This afternoon, Lisa and I decided to walk over to the Gene's Meat Market
, located on the other side of Oregon Highway 22 from most of the rest of the town. Oregonians who have driven from Salem to Detroit Lake or Bend may know this place as the junction with a roadside restaurant called The Gingerbread House
. (I recommend their Elk Burgers.) Pausing at the highway to wait for a break in the traffic, we saw that a Marion County Sheriff Department deputy was parked there clocking traffic coming into the 45 MPH speed zone in which Mehama is located. This isn't a "speed trap" -- there's a solid safety reason for putting a speed zone here: Besides having a small town astride the highway, it's also the junction with Oregon Highway 226, and people have a tendency to otherwise pick up speed on this three-mile straightaway before heading up the canyon, making the place dangerous. There's a flashing yellow warning light at the junction, but no traffic light -- presumably not quite enough fatalities to justify the expense.
We saw what I considered an amazing sight. Cars were slowing down for the speed zone, except for one big black pickup truck, which tore around the slowing vehicles and passed them in the two-way turn lane. We watched in open-mouthed amazement as the driver roared through town at what I estimate was at least twenty miles over the speed limit, breaking several other traffic laws as well.
The deputy looked stunned for a moment, then shook his head and climbed into his cruiser and quickly headed off after the apparent madman, lights a-flashing. You can see a mile or so in each direction at this point, and we could see that the pickup truck was already slowing and pulling over as the sheriff chased him down. (A good thing, that; highway 22 narrows and starts to wind not too far east of here and a chase could be very dangerous.)
Frankly, I was delighted to see this. I've seen so many examples of stupid driving of this nature, with fools deciding that traffic laws don't really apply to them, that it's a real pleasure to see someone get caught. This wasn't slightly exceeding the speed limit or having a tail-light burnt out, or even forgetting to renew your vehicle registration; this was blatantly ignoring safety and the law and recklessly endangering other drivers, not to mention two pedestrians (Lisa and me) waiting to cross the road at the intersection. I hope the traffic court makes an example of this idiot.