Sam Cook: Battle with Big Orange
I pause, take a deep breath and try to calm myself for the task ahead. Like a professional athlete, I close my eyes and try to visualize a successful execution of the challenge awaiting me. Yep. I'm ready to drive to work in Duluth. It is the sea...
I pause, take a deep breath and try to calm myself for the task ahead.
Like a professional athlete, I close my eyes and try to visualize a successful execution of the challenge awaiting me.
Yep. I'm ready to drive to work in Duluth.
It is the season of Big Orange in our city. Orange barricades. Rows of orange plastic barrels. Orange pylons. Orange arrows. Orange speed-limit signs.
Thank goodness. They're fixing our roads.
I encounter the first barricade just two miles from home. "DETOUR," Big Orange announces. A massive, yellow Komatsu excavator is gulping steroid spoonfuls of old asphalt. This is nothing to me. I've been skirting this chasm of construction for a few weeks already. I veer off to Wallace Street, like my brethren on the morning march.
At another corner off East Fourth Street, I nearly sucker for the left turn I've been making for years on my commute. No, no, no, I remind myself. That lures me right into the Big Orange blockade at the bottom of 26th Avenue East at London Road.
Like most of us, I have trouble breaking old habits. I suckered for that turn a couple of times before I was able to wean myself away from it.
The re-route -- down Superior Street to 21st Avenue East -- worked for a week or so. Then, wham, one night coming home, I encountered a massive dose of Big Orange at 21st Avenue East and London Road. That was just a few days after I had happened onto a linear procession of Big Orange on I-35 through the tunnels in east Duluth on another commute.
Wait, I said to myself. I can avoid the Interstate entirely and take Second Street home. Wrong-o, Orange Evader Boy. Like a fat man's plaque-
constricted coronary artery, Second Street now funnels down to a single lane. Cars merge and squeeze into that single lane like red corpuscles trying desperately to reach screaming muscles. If Second Street were really a coronary artery, some giant Transformer would be getting ready to slap the defibrillator paddles on our car-clogged city.
Big Orange had me again.
Understand, I'm not complaining. I'm happy to have our streets under repair. Yes, it's inconvenient. But I look at it as a game. Like a rat seeking food in a maze, when Big Orange throws another roadblock in my path, I scurry around to find Alternative Route A, B, C or D.
I'll admit that Big Orange is a formidable opponent. As more and more construction comes on line, my options get more and more limited. I'm not alone. Even on my most creative secondary routes, I find plenty of congestion.
But Big Orange will not take me down. I will persevere.
I have options I haven't used yet.
Let me know if you're interested in going in on a helicopter-pool.
SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune columnist. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter at "samcookoutdoors."