Signs of the Times

It hasn’t been the world’s most interesting couple of days on the bike.  I had a nice rest day in Coffs Harbour, and have made it a few more kilometres up the coast to Yamba since.  It’s been pretty flat and pretty warm.  I’ve had one day when I felt fantastic, and one where I was not feeling up to much at all.  It still doesn’t feel a lot like Christmas.  So much, so standard.

It’s not the most devastatingly pretty countryside to ride through, either (at least around the main highway; the seaside towns are generally very nice), and I’ve had far too much time by myself to think.  Partly about all the rubbish end-of-year TV that I’ll miss out on, which will no doubt include more than a few ‘Top 20 Things That Nobody Cared About in 2014’-type shows.

The result of all this pondering is the following: the top several (not sure how many until I finish writing; it’s not that well planned) signs and signposts from the trip so far.  If that doesn’t knock your socks off as a surprise present for the festive season, I really don’t know what will.

Anyway, it was all inspired by this, which I found attached to a picnic table at a rest stop on the Pacific Highway yesterday:

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What do you do when you see a sign like this?  It has today’s (when I found it) date on it.  It’s held to the table with medical tape, which looks convincing.  Do you run away squealing?  Do you assume it’s just a weird joke, and sit down to have your lunch?  Do you cautiously examine the table from a safe distance to establish whether there’s really a snake there?  This is currently the run-away winner in the ‘Not Sure How to Respond’ category.  But it’s also the winner of the ‘Genuinely Useful’ category.  There really was a snake under the table.

Next, the ‘Correct English’ winner.  Somewhat surprisingly, I found this in the middle of nowhere, on Route 66 in Arizona:

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Which just goes to show how important commas can be, and is also much more elegant than a simple ‘Don’t Pee on the Floor’ sign would have been.

This is so much fun, isn’t it?  Bet there are people actually holding their breath to find out what’s next.  And I bet I could name all three of them…

As it turns out, next is the ‘Oddest Tourist Attraction’ category.

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Yep, that really is teachers and gunfighters and wax, all in the same building.  In Dodge City, naturally.  That came very close to winning the ‘Most Culturally Revealing’ category, too.  But that’s a little later.  First, the ‘Most Unnecessarily Over-Specific’ sign, from Haast in New Zealand:

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Not only a picture of the hazard, but a clear visual representation of exactly the face-plant you will perform; is that really useful?  And is there more than one place in the world you could actually use it?  It could only really be more specific if it included a second panel with a broken cyclist and an ambulance.

I enjoyed the mid-west of the USA (apart from the headwinds), and it’s had (hands down) the most generous people of the trip so far.  But there was an obsession that I never really got my head around, which means that this is the ‘Most Culturally Revealing’ winner:

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That’s right.  Golf carts.  There are millions of them in the mid-west.  I’ve seen them with custom paint (imagine a golf cart resprayed as the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard).  I’ve seen them used instead of mobility scooters by old people.  And I’ve seen herds of them being them driven in laps around campsites as after-dinner recreation.  The fact that they are so common that they’ve generated their own road signs (albeit giving the slightly erroneous impression that some of them might be used to actually carry golf clubs) is truly culturally revealing.

Nearly there now.  Just a couple of Kiwi pearls to go…

The penultimate award is for the ‘Most Persistent Activist Vandal’.  I saw this sign, (carefully and cleanly) amended to make a political point after crossing into Otago from the west coast:

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Every single subsequent iteration of the sign I saw in NZ had been amended in exactly the same way.  One strip of duct-tape carefully placed over one word on every sign for hundreds of kilometres.  You can’t argue with the effort, at least…

Finally, there’s the ‘Straight to the Touring Cyclist’s Heart’ award, which goes to this poster I found in a cafe window:

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It doesn’t really need any further comment.  Despite my previous words about the countryside and the slightly boring roads around here, at least I’m not sat in a box on a hamster wheel.

And that’s got to be something to be happy about.

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5 comments

    1. No worries. Ah, the snake. Well, after doing the cautious checking thing, and seeing the thing curled up (and possibly dead), it moved. And I switched to the ‘running away’ reaction, sadly, pre photo. It was green with yellow markings – you’ll just have to trust me 😉

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