Wednesday 26 November 2008

Go for the Green Bathroom Instead of the Red One at Eddie McStiff's

Eddie McStiff's MicroBrewery
57 S Main St
Moab, UT USA

Where is it?

There are two options for bathrooms at this saloon/beer house/entertainment complex.

For the first, head inside the building through the main entrance (which is to the left of the front patio dining area -- there is also a side patio dining area, which begins at the far end of the front patio), past the hostess station, gift shop (which is just past the hostess station on your left, in a little cubby there), and designated "beer drinking area" (which features pub tables and seems to be set up to cater to older clientele who don't have kids with them). At the end of that hallway stretch, you'll see an enclave housing the men's and women's restrooms.

For the second, enter the same way, but just before you reach the "beer drinking area" turn right into the main bar section, walk past the bar (which will be on your left) and booths there (on your right), towards the far right edge of the place. After the booths end, you'll see a hallway open to your right, which takes you to the side patio dining area, as well as the front part of the indoor dining room). Pass that hallway -- the next door on your right will be the men's room, with the women's room being just a little further on that stretch.

Alternately, for the second bathroom, you can cross through the outdoor patio areas and turn inside, turning right at the main drag.

What's it like?

This mammoth bar and beer palace is located in the dead center of majestic Moab. It's an all-encompassing sort of establishment. It's a sports bar housing a festive, somewhat rambunctious attitude and plenty of plasma screens on the TV. It's a microbrewery beer hall that produces its own array of specialty brews which draw inspiration from the rocky, red-sanded landscape around it. It's a two-story saloon containing an assortment of gaming areas (with pool tables and other parlor games). It's an eatery serving up decent pub grub with a regional twist. And, on weekends, it's a venue for local music and other entertainers.

The interior has a bit of a Western feel, mixed with that of a sports bar and a TexMex restaurant. The dining room and bar are dimly lit. The walls and booths are wooden, the highlights TexMex, and the vibe sports bar. Definitely a fun place -- kind of a spin on the wonderful The Flying Saucer in Raleigh, only without the kitschy plates hanging on the walls and the college-aged clientele (or the mammoth beer selection). While here, you instantly know that this is a popular place with both visitors and locals alike, and you can imagine the place gets pretty crazy at times. There's an underbelly here, if you know what I mean, and you admire it for that.

The menu isn't extensive or wildly original, but the food here is tasty and well-priced. The burgers can be all beef or all buffalo (or fish), for example, and can be topped with an array of items that range from traditional Southwestern ingredients (roasted chili, salsa, etc.) to Italian (dressing a sandwich like eggplant Parmesan, for example). There are also an assortment of salads and major entrees (steak, fish, chicken, BBQ, pizza) -- all of which is well-prepared, fresh-tasting and delicious.

The beers are well-crafted and indicative of the regional brew style -- which is that they tend to do in the Western U.S. These are full-bodied brews, usually with a heavy emphasis on hops, that draw on German brewing standards and traditions, but often include original spins on such traditions. As a result, the brews are both very quaffable and complex -- the best of both worlds, really. The establishment is definitely worth a stop or two if you're in Moab -- even if you're just passing through.

The bathrooms here are of the typical saloon style -- reminiscent to the toilet at The Flying Saucer in Raleigh, just smaller and with considerably less sticky floors.

The two bathrooms here are pretty similar in setup here -- essentially over-sized one-baggers that have been designed to accommodate two or three people at a time. Each one has a single stall, one urinal and a sink (the green has two sinks actually). One has a green trim design, the other a red. The green bathroom (the one nearer to the gift shop and "beer drinking area") is roomier than the red one (which is at the far end of the bar booths), but otherwise they are more or less interchangeable in terms of offerings -- though they are not equal in terms of cleanliness and overall experience.

The green bathroom has a linoleum floor with a green and black pattern on it and gray drywall walls. The walls are pretty bare, save or a single picture of some nearby rock formations. The stall (with green divider walls) is very roomy -- a little too much so, like the one seen at the Kolob Canyons Visitors Center -- and so is the urinal area, which could easily fit two more urinals into that big space if someone wanted to put them in there. The fact that the urinal is one of those old single-unit trough-style ones, without divider, makes the room around it appear even larger.

