One lane road, and other reflections

It’s official. We’ve now just tied the record for rainfall in November since we’ve been keeping records. It’s November 7. But between yesterday about 2 pm and this morning at 7:30 am, we had 5.2 inches of rain. The river’s up about 10 feet or so. Big logs are floating down from last summer’s blowdowns. Actually, they’re racing along, not floating gently at all.

But it’s been an interesting morning.

When I first came to the Big Elk as a visitor, the gravel road that takes you the last 10.5 miles had a sign at the end, one of those official highway signs that read “One lane road for trucks and buses.” Below the sign, someone had added a smaller sign that said simply “and cars.” The road then wasn’t much wider in some places than our driveway is now. You relied on turnouts (widespots) every mile or to to pass another car coming the other direction. If you met someone between these places, someone had to back up until there was room to get by. The road is much wider now. The county keeps it in pretty good shape because when Hwy. 20 is closed by accident or some such thing, it the most direct route from the coast to the valley. 

This morning I was sitting on the back deck watching the rain pound down when I heard a vehicle on the road. There was a huge crashing noise and a county road truck ground to a stop across from the house, then shifted into reverse and started backing up about 15 mph. Being nosy, I slipped on a jacket and walked across the meadow to see what was going on. Directly across the river from our orchard, about 150 feet of the county road shoulder had dropped 18 or 20 inches, creating what is known to the road folks as an “abrupt edge.” Only in this case, if you dropped a wheel off the edge, your whole vehicle would plunge 25 feet or so straight down into the river, the same one that is carrying all of those logs. So there was a lot of hemming and hawing, crackling of radios, walking around head scratching, and so on, and finally the crew put out a single orange post in the middle of the slide and drove off. I think they were conserving posts until they saw how much damage had to be marked, since they were only halfway down the road.

Shortly, big tandem rock trucks started showing up, and the crew came back and starting moving rock around with the blade they mount on the front of each county pickup each fall (mostly to clear slides, I think). But within an hour or two, the road was back and the markers gone. Quite amazing to watch. We drove back up the driveway to check our culverts again, and found a huge snag that had crashed down the hill. We managed to push, pull, kick, and roll it off the driveway. Road’s open for now.

But it did cause me to think about what else I might want to add in my pantry in case we couldn’t get out of here for a week or two. We’ve got lots of canned goods and baking supplies, and bread baked in my wood stove is hard to beat. But I think a box of evaporated milk might be in order.

3 Responses to “One lane road, and other reflections”

  1. Armin Says:

    Alternatively you could do a bit of crofting and keep your own cows, sheep, chicken etc 😉

    And I’m fascinated by the language differences again: What you call ‘one lane road’ we would probably call a ‘single track road’ over here. Your ‘turnouts (widespots)’ are called ‘passing places’ over here, there are even traffic signs and rules how to use them (quite a few of the roads in remoter parts of Scotland are single track roads, there’s just not enough traffic to justify wider roads).

    You might want to send some of that rain to Australia, I’ve just read they have the worst drought for a 1000 years…

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Armin, what a treat to find your note. I think of you so often.

    I’m getting things together here and sometime this week will hang the gargoyle replicas I bought in Cambridge. That will leave me writing between “Pain” and “Despair,” generally a fruitful place for a writer, but one I’m frankly having a lot of trouble reaching right now. . .;^}

    Hope you are well. If you ever get over this way, let me know. We have lots of territory to hike.

  3. dental Says:


    Of ambit, numerous of dental color combinations followed the seasonal flowers, which were the most comon motifs old to write down the seasonal apparel codes.

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