A cross-country trip produces wear and tear on the human body as well as the automobile. The body is refreshed after a nights sleep in a clean motel and decent meal. Just make sure and stay in a motel that is less than five years old. They become pretty dirty after that time and need to be replaced. Motels are now disposable. Owners just tear them down and start over or a new chain purchases the property and refurbishes it with a new name. Folks from India take over some of the motels and keep them going at a cheaper rate. My advice is to stay in a new one if you can afford the small difference in price.
The auto also needs a respite. The car simply requires a tank of gas but always seems to run better when it is clean. A clean windshield gives the auto a boost and assures clear cruising for another several hundred miles. The problem is that the places to get a little service have disappeared.
When I was a kid, we called these car rest stops filling stations. We would pull in and a smiling attendant would fill the tank with gasoline, clean the windshield, sweep out the interior, check the air pressure in the tires and the oil level. As the floor board in cars sunk, the sweeping stopped. Gasoline pumps were developed that required no attendant; just insertion of a credit card, pushing a few buttons, sticking the gas nozzle into the tank and squeezing the trigger. Most tanks differ and the process is not always that easy. A little message scrolls in a dimly lit window on the pump asking if you want a car wash or a receipt. The big profit in these so-called service stations is the attached convenience store with dirty restrooms. The attendants in most of these places look like terrorist. It’s no use asking directions if you are lost because the person at the cash register doesn’t speak English.
The mega stations have multiple pumps with cars lined up like the start of a major race. Some of these stations do have a tank containing a wand for cleaning the windshield; however, more often than not there is no water or paper for drying the little rubber blade after you drag it across your streaky windshield. On my recent trip we stayed in a small town for several days and used the only station available for several miles. That station didn’t have a wand or anything for cleaning the windows. When I ask the guy at the cash register, he said they no longer provide water or a wand for cleaning because people carry them off as fast as they put them out for use. This was in a station of a major oil company with xx in the name. The attendant wasn’t even friendly as he growled at me for asking the question.
My how things have changed. Maybe I wouldn’t be so upset if gas wasn’t three dollars a gallon vs. 16 cents when I got all that service.
I’m thankful to be back on the porch with a clean room and clear windows to view the serenity of the back yard. I love my clean restroom. There are no 18-wheelers bearing down on me and none of those orange cones and barrels lining the highway that is reduced to bowling lane size by concrete barriers. I can doze off in my rocker. That’s a practice that would be disastrous behind the wheel. It’s sure great to be home.