Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where to Pee and Eat: A Modern American Travel Dilemma

How many stops does the average car take on a 1,000-mile road trip?

A lot when driving with a 10-year-old boy and a 60+ year old man.

Neither one can hold their bladder for more than a few short minutes.

Passing a service plaza with bathrooms, the 10-year-old responds when asked, “No, I don’t have to go.” Thirty seconds later, after passing the rest stop exit ramp, a small voice peeps up from the back seat, “I have to pee.”

Suddenly he is kicking the seat and squirming because he has to go NOW.

We rarely made it more than one hour before one of the guys required a detour to empty their bladder.

It did not help that the old guy guzzled coffee half the trip, and the younger one slurped water and lemonade.

And so our trip gradually progressed through summer heat, a pounding rainstorm, road construction, traffic, and a mounting number of stops to pee, feed passengers, fuel the car, and sleep.

Here is a deep philosophical question I began to ponder as we passed an American landscape dotted with trees, billboards, construction equipment, and an assortment of buildings so important to our way of life:

Why is it so difficult to find decent places to eat along major highways?

Fast food joints reign over our great overfed, overweight nation. A vast majority of these one-story structures assemble along highway exits. We (hub and I – the 10-year-old would have been very happy with junk food) refused to nourish our bodies with faux food.

Fast food outlets are good for one thing, however – a pee stop. Clean bathrooms with basic amenities like an unsoiled toilet, soap, water, and a means to dry hands are usually available, unless at the end of a store’s really, really busy day.

In an emergency we stopped at the side of the road because the 10-year-old could not wait any longer.  But that option is not available when traveling through cities and other populated areas.

Restaurants other than fast food venues gather in the greatest invention of American ingenuity of the 20th century – the mall.

Driving on mall access roads attempting to locate a restaurant discovered on our GPS or phone was too often an exercise in futility. We never found some places, and did not want to traipse through a mall to reach others.

The result of these fruitless endeavors was a great waste of time maneuvering off the highway, through mall networks, and back onto the highway, with much grumbling by the driver.

Meal choices were therefore limited.

But we did not starve, and made it home probably more than a couple of pounds heavier (I am too scared to get on the scale) because much food eaten was high in hidden calories.

But it is good to be home.

I can now pee in my own bathroom.

Sometimes the simplest things in life, things we take for granted, are the best. 


  1. You realize how great robots have it - none of that input-output nonsense, unless, like the Tin Man, you need an occasional jolt of oil.
    Sadly, with the public sweeping down the highway like herds of rampaging cattle, there's little incentive for restaurateurs to put much thought into their menus.

  2. When traveling like that, the best place I've found to get a decent meal is a grocery store with a deli. At least it's better than a fast food restaurant, and sometimes really good things can be found there. But I hear you about having your pot to piss in. :-)

  3. I can go all day without a pit stop usually, but the second I walk into my own house--make way! It really doesn't matter if I have been gone all day or have just run to the corner store for a loaf of bread. There is some strange connection between my front doorway and my bladder.

  4. I relate to this's why we took our RV from Oregon to Mount Rushmore to pick up our grandchildren. The youngest likes to sit on the toilet and wTch the world go by as we drive.