This post has everything to do with bodily functions. I'm posting this solely as a courtesy in case my wife (who rarely reads my blog gets told by one of her friends or a relative or someone on the street that I'm writing about this) sees this.
As a runner, I've developed a pretty high tolerance for rest stops. You can't be too picky when you are six miles into a 15 mile run and you get "the urge" and it's a "RIGHT NOW!" and not a "in 9 miles when you've fully recovered from your run and had a bite to eat..." I do have my standards and that involves only using facilities meant to capture what I am releasing. I'm not one of those "stop and drop" type of people that I see in races.
So, what does that have to do with a drive to Michigan. Think through this with me.
- 24 hours of actual driving (30 hours if you included stops)
- 2 adults
- 3 kids
Since I never made it past Algebra in High School, I asked my son who is signed up for AP Calculus if there were some formula he could give me that would calculate the possibility that we would be making an urgent stop at some point in our travel. He just rolled his eyes at me and walked off. I'm sure someone has done a study. If not, maybe I'll apply for a grant. What is boils down to is a lot of stopping. Sometimes that stopping just meant gas, but if there's one thing I've taught me kids about traveling is that the chance of being left by the side of road diminishes greatly if you take the opportunity to hit the restroom while we're getting gas then when just filled up 10 minutes before and you were fine.
I'd like to think that I know a thing or two about cleanliness and sanitary conditions. Again, I am married to a marvelous women who has gone to great lengths to rid me of my bachelor man ways and converted me to the putting the seat-down-after-I-go ways of being. Combine that training with my knowledge and experience with all the public places to go in a 5 mile radius of my house and I'm here to give you a breakdown of rest stops from Utah to Michigan. I'll break them down state wide West to East. If you're on the East Coast and traveling to Utah, feel free to scroll to the bottom and work your way up.
1. Utah- Despite the pride and respect I have for my home state, I have to say that Utah ranks just slightly higher than the public restroom at Starbucks in New York City that I waited an hour in line to use. First, finding a true rest stop in Utah is virtually impossible. Most have been shut down and boarded up. Your next resort is the gas stations that simulate rest stops. Your chances of finding one where you don't have to read about "Bubba and his exploits" or wonder if maybe "Bubba" may have just left are slim. Grade: D+
2. Wyoming-In Wyoming, there are a few options. Rest stops are available. We stopped at two during our journey out and back. The first was when we crossed into Wyoming and they had a sign about not petting the buffalo. Another option is the Little America stops. About 150 miles from the Little America I started seeing signs advertising it. By the time I got there, I was convinced that it was one of the many wonders of the world and if we didn't stop it would be life-ending. On the trip out, the Little America in Wyoming was well kept, clean and l
3. Nebraska-This section of our journey is like that nightmare that never ends. The endless miles of nothingness. The rest stops were above average comparatively. You could tell that someone had put some thought into making it nice. One of the places we stopped had a neat diagram showing how the stop had been built to absorb the sun in the winter and warm the place while being cooler in the summer. The smell was reasonable. Rest Stop Grade: B-
4. Iowa-Someone in Iowa really put some thought into their rest stops. I've stayed at hotels that were not as nice as their rest stops. The buildings were attractive, the landscaping was nice. They even had free Wi-Fi. My wife commented that she could still smell the bleach and cleaner used in the bathroom. I had a boss who said he could tell how well a restaurant's kitchen was by the cleanliness of the bathroom. I've got to say that Iowa gets top marks. Rest Stop Grade: A
5. Illinois-Illinois is the land of the toll roads. I didn't realize they had these little things called Toll Oasis'. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is just what it sounds like. You're on this endless stretch of highway, you've successfully burned through $20 in change in various increments at various toll stations and you come upon this big complex that looks like someone uprooted a min-mall and stuck it on the highway. The bathrooms were comparable to what I would find at a min-mall with a lot of traffic. Rest Stop Grade: C
6. Michigan-By the time we reached Michigan I was in such a daze I don't even remember where we stopped. Since nothing stands out, i'm assuming we stopped at various gas stations along the way and depending on which one we chose it could have been pleasant or scary. Rest Stop Grade: C+
For the non-runner, this probably would be a very odd subject. For the runner however, this makes perfect sense. My wife will probably fall somewhere in the middle. She puts up with me as a runner so got to give her good marks for that.