When's the next Rest Stop?

Traveling the 3500 miles in June, we never once thought to check the Garmin to see if it could locate rest stops.  We were always looking.

The Interstate Highways provided full service stops at regular intervals until we got into Arizona.   According to the locals, the state is out of money. Most of the rest stops are barricaded.

Fortunately the main gate facilities at Grand Canyon National Park (south rim) had restrooms with all the right stuff:  running water, sinks, and toilet bowls.  And, on the backs of the stall doors you could read the details of how the water got there (from the north rim) and an intricate drawing to explain how it is recycled back to your next flush.  (A few of the particulars confused me, but ..oh~ never mind.)

Farther into the park, where no water is available, there are outdoor chemical latrines with huge black vent pipes.  I don’t know the physics involved, but I can tell you this:  when the wind is blowing 40 mph over the topside, your bottom side gets the picture.

Where's the River?  No no no!  I want to know: Where is the Rest Stop?

Many of our miles were on side trips where there were no official state maintained rest areas.  We saw signs that made it clear to road warriors that the restrooms in the stores were "for customers only."    So, we dutifully bought water or juice, which only guaranteed that we would soon be looking for another potty break down the road.

Gotcha!  Not some weird old toilet.  But that crossed my mind with some "gotta go" discomfort when I saw this shift change whistle at the old Copper Mine in Jerome, Arizona.  

I already posted, with guest help, about  The Forty Mile Desert.    The photos display uninhabitable country where highway 80 and highway 95 intersect mid Nevada.   Since there is no water, but plenty of travelers,  you get the deluxe version of the single outhouse.   Don't take me wrong.  I  didn't complain when we rolled into the parking lot, raced to the doors, and didn't have to stand in a queue!   Eight of them all hooked together under one roof.  Each room with a luxury opaque window so you can see  ...  uh ... without taking off your sunglasses?  

No P.  No Way!

Once you cross the border into Oregon you kiss two things goodbye:  the 70 mph speed limit and outdoor toilets.  Actually there were NO TOILETS until we reached Interstate 84.  Two-hundred and fifty eight miles of mostly sagebrush from Winnemucca, NV to Ontario, Oregon.      That may sound innocuous to the twenty-something traveler, but I was traveling with a charter member of the *IBB Club and am on the cusp of joining it myself. 

Somewhere in the picturesque outback of southeastern Oregon I was the one who announced that I absolutely had to make a rest stop.  The sagebrush was still green and many of them were nearly as tall as I am.   (Wider, too.  No snide remarks from the gallery.)   I insisted on carrying my camera  in case a car or a trucker drove by.  ( "Who me? I'm just out here taking pictures!")  There was also the part about forcing WR to accompany me so we could stomp loudly through the rocks and brambles to scare away any snakes that might be lurking.    Shortly after handing off the Canon Powershot to WR and taking position,  the sage in front of me began to rustle.  Squatting near the ground with your jeans snug on your boots is a very precarious position to be in when you hear adjacent noises in rattlesnake country.  Even with your husband standing guard.    Fortunately for me, out from its hiding place in the fragrant gray-green foliage fluttered a Sage Thrasher. 

"TAKE A PICTURE!  TAKE A PICTURE!"  I cried.  He removed the lens cap and pointed.
  I covered my face.  "ARGH.......... of the the bird!  Not me!" 

He snapped a quick shot.  Then the thrasher quickly found cover.  So did I.

Hey! What a polite little feather pot.  He closed his eyes!

And now you know the "rest" of the story.

*itty bitty bladder club


Anonymous said…
AHAHAHA! Loved the last part of that story.

Now my first thought was that I wished you'd posted a photo of the back of the stall doors with the complex instructions on how the water got there. Then, just as I was thinking it was probably a bit weird to want a picture inside a public loo, you described the row of loos in the 'deluxe single outhouse' - well then I couldn't quite picture that so I wanted a photo of that too.

You'll be pleased to know I did not want a picture of you crouching in the bushes. Although I did almost wet my pants laughing at your description of the almost-photo of you. :)
Junebug said…
What a lovely shot of the bird! Good thing he didn't capture you too. :))
bichonpawz said…
Hey! I'm a member of that club too!!! And I sure have been in that uh...position!! I almost wet my pants too...when you told your husband to take the bird....not YOU! OMG! That is hilarious!!
karisma said…
LOL, very entertaining post! We have rest stops every two hours along our freeways but there are also truck stops in between and in out of way areas! They are basically a space for trucks to pull over so the driver can sleep or rest. The facilities are what we would call down here "a dunny can" its literally a hole in the ground with a tin can on top complete with toilet seat. On a recent trip we stopped at one as one of our girls just could not wait, she was absolutely horrified, especially when 10 minutes up the road we came to the usual big rest stop complete with all amenities.
Jenni said…
Excellent job making such a mundane subject entertaining! I love your photos and captions that go along with this post. You're very brave to arm your man with a camera while you're squatting behind sagebrush. Danny would have taken pictures, and I think he may have figured out how to upload them to Facebook by now.

