Detours In The Middle Of Nowhere Prove Frustrating

Hoosier Perspectives

Railroad crews, road crews need to keep rural motorists in mind.

Published on: May 14, 2012

I followed the directions to Gen Schmidt's house to a 'T'. It's about a three-hour drive form my place, so I don't drive in that country every day. But I was on the county road I knew I was supposed to be on. Suddenly I see this 'road closed ahead ' sign. That's never a good indication that things are going to turn out well.

Not knowing exactly how far up the road he lives, I kept going. Sure enough, a few feet before a railroad track, with nowhere to run left or right, were two road closed barriers. I peered ahead and saw nothing. No sign of men working- no railroad –type equipment sitting on the tracks or parked nearby. Just desolate country, like I had been driving through for the past several minutes. I knew it wasn't the road most traveled, because I had just passed a planter in road position parked in the middle of the road, with two guys in the field, talking as if they were either going to plant a plot or weren't sure whether to plant or not.

Thanks to cell phones, I called up Gene. Frustrated, he apologized and told me he thought that the crossing would be open by now. He told me how to make the retreat back down the road and detour a mile square, and then come to his place, about a half mile north of the tracks. So I retraced my steps. The planter was still in the middle of the road, and the two guys were still talking. Either it was a tough decision, or they were just catching up on small talk, which seemed a bit odd in planting season. Perhaps they were waiting on someone else to do a plot. At any rate, they obviously didn't expect much traffic, with the planter still sitting in the middle of the road. There was enough room for me to slither by on one side.

Normally detours aren't marked with official signs when you're detoured on a county road. But this one was. Ah, the railroad plays by its own rules. Sure enough, I followed the square mile detour, the same one Gene had outlined on the phone, and came out just on the other side of the railroad tracks from where I had been before. I looked down at the tracks again. I still didn't see any activity- not a soul or vehicle in site- just road closed barricades.

Gene's wife, Diane, was waiting for me while Gene was starting someone planting in the field. She shook her head. "We thought sure that would be open by now," she apologized. "There never has been much sign of anybody doing anything down there anyway."

For Gene it was even a bigger inconvenience than for me. He was going to have to drive around the block to get to his field on the other side of the tracks later that day instead of going a half mile down the road. I hoped the guys with the planter moved it for him by then. Better yet, maybe the railroad guys would decide they were done with whatever it was they were doing and move the barricades.

Ah, traveling rural Indiana this time of year on country roads is full of surprises. Thank goodness for the cell phone, even if it can cost an arm and a leg. Otherwise, I might still be sitting at the barricaded crossing, half- a-mile from where I wanted to go and not sure how to get there.