AZ rest stop closures make state butt of jokes

Arizona has become a laughing stock.

Arizona has been dubbed "The state where you can't go"/Ryn Gargulinski

Arizona has been dubbed "The state where you can't go"/Ryn Gargulinski

While there are a small handful of reasons that could make us an object of ridicule – like the joke of a budget deficit or the hilarious demise of the school system – the reason is a more fundamental one.

We can no longer pee.

The Arizona Department of Transportation closed 13 of its 18 rest stops across the state to cut down on expenses.

Americans across the nation have dubbed Arizona as “The state where you can’t go,” according to an e-mail from my mom in Michigan.

I think people in Iowa are even making up some bumper stickers.

ADOT calls the rest stop closures a “temporary suspension,” with the hopes of perhaps re-opening some in June after it sees if it’s still broke.

Closing the rest stops will let ADOT “reallocate funds to ensure the safety or the traveling public by focusing on roadways first.”

Rest stop in California/Ryn Gargulinski

Rest stop in California/Ryn Gargulinski

Those roadways better be in tip-top shape as folks who have to go will be hitting 120 mph or more to get to the next town with a bathroom.

Although this move may save some money, it can give rise to a variety of problems.

Like having our bladders explode. Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe was reportedly killed in 1601 when his bladder ruptured during a banquet he didn’t want to leave.

Other bursting bladder stories come in the form of the sweat shop worker, the assembly line guy or any employee with a draconian boss who won’t let them leave their work stations to go the bathroom.

Instant death.

OK, the bladder isn’t really known to burst and kill us just because we have to pee. It takes a combination of factors – like alcohol abuse, a bladder weakened by tumors or trauma – to make such a scenario a reality. Brahe is now thought to have suffered from a bladder infection or mercury poisoning.

But holding it in is still dang uncomfortable. It can also lead to urinary tract infections, crankiness and a host of psychological problems.

See how dangerous these rest stop closures can be?

New highway rest stops?/Ryn Gargulinski

New highway rest stops?/Ryn Gargulinski

Other injuries that can threaten us due to lack of rest stops are just around the bend. Zooming like bats out of hell to the next bathroom town cannot be all that safe, nor can stopping on the side of the road for much-needed bladder relief.

Not only is public urination illegal, but it, too, could get us killed. We become ideal targets for semis, dump trucks and wayward Winnebagos that could swerve off the road and squash us like, well, roadkill.

Crawling down into the brush for privacy may save us from roadside semis, but it puts us in even further danger.

Who is to say what coyotes, rabid bandits and javelinas lurk in roadside brush – not to mention the threat of cholla jumping at our private parts.

The solutions seem slim – and grim. Peeing in a cup barley works in a doctor’s office, never mind trying it while racing down the highway. Not drinking any liquids to keep our bladders empty could lead to dehydration and strange hallucinations.

Perhaps we should just take our road trips somewhere else this year, like Michigan or Iowa, states where we still can go.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who likes horror movies set in gas station bathrooms. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

Colorful NYC bathroom/Ryn Gargulinski

Colorful NYC bathroom/Ryn Gargulinski

logoWhat do you think?

Do these closures make you alter your vacation plans?

What do you do when you have a bathroom emergency on the highway?

Have you ever gotten a ticket for public urination?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
This entry was posted in danger, environment, gross stuff, life, Police/fire/law, Rynski Column, Stupidity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to AZ rest stop closures make state butt of jokes

  1. tiponeill says:

    Not a problem for us males.
    AZ is such a laughingstock for so many reasons, I doubt that this will make any difference – visitors are likely to be more concerned about gunfire accidentally erupting when they are shopping at Walmart or Starbucks.

    • Rynski says:

      yeah, you guys luck out when it comes to things like bathrooms. i always want to know why the women’s line for restrooms at concerts and such is often 500 people long while the guy’s line is zero.
      actually, what i REALLY want to know is why others glare at women who get the bright idea to go in the guy’s restroom – provided there is nobody in it –
      also agree there are other issues, like the threat of getting shot in the head, that may concern visitors more….

      • koreyk says:

        Blame the UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code), the most widely used and imitated plumbing code in the country, for the long lines at the women’s restrooms.  Or, more precisely, the formulas for determining the minimum number of required fixtures.  If the designer provided only commodes, then M and W facilities were equal.  However, if the designer wanted to provide urinals for the men, the formula resulted in more total fixtures on the men’s side, substantially so in large facilities such as arenas and stadiums. 

        In addition, in large facilities the restrooms were commonly blocked out as equal size spaces in the early design phases.  Urinals take up far less room than commodes, so many times the women’s side would just meet the minimum, while the men’s would exceed it.

        Today, both the UPC and the IPC (International Plumbing Code) recognize not only that women pee, but that, for a variety of reasons, the entire process takes longer for women than men.  Accordingly, the minimum fixture count for women is now greater than for men. 

