I have a camp up in God’s Country, officially known as Potter County. It’s about a two hour drive from my house. That gives me time to enjoy the scenery. However, in these long drives I’ve begun to think about the actual roads I’m driving, specifically state Route 120 between Driftwood and Renovo. It makes for an entertaining – and sometimes nerve-wracking – trip.
First, I want to acknowledge the road crews who work on this road. It can’t be easy. There are three places where it is down to one lane because the highway is falling away from the mountain. It’s not like traffic is backed up for miles, but the elk find it darned inconvenient.
There are also places where the road narrows with a rock face on one side and a telephone poll-lined railroad track on the other. There’s just enough space for two vehicles in between. It can get white-knuckled time in the winter.
Besides the highway itself, there are some very interesting signs. The one that peaked my interest the most is “Bump.” Who decides what is and isn’t a bump? I’ve jangled my brains for several miles on 120 only to come upon a sign that politely informs me that there is a bump ahead. This makes me wonder: what I was bouncing over until I came upon the sign? I can only imagine what that PennDOT conversation was like.
Worker: Shouldn’t we put a Bump sign here?
Administrator of Signs: No.
Worker: But I bit my lip!
Administrator of Signs: Did you chip a tooth?
Worker: Well, no.
Administrator of Signs: Then it’s not a bump!
There are a couple more interesting signs which are actually variations of the same message. One says “Falling Rock.” The other says “Fallen Rock.” Other than the obvious grammar differences, how does one determine where to post a “Falling Rock” sign as opposed to a “Fallen Rock” sign since the rock has to fall before it is fallen? If the rock falls, then it is fallen and therefore the sign should be changed to “Fallen Rock,” but when it is in the act of falling then you can’t use the “Fallen Rock” sign because it is still in the act of falling. My brain hurts.
Here’s how I imagine that conversation went.
Worker: Do we place a “Fallen Rock” or “Falling Rock” sign here.
Administrator of Signs: Depends. Right now it would be “Falling Rock.”
Administrator of Signs: Because there is one about to hit your helmet. Once it does, we’ll use the “Fallen Rock” sign. If you fall onto the roadway, we’ll need a “Bump” sign also.
The roads I use to get to and from 120 also have interesting signs. My favorites are the snake-like black arrows with a suggested speed underneath. I drive a standard, so I view these signs as challenges, not warnings. When I see one that has multiple twists and turns and a “45” at the bottom, I quickly downshift and think, “Bet I can do it at 50!”
One such road runs between Sinnemahoning and the Quehanna Wild Area. I had so much fun coming up that road I had to stop myself from going back down and coming up again. At my age you get your kicks where you can.
My travels up in God’s Country remind me of the people who work hard to stay on top of the highway problems that seemingly crop up (or fall down or collapse) overnight. I’d tip my cap to them, but it flew off on the last unmarked bump while I was dodging a fallen (falling?) rock.