July 2011 Issue

Here’s the thing. We live on a typical rural Midwestern road, a two-lane blacktop (really 1-1/2 lanes) with no shoulder, and scary-deep drainage ditches on both sides awaiting the unwary. “Town” (gas station, post office, hardware store, tiny drugstore, dive bar and several not-good pizza shops) is about three miles down the road. So when you have to go there, you drive between immense fields of corn or soybeans (they alternate crops every year) until you reach the first problem, which is a sharp curve at the corner of one of the larger fields. If the crop is soybeans, no problemo; you can see what’s coming from the other direction. If it’s corn, you’re screwed; you’d think that cars coming into a tight blind curve would slow down and stick to their own side, but you’d be wrong. We’ve had several close calls at that curve with morons going way too fast in the wrong lane. The speed limit for most of this road is 45 mph, which is nuts, and many people try to take this curve at 35-45. A substantial percentage fail, as evidenced by the permanent deep wheel ruts at its apex leading to the newest telephone pole on the road. It’s always the newest pole on the road.

If you survive that curve, you drive another half-mile until you reach the woods, where things get really interesting. The road rises and then dips sharply, and at the bottom of the hill it takes a 90-degree twist to the left as it rises steeply into the woods. It’s exactly the sort of gut-wrenching dive and twist you find on roller coasters.

Bon Voyage, Bucko

If, perchance, you should miss the turn through inattention, you’ll quickly find yourself airborne above a 30-foot drop into the old Ohio & Erie Canal with only some sparse and scraggly trees to break your fall. Yes, people have done this. No, there is no guard rail, but there is a nice series of little yellow signs pointing to the left, all of which have been hit at least once.

The speed limit here is 25 mph, but you’d be insane to take it at more than about ten. And again, the real problem here is the imbeciles who come shooting into that curve doing 45 mph and wind up going sideways in your lane. Let’s just say that it’s drivers like that who make it profitable for our tiny county to have not one, but two full-time medical evacuation helicopters based here.

Anyway, if you survive that bit of fun, you’ve got a straight shot to town through the woods, albeit with the canal cut on one side and a similar drop to the fields on the other. (The road alongside the canal is actually built on the mounds of earth they removed while digging the canal back in the 19th century. This bit is the deepest cut they had to make in the entire length of the canal.)

Then there’s one last blind hump and plunge, and you’re in town. Whee! For extra fun, be sure to try this ride in the winter when the road is covered in ice.

So the real problem with this road is the other drivers, many of whom are our neighbors, many of whose driving skills lack … finesse. I mean c’mon, you live on this road — why would you take that curve on the wrong side? Can’t you envision the possibility that it might be your own kid coming the other way?

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