The older ones consist of just toilets and maybe some vending machines, but the modern ones have pathways through picnic grounds, flower gardens, and even wooded areas, so you can walk or jog. I've covered 7 miles in a day just by stopping at a rest stop every hour and circling the path once or twice.
Rest stops are perfect places for sausage sightings. Men typically need to urinate every 2-3 hours, so on a 6-hour road trip, they'll be at the urinal at at least twice.
Rest stops are also perfect places for boy watching: glimpsing handsome faces, muscular physiques, and spectacular bulges as dozens of guys walk past every minute,
But what happens when you encounter supreme beauty, and there's no time to make a connection before he's gone forever?
On the way back from visiting Troy and company in New York, I pulled into a rest stop near Northwood, Iowa. It's a large facility with a tourist center, a coffee shop/bakery, and extensive walkways that wind through picnic areas.
I parked on the south side of the parking lot and walked to the sidewalk on the right side of the photo, past the green SUV.
A middle aged man and four guys in their teens or early twenties had just climbed out. Two were walking toward the rest rooms. Two were talking quietly.
And the last:
I stopped, speechless in the face of supreme beauty.
Impressions came all jumbled together in a single glance. I categorized them and analyzed them later:
1. In his late teens or twenties, a college student.
2. Shorter than me, slim, tanned arms and hands, out in the sun in a t-shirt a lot. A tennis player or a farm boy.
3. Dirty blond hair, short, spiked. Concerned with his appearance, knows his way around hair gel.
5. Smiling. He has been smiling every moment his whole life, probably because everyone he has ever met is in love with him.
6. Gray t-shirt with a Nebraska Cornhuskers logo, a little small, riding up above his outtie belly button. University of Nebraska student for several years, maybe a senior.
7. Thin but hard biceps.
8. Calvin Klein underwear, white.
9. Blue jeans, torn at the knee, athletic shoes, no socks.
10. Traveling with a middle aged man and three peers on Memorial Day weekend. Too late for a school field trip. Maybe a father taking his son and three friends on a camping trip..
He looked at me and said "They have a bakery in there", thinking I was someone in his party. Realizing his mistake, he looked down, embarrassed. I smiled and moved on.
I walked around the picnic area for about five minutes, then went inside to use the restroom. When I came out, he was walking down the stairs from the bakery with a cute guy in his early twenties. They were eating cookies from an open box.
This time he definitely cruised me -- face, crotch, face.
I smiled and said "Hi."
He smiled back, but didn't speak.
I walked around the pathways for another five minutes, and headed toward my car. He and his companion were standing by their SUV, talking to the middle-aged man. The two other guys, both very cute in their own right, were sitting at a picnic table nearby, occupied by their cell phones.
As I walked past, he looked at me while asking someone else "When we get there, will we have time to..."
He stopped. I smiled. He stared, cruising again. Face, crotch, face.
"Hot day" I said, addressing either him or the middle-aged man.
"Yeah," he said.
I couldn't start a conversation with his father or guardian right there! I had to get him alone. At least find out his name.
I circled half of the picnic area, and walked back. Now he was standing by the picnic table with the duo, watching me curiously. I quickened my pace, planning to say "Where you headed?" or something.
I passed close to his car. He was in the back seat, passenger side, watching me through the solid glass of the window. I waved. He smiled and waved.
We were only inches apart.
I returned to my car.
The SUV started to pull out.
I took out my cell phone and snapped a picture of it.
I don't know why. He's not visible, except for a small, blurry image of his hand holding on to the seat in front of him. It's just a picture of a green SUV with Nebraska plates.
At the end of our lives, we will remember glimpses of supreme beauty more fondly than any number of sexual encounters.
See also: I Pick Up a Boy at a Gas Station in Iowa, Sort Of; Picking Up the Checker in the Grocery Store; and The Amish Boy in Red Bikini Briefs.