Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 31° Cloudy
News >  Spokane

For the restroom-wary among us, RVs can offer respite

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Those who have experienced Inland Northwest staycations are no doubt familiar with a local fact of life.

It’s something you discover when you hit the road for day trips in the Spokane area.

Public restrooms can be hard to find once you get out of town. At least restrooms that merit the approval of certain family members who have standards where these matters are concerned. And by “standards” I mean, well, men and women sometimes have different perspectives on what constitutes adequate bathroom facilities.

Enough said.

Except to note that these frustrating restroom searches can lead to utterances you never thought you would hear coming out of your mouth.

“You know, maybe we ought to get an RV.”

OK, that might not sound like the most mind-blowing concept you’ve ever encountered. Recreational vehicles are about as mainstream as you can get.

Lots of wonderful people around here have them. Not all are retirees. And contemporary RVs aren’t all unwieldy behemoths. Some aren’t all that much bigger than XL SUVs.

But here’s the thing. For those who ever harbored even the slightest illusion of having any lingering counterculture cred, owning an RV would be sort of like playing golf or belonging to an exclusive club. It can challenge your self-image, even if that’s ridiculously dated.

Still, the idea of being able to enjoy some of the key comforts of home while out on the road has an undeniable appeal, especially in our sparsely populated area.

You would not have to explain piquant restroom stall graffiti to your grandchildren.

You could say goodbye to restroom stops that prompt nightmares.

“Grandpa, did someone die in here?”

Or …

“What was that on the floor in that rest area?”

“I’m trying not to think about it. But we’ll have to burn these shoes. Or turn them over to CSI Pend Oreille County.”

You could savor being on the open road and exploring the West without fretting about whether you’re going to have to pull over, stumble into the woods, drop trou and risk startling a deer or bear.

Of course, RVs undoubtedly come with their own set of headaches. TV shows from “Frasier” to “Modern Family” have poked fun at the foibles of that mode of travel.

But perhaps the definitive treatment of RV fantasies was the Albert Brooks movie “Lost in America” from 1985.

Brooks plays a hard-charging Los Angeles advertising executive who wigs out when he fails to get a promotion he was counting on. He and his wife, played by Julie Hagerty, abandon their old lives and head out on the highway to see the U.S. in their new recreational vehicle.

Things don’t go quite as expected. But then, they had been expecting the RV to deliver some sort of mystical experience. In reality, sometimes all you want is a clean, quiet place to go to the bathroom on the way up to Nelson, B.C.

So no, I’m not auditioning for the role of paid pitchman for a local RV dealership.

“C’mon down, friends!”

My wife and I haven’t actually bought a recreational vehicle yet. We’ll see. What would they give us for a 1987 Honda Civic hatchback or one of my bikes as a trade-in?

But this reminds me of something that happened a few years ago. The STA approached me about appearing in some ads that promoted bus riding. It was decided by senior SR editors that I should decline the invitation.

Looking back, I wish I had gone ahead and done it. I don’t think our transportation choices totally define us. Sometimes necessity trumps other considerations. But I’d like to endorse all sorts of modes of travel.

Even the ones that lack onboard facilities.

Why I enjoy ancient ‘Perry Mason’ reruns

Actually, there are several reasons – not limited to the amusing characters, pulpy stories and actresses in hilariously conical bras.

“Watch out, kids! You’ll put your eye out!”

For one thing, I get a kick out of seeing the circa 1960 cars looking all shiny and new. I admire the lines of those stylish Detroit products and enjoy trying to decide which vehicles had the deadliest dashboards, et cetera.

But the thing I really get a bang out of is seeing people reading newspapers. They’re everywhere.

There’s always a copy in Perry’s office. Which is not surprising, as he often is front-page news. And those stories about his cases always seem to merit headlines the size of “JAPS SURRENDER.”

Seems like the other lawyers in L.A. would have been jealous.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.