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On Thursday I kept running into stuff like that shown in the photo. The fourth day’s ride had taken me through flat and level corn and soybean country, from Kokomo almost to Lebanon, Indiana, where Mrs R had reserved a motel room. (A KML file of this year’s routes is here, and might display in Google maps if you click on it.) But I was having trouble getting across Sugar Creek.
I first tried a county road northwest of Lebanon, but when I neared the bridge (judging by the low ground and trees ahead) there was a sign saying the road was closed. Road or bridge construction doesn’t necessarily stop me, as I can often get through with a bicycle where a car can’t. But I was thinking of the huge amount of rain that southwest Michigan had received this year, and although I couldn’t see ahead to the problem area I didn’t think I would be up to jumping a gap where a washed-out bridge used to be. And there was a puzzling sign that said, “This is not a detour.” What did that mean? And speaking of detours, why had there been no warning a couple miles back to warn me the road was closed ahead? And why wasn’t any detour indicated?
A road that turned off to the west looked like it had been prepped as a detour for cars, even though there was no sign saying so. It had a fresh layer of coarse, loose gravel thrown on it. I had already ridden several miles of gravel that day, but there would be no riding on this stuff. While I was puzzling over the situation a car came down that road, bringing road dust with it. The window rolled down and the couple inside asked, “How do we get across?” I pleaded ignorance, saying that’s what I was trying to figure out. They told me it was “like this” the way they had come from.
We were no help to each other, so I backtracked and headed west to state road 39. There wasn’t much of a paved shoulder on it, so I tried going further west, but then realized highway 39 would probably be preferable, so made my way back to it on more gravel. And then, as I neared the bridge, there were signs saying the road was closed. No wonder there had been no traffic on that road. There had been no warning signs until I got within 1000 feet of the closing, and no detour route was suggested. That wasn’t very sporting on the part of the local highway departments, but maybe they figured locals knew what to do and outsiders didn’t need to know.
But here there was a paved road that went west, and it looked like there was another stream crossing that paralleled the interstate. But as I got close, there were the signs seen in the photo. I didn’t look at them closely (the photo was taken the next day) but a glance told me it was more of the same so I just pedaled on, figuring I’d call Mrs R to pick me up. I could use my computer in the motel room to figure out how to continue the ride the next day.
As I crossed the interstate, I was thinking of finding a good place where Google would be able to direct Mrs R to my location, but got interrupted by a dog that came out and bit me on my right calf. At first the dog had seemed to be restrained by an underground wire in the residential yard it had come from, so I didn’t hit the pedals to outrun it, and then there wasn’t any more time to react.
I had been through a dog bite situation a couple of years ago, so I knew the routine. I called 911. At first the dispatcher said the animal control officer wasn’t available but someone would come out. He also asked if I needed medical help. When he asked if I was bleeding, I took a look. Why, yes, I did have blood running down my leg. So although at first it seemed as though he would find somebody who wasn’t busy who could come, he was soon telling me that an ambulance and a bunch of other people would be sent, too. In the end, it was a whole armada of vehicles, and toward the end an animal control officer came out, too.
While waiting, and during all of the attention when a deputy sheriff arrived, followed by others, I had a chance to talk to the owners of the dog. (Yes, they had paperwork showing the dog had its shots, which I said might save them and me both a lot of trouble.) There were a lot of other things to talk about regarding the dog, and there were also questions to answer and paperwork to fill out on the part of the sheriff’s deputy and the EMS team. But I also got to ask about how to cross the river. What was the deal with all these closed roads? The master of the house explained that the state road was closed for bridge repairs or a new bridge, he wasn’t quite sure which, and that the other roads weren’t really closed. Those bridges just couldn’t handle all the traffic that would ordinarily be diverted to them, so those signs and barricades had been there to discourage traffic. But I could get through, including on the road I had just passed a mile west of his place.
Mrs R took me to the local ER, and while there the subject of a tetanus shot came up. I said I had just been through that when I had a dog bite 2 or 3 years ago, but wasn’t sure. I don’t like the consolidation and centralization of medical care that we’ve had in recent years, but I have to say the local system does a good job with its consolidated online portal. So while at the ER I tried to look up my records. Hmmm. They said nothing about a tetanus shot. So maybe 2 or 3 years ago we had decided I had had one recently enough that I didn’t need one then, but my memory of what I had remembered at that time was no longer very distinct.
Friday morning, before heading out on a ride (which I decided to make an even shorter one than originally planned) I called my doctor’s office about coming in Monday (today) to get a tetanus shot. And today I learned that I didn’t need a shot; I had had one two years ago, at the time of my last dog altercation. The nurse showed me the record in a Michigan database of immunizations. My recent pneumonia vaccination was in both the state database and the local health system’s database, but the tetanus shot was only in the state database. And that database would have been available to Michigan health care providers, but would not have been available to an ER in Indiana.
I was surprised to learn that there was such a thing as a state immunization database. (Eat your hearts out, Google and Facebook!) I’ve been thinking about it today, and have been kicking myself for not checking on my social credit score while I was at it. I presume it is based on more than just my vaccination record, though what else they would use, I don’t know. However they finally decide to compute these things, I hope I end up with a higher score than the dog that bit me.Published in