I made a quick trip to the Big Berry yesterday [Note: If NYC can call itself the Big Apple, surely I can call Thunder Bay the BB].
Yes, winter roads again. We had perhaps six to nine centimetres (3 to 4 inches) falling in the 12-hour period, and the temperature hovered just below zero (Celsius, of course. I know, I know . . . Some backward places on the planet still use the Imperial system of measurement, a reminder of their colonial pasts.)
Anyway, the point is, in this country, in winter, road conditions can change in a blink. The City had cleared the main thoroughfares in the BB, leaving only the occasional icy patch. Off the main arteries, vehicles slithered through slush. Returning north, I travelled bare pavement, occasionally skating across an outdoor rink.
After the Nipigon River bridge, Highway 17 continues east; Highway 11 turns north. Those continuing east immediately encountered a snow-covered trail rutted with tracks. I turned north on relatively bare pavement, encountering occasional slush and hard-packed snow.
In the Province of Ontario, the government contracts out its highway maintenance responsibilities. A contractor has responsibility in a sector that may include several hundred kilometers of highway. The contractors are supposed to be singing from the same hymn book, but, believe me, they rarely do.
I always note the dischordance [sic] at the Gorge Creek Road turnaround, near Orient Bay. There, one contractor has maintenance towards Nipigon; the other, towards Geraldton. Over many seasons I have noted that the Geraldton-bound contractor is not only off key, but appears to be following a different hymnal. The road conditions deteriorate dramatically, not to say immediately.
Such was the case yesterday. (Only once have I noticed a reversal of those conditions.) During the whole trip, I noted only one vehicle in the ditch, and that was (Yeah, you got that right) north of Gorge Creek Road.
You don’t have to be Robert Frost to see a road divided.