Archived Story

Feel like mowing down construction cones?

Published 9:54am Monday, August 18, 2014

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

I hate winter travel. I look forward to summers when traveling the roads are quick and easy. I don’t slip and slide and have to look over mounds of snow to see around a corner. However my travels around the state of Minnesota this summer have been challenging, so challenging that it was all I could do to not take after Uncle Dan.

Uncle Dan lived in California near Los Angeles. He always had a feisty temper. It wasn’t one that any of us who loved him was scared of. He had a crotchety personality at times, and then he would follow it up with a smile. His wife was used to him and their exchanges were fun to listen to and watch.

One summer I spent a month visiting my California relatives. This was in the late 1960s and freeways were being built and being improved in the Los Angeles area. Now, Uncle Dan didn’t have a lot of patience with the road work. There is one particular instance that sticks out in my memory.

My uncle and aunt decided to take me to an evening Los Angeles Angels game. We were meeting some friends of theirs. Dan was a diehard Dodgers fan and was not happy to be going to a Los Angeles Angels game.

In fact, he had his radio earpieces along so he could listen to the Dodgers game while we went to the Angels game. The Dodgers were playing out of town so I suspect we would have been at a home Dodgers game had there been one.

As we were heading toward the stadium we ran into road construction on a freeway. There were cones everywhere. Workmen were cutting the lanes down, and it was slowing us down.

My uncle decided to mow the cones down and yell out the window at the construction crew. Now remember, this was in the ’60s, where people didn’t get arrested quite so easily for their antics.

The construction crew wasn’t in any danger, as more lanes of the freeway were being built and they were in those unused lanes. They also had a sense of humor and laughed as we mowed down the cones and ran in and out like an obstacle course.

My aunt, not so much.

She didn’t think it was funny. In those days the traffic wasn’t like today so no other drivers were endangered. We made it to the game. It went into extra innings, and we didn’t get back home until after 2 a.m.

I thought about Uncle Dan as I was driving the roads the past few weeks. I displayed patience as I took another way to the Twin Cities to avoid the construction by Mankato and on U.S. Highway 169 by St. Peter. I took the back roads, and the route was fine until I got to Shakopee. I had to take a detour to get to my son’s house. No matter which way I drove in Shakopee, there was construction.

The final straw was when the detour around the Marshall Street road construction had construction. For some reason, a Shakopee street crew decided it was smart to paint the crosswalks and the lines down the road designated for the detour.

The traffic was horrendous because not only was there extra traffic, it would get routed to one lane and changed to another lane as turns were blocked off. Then they would change and block off something else.

Traffic would also have to stop as they moved their bodies and machines. You couldn’t get off a street or get on some streets from the designated detour. I wanted to be like Uncle Dan and open the window and yell at the construction crew, “What idiot planned for painting the stripes on the detoured road in the middle of a busy day? Haven’t you idiots ever heard of nighttime and painting lines?”

That is what I wanted to yell; instead, I turned up my radio and counted under my breath.

They were actually lucky someone didn’t yell that or worse because it was apparent other motorists were seething too. Maybe I have to thank Erin and Leslie for not going off on the crew. I had been at their house for a garage sale and when I was going to buy something, instead they gave it to me free along with a bracelet for my granddaughter. I came away with a free purse, coin purse and my granddaughter had a cute bracelet she had admired.

This mother-daughter duo explained they liked to make people happy. I had also been at the Shakopee Bakery and the owner had given me a free loaf of bread, so these nice people left me with a glow that probably left me with a little patience, very little, with the construction.

I thought once I left the Cities I would be over the construction, but the next day I had to visit Mankato. That was almost as big a nightmare as Shakopee. I took the backroads to get there to avoid the construction on Minnesota Highway 22 and the bumpy road. I made the mistake of going to Petco and Michael’s before Lowes. You can’t make a left turn because of the detour for the construction out of the Petco lot to go to Lowes. I had to go all the way back across to the Walmart parking lot, turn around in the Walmart lot and go back across the busy intersection to get to Lowes.

I decided I would take the highway going to Eagle Lake out to a cross country road that got me to Minnesota Highway 83. I didn’t know there is also construction and I couldn’t go that way. I had to turn around and — gasp! use roundabouts — to get me back to where I was so I could get out of town. Let me tell you, I was ready to get out of town.

A few words about roundabouts; don’t stop a car in a roundabout at every opening. The word is round — think merry-go-round.

When I got back home and they were doing some work on my street. I came to this conclusion; this summer I feel the same way about driving as I do in the winter. Winter or summer the force of nature or the nature of road construction could turn anyone into my Uncle Dan. May the patience fairy follow all of us as we travel the highways and byways this summer? But if you’re Uncle Dan, remember, it’s not the ’60s, if the orange cone doesn’t get you, the state patrol will.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at Her Facebook page is