Signs – provided by guest blogger Scott (aka my better half and Airstream companion)
Being a guest blogger on cowgirlchronicles.com is a serious gig and I only hope that my editor/publisher (that would be Janie) finds some value in my contributions. That said, however, I don’t intend to be a blog hack and write about whatever subject my editor feels appropriate. Therefore, my first offering will not be, as Janie mentioned in a recent post, about our outing to the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., but rather about signs.
Having been on the road for several weeks now with some 2,200 miles in the rearview mirror, there has been plenty of time to contemplate the types of signs seen on highways and byways. Signs, of course, are intended to provide information that presumably is of some importance, such as hazard warnings, directions, speed limits, points of interest, etc. Even in this age of GPS, signs still serve a useful function – at least most of them.
From time to time, however, a sign pops up that you just have to scratch your head and wonder “what were they thinking.” We encountered this while staying at the Sea Perch RV Park a few miles south of Yachats on the Oregon Coast. It’s a beautiful spot just a stone’s throw from the ocean, which is about 100 yards from where I wrote this. There is a sign at the edge of the bluff where a short trail leads down to ocean that reads, “Beach” – no kidding! The Pacific Ocean is a very large body of water that makes lots of noise and is relatively easy for an observant person to spot. So a sign pointing out that the beach is a mere 10 yards away doesn’t seem terribly useful. Perhaps something like “Beach Access” or “Path to Beach” would have been better.
Granted, this sign was probably a goodhearted attempt by the property owner, who likely is not a sign expert, to provide information, and so therefore I realize I should provide him/her some slack. But what about signs installed by our public highway authorities that we, the taxpayers, paid for?
One example observed near Wickenburg, Ariz. the morning we left Phoenix instructed the passerby to “Watch for Rocks.” Doing so I quickly observed that rocks are everywhere in the Sonoran Desert and not hard to find at all. In fact, looking for rocks while driving can be quite distracting so I turned my attention back to keeping the truck and Airstream on the road. Perhaps the sign would have been more useful if it had read “Watch for Rocks in Roadway” or “Watch for Falling Rocks.” Of course that would have required a bigger sign.
Signs also are often used to provide information about points of interest, which helps break the monotony of a long drive. Driving up the eastern slope of the Sierras on US 395 in California there are signs that provide the names of the various mountain peaks that can be seen along the road, such as Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. Along this same stretch of highway though, I observed a sign that made me think “huh?” It read “Eastern Sierra Weed Management Area.” I didn’t think weeds required much management – they just grow. Perhaps this sign was trying to convey information about a taxpayer-funded project to control weed growth in the area. If so, the project wasn’t very effective, as there were weeds growing everywhere, including around the base of the sign.
You’ll find signs pretty much everywhere. My advice is to make sure you pay attention to the information being provided. Otherwise you could miss the beach.