The Best of Intentions

7 06 2006

Today was a rare day in our lives. Today we had a chance to attend a relatively historic event that was happening near our home. Today the 202 loop freeway was dedicated, so the State of Arizona decided to hold a little ceremony and party to celebrate our car-based society. Today was also the second day in a row where we had a nice afternoon break from near record breaking heat, albeit a little intermingled with some spotted thunderstorms and lightning in the distance.

Since the freeway opening party was really a once in a lifetime type of event, I thought it would be great to bring the family to attend so they could say they were there when it all started. (It's not much really, but still it's a good way to put things into perspective in the future). I truely wanted to take the opportunity to spend some quality time with the family with our bikes. (It's ironic that I wanted to spend the evening with my family on our bikes on a freeway built for cars.)

So, I left work a little early so that I could get everyone's tires aired up and get everything packed into the kiddie trailer. The first problem occured when my plan of putting Annabelle in the trailer while she was in her carseat backfired. As soon as Eliana sat in the trailer, we noticed there wasn't enough room for her and a huge carseat. I made the bold executive decision to take Annabelle out of her car seat and strap her in next to her sister. She didn't seem to mind. Eliana always cried when we put her in the trailer at Annabelle's age. We got going a little more, and still, not a sound. Things were looking good.

We made it to the freeway on ramp, and wheeled down to the main freeway. As in any large area, there was a huge backup of cars. I always feel proud when I am going faster on my bike than people are in their cars. I like to think that for a few moments, they stop to think about alternatives to motorized transportation. But I digress. After about a mile of passing cars, we made it to the section of the freeway where the festivities were being held. The second problem arose, we had to lift the trailer over from freeway barrier in order to continue along our journey. With a little coordination, my wife and I lifted the trailer, with the kids still inside, over the barrier. No big deal. Now it was time to look for the free food.

The first cart we came along was cart full of bullet pops. It was right out of my childhood. I wanted to give Eliana one of her own, but she would not be able to finish it easily, and would make a real mess trying. So, as we do of many things, we shared. I know she liked it, as she asked for more after every time I grabbed a bite.

Looking around for the free hot dogs I had read about, I saw a guy making balloon animals. Eliana loves balloons and I thought it would be a good idea to get her one. Well, it seemed like every other kid in the area had the same idea, and we gave up. We did manage to find her a balloon of her own later on.

After some more wondering, we came across the Arizona Search and Rescue helicopter. We got in line and I was able to grab a few snapshots. It was neat, and I wish I was better dressed to grab a picture myself.

A short stroll later, we came across a huge bulge of people in the middle of the road. There was a small stage and some people talking. Cameras were around recording things. I figured this was where they were going to do the ribbon cutting. I was curious to hear what they had to say about the future of transportation in the area. It wasn't groundbreaking, but as with many leaders of small but growing areas, they had big plans. I saw sparky, the evil ASU mascot, and some guy in a coyote outfit. I also managed to see the governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano. While I'm not one for politics, I have to admire a leader who is not afraid to do things the way the people who voted for her would want them to be done. It's too bad this kind of leadership is not always rewarded in our political system. And when it's at the higher offices, it is frequently frowned upon.

After trying to get my own celebrity snapshots of the governor, I had remembered that we still did not find the free hot dogs. I wanted to get at least one. However, I was gently reminded that it was getting dark soon, and that we should try to ride home as soon as possible. I was given a few more minutes to continue my search when the alarm went off. Annabelle started to cry and wouldn't stop. This usually happens when she' sleepy. I decided to pack everyone up and start heading back. I didn't realize it, but after we started to head back we were a good two exits down the road. The journey back, wading through and endless sea of people took far too long. I felt that Annabelle was my siren and alerting people to my presence and helping to clear a path. Eventually we made it back to our starting point, when I noticed that the 5k run was starting. I was unsure of whether or not I was able to ride back home along this road because of the runners. However, I noticed many people coming the other way (being dangerous fools), so I figured at the very least, the lead police officer would tell me to ride on another side of the road. I could live with that.

The endless cries of helplessness continued though my ride to catch the start of the wave of runners. This was an interesting experience. With every wail, I pedeled faster in an effort to help calm her down with the smooth vibrations of the road. As I gained speed, I started to reach the runners, and eventually I had to ride around them. It was like riding through a gauntlet. And whilde dodging runners was difficult, it was worse on the right side of the road with pedestrians making their way to the party and being scattered themselves. One girl was on a skateboard, and got a little freaked when I started to head in her direction. She paniced and jumpped off the board, but the board kept going. I was a little disturbed by this, and luckily had enough mind to know which side of me had no people around so I didn't cut anyone off or hurt anyone. After riding through the gauntlet, I made it to our exit, and made for home. I was glad I picked that time to head home because the wind started to pick up, as well as some more lightning. It didn't seem like a good idea to be outside.

Along the way of this crazy adventure, I think it was particularly hard on everyone beacuse we broght everything on our bikes. I wanted my family to have an awesome and unique experience. However, I think it ended up being a little tough on my wife because of the crazy whether and poor road in order to get to the nice, wide freeway. My intentions were good, but perhaps a little more planning may have made this a great outing, instead of just a good one.




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