Weather: Hot, humid and hazy.
Road Conditions: Still horrendous, due to the bridge collapse.
“Conchscooter” said a very interesting thing in the Comments section the other day, regarding the 35W bridge collapse, and the effect it has had on our lives here in the Twin Cities, and my own commute in particular…
I have no doubt you will squeeze lemonade from this lemon handed to you by an uncaring Fate, and set us a fine example of how to cope with chaos. I look forward to your words.
Wow, what a burden to lay on a guy!
Not only am I supposed to make something positive come out of this, but I have to set an example too? Why can’t I wallow in self-pity and aggression like most of the other “motorists” out there?
But seriously, I have been working very hard at trying to find a reasonable “utility” route for my everyday commute. Work threw me a curveball by transferring me temporarily to our production facility, to “do some time in the trenches”, as it were. Their timing, as always, was impeccable…
This place is five miles further along the same roads, out on the edge of the suburban sprawl known as Plymouth. My commute is now at least 31 miles, each way. The fact that I have to use city streets to get there, now that the freeways are screwed, makes this much more interesting.
After battling the traffic rather aggressively on Frogwing for the first few days following the disaster, I decided that a different approach was needed.
Vespa Rose was fresh from her 3,000 mile service, and was wearing a new Kenda 413 sport tire on her rear wheel. It was time to get out there and see if we couldn’t scoot around all this trouble and strife.
Instead of confrontation and brute force, we would try a little finesse and false humility to get us through these bridge-collapse traffic hassles. Much easier on the blood pressure, and SO much better for my “driving record”.
Ramble Plan Oscar is a to-from route, much the same as Alpha was. Since I have photographed the ride home here, that is what I will describe.
Keep in mind that these roads are much more deserted in the early morning, and the going much easier. The ride TO work takes just over an hour, while the ride home takes almost three, with the necessary stops along the way.
These are the sacrifices I make, just to keep you all entertained…
Esquire Magazine did an exhaustive search last year, to find what they consider to be “The Best Bar in America”. Wouldn’t you know it? They picked a place that was right in the middle of Ramble Plan Oscar!
Nye’s serves food as well, and of course they offer all the usual soft drinks. This is the perfect refuge in which to wait for traffic to die down, if you happen along during gridlock.
The only problem for me was parking Rose out-of-sight around the corner. I couldn’t do it, for worrying that she might be vandalized by some of the characters who prowl this part of town.
So I asked one of the owners if I could park in that convenient little nook, next to the sidewalk at the front of the building. “A Vespa? One of those little scooters? No problem!”
Things would have been different had I been riding Frogwing. There’s just something about the sight of a scooter parked on the sidewalk, snuggled up close to a building, that just looks right…
After our Nye’s interlude, Rose and I proceded along Hennepin to 15th Ave SE, where we turned right and headed for Como. This is the main thoroughfare featured on Ramble Plan Bravo, and it looks like a promising alternative to my preferred parkway routes.
Como isn’t as heavily travelled as some of the other main roads through the cities, like University and Lake Street/Marshall Avenue. Of course, it is also only one-lane in each direction for much of its length.
But on a scooter, you can make that one lane into one-and-a-half, when you need to… and the funny thing is, people don’t get very mad at you for doing so.
I respond to the honk of a horn with a wave, and that defuses the situation. “Hey, I’m just a clueless dummy on a cute little scooter. Sorry I got in your way.” (But I’m STILL ahead of you!)
This kind of subterfuge feels much better than the Urban Guerrilla tactics I am compelled to deploy on big, gnarly Frogwing. “Motorists” are too busy admiring Rose’s graceful lines to memorize her license plate number…
Eventually, we made our way into Saint Paul. We rambled up one street, and down another, stopping to take that photo of the Cathedral up above there. As a lapsed Catholic, I can never pass that place without at least stopping for a look. Then The Guilt takes hold, and I have to leave. Funny, how that works.
We crossed the Mississippi River on the Wabasha Bridge. Down below is Harriet Island, and a place that I have wanted to go to ever since I first heard of it.
The River Boat Grill is one of those places that you read about in the paper, and make a mental note to visit at the first opportunity.
But then daily life intrudes, and the place is just not on your regular circuit of travel.
Well, the 35W bridge-collapse has upset my regular circuit just enough that I remembered to take the left turn onto Water Street, which led us through a series of curves, under looming bridges, to the parking lot above the Showboat Landing on Harriet Island.
There, I parked Rose in a sea of cages, and wandered down the boardwalk/dock in search of The River Boat Grill.
You enter a gangway on the stern of the boat, and the sign directs you up to the second deck. There, under the roof provided by the third deck, are typical weatherproof tables and chairs set up in rows. The bar is forward, as is the kitchen, restrooms, and the walk along the starboard rail which yields such a gorgeous view of Saint Paul from The River.
My waiter, Ron, found me standing at the port rail, gazing anxiously up at the parking lot. I was looking for Rose, hoping I could keep an eye on her from one of the empty tables. When he asked, I told him what was troubling me, and he said “Oh, people park scooters and little bikes down here all the time. Go ahead and bring it on down!”
Music to my ears. (See the photo at the top of the page.)
Once seated, since he had been so accomodating, I asked for his recommendation for dinner. Without hesitation, he said, “River Boat Burger.” The menu listed it as: Bleu cheese and chopped onions blended into a ground beef patty, served with pickles and horseradish cheese on the side.
That was good enough for me.
So… did I fulfill my mission? Did I find a positive side to all the horrific events of the past couple weeks? No. I don’t think there really is one. This was a disaster, pure and simple.
You deal with it. You cope. My initial reaction was aggressive, and in hindsight I think that was wrong. The way I’m dealing with it now, riding Rose, seems much more copacetic.