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Crossing the Salt River between Phoenix and Tempe during the flooding of the early 1980s


I had only lived in Phoenix for a few years when I learned that when water flowed under the bridges, they fell down. I remember being puzzled at the time, as the bridges that I remembered in Minnesota, usually stayed up when there was water below them, but of course that was the slow-moving Mississippi, and I'd yet to learn about the terrific force that water can exert when it's let go from a dam, which is what happens on the Salt River.

This is a lesson that has stayed with me all of my life, and I learned that I really didn't have the patience that most people have. As the traffic jammed trying to get into Tempe across the river (only two bridges were left standing, Mill Avenue and Central) I'd wonder if there was a different way to do this. There was.

I've always been good at gathering information, and I learned that there was a free shuttle bus that went from the State Capitol Building to Tempe. So I drove there, parked my car, and rode into Tempe, in cool and quiet luxury, in a special lane for the bus, flying past all of the cars lined up to cross the bridge. And then when I was finished with my classes at ASU, I'd get back on the shuttle, get my car at the Capitol Building, and drive home easily. I remember doing this for quite some time, and as I looked out at the people who sat in their cars I wondered what other tricks a smart boy like me would be able to do in my lifetime. I became someone who was always on the lookout for information, and getting around jams. As you can imagine, it's made me someone who really has no patience, and I'm kinda envious of people who can just lean back, take a deep breath, and deal with it.

Nowadays I love taking the Light Rail downtown, which absolutely flies through the traffic, doesn't stop for traffic lights (they're always green for the Light Rail) and only stops at stations. There's no line to stand in to get in, like an old-fashioned bus, and sometimes I'm downtown so quickly that I'm surprised. I ride from "the end of the line", which as of this writing is 19th Avenue and Dunlap, and have yet to travel out to Tempe, or Mesa, but that's my plan, just to do it, maybe go get a burger at my favorite place, the Chuckbox.

I hate to wait, I hate sitting in traffic. I've found lots of tricks around doing that, partially because I wanted to, and partially because I've been lucky, even when I lived in Los Angeles. I'm always doing research for better and faster, since I've always been a speed demon. It's an imperfect world we live in, and if there's another way you'd better believe I'm looking for it!

Thank you for moving very quickly with me!

Image at the top of this post: The Salt River at the Mill Avenue Bridge in the early 1980s. You're looking northwest.

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