      • Rynski says:

        wow, koreyk, that is actually fascinating info. i NEVER thought of that at all…at least now i can shift the blame to the UPC. glad the fixture count has risen.
        blame the UPC! is a nice mantra. hahahha.

      • koreyk says:

        In my early days of concert going, there always seemed to be more women than men in the men’s rooms.  At a Commander Cody show at the old Academy of Music in Manhattan, I saw one or more women sitting and peeing in the sinks every time I went to the head.

      • Rynski says:

        i’ll admit to going in men’s restrooms – when no men were in there – when the line for the women’s room was too long. but i’ve NEVER gone in the sink.

      • Ferraribubba says:

        Hey Rynski: It seems that you’ve never been to a Hank Jr. concert. there are as many women in the Mens Rooms as men.
        I’ll never forget the first time that I had a biker chick that looked like one of Jessie James’ girlfriends standing at the urnal next to me and I (like a fool) glanced over to check it out. “Hey baby, what up?”
        She looked at me and growled, “What the f**k you looking at, azzhole?
        I finished peeing in my pants as I exited stage left as fast as my chubby little legs would carry me. “Foots don’t fail me now!” <g>
        Ach, life in the fast lane. Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  2. azmouse says:

    Were there really just 18 rest stops…in the whole state??!!?? And they closed 13 of them? I’m just shocked about that. 18??

    • Rynski says:

      18 were run by the dept. of transportation – so yes, the dept. closed about 70 percent of its own stops.
      there are other rest stops run by other entities – although i could not find who runs them. and i was also wondering what is considered a ‘rest stop’ by other standards. are those picnic tables in the middle of a concrete slab considered a ‘rest stop’ even though they have no bathroom or other facilities. (one on the way to san diego did have a nice bag of clothes the looked like it was hurled out a car window…)

      • azmouse says:

        Oh, okay. I understand now. I was thinking that there were only 18…period. Gotcha.
        I do like those random and useless sun-dried wooden picnic tables, or the toasty concrete tables on a concrete slab. They look so inviting in mid-July around 2pm. Especially since most have no shade! ha

      • Rynski says:

        me, too!!!
        i am SO tempted – ALWAYS – to sit on top of those random, useless sun-baked tables in the blazing sun with my dogs, especially since phoebe is all black and sawyer is all furry. sometimes i toy with the idea of locking the keys and the water in the car just to see how long we’ll survive….

      • azmouse says:

        HA!! They are depressing…

  3. andrew says:

    Those handy water bottles are worth saving while on a long trip. I just feel sorry for the folks on the highway bar ditch mowers when their mower blades hit them urine-filled H20 containers. Maybe I could invent a female adapter for the screw topped bottles for the long trips. Sprees on is the captua

    • Rynski says:

      hey, you got the Far-log invention going – please, do!! focus your inventor’s mind on a water bottle adapter!
      yes, those ditch mowers must get a big surprise when they hit the water bottles….

  4. andrew says:

    And another thing: How much is the State paying on the rental of the barricades? Over roulette i.t.c.

    • Rynski says:

      hahha! VERY good question, andrew. also like the jazzy CLOSED signs that are stuck over rest stop exit signs. those, too, seem a like an investment.

  5. David Edards says:

    Closing rest stops is  bad for drivers , I traveled 5 times  from PA. to Tucson   and believe me stopping  is needed not only for body release of water and waster  but to sleep  a few hours  each day . Does not the governemnt know Truckes   should  drive only   certain hours    per day.  Where are they to rest  Az is getting so it cares not about  kids, seniors , unemployed and  travelers   Yet they take no  pay cut  to amount to anything 

    • Rynski says:

      i agree, david edards, some of what we’re seeing is a very sad state of affairs.
      also agree truckers DO  have it extra tough – unless they are fortunate enough to have giant cabs with all the amenities. it’s also important to stop driving to simply walk around during road trips to stretch our legs and stop that hypnotic road syndrome that makes us fall asleep or crash into ditch.

  6. Not a Jersey girl says:

    I travel up and down the state and I have to tell you it is down right disgusting to try an pee on the side of the road. All that this has done is make the buisness along the road now the caretakers for our bladders. It is now costing them money to keep toilet paper in the bathrooms, pay some to keep them clean, plus the water/soap/papertowel cost.
    From an Arizona resident.

    • Rynski says:

      good point, not a jersey girl.
      it is nice, however, that businesses in az let people use the restroom. that is not the case in places like NYC where you either have to buy something – even at restaurant – or sneak into the restroom when you think no one’s looking. i once had an employee turn the bathroom lights off with an outside switch once a sneaked in one. that was not a very bright move on her part.

  7. Eric H says:

    I would love to see how people would protest on this one… I think the end result would stink.

