McDonalding Across America

The golden arches are a perfect marketing strategy.
McDonald’s are consistent and draw drivers and road trippers.

Let’s face it: One of the down-sides of motoring across country, unless you’re privileged to do so in an RV, is using public bathrooms that you share with lots of strange and unknown strangers.

The McDonald’s restrooms are monitored frequently and consistently, and while it’s not quite like home, McDonald’s facilities are relatively clean.

And after each rest stop ― or as the interstate McDonald’s in Junction City, Kansas bills itself ― after each McStop, I would also buy something. Maybe it was small, a cup of coffee, some fries, but I always left money as a token thank-you for use of the restroom.

What a smart marketing strategy. Give the public a clean restroom and get paid for it.

There is also diversity within conformity, as any McDonald’s aficionado knows. Each franchise is decorated or styled slightly different, some more than others.

One McDonald’s had a restored 1956 Ford on blocks. Another, a huge saltwater aquarium as its centerpiece, providing a distraction to kids and a respite for highway-tired eyes.

In four days of driving, I visited easily two dozen McDonald’s up through Florida, then Georgia and Tennessee and Kentucky, then left through Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, and finally, Colorado.

And when the skies were especially dark, and the clouds had those rounded bottoms that sometimes portend impending hail, it was such a relief to see a pair of Golden Arches rising high above the tree line, bright and yellow, like a tall palm tree in an endless desert.