Friday, January 9, 2009

Keeping Track of Stuff

Those of you who have been reading for awhile know that when my stepfather passed away I took up his quest for the perfect piece of pie. Everyone needs a mission in life and some are more mundane that others. Most people would choose something more ambitious such as ending hunger or discovering dark matter, but those quite as delicious as sampling pie.

I also keep track of silly stuff, jotting down notes when I travel and keeping a mental record of such things as the cleanliness of bathrooms. Suzanne over at Chickens in the Road has been hunting down and photographing outhouses, which is what got me to thinking about bathrooms.

The Farmer and I have been lucky enough to have stayed in some pretty wonderful digs, such as a five-star hotel overlooking Millenium Park in Chicago. The bathroom was decorated in a style which I'll call urban chic with fluffly bathrobes and live orchids. I remember thinking, "I bet this is what Oprah's bathroom looks like."

The bathroom in our little thatched roof casita in Belize had water delivered by plastic pipes half buried under the sand.

Here are the best and the worst bathrooms ever, and an explanation as to why they earned the ratings:

Just off I-55 in Litchfield, Illinois.
It's been a couple of years since we stopped at a gas station that also housed a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant. The bathroom was absolutely spotless. I've never seen anything like it. When I met the Farmer at the cashier where he was paying for our gas and a couple of Cokes I told the woman, "That's they cleanest bathroom I've ever seen."

"Thanks", she said. "I'm responsible for cleaning it."

I complimented her profusely. Here's a woman who was given the uneviable task of keeping a public bathroom clean and she took that responsibility seriously. It was not beneath her, nor did she take the attitude that they weren't paying her enough to clean that room. She was a terrific employee.


Our tour bus pulled up to the visitor's center at Mayan temple complex at Tikal in Guatemala. This place is one of the wonders of the world and we stepped off the bus a short distance from the very modern looking visitor's center. As we walked across the parking lot it became apparent that everything was not as it appeared from a distance. The day the construction workers pulled away was the last day anyone had laid a hand on the building. It was obvious that no effort had been made to maintain or clean anything. The bathroom was a fright. I would have rather used an outhouse or simply ducked behind a bush out in the jungle. What made things a thousand times worse is that these bathrooms were located just behind the "restaurant". It's no wonder the open air restaurant was empty. Not a soul would dare eat in such a place. People come from all over the globe to visit this place and they can't find a bucket and some soap. Shameful.

I can't be alone in my silly habit of keeping track of "stuff". What do you keep track of?


Heidi said...

I KNEW you had 'up north' roots my friend! I CANT STAND a nasty bathroom.... ISH. Its a good thing that I had boys because a sit down pee in some places is like asking for tetnus!!! I have been known to hold my boys off of the toilet while they poop because I cant find enough toilet paper to cover the seat, no soap to wash the seat and not enough paper to wipe for gosh sakes. This usually happens at a 'truck stop', Walmart or at one time CULVERS!!!
I am sure that the girl you complimented was tickled about being rewarded with some praise - most people would'nt have said anything. :)

chocolatechic said...

It is for this reason that I always keep in my purse 2 baggies.

One has baby wipes, and one has home made antibacterial wipes.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said... goal is to photograph all those that are in imminent danger of falling down before they're gone forever. They are legion around here.

Anonymous said...

THE WORST bathroom I was ever in was back in the mid '70's in Biloxi, Mississippi.... it was a gas station bathroom and someone had written on the wall... "go ahead, stand on the seat, Mississippi crabs can jump 6 feet".

Needless to say, I chose to hold it until the next available bathroom came along. BUT, have never forgotten THAT dirty bathroom with the unfriendly wall quote. ICK

The Blue Ridge Gal

Oh, and I love photographing old rickety, ticky tacky buildings... it's just what I do.

Jeanette in Texas said...

You should see the rest stops in West Texas! The state has dropped a few bucks out there to make sure we have a nice place to stop for a bathroom, or to play, or internet access, they have it all!

Karen said...

My middle son,when he was young, used to say that he was on a quest to visit every public bathroom in NZ. As a result I got to see a lot of lovely bathrooms and some that I would prefer to forget.

The worst were usually publis loos at the beach ... yuk !!

I like photographing old buildings, especially derelict ones..

Karen said...

Oh, my experiences with public restrooms, is the reason I know always carry antibacterial wipes, moist wipes and a small packet of tissues...

Karen said...

Oh, my experiences with public restrooms, is the reason I know always carry antibacterial wipes, moist wipes and a small packet of tissues...

diane said...

