I spend a lot of time at rest stops. Those blue road signs promise relief and a break from driving. It’s really nice when they add “Next rest xx miles” so I can plan ahead. Can I hold it? Yes. No. Maybe. Can I stay awake that long? I hope so. But will the rest stop be open? On my recent trip to Tucson, half the rest stops in Arizona and California were closed. Come on road guys. Don’t promise relief and not deliver, especially when there’s no visible reason why it’s closed. I can’t tell you how many times I have scanned the roadside thinking maybe I’ll have to find a secluded tree or bush.
Most of the rest stops I have seen look pretty much alike: parking lots, buildings with Men and Women signs on the sides, picnic tables, dog walk area, maybe maps and soft drink machines, maybe a coffee concession. Sometimes people camp out front with backpacks, bedrolls, dogs, guitars and signs begging for money.
People walking around rest stops often have that disoriented look we all have coming out of movie theaters, a kind of wow-where-are-we-everything’s-so-bright-what-just-happened look. I have come up with a list of walking styles I have seen—and done—at rest stops throughout the American west. Perhaps you have seen them too. I welcome your additions in the comments.
(I know where the hyphens go, but I’m too lazy to add them. Consider them implied.)
- The oh my god I forgot how to walk walk
- The hunched over it’s freezing here walk
- The oh shit it’s raining walk
- The ah, sunshine leisure walk
- The I really don’t know where I am walk
- The hey, wait wait wait dog walk
- The don’t judge just let me smoke walk
- The I’m on the phone don’t anybody talk to me walk
- The oh my god I have to go so bad walk
- The I don’t want anybody to see me in my pajama bottoms walk
- The shuffling in my flip-flops walk
- The toilet paper stuck to my shoe walk
- The I see you with your need-money-for-gas sign but I’m not going to look at you walk
- The you scare me so I’m going to walk really fast walk
- The I’m so late hurry hurry hurry walk
- The shaking my hands because the blow dryer doesn’t work walk
- The slow can’t I just live here walk
- The I’m looking at the river because I don’t want to get back in the car with you walk
- The watching the ground for snakes in the desert walk
- The coffee coffee coffee walk
- The I can still feel the car moving walk
- The I meant to trip like that walk
- The swatting mosquitoes dance walk
- The where did I put my car walk
- The it’s my turn to drive get out of the way walk
BTW, the rest stop above is on I-5 near Palm Springs, California. Bet you couldn’t tell by looking. Happy travels.