Otherwise, it's a pretty bare bones environment, nothing flashy. Clean, though the air is tinged some with urine (it's a bar after all) and there was some water spillage and paper on the floor, but nothing horrendous.

The red bathroom is smaller and actually feels like a better-spaced version of the bathroom experienced at the Tamarisk Restaurant in Green River, UT. Same offerings here, but it doesn't feel as overstuffed as that one. As with the green bathroom, the floor is covered in linoleum here, this time in a red and black pattern. The divider walls are red here.

The urinal is in the center of the room and has a roomy chamber around it (courtesy of red dividers, part of which is a stall wall and part of which separates the urinal from the sink -- only one here). The walls are the same grey drywall here, and there is no art on the walls, except that there is a chalkboard hanging above the urinal, which lists some upcoming events and general graffiti. The stall is roomy enough but not nearly as large as the one in the green toilet.

Again the air here was tinged with the smell of urine and I found some spilled water and paper bits on the floor, and the grout behind the toilet in the stall looked pretty worn and grimed over -- definitely the less clean of the two bathroom choices available here.

Also, the exhaust fan here was very noisy -- so much so that it became invasive during my visit. The minute I finished my business and went out into the music-filled dining room, I felt like I'd stepped into a sanctuary. Yes, it's that rumbling and noisy.

Though neither option is stellar, if offered a choice, go for the green bathroom here over the red.

Marks out of 10:

6 for the green bathroom. 5 for the red.

Comments to the Management:

As stated, both are pretty bare bones bathrooms, and because of the festive attitude of the rest of the place, it couldn't hurt to add some beer hall decor to the walls, just to make it fun. You don't necessarily have to go overboard, of course, but at least have some fun with it -- like the people at the Pig and Whistle Pub in Sebastian, FL did. Otherwise, please try your best to keep both bathrooms a bit cleaner and odor-free -- and if possible, do something about fan noise in the red restroom.

Monday 24 November 2008

Outhouse #8: Delicate Arch Viewpoint Toilet Comfortable But Crowded

Arches National Park
Delicate Arch Viewpoint Outhouse
2282 Resource Blvd
Moab, UT USA

Where is it?

Follow the main road through Arches National Park until you get to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint stop. Note: This is not to be confused with the Delicate Arch trail stop, which lets you hike to the arch itself. This is for the viewpoint, which lets you look at the arch from about 500 feet away.

The outhouse itself is located in the parking lot of the viewpoint area. Really, you can't miss it, since it's the only building there (unless you count the many campers you'll come across).

What's it like?

Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in Arches National Park, mostly because it stands alone atop a sandstone ridge as if posing for photographers. It does indeed look very delicate and is quite amazing to marvel at, considering that it's the result of wind erosion. Though, upon closer inspection (and I didn't walk up to it, only looked at it from the viewpoint areas), you can see that it's really quite mammoth in size (compared to the people standing beside it), which in a way makes me think it's a lot sturdier than its name suggests. Regardless, an amazing site.

The viewpoint area isn't much more than that. There are two trails to be taken here -- one that goes about a half mile, and is flat and gravel graded, and lets you look at the arch from a bottom vantage. Not a great view, but not bad and certainly mindful of those who can't make the actual hike to the arch or take the other trail here.

The second trail is about a mile long and starts out easily enough but soon takes an upward turn, with some steep inclines, taking you up to a higher vantage that lets you look at the arch from the top of a ridge that's just across a small valley from the arch itself. This was a pretty hard hike, mostly because you expected it to be easier after tackling the first one. But the inclines are steep and the heat of the park gets to you, making it a much more strenuous walk than you first expected.

Ironically, the views aren't that different from above vs. the one below, which makes me wonder why I just didn't take the plunge and hike to the arch itself. I imagine the hike couldn't have been much more strenuous than what we already did to get to the higher viewpoint.

Anyway, the outhouse in the parking lot here is definitely a step up from some of the other outhouses we've visited. Not quite on par with the one visited at Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon, which was borderline divine, but not to far off from that level of quality either.

As with the other outhouses we've visited, this one is pretty simplistic in design: Small chamber with a compost toilet, a toilet paper dispenser, some handicap support beams, a vent in the wall and a warning sign, asking you not to throw trash down the toilet.

