On the road … I s’pose
Ah, the Oregon Trail. American settlers followed it west. Shut your eyes and picture it — covered wagons strung out across the plains like … well, like wagon trains. And like a choo-choo train’s wheels following the fixed course of steel track, the wagons’ wheels follow the fixed route of axel-deep ruts.
Forget the ruts in the Oregon Trail and conjure up images of rutted roads closer to home.
Right. Any highway here in Ball’s Room, eh b’ys?
For the settlers trudging along the Oregon Trail, heavy rain meant trouble — the ruts became axle-deep channels of muck in which wheels stogged and oxen and mules bogged down.
Rain is a boon to travellers in Ball’s Room. It makes the ruts more visible. Drivers can fit their automobiles’ front wheels into the highways’ babbling brooks, engage cruise-control at less than hydroplane speed, and trust the water-filled chutes will guide them to their destinations.
And that’s without onboard Global Positioning System devices. And that’s without any guidelines on the road.
“Harry, the life-of-my-highway honey,” says Dearest Duck from the backseat, so to speak. “Are you beating a dead horse, or ox, or mule, as the case may be?”
“You’m funny, my Duck,” say I.
True though, eh b’ys? For most of the year there are no well-defined highway lines. Oh sure, now and again — according to Government Policy I suspect — if the weather is suitable [!] paint crews chug along in trolleys and spray-paint some pastel watercolours parallel to the ruts in the asphalt.
A couple of heavy summer showers later, the lines have washed away with the currents.
I confess, following the ruts along a single lane highway isn’t so awful. It’s almost comforting.
The horror is seen in multiple lanes and major intersections where the ruts roil and churn like the white-water confluences of mighty rivers.
Mark my words, someday someone will fall overboard and drown at such a crossroad.
“You might be mixing metaphors, Harry my love,” says Dearest Duck.
“What odds, my Duck,” say I. “I never could figure out that stuff. It’s like poetry or something.”
Switching gears — kinda — and prob’ly mixing those figurative chummies again.
Switching to potholes, the cavities into which the highways’ rivers pour like cataracts.
There’s a series of those quarry-like pits directly in front of our house. I’m constantly cautioning Dearest Duck to steer [!] clear of them for fear losing her to the Underworld.
I witnessed the following event with my own two eyes.
“Harry, some redundancy there,” say Dearest Duck. “Stop it … my Duck.”
A dump truck struck one of those potholes with such a jolt that portions of its unsecured load bounced free and crashed into the road.
Maybe the driver was unaware of the potholes. Maybe he was driving too fast. He surely should have had his load secured.
Whatever the case, when he climbed from the cab and stood on the crater’s rim, a cop car was parked a safe distance from the edge and a police officer, ticket pad in hand, approached.
Ticketed, and forced to properly secure his load under a makeshift tarp, the truck driver jockeyed the truck’s transmission back and forth and eventually wrenched the machine from the pothole and drove on down the road — slowly — carefully skirting the chain of canyons extending to the horizon.
“He should have watched where he was going in the first place,” says Dearest Duck, not one to sympathize with heedlessness.
“That’s not the point, my
And b’ys, that’s not the end of that pothole story.
The next day a highway repair crew showed up on the scene, walked out to the pothole’s crumbling lip and peered into its maw.
After brief consultation, one of the crew returned to their pickup and fetched a measuring pole. He walked the pothole’s perimeter, checking the various depths and jotting them on a tally sheet.
A second worker went to the pickup and returned lugging a sack of asphalt patch — the kind you can buy in a 50-pound bag at Kent for under $20 — and emptied it into the pothole.
Following the graduated measurements on the pole the crew, industriously raking the asphalt and tamping it down with a shovel, proceeded to patch one end of the pothole. Truly, one end of the pothole! “Harry, you are exaggerating.” B’ys, would I do that? Thank you for reading.