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.

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