About the sign: This one, actually, was a bit more honest in its message than the others we've seen, reading, "PLEASE do not throw trash in toilet. It is extremely difficult to remove. THANK YOU."

Ironically, the bathroom also had a trash can in it, to help people fulfill this request -- something nearly all other outhouses seem to lack. Normally, the trash can is outside them, but it actually makes more sense to have it inside here. Go figure.

The walls here are white, and the floor is blue-painted concrete. The commode sits on a little step/elevated area on the floor, which looks nice but actually may cause trouble for those with shorter legs. This is not one of those environments, really, where you dangle your feet over the side and have your legs touching the side of the commode -- these are unisex environments, so you always have to be mindful about men who miss the mark.

On the whole, the place is pretty clean and odor-free -- and I give the designers kudos on the later, seeing that the toilet itself is placed right next to a vent in the wall. Sure, there is a tinge of urine here, but that vent really does a good job in airing the place out some.

Little things like that elevate the experience, to be honest. But be warned that this is one of the most popular stops in the park, and it is very crowded here. There was a line for the toilet when I visited, which kept me waiting a little longer than I would have liked (not like you can just pee on a rock somewhere, because the area itself doesn't have many spots for privacy, no trees and such).

Also, once you're inside, you can hear the people outside quite well, and if they're in a hurry to get in, they will not be shy about sharing those thoughts with it. And if you've got some noisy rumblings in your tummy that are waiting to get out, they will hear every last pop out of you.

Of course, your options are limited here, but it's still something to consider when planning your visit.

Marks out of 10:

7. A comfortable outhouse with some simple, yet well-planned, design improvements. If only the outside world wasn't so apparent inside. Still, this is a better place to visit than some indoor bathrooms I've been to.

Comments to the Management:

Not sure what to recommend here. If you could increase the quiet factor and separate the outside world from the inside world better, that would be great. But at the same time, this is just an outhouse, and it has to stay as that.... so I'm clueless here, I'm afraid.

Friday 21 November 2008

Bongo Java Toilet Makes for Great Pop Art Experience

Bongo Java
107 S. 11th St.
Nashville, TN USA

Where is it?

From the front entrance, head past the front counter and widely open stockroom. At the end of the stockroom, turn right and within a couple of feet you will be in front of a black door - the entrance to the men’s restroom. The women’s restroom is a separate door to the right of the men’s restroom.

What’s it like?

This coffee house, located on the upper east side of Nashville, is pitted in what is considered by locals as the arts district of the city. The inside of Bongo Java exudes a bit of pseudo-hippie flair. Many of the visitors I saw during my visit were local university students, artisans, musicians, and other creative folk. But, the environment is not so Bohemian that it doesn’t attract many of the everyday blue and white collar locals who come for a great java perk.

Bongo Java uses a two menu system. A standard as well as seasonal coffee menu located on easy-to-read presentation boards over the counter, and a laminated two-sided one-sheet for their food items -- mostly deli-style sandwiches. The staff seems to be skilled at delivering a variety of different coffee drinks, as I did not notice anywhere that they we’re using a “How do I make this damn cappuccino” coffee chart guide that is normally used by Starbucks “baristas.”

The bathroom is the moderately sized. It comes equipped with one toilet, one urinal and one sink. The amount of space it occupies is similar to those in small stores, dive bars or warehouses. But unlike the tarnished fixtures and “just barely tolerable” toilets you may see in such locations (like Copper Rocket in Maitland, FL and the World Famous Coffee Cup, as opposed to the Abbey in Deland, for example), Bongo Java’s restroom is incredibly clean, the porcelain amenities almost gleaming to a blinding whiteness. It almost feels like a shame to use them for one’s personal release. The artwork is a hodgepodge of disconnected Pop Art images, but they all center around one common theme: coffee. And all the amenities in the restroom are worked into the imagery on the walls. Even though it’s apparent that the establishment has painted all this together for the mere fact for you to indulge in their coffee, I was still amused with the mix of cartoon-ish stills that are reminiscent of animation styles still seen on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim.”

