At first, I thought this ascent would be the death of me. You see, I'm not supposed to climb at greater than a 7.5% gradient. The risk is getting stuck, or tipping over backwards. Those are bad things. I am doing my best to avoid bad things. I've had enough bad things in recent years. So have the rest of you.
Anyway, the third day I had the power chair in my possession, I went all the way up to the top of this thoroughfare overpass. Of course, I probably shouldn't have.
Fear Came to Me
A particular thing happened to me while I was up top. Someone came jogging by. And as they approached, my chair started bouncing up and down (as did the bridge). And both continued bouncing up and down long after Mr. Exercise Man cleared the pedestrian bridge.
As this was happening, I half-wondered if I would come crashing down onto the main road below. Maybe my 388 lb chair, and 155 lb self (in combination), was far too much weight for the structure to bear. But clearly, it wasn't. I am still here, and you are reading this.
Does anyone remember Galloping Gertie… That bridge over the Columbia River Gorge? The one that collapsed back in 1947 (I think that's when it was) after bouncing and twisting in the wind for endless days amidst breezy conditions?
Traversing this pedestrian bridge has been a goal of mine all along. It's what I've seen outside my window since last December. Since the Covid-19 death days. Bicycles going up and over. Joggers going to and fro. High school kids looking for a conspicuous place to hang out.
As a side note, the wheelchair people, the ones that came here to make subtle and obvious adjustments to my gifted contraption (on Monday), confirmed that my chair could safely climb similar constructs great and small.
I engaged this next up-ramp early on Tuesday. The morning was relatively cool, maybe 85° to start off. So I went for it. I headed south along the bike path running parallel to the freeway. And maybe half a mile down, I came across this. And really, it's a scenic overpass. Most of them are. They really designed the hell out of these. And the views in either direction are fantastic.
This portion of the freeway was somewhat recently completed (2003? I think). Many houses were demolished, businesses displaced, javelina's harangued, rattlesnakes were on the run (on the slither?) ... you know, that sort of thing. And I remember going down onto the freeway for the grand opening celebration, with my son in tow. I thought he might get a kick out of walking the roadway (I seem to recall that he did).
Anyway, a fair percentage of taxpayers were upset that the county and state spent so much money beautifying the brand new freeway, making it visually appealing to all comers. There's also artwork placed intermittently along its breadth, if you care to view it. Of course, most people are incapable of safely viewing abstract art at 65 mph. In any case, the pedestrian crossovers are visually appealing from start to finish.
This last pedestrian crossover was traversed by me just yesterday. And also, this used to be one of My Places.
Yes, when I lived with the mother of my son (the not a very good person, person). I needed places to go when the going got rough. And this was one of my favorite places. I used to bring my guitar, tape recorder, and different guitar pedals with me (packed neatly into my Quick Escape Bag) and settle in for several joyous hours of jamming, until things cooled down.
My midnight places were local grocery store parking lots. Mostly. I needed enough light to see what I was doing, basically, manipulating musical instruments (or scrawling vicious rants into a notebook).
Yes, I had other places; a person who would help me cool off. And also, one particular bar of distinction. I didn't drink alcohol back then, but never mind that right now. This was one of my locales into glorious escaping. Being there this time and right now made me emotional. And actually, being anywhere often makes me emotional now. At times, I feel overwhelmed, realizing it's been a decade since I ventured out at all. Crazy, right? I've missed the better part of ten years being ill, and then seven of those years exclusively confined to bed. But each of you knows this already.
Let me know if you enjoyed my presentation. Either way, I shall likely present a Part 2, and Part 3.