I have recently returned home from a 2 week road trip with my best friend. We took my car. She drove. Then I drove. Then she drove again. It was seamless. Every day stresses and strains of life were left behind us on the highway. We looked forward. Well…..sometimes through the rear view window, but only to snap a picture, as these have become my signature photos, so I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by (pun intended).
I have many potential slices twirling in my head from this trip. This one is first. It revealed itself on the homestretch of our journey. Three hours to go and I yelled out, “I have it! I’ve got the perfect slice!” Let me go back to Day One of our excursion to explain how this all began. You see, I was keeping track in a journal each time we stopped for gas. I recorded how many gallons of gas we got, how much per gallon that particular gas station was charging, and what town/state we were in. At first I was doing this because I wanted to remember much money we spent on gas. From there it turned in to a written document of the stops we made -which were frequent. I finally realized, at our final pit stop, that my journal was also housing all-important information about the condition of each and every bathroom we visited from Chicago to Las Vegas and the many points in between!
Every pit-stop was the same, no matter who was driving at the time. I got the gas first and Kathy ran to the bathroom. Then, she would come out while I had my journal in hand and give me at least three important bullet points about the state of that particular bathroom. I began writing them down. She didn’t know I was doing this. She was simply being her. Anal about bathrooms. (pun not intended!)
In Sterling, Colorado Kathy came running out of the bathroom brandishing three or four squares of Kleenes, saying, “See that lady?” as she’s pointing and shaking her finger at this poor woman walking to her blue minivan. “She didn’t wash her hands after using the bathroom! So, here, take this Kleenex and use it to open the door after you’re finished in there. Can you believe her??” I took the Kleenex but I had no idea what to do with it while I actually went to the bathroom. I laughed and threw it away as I walked into the gas station.
I rarely received reports on actual people in the bathroom. This was an extreme case. (Obviously!) Most were related to the cleanliness, with some more graphic than others. We were somewhere in Wyoming when I couldn’t write this one down fast enough. “There was sh#* all over the place! I opened a stall door and a woman was just sitting there looking dumbfounded! So, unless you think you might wet your pants in the car, I suggest you don’t go near this one and we keep driving and stop at the next *clean* looking place!” With that, I quietly got back in the car and drove to the next gas station. It was silent in the car (we were tired!) until all of a sudden Kathy let out a hearty laugh. “There was a sign in that last bathroom that said, Paying Customers, Only!”
Reports on which stall was best to use were usually the norm. “Go the left and use the one at the end. The door is closed, but it’s really open”, or “There are TWO handicapped stalls!! Use either one!” I also learned how many stalls were available (the bigger stops had double, sometimes triple, the number of stalls of the smaller ones) and what food they were selling in the specific aisles leading up to the bathroom. We’ve been trying to eat healthier, so our favorite “bad” foods were taunting us at every turn. “When you see the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop just keep walking!” Next stop: “You’ll never believe what they have! Frozen Reece’s Cups!! Be strong!!”
Along with the main goal of dehydrating in these run-down shacks called “rest stops” we were also lured by the promise of “free public showers.” As I was completing my usual routine of gassing up in York, Iowa Kathy slowly approached me with a sly, but serious grin on her face. “I just want to be sure you heard the announcement on the loud speaker out here. There is currently NO waiting for a hot shower!” So, so tempting.
All in all the trip was a blast. Listening to our favorite music. Singing along. Taking pictures of every sight along the way. Stopping to visit friends in their home states. Getting a feel for their every day life was so much fun. And, oh I forgot. My carsickness only lasted a short while………
To be continued!