Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter hike

Pedestrian Bridge
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
At 3:15 the snow started, with large and fast flakes, and I decided it was time to cancel class for the evening. Several students who live in outlying areas had already told me they weren’t going to be able to make it. It looked as if everyone else might be able to make it to class, only to find themselves trapped in a Hotel California type of situation.

I brushed off the car and headed for home – along with the rest of the Greater Nashville area. The roads were actually still eminently drivable, although “driving” is a word that could only loosely be applied to our endeavor: Traffic was at a standstill. After 25 minutes, I had made it from Peabody all the way to Demonbreun and Roy Acuff. I was afraid I’d get a repetitive strain injury in my clutch ankle at the rate we were going, so I decided to pack it in. If I was going to sit in traffic, at least I could do so in a bus.

After finding a terrific parking spot, I headed for the bus stop at 21st and Edgehill, where I realized that I wouldn’t be seeing a bus anytime soon. Cars were completely gridlocked. Forget the car, forget the bus – I know how to walk, even if I was wearing high-heeled boots – much more comfortable than you might think, by the way. I could always catch a bus if things cleared out. I grabbed my umbrella as a snow shield. Even though people look ridiculous carrying umbrellas in the snow, not looking ridiculous wasn’t close to the top of my to-do list at the moment.

I passed by my salon and ducked in to cancel my appointment for the next morning. My stylist half-joked that she might have to spend the night there. (I hope she made it out.)

At the corner where Broadway and West End split, a driver with a green light angrily honked at the cars blocking the intersection. They, of course, could not move, and getting apoplexy wasn’t going to help anyone, even if people shouldn’t be idiots and block intersections.

I passed over I-65, which wasn’t moving. I marveled at how few pedestrians were out. Two women who had been walking in my direction decided to get on a bus. It may have been warmer inside, but it wasn’t going anywhere.

As I went by the Frist, thinking I really should go see the Vishnu exhibit, I noticed a wallet lying on the sidewalk. Now I’m a good enough person not to rifle through it for cash, but I wasn’t feeling up to tracking down the rightful owner. Luckily, there is a post office right there, so I brought the wallet in and gave it to an employee. Hey, if you can’t trust a representative of the federal government, who can you trust? (Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.)

At the Convention Center I turned right to take the pedestrian bridge: I didn’t want some crazy driver tearing along at 3 mph to slide into me. Hilton employees were showing a reckless disregard for Southern folkways and shoveling their sidewalks.

I had been meaning to check out the pedestrian bridge for a while, as I hadn’t been there since the flood. Aside from a cyclist, sensibly not riding, I had it to myself. I was pleased to note traffic on the Shelby Bridge was actually moving faster than I was, and I entertained the possibility of taking the Shelby bus the rest of the way. Since I wasn’t sure of how often they ran, I didn’t want to wait at a stop, which turned out to be wise – I never did see one.

East Nashville is hilly, and cars were having trouble making it up the hill between 9th and 10th Streets. From there it was downhill again, and the roads were visibly bad. I didn’t see evidence of salt anywhere, aside from on the sidewalks outside a few civic-minded businesses, and the plows – I saw one – were as trapped in traffic as everyone else.

I turned down 14th because it has sidewalks, and passed a couple of teenagers not so much playing as being sullen. It still surprised me how few people were out, even granted that some folks have commutes far too long to walk. Surely some people lived within walking distance.

From there it was a few short blocks home. I had wondered in the past about the feasibility of walking to campus, and now I had empirical evidence it was doable. 4.3 miles took me 1 ½ hours. It would undoubtedly be faster in better shoes with less snow.


Dave Daniels said...

What are you, some kind of hiker or something?

turducken said...

Yeah! I'm in this great group called the Nashville Hiking Meetup. You should look into it.