illinois. We covered 5,500 miles and never came close to killing each other. It was a terrific time.  The trip also gave me some fodder for my blogs, which is fortunate because I run out of ideas at times, which I know is painfully obvious to my small number of readers, who are too kind to tell me I suck.

The first thing I wanted to talk about is the state of the nations public and private restrooms and bathrooms with regard to the traveling public.

And I want to start out by saying this:  The primary reason I am glad I'm not a woman is that I do not have to sit down to piss.  When it comes to public restrooms, I swear to all that is holy that I do not know how you women can stand it.  Sure, I know that when it comes to taking a dump, we're all created equal, but let's face it, #2 is not a frequent occurence ... and the time, place and circumstances can be effectively managed if dealt with in a planned and prudent manner.   Not so, with good 'ol numero uno.

That said, allow me to categorize public restrooms available to travelers.

Fast Food Restaurant Restrooms:  These are usually as consistent as the food.  Arbys are excellent, McDonalds are good and Carl's Jr. are not so good.  Junior, you need to make sure that your employees police the johns more than twice a day.

Diner Restaurant Restrooms:  These are as erratic as the establishments themselves, but not bad overall.  The fixtures are often more residential than commercial, and they tend to be a little roomier than Fast Food places.  In fact, one men's room at a diner in Tehachapi, California was the size of my dining room, yet contained only a toilet and a sink.  Plenty of room to spread out and do your business.

Gas Station Food Mart Restrooms:  The quality of these increases with the number of pumps out front ... and decreases with fewer.  I guess that's logical.  In fact, I found that if a gas station had only two pumps, the restroom was pretty bad, and to top it off, it was unisex. This resulted in sort of an awkward situation if there was a line.  I mean from an etiquette standpoint, do you let the ladies go in front of you, even if you're at the front of the line?  Or are all proper rules of society off the table?  This happened to me several times, and I just left and went down the road ... usually to a McDonalds.  Because it's an unwritten rule that you can use a McDonalds bathroom and you don't have to buy anything.

State & Federal Restrooms:  These can be split into highway rest areas, and state and national parks.  First ... Rest Areas:  I'm ashamed to admit, that my home state of Illinois had the funkiest rest areas.  California wasn't so great either, but better than Illinois.  I'd rate all of the other states we touched base in as good.  Mostly clean and mostly free of gross odors.  The best restrooms were at the Visitor's Centers and the "creme de la 'creme"  visitor's center restroom was just east of Amarillo, Texas.  Look at this beauty!

Granite floors and walls complimented by gleaming porcelain toilets and urinals!  Texans, be proud of yourselves!

Second ... State & National Park Restrooms:  I suppose when you're at one of these places, you'll take anything you can get, because restrooms seem to take a back seat to nature in these areas. Actually, most of the parks we visited had adequate facilities ... meaning they had four walls and a roof so other people didn't see you in what I consider to be a human's most awkward pose, squatting or thrusting your pelvic bone at some object.  The restrooms at the Grand Canyon were the most civilized because they used the most water.  Water to flush and water to wash your hands.  This is probably because they had the easiest access to water, what with the Colorado River being a mile or so down in that big crack in the earth.  All of the other parks were practicing water Nazis, which they termed "conservation".   Conservation took several forms, from chemical toilets to open holes in the ground.  The chemical toilets weren't Porta Potties, but mad creations from the Kohler and Eljer people, utilizing filters, recyclers and sprays.  Frankly these did little to cover up the smell of coffee laced urine and hamburger/taco grease packed feces.

The most horrifying restrooms we ran across were at Arches National Park.  Now granted, water is really scarce in southern Utah, but the restrooms at the scenic stops were just dressed up outhouses ... and unisex outhouses at that.  I must admit that they were well lit outhouses, all the better to get a good look at the piles of shit and toilet paper as you pissed into what looked like a regular toilet, but was just a Hollywood prop.  And of course, being outhouses, there was no water to wash your hands when you were through with your business.  As I waited in queue, the people coming out of the toilets had a lost traumatized look on their faces, almost as if they had been violated.

Having experienced the iffy conditions of public voiding, it was a luxury to get to a motel in the evening and see a regular bathroom, complete with a normal toilet, sink and shower.  However, I do find it interesting as to how different motels set up their bathrooms.  Some have all the things in one room.  Others have the shower and toilet in one room and the sink out in the open, and the best ones have all the things in one room, plus a wet bar out in the open.  I also noticed a trend in shower chic ... curved shower curtain rods.  From the best lodgings to the worst, the showers all sported curved shower curtain rods.  I was so impressed that I just might have to get a couple for our home.

During the two weeks on the road, I came away with this general conclusion.  Whether the restrooms were palaces or pits, I did not see one person pee or poop in a place they weren't supposed to, and I never saw one "piss bomb" hurled from a semi-tractor trailer.  I think this is definitive proof of all Americans civilized nature, even if we do have a tendency to maim and kill each other.  


  1. You are way to smart for me to be hanging around, how do you come up with these stuff. LY

  2. This is SO funny. I hate dirty public restrooms and appreciate your carefully detailed list. And I wouldn't step foot in a Carl's Jr so I am safe from that. Its all about the hover. LOL.

  3. First off, your writing does not suck.

    Secondly, I went to North Dakota a few weeks ago and I noticed that not one single public restroom had seat covers. Is is that people in Washington have dirty asses or we are more paranoid of dirty asses? I was forever laying pieces of toilet paper down before I sat down.

    And lastly, I have been toying with the idea of a curved shower curtain for some time now. My bathtub/shower is narrow and I was thinking it would give me more room. I'm just wondering if it will make the bathroom look much smaller.

    I'm so glad you are back! I've missed your writing.