Here comes summer and the open road lies ahead. I travel throughout the year, but the months of June, July and August are my favourite.
I want to go where Iíve never been, where Iíve heard rave reviews and most of all, where I feel welcome.
I always feel welcome next to a lake or river or under the boughs of a forest. Almost always, sometimes the mosquitoes take away a little of the atmosphere of hospitality.
Bathrooms under the trees are a little bit of a nuisance, but after my training on a canoe trip to leave no trace, it doesnít bother me as much.
I also like going where people are and have been to many places I want to visit over and over again. I notice signs on businesses and attractions and was pleased to see a couple the other day proclaiming a welcome for breastfeeding woman.
It makes me sad it takes a sign to show acceptance and even sadder that there are places where it is frowned upon. It is a basic human need, a natural part of life. It isnít suggestive or sexual and although there are choices a mother can make, being able to feed a crying baby in a comfortable place when and where the child is hungry is a huge relief.
I have a nervous stomach and one of my frequent needs is a washroom. I know almost every rest stop, picnic area, gas station and tourist booth on the major highways in this province. I also know the towns where I donít stop. There are the tiny communities where there are no facilities or businesses left but the ones where I donít feel welcome are the ones with a different sign on the door. When the sign says Ďno public washroomí it often means they wonít even let customers use the bathrooms.
There are the Ďwashrooms are for customers onlyí signs and those make me wonder how much I have to buy and what if someone has no money but an urgent need. I sometimes wish for pay toilets. I wouldnít have to feel an obligation to a business or community, Iíd just put my quarter or loonie in the slot and feel it was a small price to pay for relief and it would help pay for paper products and cleaning.
There are places I donít feel welcome and I donít stop at all, I donít buy anything and I donít have experiences to share with others. There are places where I know I can count on a clean stall where I spend money on gas and snacks.
A few years ago in Drumheller, Alta. I noticed signs in almost every window inviting people to use their washrooms. Those signs said welcome to me and I look forward to returning again.
I know where Iím welcome already and canít wait to find more places on my travels.