Caveat Viator

My Latin is pretty weak, okay it’s non-existent, but Google tells me that caveat viator translates into traveler beware.  Since Rice County will probably never adopt that as their travel and tourism slogan, it falls to me to spread the warning.  If you ever have the misfortune of traveling the unpaved roads in Rice County, be prepared for a flat tire.  If you travel them daily as I do, be prepared for LOTS of flat tires.  Some months John and I have a combined average of as many as two flat tires a week.  This is not an exaggeration.  I have had two flat tires on the same day, and I am on a first name basis with the employees of the automotive department at Sears.  I always buy the road hazard warranty on tires because it will pay for itself three or four times over the life of the tires.

My most recent flat occurred last week.  When I took it in to be repaired, I was told the puncture was too close to a previous patch to be fixed.  The current set of tires had quite a bit of wear on them, but they were probably still good for another 10,000 miles.  Rather than have one new tire and three old tires, I bought a new set.  Between tire repair and replacement, living in Rice County has some significant hidden expenses.

These multiple tire mishaps are caused by the material used to “gravel” the roads when they start to deteriorate.  The Rice County Commissioners, in their misguided efforts to save money, have chosen to crush construction debris and use it as resurfacing material on the roads.  Construction debris = demolished buildings.  The remnants of these demolished buildings include screws, sharp pieces of metal, and nails.  Some of the nails have square heads (see picture) and are made of iron.  These haven’t enjoyed widespread use since the early 1900s making their appearance on our road by accident highly unlikely.  Objects similar to the ones I picked up have been extracted from my tires.

When I complained about this practice, I was told by one of our county commissioners that our roads couldn’t be consistently maintained without using this cheaper, low-quality material.  My response was “Fine.  Don’t do anything to the road if that is the material you have to use.  I have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and I find mud infinitely superior to nails as a driving surface.”  Unfortunately, my complaint didn’t stop the practice.

So I will continue to get tires repaired and replaced until I retire and can move to an area that values the opinions of its rural taxpayers as much as the city dwellers, but you can avoid the unpaved roads in Rice County.  If you can’t, caveat viator.  At least you have been warned!

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