Naturespeak A naturalist's view of the world

March 22, 2007

Nightmare on Day Street

Filed under: Uncategorized — wykes @ 9:26 pm

Thurs., March 22, 2007

  There is an old story I heard, or read, somewhere which was a comment on the deplorable conditions of our early Michigan Roads. 

  In the late 1830’s a traveler on horseback was slogging his way along one of our very muddy wilderness roads.  His definition of a “road” did not fit the muddy trough on which he now found himself. About the time he had decided to take his chances in the river, where he trusted there would be more solid ground, he spotted a curiosity upon the road ahead. There sat a fine hat forming an island in the middle of a very large puddle.  The puddle was right in the middle of the road.  Looking about, he saw no one near and wondered who might have dropped such a fine beaver felt chapeau. He hopped down and gingerly picked his way to the edge of the puddle and assessed his chances at retrieving the prize. 

  It was decided to break off an overhanging branch and tease it to shore.  Imagine then his horror when upon hooking the brim and tilting it up he saw that there was a head underneath it.  Imagine further the position of his heart within his throat when the head talked.  “Put my blasted hat back on,” it bellowed. “I’m sitting on a perfectly good horse & I don’t mean to move until I figure how to get him out.”

  I was reminded of this story when I inadvertently found myself on Saline River Road coming off of Bigelow.  Before I knew it, I was on one of those monsoon season tropical forest roads where the mud is axle deep and the puddles large enough to, well, swallow a horse.  Momentum was the only thing that propelled me up to Day Road where things got worse.

  The road closed sign to my left and the one way ahead was probably a good indicator of things to come inbetween.  The tire ruts were deceivingly deep, the mud slurry was churned to the consistency of partially melted chocolate ice cream, and I believe the only solid section was actually the roof of a car (a perfectly good one I suspect). Plank Road, and pavement, appeared within a few minutes and I was finally delivered to terra firma.

  It was no coincidence that Plank Road delivered me from the morass. Originally it was constructed of solid wood planks laid side to side – thus the name.  This early form of paving kept the road somewhat passable during spring rains. Hmmm, maybe the old ideas are not so bad afterall – there are a lot of trees along Day and Saline Road.

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