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Signs don’t always say what they mean

Tom J. Bechman road ends in water sign
SAY WHAT? Technically, this sign in not accurate — the road doesn’t end in the water. A boat ramp to the right leads 30 feet to the lake while the road circles back.
Front Porch: Don’t believe everything the government tells you either.

The Spotted…in Indiana column has brought a flurry of correspondence about signs that on their face make you laugh. Most of them are real signs posted by government workers, like the sign in Pike County, Ind., that says, “Turn around … GPS is wrong!” GPS is 100% wrong — I found out the hard way.

How many times have you seen the sign for a “hidden driveway” and thought nothing of it. You know what it means. But imagine dropping someone from a foreign land into rural Indiana and he or she sees that sign.

“Can driveways hide? Why is the driveway hiding? Is there trouble up ahead?”

We camped at Summit Lake State Park in eastern Indiana recently. Yes, I go camping. My idea of camping is climbing into my brother and sister-in-law’s air-conditioned camper and watching TV.

When we pulled into the campgrounds, Carla and I both spotted this yellow, traditional highway sign at the same time. Yellow means caution, right? The sign simply said, “Road ends in water.”

Say what? I’ve seen signs that say, “This road floods” or “High water,” but “Road ends in water”? No, never — until then.

Be precise!

Our daughter Kayla joined us. She wanted to see where the road led. So, we drove around the campgrounds. The road goes down to the lake, although technically it circles at its closest point to the water and goes back to the campground. A concrete boat ramp veers to the right off the road, and it ends in water 30 feet off the road.

“Close enough,” I said.

“No, that sign is misleading. It doesn’t end in water,” Kayla said. Technically, she was right. If it floods,  it might end in water, but it was bone-dry that day.

Somehow, Kayla convinced her aunt, uncle and me to go on a hike. “Are you sure this campground has trails?” I asked. “It’s mostly flat here.”

“It’s a state park, Dad. Every state park has trails,” she said.

Sure enough, it has at least two, because she found Trail 2 and convinced us to go. Kayla hasn’t even seen her 30th birthday yet, and she is a dietitian and knows how to eat right. Me? Not so much on either count.

The camp brochure said the trail was 1.25 miles. After what seemed like 2 miles, I begged her to stop. We rested, then proceeded. I made it, but I swore it was closer to 5.25 miles than 1.25.

By evening, Kayla had enough of my groaning over being tired from the 12-mile hike.

“I’ll walk it again and check it for distance and prove it’s right. They wouldn’t lie, Dad,” Kayla said.

“You said they lied about the sign,” I chuckled.

She was serious. So, we bet $50 of new clothes for her against $50 in toy tractors. She headed off for the trail while I headed back inside the camper.  

Twenty minutes later she reappeared, head down. “It’s 1.41,” she said. “Guess you win.”

“See, you can’t trust the government,” I said, beaming.

I later let her off the hook. Truth, is there is more than one way to walk the trail. Knowing the government, 1.25 miles is probably the average.

I’m still hoping for a toy tractor under the tree at Christmas, though. And if it rains enough, I still bet water reaches that road!

TAGS: Farm Life
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