We both love to travel, and we also like driving trips. Driving in the USA offers a lot, such as reasonable accommodation, good food, and lots of it, freeways to get you from A to B, reasonable gas prices and more. Recently we spent a few days touring in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. All of the above held true, including something I did not include.
To Paraphrase William Shakespeare, “To Pee or not to Pee”. The highways in the US, offer a rest stop on all their roads, at frequent intervals, often as frequent as 30 miles. They also advise that it will be coming up in usually 2 miles, and just before you get to it, there will be another sign telling you it is the next exit, and that sign will include an arrow to advise where you need to turn if you are on a 2 lane road. This sign program will also tell you that the next one is xx miles ahead if you think you can chance it.
One of our favourite states (it’s hard to pick favourites) is Wyoming. They offer all the usual things to make a trip to the US fun and rewarding, but they offer some of the best rest areas we have ever seen, and believe me, we have seen a lot of roads in the US west. The image I have included is from a state highway 72 and 120, and it runs south from the border to Cody. It is a little used road compared to a main state highway. The rest area is grassed, and it has a sign
describing just how this rest area was built. It is solar-powered for electricity, and heated with passive solar radiation that is soaked up when the sun shines and is sealed off and released overnight. What a concept! The landscape is also arranged to deflect those pesky cold winds by putting berms in place. They are all brick, concrete, stone and tile. These places were all very clean, modern and welcome.Here is the kicker. They were built in 1989! and don’t have a speck of graffiti anywhere. They all have a couple of brick and stone picnic areas.
Now, I will contrast that with yet another experience, which may explain the title of this blog. When you cross the border into Canada coming north on highways 4, 3 and 2, there is not one rest area until you get home in Calgary! Oh, there is a sign just south of Claresholm saying there is one ahead. There is no other sign and we never found it. There is a truck stop at Nanton one can use, but it is not advertised. There is alway MacDonald’s, but on our route through Lethbridge there is only one of those until you get to Calgary. Also that seems somewhat unfair to the MacDonald’s people.
You may have noticed some TV and print advertising this year, all done up with HD video and very good I might add, that tells you to “Remember to breath”, when you travel in Alberta. I have no idea what that costs to bring people to Alberta, and then leave these people wanting when Mother Nature calls.
There is a welcome (rest) area on Highway 3 in the very southwest of our province, it is just east of the Alberta BC border, it closes after Labour Day! Mother Nature must go into hibernation about that time so travellers will not need a rest stop. Incidentally, I have driven this road in the fall and the winter, and there is a lot more traffic on it than those roads in the interior of Wyoming.
I have written many times to our MLA over the years, to complain about the situation, and have had the usual brush off from the politician now that they are elected. I have written to Allison Redford and my MLA again, but have not had an answer yet. I will likely be brushed off again, but it amazes me that there is tons of money available to pay a number of high-priced clowns that get hired to some form of the health board and who promptly quit to go elsewhere, and still manage to collect between a half million and three-quarters of a million in severance compensation. They often sever from the board rather than the other way around.
To put some of this in a different perspective, Wyoming has a population of less than 564,000, about 1/2 the city of Calgary! It is said there are more prong horns in Wyoming than there are people! Yet they found the resources to put rest stops on all their highways, even the little travelled ones back in 1989! The state by the way has less than 98,000 square miles making it the 9th in size of the 50.
You may be interested to kow that the AMA or (AAA) maps offer a small green triangle where one can expect to find a rest stop. How cool is that?
All the above are reasons why I prefer to travel in the US, over at home. They will welcome you to their hotels, restaurants, and retail stores and even offer scenery that is equal to any in the world. And even make it easy if a pee is on your horizon.