It started in New Mexico. Somewhere near Roswell. It quickly
spread the length of Highway 550, from Rio Rancho all the
way to Bloomfield. Now it’s been hitting Durango and
Southwest Colorado hard.
Crews may only be re-striping a couple of blocks of Main,
but the cones start somewhere near Hermosa and don’t
end until Bondad Hill. As you heed the “Be prepared
to stop” sign and slow down, you naturally begin to
scan the horizon for signs of highway construction. Workers
with shovels. Paving machines. Paint striping machines. Bulldozers.
There’s nothing! There’s not any construction
What started out as a minor skin rash has turned into orange-cone-leprosy.
Instead of State Highway Department crews managing their own
freakin’ cones, they decided to subcontract it. They
pay by the cone. A dollar a day per cone. The result was inevitable.
Orange cones for any and all construction. Flaggers ready
to stop traffic – just in CASE the highway department
decided to repave something. Cones every three feet instead
of every 10. Cones for miles and miles and miles. Everyone
One night I’d had enough. There was a quarter mile
of cones alongside Highway 3. They’d been there for
days, weeks, not doin’ a damn thing besides distracting
my attention. There was no REASON for the orange cones to
So I decided, “I’se gonna MOW THEM DOWN.”
This is where having a 20-year-old pickup truck with deer
bars on the front comes in handy. I pulled over to the side
of the old highway and waited till no one was coming. And
then I floored it, spewing gravel, barreling toward the Orange
Menace, every one of my Ford’s 460 cubic inches throbbing
Kaboom! The first cone went flying! It must have leaped 30
feet up into the air, landing somewhere in front of the Bolt
Ben. Kawham! The next one crumpled beneath my bumper. I mashed
the accelerator to the floor. Kawhump Kawhump Kawhump, it
sounded like a drum beating as I put my 18-inch Peerless All
Terrain Defenders over one after another of them cones, flattening
them like flimsy beer cans. A couple decided to cling to my
undercarriage and scraped their asses raw against the asphalt.
I don’t reckon my nostrils will ever forget that horrible
stench. But it wasn’t over yet.
One of them orange varmints held on for nearly a half mile.
Finally, at 95, it let go. Last I saw in my rear view mirror,
through the gun rack, “Little Orange” was in flames,
belching oily black smoke as some 18-wheeler ran over it and
put him out of his misery.
When it was all over, I had to go have a drink. I might not
have saved Durango, but along this stretch of Highway 3, at
least for now, those orange vermin looked like they’d
seen kingdom come. It’s time them coneheads learned
what the good people of Durango are capable of when threatened
with a big city pestilence.
– Wade Nelson