Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Unexpected Unpaved

It's a very good thing that I didn't have a class planned this afternoon.  I don't know if I would have done anything differently, but I very well may have been late if I did have class.  My Mini navigation took me on an unpaved road through the thick of the Lolo National Forest.
video

She's done this to me before, several times. So far it's never messed me up. I recall a few other times this happened, it was coming into Idaho or involving Idaho somehow.  You and those roads, Idaho! Get with it.

While it was a beautiful drive (that aspect of it wasn't lost on me), it was a harsh, unpaved road.  The navigation system reads it as a regular 35 MPH road and figures my arrival time based on that. But the reality is that I can't go faster than 20 MPH and average about 15 MPH the whole time.

I don't know what the word is for it, but the road is 'grooved' 'ridged' ....?  I'm not sure if this is intentional or just a natural breaking down of the road, but there are narrow troughs in the road. These grooves don't go along the road, but across it. Do you know what a rumble strip is?  They don't show up everywhere across the country, but in some places they're used a form of speed deterrent device, like a speed bump.  When approaching a construction site on the highway, for example.

SIDE RANT: bumps and rumble strips piss me off anyway. They're like an aggressive and demeaning thing for a city to decide to put in.  It's basically saying, "We don't trust you to slow down here, so we're putting in a feature that will literally destroy your car if you don't slow down."  Speed bumps are the road equivalent of having a store owner follow you around the store reminding you not to steal anything. Insulting to non-criminals.
END

But are these ridges in this unpaved road intentionally put there to prevent fast driving? Or does rain erode the ground in such a way? They aren't uniform, exactly. Some are much bigger than others. Are the ridges made by the big vehicles that drive over it? The road is technically a "forest maintenance road".

Put this alongside the Continental Divide as things I need to learn about.

By the way, I noticed at Glacier Park yesterday that the Continental Divide is not a straight line. So it doesn't have to do with latitude or longitude. Is it a fault line? A mountain line? The highest elevation, dividing the land? You'd think with all these questions, I would look it  up.
One day I will.

Anyway, so this road is like driving on a rumble strip for almost two hours!  I was relieved, that at times the road was smooth.  Sometimes it was dry, hard and dusty.  And sometimes it was soft and wet.  But it was never particularly fast-going.

The fastest I got to go was probably up to 25 MPH when one of the sections of road was freshly moistened dirt and very few rocks.
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That didn't last long, though. Soon is was back to the rocky road.

On the upside, it was, as I said, a scenic drive. It followed Thompson River, which was inviting me to stop frequently. River and I found some very cool places to access the river
video

 and some big rocks to climb on.

Instead of arriving in Coeur d'Alene at 3:15 as I was expected to, it was after 5:30.  Granted I did add some time by stopping, but even if I stopped for a total of 45 minutes (a very generous estimate) there is still a matter of 90 minutes, added solely by the condition of the road.   At one point, Babe asked to turn on a road with a sign saying it was a hiking trail and unsuitable for passenger cars.  So I had to turn the navigation off momentarily while I drove far enough away from that intersection that she didn't keep insisting I go back and take that road.

I didn't have a class today, and had no plans at all. I was thinking it was going to be a short, boring drive.  So I got a pleasant surprise.

I found a place that I am going to try and remember. It looks like it would be an awesome place to visit and go swimming when it's really hot out.




After the week I've had, I'm wondering if I'll feel a sense of let-down the next time I take a drive somewhere that doesn't go over gloriously beautiful topography. Indeed, in the past four months I've seen some of the best that this country has to offer and I'm very impressed. I sometimes wonder if there's a downside to all of this beauty. Throughout my life, I keep being reminded of the important of moderation in all things. Is this excessive? And if so, what are the repercussions? hmmm, I hope I don't find out.

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