Unexploded Ordnance and Other Road Hazards

Hey look, it’s back.

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Wait, what did you think I was talking about?
Image credit: Karin Beil

Well, actually it never left. It just hasn’t made a lot of noise recently. That is, until now.

Speaking of noise, for the past couple months the Idaho Transportation Department has been hard at work rebuilding a section of Interstate 84 between mileposts 60 and 71, roughly from the outskirts of Boise city proper to the Boise Stage Stop near the Elmore County line. This 11-mile stretch is no trifle. It’s the major thoroughfare to this state’s capital and largest city from damn near all points east. And as I found out this weekend, one very difficult to circumvent.

During construction one side of the road has been completely closed while the other carried two-way traffic. I passed through the area several times while the eastbound lanes were closed with little difficulty. However, since construction recently switched over to the westbound lanes there’s been, um … an obvious bottleneck.

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Obviously.

In retrospect I’m not sure there was an accident (at least not on the way out), but damn. Glenns Ferry is normally an hour from Boise at most.

For those of you intimate with traffic in places such as southern California or Chicago, this is probably no big deal. But here in Idaho – where people write letters to the editor if they have to wait at the same stoplight more than once – it’s a major problem. Now while we’re not quite as bad as advertised elsewhere, Idahoans don’t deal well with road delays.

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Oh yes, you will remember.

“But Lane,” you might ask. “Glenns Ferry is a soul-crushing bore of a town even by Idaho standards. What the hell were you out there for?” It was my weekend with Σ, and Glenns Ferry is roughly halfway between the 2T and Boise. My ex drives her there and I pick her up. A couple days later we make the exchange vice versa. We’ve done this for several years now on weekends when I choose not to go to the 2T. It’s worked out well so far. However this time around construction delayed me for a solid hour. My ex was not amused, and I can’t say I blame her. Dante probably wasn’t thinking about sitting in the parking lot of Glenns Ferry’s Shell station when he conceived the first circle of hell, but he might as well have.

That got me to thinking. There’s got to be a way to get from Boise to Glenns Ferry without the aid of I-84, especially considering I had to make the trip again in less than 48 hours. Not only would it give me the means to avoid the construction zone until it’s gone (ITD is saying mid-November right now), but it would also give me an excuse to explore my inner Neil Peart. If you’re reading this you probably already know Peart is an acclaimed travel writer as well as a legendary arena rock drummer, so I won’t go into that today. Besides, one day I’d like to get a nice touring motorcycle and do what he does. That is, you know, when he’s not drumming.

A potential solution presented itself while looking at Idaho’s 511 site in an attempt to figure out what the hell happened in that recently innocuous construction zone. “It’s under construction,” my state tax dollars at work said. Gee, thanks. Even so, while zooming in on the area map I noticed a certain Pleasant Valley Road snakes from a point in south Boise not far from the Command Center all the way to the Simco Road exit on I-84, well past the dreaded construction zone. Perfect.

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The state prison is just off of Pleasant Valley Road, because we’re all smartasses here.
Image credit: Idaho Department of Correction

It’s not a shortcut by any stretch of the imagination, but it sure beats parking for a couple hours waiting for the 1Gs, the 6Bs and their ilk to figure out how to merge into an ersatz two-lane road in heavy traffic, not to mention accommodating those who race all the way to the merge itself so that others can magnanimously stand aside while they atone for their “mistake” (a common tactic of the 2Cs). Indeed, a brilliant plan on my part if not for two small complications.

The first, Pleasant Valley Road was obviously named by a much bigger smartass than me, as it steadily degenerates from a paved road, to a potholed road, to a graveled road. But hey, at least Σ said she enjoyed the “massage.”

The second, said smartass directed Pleasant Valley Road directly through the Idaho National Guard’s artillery training area. There were signs all over the place which said in so many words: “By order of commanding general, stay on the road or die.”

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And hope the guy on the gun doesn’t get his 3s and 8s confused.
Image credit: MySecuritySign.com

And this road isn’t paved with the candy-ass gravel one would find landscaping an office park. Oh no. I’m talking about softball-sized rocks playing Plinko with the undercarriage of my 2004 Ford Focus deep inside an active military firing range. In short, not a recommended way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Fortunately the Gem State’s first line of defense wasn’t howitzer-happy yesterday. I imagine they would have closed the road otherwise. At least I hope so. The staff car returned to paved roads relatively unscathed, and Σ made it safely back to the 2T to terrorize the third grade for another fortnight. Mission accomplished in terms of avoiding construction, but I suspect a realignment is in my immediate future.

And I’m definitely NOT taking that alternate route again. At least not without a Bigfoot or something.

P.S.: This post featured a lot more Idaho dialect than usual. If you don’t know what the 2C is, click here.

P.P.S.: In an effort to maintain my sanity and prevent extended hiatuses such as the one just concluded by this post, going forward Superfluous Bloviations will publish three times a week. History Wednesday and the Friday Crap Roundup will return along with a Monday post on general tomfoolery such as this. I reserve the right to occasionally add to that should a burning topic come up, but don’t expect a whole hell of a lot of “specials.”

Welcome back. It’s good to see y’all again.

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