  8. the-cholla-jumps says:

    Who is to say what coyotes, rabid bandits and javelinas lurk in roadside brush – not to mention the threat of cholla jumping at our private parts…

    Rynski, I have no comment at this time…. No proof has been offered to make this satement stick. #snark

  9. radmax says:

    Shut the damn state down. Who cares. Anarchy NOW! 😉
    The only folks around this God forsaken intellectual wasteland who do care about state bennies are the ones receiving them…and we who foot the bill.
    We are in a financial fix that Warren Buffet would shriek and hide in the corner in the fetal position were it his plight.
    Until we address the gimme mentality of our lawmakers, nothing will change.
    Oh, as far as relieving oneself by the side of the road, inconvenient, but preferable to one of those stench and fly infested roadside attractions.
    Hi Rynski!  newsmen are…(often newswomen) captcha 🙂

  10. J Dowling says:

    As a historian have been studying the history of rest areas for several years, much to the displeasure of my husband we stop at every rest area we encounter when traveling.  In many ways they have become more academic than practical for me…until recently.  Now that we have a child rest areas have again become a kid of oasis in the desert.  We discovered this on a recent trip, through Arizona of all places.  We were lucky enough to encounter an open rest area when we needed one.  We passed several closed locations, feeling thankful that our daughter was still sleeping in her car seat.  I can list a dozen reasons why rest areas are essential to our culture and transportation system, however the most recent one is completely personal: it is such a relief to have a nice place to stop, get out of the car and care for a child that needs to eat, play or just have a respite from sitting in a car seat for a long time.  We saw other families with small children doing the same and this has a whole new meaning to me now.  I will never see a rest area the same again.  On an academic note: rest areas help keep our highways safe, and they have cultural value as places that signify our experience of interstate travel.  Rest areas are a public service and should be seen as one by state governments.

    • MN woman says:

      As a woman of adult children, I loved rest stops over gas station stops, I didn’t hear “can I have” at rest stops. We just did our thing and ran a couple of laps around the building and away we went again.  Now as a 50 year old, I like to stop often to stay awake and toss my trash in the receptacles.
      One thing I noticed was at a scenic overlook there was no trash cans. The trash was thrown all over , it was filthy.  I think that it is because the rest area was closed  just prior to the overlook.

  11. flylowguy says:

    Like everything else,  government runs things poorly,  expensively,  and not efficiently.
    We need rest stops.  Why not let those stops be bid for and privatived on a lease basis?
    I wouldn’t mind having some snacks,  coffee,  and other things marketed at rest stops.  they could certainly be more useful than just a bathroom and a place to let your dog get out.

    • leftfield says:

      The government is not a for-profit enterprise and should not be run as one.  That said, I would prefer a privately run rest area to none at all.  My concerns would be that  the rest stops would end up being as visually attractive as your average gas station minit mart and that the taxpayers would end up paying for some kind of subsidy to business as we always seem to do.

      • maxload says:

        My concerns would be that  the rest stops would end up being as visually attractive as your average gas station minit mart and that the taxpayers would end up paying for some kind of subsidy to business as we always seem to do.
        Considering that marketers have become more aware that the attractiveness of a selling space is as key as the products being sold, I’m less fearful of that leftfield, than I am that it would indeed become another corporate welfare revenue stream (pardon the pun).
        Worst case scenario?  A pay-to-pee fee, on a sliding scale based on time of day and number of cars in the parking lot, would be instituted since not all visitors can be counted on  to buy something…but all can be counted on to have stopped to unload.

  12. Hoosier Woman says:

    The town that I live in is also a laughing stock. We just recently laid off our school crossing guards and children have to walk across the streets unattended now. After many parents pitched a fit our mayor said that the firemen and police can man the street corners and do the crossing guard’s job, then the parents got mad during the winter because the firemen and policemen would just sit in their running/heated vehicals and wait for the kids. How funny is that? With gas prices .10 to .15 cents higher than Tucson’s  our little town can afford to have the motors of city vehicals running….NOT! Now just last week our town (some call it a city, I say it is a town) is closing our only GED/ESL  school. I guess if you drop out of school your SOL. So I guess closing public rest stops just doesnt surprise me. Then again I live in hickville.

  13. Hoosier Woman says:

    And is it just me or do I remember when I was young and traveling through Arizona with my parents that some rest stops had stall doors that you had to put a quarter into just to get it to open from the outside? I dont know I might be imagining it.

  14. South Central says:

    Must admit to never having been in AZ. However, along the interstaes here in the Mid-South gas-stations are never farther apart than a normal healthy adult can travel. That being said, I have made pit-stops along the road side. With any public restroom always a gamble and rest stops often not the safest looking places, after sun-down I look for a dark exit or a quiet streach of road where I can pull over, step out,  and take a leak right next to my car. (Male anatomy is handy)

    The bigger problem is a lack of places where drivers can truely rest. This presents a true safety issue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s