With the amount of artwork presented, I did want to aimlessly stare for a good 30 minutes of time, but I worried that other patrons might report me to management for just hanging out in the restroom. The vibrancy of color gives the restroom incredible appeal, unless you suffer from optical sensitivity issues, then I would highly recommend quick use of the facilities with fast glimpses of the area. The fixtures are solidly put in place and didn’t notice any stains or markings on any of them.

The room fits about three people comfortably, and in my opinion, a good place to enjoy yourself while taking a whiz.

Marks out of 10:

8. Definitely a place I could hang out for awhile if there was a comfortable couch there.

Comments to the Management

Impressive job. Would have been more convenient to have the mirror over the sink than to the side. Kudos to creative types who took time in putting the artwork together.

-- Ayal Wolf
Guest Contributor

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Toilets Supported By Wooden Blocks at Arches National Park Visitors Center Bathroom -- Why?

Arches National Park
Visitors Center Toilet
2282 Resource Blvd
Moab, UT USA

Where is it?

Drive into the park and after paying admission head to the Visitors Center, about a quarter mile past the entrance gate. Once there, walk through the outdoor exhibits (which include bronze statues of various wildlife that lives in the park, like mountain rams and such) and head towards the front entrance of the Visitors Center building.

Before reaching the entrance doors, look to your right and you'll see a small hallway in the side of the building that's about 15 feet back from the entrance. The bathrooms are down that hallway -- with signs indicating so.

What's it like?

This beautiful but somewhat overcrowded park in eastern central Utah is known mostly for its collection of natural arches, about 2000 or so are said to make their home here -- the largest concentration of natural arches in the world, as I understand.

In addition to the arches, the park also houses some amazing, rugged, hot, desert-red landscapes and rock formations, many of which rival Monument Valley in terms of shapes and grandeur. A true wonder showcasing the work of wind erosion and heat (very hot here, despite the elevation).

The Visitors Center is like any other national park center, with its array of geographic displays and science lessons. It's considerably more humble than some of the other Visitor Centers visited, a bit smaller, with only one gift shop, an information center, a small movie theater showing a looped informational video, the scientific displays and the bathrooms. If you're hungry, you're advised to bring your own food.

The bathrooms are definitely more complexly put together than the ones at Zion and Red Canyon, among others. These, unlike some of the other bathrooms visited at the U.S. national parks, can't really be classified as an outhouse, because they are entirely indoors with no apparent outdoor interference (no windows at all, actually) and don't seem to rely on mother nature at all in terms of ventilation or digestion of waste.

This is a long rectangular room, very simple in design. The back right half of the bathroom is filled with four toilet stalls, the final one in the corner being the handicap. Across from that is a string of five or so urinals -- those new SLOAN models that are of the no-flush, environmentally safe models (like what we saw at IKEA Orlando, Nona Sushi and Whole Foods South Orlando), which is a welcome turn considering that some of the other national park toilets lacked this option (I'm looking at you, Zion Visitors Center).

The front left corner houses the sink stations -- pretty bare bones set up, very Teutonic. About four sinks in all, no vanity, with unframed single-serve mirrors posted behind them and soap dispensers attached to each mirror. Faucets are automatic. Hand driers are to the left of the sink area.

This is a pretty crowded bathroom -- inside the park, there are fewer options, and those are all outhouses, so this is as comfortable as it gets for your stay. The place, because of this popularity, is pretty noisy and bustling as a result -- not a great place to make a quiet stop, that's for sure. But, as stated, it's not as open to the elements as the park's other options.

Because of the crowds, it's also a bit dirty. For example, while the urinals were of the no-flush variety, that didn't prevent each one from having a small pool of urine at their bases. Naturally, that urine lends a certain odor to the air as well.

The same could be said of the stalls, which had some puddling in them too. The walls here, by the way, are beige-painted concrete, and the floors are concrete but with a copper paint on them. That copper paint seems to make the spillage become more apparent, for some reason. I think a light-colored floor might have been a better option here.

Other than that, it's a pretty straight and narrow bathroom, save for one thing: All the toilets have wooden blocks around their piping. Not sure why this is so, to prevent freezing in the winter or whatnot, but it makes it look like all the toilets are held up by wooden blocks and lends a surprisingly primitive aspect to the design. What gives?

