Living in Nevada, especially central, northern, western and somewhat southern Nevada, has its consequences. Notably the availability of a bathroom while traveling the highways and byways of what sometimes seems to be endless mountain passes and valley crossings. In a perfect world there would be warm inviting traveler potty ports at least every 50 miles. Where the seats are not only clean, but warm, and an attendant would hand out warm, clean, dry towels after the user washes up. The lights would all work; the floors would not be trash covered. The walls would be an inviting pale color to aid in the relaxing experience. The pull-off road would be paved. While we are dreaming, why not add there would be music, calm but not so calm as to put you into a trance. OK; snap out of it!
No one state is alone in this plight. In many states you’ll find lengths of road that have no map marked rest areas. But in traveling you get to know every road traveled has its spots to “rest.” As travelers, we all have routes we take time and time again. Traveling to see family, to shop. Doctors in another town or state. With these trips comes the occasional need to stop and use some sort of facility. And, yes, even use a spot that’s not a “facility.” This need came up in conversation with a group of like-minded, need-to-stop-more-than-once-in-200-miles, highway travelers. Some with kids and some just with smaller-than-normal holding facilities coming out of their kidneys.
It was amazing to hear the lengths we all have gone to in finding what we all found to be our, um, spots. It’s like another one of those traveling games. You remember. Playing license plate bingo on long family trips? You see five different state plates first and you win. What we won, I don’t seem to remember. But seeing my dad driving in an agitated state because of all the commotion in the car on long trips, loudly stating something to the effect we would be left stranded at the next truck stop is a fond memory. But again — back to potty practicality.
The conversation I referred to above dealt with the call of nature at the most inappropriate times. But, it seems, as wives and mothers and grandmothers are much more aware of our surroundings and the opportunities available along the roads. Yes, we each knew where the designated rest areas were, however few and far between they seemed to be. But what was amazing was that we all seemed to know about the little side dirt roads and gravel pits between any two points in our part of the state. We knew how far we needed to go to be “out of view” of the highway. Where the largest sagebrush bushes are right down to the mile markers! We could all pinpoint a wash or a gully. Yes, it seems we knew where all the Mother Nature points of interest were. Funny we never met each other at any of them over the years!
We noted the fact men have it easier than women. Men being able to stand and look somewhat natural along the side of the road, maybe behind a door. But at the same time, we had all seen our share of the male gender, without grace, just doing his thing as though he were the only one in the vicinity. Try explaining that sight to a six year old who’s told they have to “hold it” until the next pull-off can be found.
There are, of course, the regular/designated rest areas. They are welcomed sights. Anticipated and welcomed. Until you get in the door and find that for some reason, unknown to me and I bet you, for some inexplicable reason someone has, well, as delicately as I can say this, they make a mural on the walls, seat, doors and all, with matter that should be “down the hole.” I remember stopping once and it was like finding a cow had exploded in the one hole-er set up there. That rest area has since been torn down and not rebuilt. Luckily for all of us, these finds are not the norm.
If called upon, I would happily be on the committee who sees to the needs of the traveler as pertaining to rest areas. Telling the powers that be one of the most irritating and useless things I have seen, and there are many, are rest areas that are marked, paved, have a picnic table or two maybe even a trash can — but not a bathroom! Who in the world plans a rest area without a bathroom? That is like building an amusement park without any rides, for goodness’ sake!
Ah! I feel better — even relived. You?
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.