I spent much of July on the road for business and pleasure and it got me to thinking about the needs of travelers, especially travelers with bladders, which includes most of us.
California once had a wonderful array of Rest Areas spaced to keep our bladders reasonably well managed.
Rest Areas served other needs as well, such as a place for a weary traveler to stretch our legs; use vending machines (many had machines, some didn’t); talk briefly with other travelers; and let pets run a bit and relieve themselves. These pit stops served us well, when they are open.
During the recent travels across the breadth and along the length of California, I observed that more than half of our rest stops were closed. Some were under repair, some appeared to be abandoned.
Our local Rest Area at Gaviota has been closed since the middle-ages it seems to me. I thought our local Hwy. 101 travelers were being unfairly ignored, however I now see it is a statewide condition. Some are open, many are closed, which makes it difficult to plan our pit-stops.
The age-old truth is “When ya gotta go, ya gotta go,” yet finding secluded and safe spots to water a tree or bush can be iffy. Female travelers are understandably against the concept for reasons of privacy and safety.
Stopping at fast food places and gas stations can work when you need food or fuel. Those businesses typically view their restrooms as being for their customers. Besides, my vehicle’s fuel tank will get me from Santa Barbara to Sacramento without stopping, however my bladder isn’t going to make it anywhere near that far.
The lengthy closure of so many Rest Areas is an issue that makes it hard on commuters and vacationers. It makes things even tougher for truckers who are often on the road for 10 to 12 hours per day and need to pull off to keep themselves fresh and safe on the road.
We really need those Rest Areas fixed and reopened without unnecessary delay. I feel better when I pass by a closed Rest Area where construction workers are busy working, than I feel when passing by what appears to be a closed and abandoned Rest Area, especially when I have a need to stop.
The COVID-19 era had bright spots and one of them was food trucks serving people in some rest stops. This was super helpful. Many camper vans, RVs and trucks can’t use a fast-food drive through, so having good grub available from food trucks at rest stops was a blessing.
As rest stops open back up (and I hope that happens quickly), here is a vote for more food trucks and other vendor services at these precious spaces. I feel this will help refresh us and keep us alert on the road.