Marks out of 10:

6. Dirty and smelly, but considering your other options in the park, these are golden.

Comments to the Management:

You get a lot of traffic here, so it seems that you'd want to have the cleaning crew police the place a little more often, especially to clean up all the spillage. Plus, painting the floor a lighter color might make all that spillage less noticeable. And what's with the wooden blocks?

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Tamarisk Restaurant Toilet Features World's Worst Urinal Divider

Tamarisk Restaurant
870 East Main Street
Green River, UT USA

Where is it?

Easy to find. From the front entrance, head inside, towards the dining room. Before entering the dining room, however, you'll see a salad bar on your right. Across from that is a small enclave, where the bathrooms are located.

What's it like?

This homey diner, attached to the Best Western in the small town of Green River, is a pretty straightforward little eatery. The menu consists primarily of standard American diner eats -- fried chicken, burgers, etc. -- along with a few trendier (though now standard) dishes, like grilled chicken Caesar salads and such. Nothing mindblowingly original, of course, but the execution is good and the prices fair, so it's certainly a cut above some of the standard roadside fare you might come across.

The highlight here, of course, are the melons, grown locally and absolutely tremendous in flavor, juiciness and freshness -- some of the best I've ever had. The town even has an annual festival devoted to it -- called Melon Days -- which draws several tens of thousands in visitors, which (after trying these melons) seems worthy of the attention.

The restaurant's interior looks like a HoJo, which is what it may have been in a previous incarnation: Green motel carpet floor, lots of windows, little decor. Service is friendly and a touch snarky, but efficient and polite. It's clean though not immaculate. A decent road stop if you're in the area, as said earlier.

The homey feel extends to the toilets, though perhaps a bit too much. Allow me to explain: This is a small bathroom, similar in size to the Kolob Canyons Visitors Center toilet or the bathroom at the Red Canyon Information Center. Only, the feel here is more like the toilets experienced at the WhyNot Lounge or Steak n Shake Winter Park -- except those places were much cleaner.

You have one stall in the back, one urinal and one sink. The wall behind the sink are covered in off-white drywall with kind of a textured plastic siding cover; the walls in the rest of the place are covered in gray tile with a blue tile highlight strip, and the floors are covered in darker gray tile.

Toilets and sinks are standard white porcelain. The place smelled some of urine and the air was dank. Clearly, some better ventilation is needed.

The vanity is just a blue patterned fiberboard model, single station -- pretty cheap set up and pretty dinged up. A two-part Plexiglas divider separates the urinal from the sink area -- a strange divider indeed, in that 2/3 of the divider is solid gray and the outer 1/3 is transparent.

The divider itself is a real work of art -- and I mean that with as much sarcasm as I can muster. Because of the closeness of the urinal and sink, and the way the divider is set, the divider already offers little in terms of privacy. If two people were standing side by side there, each one using his own station, the divider would offer them little space for themselves -- similar to what was seen at the Coffee Cup Cafe in Boulder City, NV.

But to make matters worse, the urinal divider here has that transparent part on the end, which does nothing but give the person at the sink a clear shot at the wee wee of his neighbor. Really, if you're at the sink, washing your hands, you're at the same level of the transparent part, so that gives you a clear shot. Unbelievable.

If the transparent part were at the other end, fixed to the wall, then the person at the sink could see nothing (he'd have to crane is head inward to do so) -- that's really the best placement for it, if you think about it. As is, no barrier might just provide as much privacy. Sloppy assembly here.

The rest of the place is put together better but isn't much better, though not as outright noticeable. The toilet stall is roomy (to accommodate both handicap and regular people) but the floors were covered with water and toilet paper. The urinal could use a good scrubbing, as could the stained tile and grout behind it. The sink could do with a good cleaning as well, especially in the corners and against the urinal divider, which (on the sink side) is getting covered with grime and mildew.

Also worth noting: Below the sink was a bag of trash waiting to be thrown out. Why didn't they just put it with the rest of the garbage? Very strange indeed.

Marks out of 10:

5. Comfortable restaurant, uncomfortable bathroom.

Comments to the Management:

Need to improve the ventilation to remove some of the dank air in here. Also, need to scrub the place over very well -- the tile is starting to funk up in several spots here. Also, take out the trash instead of leaving it beneath the sink. And finally -- fix that urinal divider so it at least looks like it can offer some privacy!

