Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Behold, ze tram!



So I was making a run to the grocery store for last-minute holiday fixins this morning, and noticed a couple of strange objects suspended in the sky overhead. Yep, it's our fair city's shiny new aerial tram. I stopped briefly and took a few photos of the thing, since it's just so... weird...


I read somewhere that they aren't going to take the plastic wrap off the tram cars until it's ready to start carrying passengers. So they're still in the original packaging, but it's unclear whether we can still return them for a full refund.

Actually that's sort of unkind. I'm not actually against the thing. I'm not convinced the general (i.e. non-OHSU) public's getting good value for the money, and I might've had different budgetary priorities if I was calling the shots. But all the same, the whole thing is weirdly fascinating, and I'm sure the tourists will love it. Gawkers on I-5 may become a real problem, which means the Powers That Be may soon offer us an expensive solution, like putting I-5 in a tunnel through the area, maybe. Which might actually be a good idea, just a very expensive good idea. Unless you're one of those hardcore bike fascists, you have to admit I-5 desperately needs at least one more lane in each direction, and there's just nowhere to put them if you leave everything on the surface.



Maybe I'm just obsessing about I-5 because I'll be driving this stretch later today, in the rain, along with everyone else, and I'm Not Looking Forward To It. Oh, and before anyone hassles me about that, Amtrak doesn't serve the town we're going to, and no airlines serve the local airport, and the idea of biking that far in this weather lugging many pounds of mashed potatoes is an amusing notion. I'm sure there are people out there doing it, but I won't be among them. Imagine, biking hours and hours in the driving rain, with nothing to look forward to but a steaming pile of low-sodium Tofurkey on your plate, a tall glass of wheatgrass juice, and light dinner conversation with one's fellow self-righteous masochistic dolts. Gee, that sounds like fun.

Also, I don't own a Segway, or a unicycle, or a horse, or a pogo stick, or a jetpack, or a zeppelin, or a mole machine, so those options aren't viable either, in case you were curious.

I suppose there's also the option of staying at home and doing Thanksgiving dinner with family by videoconference, but the in-laws can be oddly old-fashioned sometimes, and I suspect they'd think it just wasn't the same, somehow. So in short, I don't see any realistic alternative to driving. If there was, I'd happily take it, because nothing's worse than a long-distance drive for the holidays, but there's just no other way. It's troubling that our fair city's gone so far down the transit fanaticism path that I feel like I need to make a public apology for driving to see elderly relatives on Thanksgiving, thus burning fossil fuels and spewing greenhouse gases. I live downtown, and I usually get to work by bus or streetcar, but I walk to work when the weather's nice. I drive maybe once every week or two, and then only for a mile or so, just to pick up groceries. I'm already doing my part, dammit.

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