I've always been a member of the IBB Club, alternately known as the thimble bladders. Arizona is an absolute nightmare when it comes to stops of any kind. We learned the hard way that there is nothing between Kayenta and Tuba City. Nothing except the Anasazi Inn, that is, and, trust me, you do NOT want to stay or stop there.

On our recent trip, we encountered many signs stating that restrooms were for paying customers only. That doesn't bother me since it's rare that I can bring myself to use a gas station or restaurant bathroom without buying something. However, just outside of Stillwater, OK we stopped at a gas station/convenience store/bait shop with a sign on the restroom door stating that it cost a quarter to use the facilities. I ignored the sign and figured the old guy could just try to *make* me pay. Danny was already getting gas anyway. Naomi actually asked the guy if she really had to pay, and he said yes. Danny came in and heard the exchange and said he was buying gas, but the guy said the pumps didn't belong to him. We bought sodas and used the bathroom without paying. The guy glared at me as I was leaving.
Unknown said…
You DID go to Jerome! Don't you just love it there? The second I saw it I wanted to move there not sure why, some feeling about the place. I spent the night in the haunted hotel - did you? It was really neat because to use the phone you had to call the desk and they dialed for you. lol

Reststops, I'm always looking for one and I did think the whistle was one, lol.
Kila said…
I'm afraid to leave home now! ;)

Wisconsin and Florida both have plenty of rest stops. C'mon over.
Pamela, This is so funny, we almost have to schedule our travel around potty breaks too..IBB ..my husband has one of those and drinks coffee too. If you carry a blanket in your car, your husband can always hold it in front of you just about any place that you are sheltered from in the other three directions..here in Minnesota you can often times just stop in the middle of the road and go whenever. Glad you got a photo of the bird:)
Jennifer said…
I was listening to "This American Life" (which is 2.99 for every episode if you have an Iphone!!!) and they ran a story that had something to do with finances. Apparently Arizona sold its state capitol building and are renting it back from the guy they sold it to. yeah, I'd say they have financial woes!!
Merle said…
Hi Pamela ~ Great post and the toilet break stops are essential to most of us, esp when we get older.
Thanks for your comments and glad you enjoyed my jokes.
BTW Peter's eye operation was a
pterygiuem, pronounced ter-ijeum
not just cataracts. They scrape them off, but this one needs cutting out of the eye and a patch sewn on it.
He is doing well now. Love, Merle.
Peter said…
What an intriguing post on the trials and tribulations of road trips in the US and the dangers of letting husbands have control of the camera in "delicate" circumstances.
And of course more birds!!!!
Intense Guy said…
Oh my. So much toilet humor this week... :)

My dad had to resort to the old "pee into a empty soda bottle" trick this week while on the road - amazing thing... nearly filling a 2 liter bottle... I guess that means his bladder isn't too itty bitty... it just means the diuretics and failure "to go before you leave" (I've always thought that was a baffling phrase) were in effect.

I need to tell you about Little America, Wyoming someday.. not only did they have 17 private shower rooms, many with oversized tubs... but even though I was there in 1978, I can still see the endless wall of urinals in the mens room... I mean... 50... 60... maybe even a hundred of 'em...

Just for fun, ask your hubby how he would pick one - if there were 50 urinals on a wall - all unoccupied... I nearly peed myself from not being able to decide...
grammy said…
now I know I will never travel there!!!
or I will have a bucket
or better yet
a senior diaper (o:
glad he got the bird and not you...
that made me laugh (o:
Mariposa said…
Lovely shot of the bird. I was laughing when he was about to take a picture of you and not the bird.

I'm trying to save Fun Monday and just posted themes 'til end of August. I am inviting you to join Fun Monday again. See you!
Steve Skinner said…
What a great story, loved it!!
Jan n Jer said…
I feel your pain..we too are in the IBB club. At least when we travel down south for the winter the route we take, I-95 has lots of clean restrooms/pinic areas. We usually stop every 2-3 hours to stretch n go!!

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