My girlfriend and I travelled the entire state, from Portland to the Redwoods, putting a little over 1500 miles on a sweet little Chevy Cruz rental. Of course, whatever we went, I always kept an eye out for public restrooms.
The first thing we did was meet-up with Carol and the fine folks of PHLUSH, and take a tour of the brand-new Portland Loos. These are free, free-standing, 24-hour public restrooms in downtown Portland. There are about 6 of them now, with a very simple design, available to everyone, rich or poor. The walls do not go all the way down to the floor, so while people feel protected from onlookers while doing their business, they are encouraged not too dawdle or get to engrossed in their books or phones while they’re in there. Also, the “handwashing” station is located on the outside, which is a huge boon in the fight against public restroom germs: you no longer have to fear the door handle, because you wash your hands afterwards anyway. The only issue is that there is no soap, only a water spout. I’m not 100% sure on the reason for this, but perhaps this will be upgraded in the near future.
As awesome as the Portland Loos are, and many congratulations to PHLUSH for getting these installed, the restrooms in Oregon have other things to offer the public. For one, all restrooms in Portland seem to come equipped with multiple coat hooks, probably to place the obligatory rain coats on during the rainy 7 – 10 months out of the year. Luckily, this was not an issue for us. The other thing of note was their signage and pride in their restrooms. Restroom signs were noticeably visible in public, making the restrooms themselves easier to find. A cashier at a smallish supermarket downstate not only directed us to her store’s restrooms, but stopped us before we left to ask how we enjoyed our time there. Evidently they were designed by a local artist, and were the pride of the store, if not the town.
All in all the restroom culture of Oregon much reflects the people, and culture, of Oregon: friendly, open, and relaxed. I’ll try to post some restroom pictures up here soon. Please shoot me an email and share your restroom stories! Until next time…