Friday 14 November 2008

Funky, Homespun, Artsy Feel Fills Bathroom at Remote Burr Trail Grill

Burr Trail Outpost and Grill
HWY 12
PO Box 1515
Boulder, UT USA

Where is it?

From the main entrance, enter the dining room, head past the modest bar on the left (which, more than anything, is an opening in the wall that lets people sitting in that art of the dining room look into the kitchen -- with a small counter and some stools in front of it), to the small display of T-shirts of other novelties for the place, as well as regional beers and wines for sale.

Turn left at the end of that, passing a small cooler containing various baked goods, go up a lone stair, into the back wing of the dining room, and take a left after the entrance to the kitchen. You'll see a modest-looking door with a Rest Room sticker sign on it, as well as a piece of paper reading, "PLEASE KNOCK! BEFORE ENTERING. gracias."

What's it like?

This small outpost, in the minuscule town of Boulder, UT (which, according to research, has a population of only 225), isn't easy to get to. You have to take Utah's Scenic Byway 12 (or HWY 12) past Bryce Canyon and through the northern end of the spellbinding and vast Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, one of my favorite places in all the American West.

As a result, you will have to travel through some truly breathtaking scenery, as well as some very twisty, remote roads taking you through and over some very steep mountain terrain. (HWY 12 ends on beautiful Torrey, which is next door to Capitol Reed National Park.)

Boulder is in the dead center of the road and gives you access to the nearby Burr Trail, a very rugged road which goes from Boulder back through the Grand Staircase to Lake Powell.

The Burr Trail Grill is quite possibly the only place to eat during the journey from Bryce Canyon to Torrey. Given that, you'd expect the place to be a bit of a hole in the wall. Surprisingly, it isn't.

More than anything, this funky eatery works both as an art gallery displaying works by local artists and a comfortably little diner with some very good food.

Granted, the menu isn't expansive, but for decent sandwiches and burgers (and the meat here has some unique spices mixed into it, giving it a complex flavor you don't expect) to chili con queso dip (highlighted by chipotle pepper sprinkled over the top) to cold draft beer from local breweries, it does a fine job and makes for a welcome stopping place. The service is friendly and down to earth, the dining room clean. It's worth a stop when you're passing through.

The bathroom here is small, a bit makeshift in design (really, just a built-on closet the owners put in here), but it's got an artsy feel to it and some funky decor, which make for an enjoyable visit. More than anything, it reminded me of the bathroom at the Soho South Cafe, only with less wear and tear and a bit less pretension (and without the hordes of people lining up to use it).

This is a one-bagger, of course. The walls here are made of wood and painted in golden browns and matted greens. There are some basic wood shelves put up to house the essentials, like the paper towel holder, some extra rolls of toilet paper and a boot holding some fake flowers (as if it were a vase). The toilet paper roll beside the toilet is fixed to the wall via a horseshoe, which is a nice touch.

The walls have posters and paintings of area sites, like scenery from nearby national parks and such, as well as some locally produced artwork. The floor has some golden patterned linoleum tile on it.

The toilet and sink aren't much -- standard white porcelain, cheap-o models from Home Depot or somewhere similar. But they're clean, as is the entire place. And odor free -- you don't even smell the smells from the kitchen next door, which is impressive.

It is a bit noisy -- you can hear the goings on in the kitchen -- but it's not so much of a distraction that you are bothered extensively by it.

Not a great bathroom, but it's clean, homey, unpretentious-yet-artsy and comfortable, and when you're this far in the middle of nowhere, that counts for a lot. The fact that the designers tried to make it unique, artsy, humorous and comfortable for visitors says a lot, I think.

Marks out of 10:


Comments to the Management:

If you can diminish the kitchen noise some, that would be great. Otherwise, this is a great, fun place, as is the rest of your grill and outpost. A joy to visit, I thought. Hope to be back someday soon.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Outhouse #7: Red Canyon Restroom About As Smelly As Can Be

Red Canyon Information Center
Intersection of US 89 and Scenic Byway 12
5375 E Highway 12
Panguitch, UT

Where is it?

