Monday, September 19, 2011

Over The River And ...

... up 4th Street.
So, if any of you have been following my Twitter stream for the last week, I have basically given away my super secret location of where I live. 

Friday, September 9th while getting ready to take the kid to daycare, she had a potty accident.  When pulling off the wet undies, I noticed ... blood.  Just a little.  Just a very very little.  But put together with a string of accidents at daycare (usually after naptime) and my kid having to pee alot, and I was concerned that it was a sign that something was wrong.

I called the doc's office on the way to daycare and made a late afternoon appointment.  Took the kid to school, took myself to work, taught a lab, etc.  Picked up the kid, and headed to the doctor.  To get there, we drove across the river.  What's interesting is how vividly I remember the drive across the Sherman Minton bridge that afternoon.  The sun was shining and glinting off the water, there was a barge coming down the river, the bridge afforded a beautiful view.  Just one of those ordinary moments that you remember in hindsight.

Because the hindsight is ... almost exactly two hours later they closed that bridge because it was dangerous and on the verge of collapsing.  They had found cracks in the steel in some key structural supports that THURSDAY (yes, the day BEFORE I drove over that bridge with my kid in the car).

My first reaction was to be shocked that they closed the interstate and the bridge.  My second reaction was to be mad because I felt like we could have been in danger.  (I mean, it's so bad they are limiting the number of contractors on the bridge at any one time.  And there I was, in my car ....).  My third reaction was to realize that all those people that take that bridge to get to work in the morning would add to an already congested bottleneck that occurs when all of Southern Indiana commutes to the other side of the river every morning.

It's been termed Shermageddon, because for the people that used to take that bridge, it literally is.  They sit in their cars 2 to 3 hours every morning, on three different interstate highways, to get across a bridge.  I'm lucky, because I live to the east  of the main interstate.  I drive down close to the river, and jump on the local access bridge at the last possible entry point to avoid sitting in that long line of people coming from the North and West.  They have redirected the traffic pattern on the local access bridge so that instead of two lanes in each direction, there are three lanes headed south for the morning commute.  So if I leave at a decent time, it's only added about 15-20 minutes to my normal commute.  (Until Friday 5pm, that was pretty freaking awful).

So why the hell did I take a riverboat to work today?

Well ....

I guess it's because of my kid.  And the novelty of it.  After the first two days of heavy traffic last week, one of our local riverboats decided to begin ferrying people across the river during rush hours.  For $1 each way.  I wanted to support the riverboat taxi.  And for $1 I could take my kid on a quick riverboat ride across the river.  Wouldn't that be a fun way to get to work?

So this morning, we wake up early.  It's raining, of course.  It can't be nice and sunny like it was all last week for our commuting adventure.  No, it's pouring down rain.  But I'm convinced this will be a fun thing to do.  So I put on my raincoat, and one of her jackets, and dig out the umbrella.  We are ready to go.

When we park the car, I get all of the above back out of the car, and realize:  I forgot the sling.  I have no toddler carrier.  (Mothers in the know will now groan in empathy.)  We are due to get on the boat at that exact moment, so I yell, "run!" to the little kid and we take off toward the dock.  My version of "run" is slightly different than her version of "run", so I attempt to carry her on my hip.  Over a slippery raincoat.  While carrying my bag, her bag, and our umbrella.

The lovely riverboat people waited for us.  We paid our $2 (I don't think they were going to charge me for her, but I wanted to support the riverboat.  And it's $1.  And they waited for us.) and climbed aboard.  They pulled away from the dock and my kid's eyes got as big as saucers.  And stayed that way almost the whole trip.

Just a little scared.

We stood by the window and looked at the river.  We passed underneath the bridge that we normally drive across.  It was a very quick ride, but for someone who loves riverboats (me! me! me!) it was a really cool little jaunt across the river.

The only photo I took that is actually in focus.

Once arriving on the other side, we started climbing steps to get to the trolley stop.  The public transportation system maintains trolleys as buses that provide local access to some downtown spots (like my kid's daycare) for free.  So the last leg of the journey would be the trolley.  To get to the stop: steps, and more steps.

Hey, guess what, I learned something today.  Those steps are right next to (and below) the interstate.  Which means that when a large truck drives through a large puddle, the only place for the water to go is over the side, and down onto whomever is walking up the steps.  Fantastic design, engineers!

We get to the top of the steps as the Trolley is ready to drive away.  Thankfully, I have a cute, kid, so I waved to the driver and she opened the doors and said "I can't leave a baby behind!".  The kid LOVED the trolley.  So much so that twice in the 8-block ride she said "I like a trolley!" and made everyone laugh.  We signaled our stop, and the driver asked if we were headed to the daycare, and dropped us off right at the door (saving a half-block walk).

She hit the doors telling everyone who would listen that she took a boat and a trolley to get to school.   It saved us NO time in the long run, I look and feel like a drowned rat, and was then faced with another 3-block walk to get to my office.  But it was worth it since it seemed to be such a neat experience for her.

If it's raining again tomorrow, we'll drive the bridge.  It hasn't been adding that much time and stress for us, and I can at least arrive at work looking presentable.  I think the riverboat taxt would really help if they could pick up in New Albany and not in Jeff.  The Jeff folks don't need that much help - if you can get to the dock you can get to the local access bridge and that's not where the delay is.  It just saves them some parking.  The New Albany folks are the ones who are stuck, a riverboat taxi would help them much more.  But it would be a longer distance for the boat, and I don't know what the parking and docking situation is there.

So they don't get to have the fun that we had this morning on our way to work!

Better photos of our Day Two trip can be found here.

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