Of course it would be terribly rude to discuss best and worst private bathrooms,ha-ha-ha.
But, I have to ask how my 105 year old "penthouse" bathroom faired in your survey!

p.s. In addition, you really should tell them about the "ghetto" bathroom. I still laugh when I think of it!

martina said...

Every time we took a family vacation and went to Tijuana Mom would say "make sure you go to the bathroom before we leave the San Diego hotel" "Tijuana is not very clean". So, the last time we went who had to go to the bathroom in Tijuana? MOM I still remember standing in the restroom waiting for her and the urine soaked floor. Was very glad to to be wearing flipflops. Ish..

Diane said...

ewww, hate dirty bathrooms! What do I keep track of? Lately I've been keeping track of which neighbors still have Christmas decorations up so I can label them La-Zee. My husband thinks I'm a bit crazy (he's right). He believes if all the neighbors were had been warned of the post holiday decor police (me), things would come down a lot sooner.

Miss Lila in Atlanta said...

LEGOS. I keep track of Legos.

Hey I noticed Heidi commented. Why isn't she posting??????
Is she OK???? I wish she would change the picture on her blog. Wouldn't ya'll like to see the whole family??? Or least all 5 of the boys??? Just a thought. Got nothin' else to do today. Sept pick up Legos. don't ya'll just LOVE Legos????
Heidi, I don't have a blog so pay no attention to me. Miss yours tho.

Miss Lila in Atlanta

Sand Flat Farm said...

The worst public bathroom (if you could call it that) was a little stopping place between Ojinaga and Parral, Mexico on a 200 mile (or so) stretch of straight-as-an-arrow two lane highway with no shoulders. We had a couple of vans from our church. There was a make-do shelter over the "bathroom", you went in and stood on a wooden floor with a toilet with a hole in the bottom of it, did your bizness, then you could look down into a pit of sorts through the "hole" and see EVERYTHING. You filled up your bucket of water and rinsed the facilities after you were done. The fumes were noxious! I would much rather have used a bush, but there were none around - we were in the Chihuahuan desert. I swear - you could probably come down with all sorts of diseases. The next time we needed a toilet, we dragged blankets out of the van, and 3-4 of us would hold them up in a circle, you could go in the middle, then we'd move our circle for someone else. Fresh facilities every time!

Pieceful Afternoon said...

I always look for fast food restaurants when we have to travel - their bathrooms are usually clean - and I say usually. I don't buy anything - just use the facilities and go on my merry way.

I collect old barns - before they disappear - I have a lot of N. CA - not so many from WA because a lot of them have already been torn down and housing developments go up in their place - sad for sure.

And doors - I love to photograph doors - there are some might interesting ones out there - and I love to make up stories to go with them.

amelia bedelia said...

Gotta love a clean public bathroom. I've come across some pretty nasty ones too. Thats when you have to "hover" over the toilet seat!

Buddha's Place said...

The worst bathroom/outhouse I have ever been in is on the way to my dads house. It is exactly half way there. There used to be nothing for 50 miles either way, so we use to use it no matter what. It has bullet holes that riddled the door and some pretty colorful lanuage on the walls and usually at least a six pack of empty beer bottles on the floor. The guy that owns the Discovery chanel or something like that built a destination stop in this little tiny town in the middle of nowhere and the end of the earth. The bathroom is beautiful, but you pay $4 for a bottle of water...I am willing to pay!

cityfarmer said...

usually what I just put in my mouth..ha

Cottage Rose said...

Hey Suzanne; I too have been in some very very nasty bathrooms along our trips, and some very great looking ones, I have never thought of keeping track of any thing, I am going to have to give this some deep thought. Thanks for the idea....

Have a great weekend.

Jeanette in Texas said...

I figured that the rest stops in West Texas were so nice that surely I could find some pictures online. Yep, found them. Check out this website.

Mom L said...

I'm slow to respond, but the worst bathroom I ever saw was near Big Bend National Park on the Rio Grande in Texas. It was in the late 60's, and my ex and I were camping there. The huge bathroom facility was not only filthy, but the walls were covered with ticks! I was terrified!

Nancy in Atlanta

Kat said...

I am completely new to your blog, but I love this post about the bathrooms. I have to say I keep track of them too. While I haven't found the best yet, the worst was in the Sahara Desert in Tunisia. It looked promising, a real port a pottie, but it was just 2 pieces of wood on either side of a hole. And no toilet paper!!