Sunday, June 27, 2010
One of the things I started doing on road trips is rating rest stops. Bathrooms are crucial when traveling by car, and your whole attitude toward a state can change for better or worse based on your experience at a rest stop. My rating scale is thus:
4 toilet brushes -- amazing. Immaculately maintained, thoughtful design and decor, free wifi along with a good variety of vending machines and tourist information. Give me a bed and I'd sleep there. These are extremely rare; I found one on I-40 in Texas on my first big road trip.
3 toilet brushes -- above average. Well maintained, more than adequate facilities. Good vending machines and tourist information. A good place to stretch for a few minutes before switching drivers. Iowa ranks high in 3-brush rest areas along I-80.
2 toilet brushes -- average. Clean, but showing its age. Not necessarily maintained more than once or twice a day. Little to no tourist info; probably a pop machine. This describes most rest areas on the Interstate System.
1 toilet brush -- below average. Not well maintained, despite heavy traffic. Bathroom facilities are often dirty and lacking supplies. To be used only if necessary.
No toilet brushes -- avoid. Get off the Interstate and find a McDonald's.
Today's rest area in Minnesota rated 2 toilet brushes. The Blue Earth rest stop is a pretty place with a nice picnic area and dog run. Of greater interest, it had an historical marker. Like the spot where the Union and Pacific railroads met and were joined with a golden spike, two squares of gold-tinted concrete on the shoulder of the highway commemorate the completion of I-90, the longest Interstate in the country, stretching from Boston, MA to Seattle, WA. It was completed outside of Blue Earth, MN in 1978, 20 years after the project began. Sadly, I couldn't get a picture of the golden concrete without risking life, limb, and body damage to the car.