DIFFERENT VIEWS - Road construction turns walk into a mystery

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For several hours, I had puzzled over the noise rolling across the valley. It didn't sound like farm machinery, and that was all I could think of. Only after my wife told me there was road construction could I put a picture to the noise. Thus, that morning as the county road workers came down our road, I thought of the improvement being made to the roads.

Starting on our walk the next morning, I never considered that our walk would be different than any other day. After all, the roads were still in the same place, so why should this walk be different?

But very soon I discovered a problem. Where was the edge of the pavement? My feet told me I was walking on gravel, so this should be the road's shoulder, but I was actually well out towards the center of the road. Not only did I have trouble, but so did my guide, for everything was different for him, too. Still, I figured it couldn't be too bad, so we continued. I would give the command for my guide to get to the edge of the road, often needing to give a little leash pull also but he seemed so hesitant to move over to the left. Then many times, when he had me right on the pavement's edge where I needed to walk, my foot would also find that the shoulder was anywhere between one inch to several inches below the level of the pavement. More than once I felt my ankle twist as my foot slipped off the pavement.

Thus I decided to cut our walk short, and we headed home. I knew very soon we had to round a 90-degree corner, one my guide liked to cut across. But after that we would find a nice wide, rather smooth shoulder to walk on; one where we could walk fast with little worry of tripping or stumbling. But I found that this corner and even the nice wide shoulder had been greatly changed. In rounding the corner, I tried to get my guide over to the left side, but he kept crowding me onto the road. Finally, insisting he move off the pavement, I found him many inches below me and found a steep gravel bank sloping way down; there was no way my guide nor I could walk safely off the pavement here. Worse yet, I found that even the area where we had never had a problem in walking on the shoulder now had a sharp drop-off of at least 2 inches below the pavement.

Nearing the next 90-degree corner. I relaxed for we had a wide shoulder to walk on. But this morning as we made the left turn. the wide shoulder was covered with paving and gravel; I guess this was to make it easier for cars to make the sharp right turn.

I know road repairs will usually cause a few problems; there will be traffic delays and people will have to slow down or even stop. It seems road improvement always comes with some cost, but this is the price we pay for better roads.

I don't mean to complain, for I understand construction, but for safety's sake I could not walk these roads alone for several days. It was not just my guide dog, either, for if I used the long, white cane, I would have found traversing these roads even harder.

Thus my guide and I didn't take our normal morning walk for several days. Then came the morning we followed my wife and our neighbor on their walk, and I could tell that by the first of the coming week, my guide and I would again try the route alone.

Still, for awhile, everyone walking or jogging these roads will need to be more alert and careful for rocks being thrown by passing cars.

I am trying to point out one of the difficulties a person may have when it comes to construction work. Being blind, I notice this, but for a few days even sighted folk will need to be just a little more careful. Still I know that in time this will be an even better road.

Have a great day and remember sometimes road work, though maybe a big pain, should in the long run be worth it.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse, retired early due to vision loss. He and his family moved here in 1986. He can be reached at theolcrow@charter.net or 509-529-9252.

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