Park in the lot and while facing the main visitor center's building, look to your left. There, you'll see a map of the area and its many trails.

Behind the map is a sign pointing to the restrooms, which ironically enough are just a few feet to the left of the sign. One of those "duh" moments, if you will.

What's it like?

Anyone traveling by road from Zion Canyon to Bryce Canyon will pass through Red Canyon on the way. It's about 10 or so miles from the entrance road to Bryce, at the intersection of Scenic Byway 12 and HW 89 in southwestern Utah. It's certainly a worthwhile passageway.

Red Canyon looks a lot like Bryce Canyon, in that it's filled with that parks famous hoodoo structures. Only the rocks here are more red in color and the parks lets you travel through the canyon from the bottom, instead of from the top, as you would at Bryce. As a result, you can experience the sculpted look of the rocks from a different angle than you would at Bryce Canyon.

Unlike Zion, which also positions you on the bottom of a canyon floor surrounds you with rock formations and makes you feel closed in, the spaces here are wide, open and laid back. There's a lot of road and foot traffic here, and a lot of RVs (the place is legendary for its camping and stargazing), but rather than feel overly congested (and don't get me wrong, the traffic gets a bit sticky in parts, mostly when people drive through the arches cut through the rock in places) it has a feel of a small, friendly western town. Definitely worth spending a few hours here before heading to Bryce, if you can afford to do so.

The bathrooms here are another story. On the surface, they are very reminiscent of the ones experienced at the Kolob Canyon Visitors Center, only not as spacious and with more amenities and with better use of space.

However, they are also much, much smellier than those. Really, a very rancid, urine-and-feces-based stink permeates the air here -- and it's so sharp it will not diminish or lessen in intensity as time passes. I was in here for about five or 10 minutes, and that stink didn't go away, and when I finally went outside, I sucked in the fresh outdoor air as if I'd been underwater for too longer and needed fresh oxygen in my blood. Very smelly.

The rest of the place is pretty much straightforward for a national park bathroom/outhouse. The walls are white-painted concrete, the floors are red-painted concrete; both are chipped badly, especially the floor in areas where lots of foot traffic has been (like in front of the toilets and such).

No wall decorations, and there is lighting by fluorescent bulbs and natural light through windows, though on this visit the former was not on.

There is also a heater fan attached to the ceiling -- and it looked to be a bit too small for the amount of area it hoped to covered. Can't tell for sure because it wasn't on when I was there, but still it sure made me wonder how cold it got in the bathroom in the winter, especially if you were stuck behind those stall doors and away from the air flow.

Speaking of the stalls -- there are two of them here, both standard in size, with the place's lone trash can sitting in between their entrances. Inside, they feature white porcelain toilets that look to be set in front of the back wall just a little too much to look normal. As a result, the toilets kind of stand out too much -- and not in a decorative way, as seen in places like Sensi.

And, as said earlier, the paint on the floor in front of the toilet was badly chipped and some water seemed to be leaking from the commode in one stall, as the floor around it was pretty wet. (At least I hope it was water.)

Off-white steel dividers separate the stall and provide privacy for the two urinals and separate the urinals from the vanity, which is just your simple sink here, nothing more. Pretty bare bones, really.

Even the soap dispenser was ancient-looking -- one of those old plastic tanks with a metal put button that seeps soap onto your hand. I thought stuff like this was supposed to be in museums!

The sink is white porcelain, as are the urinals, and it has a regular faucet on it instead of some automatic one. To the left of the sink is an automatic hand drier -- also, very no frills.

The place isn't the cleanest I've been in, but outside of the smell and some leaking water, I saw no discernible trash on the ground. I guess that's a plus, no?

Still, while Red Canyon may be worth a stop, you may want to pass on stopping in these rest rooms unless you absolutely have to.

Marks out of 10:

4. Not very pleasant at all, especially the horrid smell.

Comments to the Management:

There's a draft in here, but clearly the strong odors here indicate that little air circulation is happening. That certainly need to be fixed -- unless, of course, it's a plumbing issue and not a ventilation issue. Also, the walls and floor could seriously use some new paint, and the toilets and sinks could go for a good scrubbing too. And to extend the friendliness of the setting outside, why not put up a few posters or events listings for the area around you.