Thursday, July 30, 2009

Round Trip

There were many things to ponder and much time to ponder them in during the bike tour. When I wasn't fantasizing about cookies, my musings tended toward the vagaries of the U.S. energy and transportation systems. The bike tour itself was one example. Sometimes the only way from Point A to Point B was via restricted-access roads, in which case we – people and bikes – needed to be trucked. When the infrastructure isn't favorable, you need to rely upon friends.

Multi-modal day

On the road, some of us noticed this stark Ghost Bike memorial near Lima, some of us didn't, which I suppose could be taken as a metaphor. (Read more about Jonathan Dechau here and here.)

Jonathan Dechau Ghost Bike

Some of us noticed the controversial Sheldon hills wind turbine array in western NYS. I support green energy (obviously), but can sympathize with those concerned about noise, shadow flicker, and ice throw, too.

Sheldon hills wind turbine

All of us noticed the Davis-Besse nuclear generating station. What this photo doesn't show is the road passes so close to the cooling tower that it's shrouded in a constant fine drizzle... that we had to ride through. It wasn't hot, at least not in temperature.

Davis-Besse cooling tower

The return trip via Amtrak provided further fodder for meditations on the themes. Grand Rapids is a good-sized city of 200,000 yet its Amtrak station is smaller and more spare than many NJ Transit commuter stations, and has a far more infrequent schedule (my train was at the crack o' dawn). By contrast, I'm told the GR airport is well-equipped.

Grand Rapids Amtrak station

Like many NJ Transit stations, the GR Amtrak station has a low platform relative to the height of the train. What do women great with child, youngsters, oldsters, and others with limited mobility do? At least the conductors provided a sturdy step stool.

At least there's a step stool

I wanted to go to NY Penn Station, but had to go to Chicago to get there. Once there, I had a 10-hour layover. Crazy! But when Amtrak serves up lemons, one may as well enjoy a Taste of Chicago. There may have been side trips to visit Loopy Yarns, the Bean, and the Art Institute, too.

Taste of Chicago

On the trip to NYC, the swaying of the train began to bother my knee injury. My seatmate told me that when the train went clickety-clack, I would hiss in my sleep. I resorted to texting like a madwoman to stay occupied. Happily, NY Penn Station has platforms level with the trains. It's somewhat different than Grand Rapids in a few other ways, too.

NY Penn Station

Because the GR Amtrak station does not accept checked luggage and because of the long layover in Chicago, I had to ship my bike and my bulky luggage by different means – again, my thanks to all my friends who helped out. I finally fetched home the last piece of errant luggage over the weekend. I love my yellow milk crate (even if it's plastic, cough)!

Fetching luggage home

And that is how I got from here to there and back again.


Bezzie said...

While it is tragic about that biker--I must give his friends/family props for that memorial. One of the best I've seen.
And yes, outside of this over-populated Northeastern area, train and bus services are nowhere NEAR as good. The GR airport would have underwhelmed you though. It's not that great. Cheaper to fly out of...but small. Very small. I have seen one too many post 911 unattended bags there with no one caring...they just sat. Scary.

Kim said...

An epic journey. The Bean is my favorite public sculpture EVER!
It's shameful how sucky public transit is. Car is truly king in the US.