I was working in our outlet store Friday morning, nothing going on, when a guy pulls into the lot in an Aliant Energy truck. He came in and we started talking about the gravel roads. I asked him if he had seen anything getting ugly yet. He said that it was still dry, but that he was sure it would get ugly when the frost lets out. Normally, according to his experience, the dry winters let the frost get down into the ground further. He said 3 feet is about normal, but that he has dug down and hit frost as far as 6 feet this year (excessively deep.) His thinking was, even though this was a wet winter, that once the frost lets out and the frost boils set in that they will be nasty-deep! These guys generally know what they're talking about, I should know. My Grandpa "Cy" Mc Quillen was a lineman for Iowa Electric for 47 years, and told me many stories about his career in the outdoors. 47 years, that's from High School graduation to retirement, working every day in all kinds of weather! 47 years of snow, cold, ice, heat, wind, etc. I have enormous respect for the memories I have of him. Add to these factors the jobs of father, husband, and fire chief and you have one hell of a man. He told me a story once of how they used to put up power poles by hand! He was in the last days of "good" memories and remembered all kinds of details. How they dug the holes, hitched up horses, and blocks and pulleys, the whole thing. He even remembered names like "Red" and "Shorty" and guys he worked with. Sometimes when I'm out riding I'll look at a couple of miles of poles and think about his stories, and imagine the personal strength and drive it would take to raise them. Respect! Ever think about how many power/phone poles there are in this state? County? Your town? I wonder if the power companies even know. Do they number them?
I went out today and rode R Ave. to 150th, then turned for the hills of Fraser. I hit the bottom of the Devil's Backbone and could see that the river was up over the road, so I decided to hit up the Y Camp hill. Always a good time, right? Wrong! The county has dropped white rock on the top third of it and made it simply impossible to ride. These rocks are about the size of orange wedges, and 2 or 3 inches deep. I had to walk the last 100 feet. I was riding with the Budweiser twins (they're tall boys!) so I decided to stop at the top of the hill and consult with them. They were motivating enough to get me the rest of the way home. No problems with frost boils anywhere yet, but I predict a lot of misery coming our way this spring once they open up. Later! Travel Gravel!