Monday, June 14, 2010


After a fight with my significant other, I had to walk. Walking is my therapy and exercise, or is that exorcise? So I walked. I left home Thursday afternoon about 13:40. I didn't know exactly where I was going at first. Later a goal, materialized, I would walk from our home north of the river to my wife's workplace. I walked first to Riverside. I wanted to cross the Missouri at the Argosy Casino bridge, go into KCK and then cross over into the west bottoms on the Missouri side. It was my first challenge, and I wanted to see if I could do it, or if a lack of pedestrian areas on bridges would hold me back. I mean, Lewis and Clark had no bridges to get across major rivers, but then they never had to deal with 70 plus mile per hour traffic. So with the afternoon sun beating down upon me, I first stopped at the casino for some water and rest from the heat. I never have been in this casino before, so I thought I'd explore. I must say, fancy, and interesting how invisible a person can really be. My experiment and experience was also one of homelessness. I mean, I didn't look like a bum, but leaving home without and ID sort of put me in an invisible status. I had no fear, but I also knew that I could disappear, and no one would know where I went. Invisibility in this society is easy, sometimes easier than existing. People are very good and narrowing their world view to a small focus and reducing everything around them to nothingness except for what their own needs and narcissism would allow. I walked through the casino once, and not a single person looked up or noticed. If I had met some foul play or an accident, I wondered even if some surveillance tape would show up to alleviate the mystery of my whereabouts. I left the casino to cross the grounds to the target bridge. When I got there, it was as expected -- no sidewalks. Pedestrians are a complete afterthought in an automobile society. I thought, what entitlement minded people dreamed up a single use crossing of a major river. How are people expected to cross if they don't have transportation? What if some calamity befell somebody in that they couldn't cross by any other means than by shoe rubber? I guess it is tough luck. The second lesson of homelessness is that you are not only invisible, you do not matter. So shame on these bridges and their designers. I turned around and went back to the casino. I was going to walk the levee around the casino and follow the river all the way to the Broadway bridge, which I knew had walkways. The levee didn't go very far though. It was only built as part of the casino complex in this area, and ended at the park. So, I walked back through the casino, after walking through some areas I'm sure would have attracted security. I came to the park, and walked to the northeast end to see if I could follow the river there. I found a nice beach, but no access beyond the beach. So I walked through the park which was being readied for the highland games, and took the outer road to another park -- Water Wheel park, which was quite busy with baseball games. I took a drink at the water fountain there, and rested my sore feet. Again, I had the sense of invisibility. People were busying themselves with the games and their families and took no notice of me or where I came from. I'm sure some sideways paranoid glances of some middle aged guy who walked into their midst were given, but other than that, I was completely ignored. I rested at a picnic bench, and walked on to take the Broadway extension south. I thought I would try crossing under the overpass, as I was sure the pedestrian situation there was just as dismal. I tried to cross the tracks which the overpass was built to fly over, but found a thicket too intense to cross without a good machete, which I didn't have. I kept thinking that I could run into some malevolent force by the tracks there, and my remains would not be found for years. It is easy to disappear. I got out of the thickets and up on the highway, and found that I really needed a detour, unless I was intent on killing myself. There was no sidewalk, and no shoulder, and the cars flew through there quite fast. Just as I thought that, my invisibilty went away. Someone stopped and gave me a lift over the bridge. I cheated, I thought. I wanted to try to walk the whole way. However, some devine intervention it seemed brought me a guardian angel. I think his name was Dominique. He was hispanic, and had tatoo's and drove a car that spewed smoke and seemed to be on it's last set of tires. I thought, here is a guy that many people probably do not look at twice, and he stopped to help me. A thought kept repeating itself in my head "Jesus is everybody you meet." He gave me a lift and would have driven me all the way into town, but I just asked to be taken across the bridge. I thanked him as best I could, but probably not enough. I walked on the shoulder of 169 south, which was ample, but seemingly not enough for the speed some people were going. Four more cars stopped for me -- two hispanic guys, someone from the middle east, and one caucasian. I thanked them all -- probably not graciously enough, and told them I was wanting to walk. I was beginning to get scarred for them, as their stopping for me could have been more dangerous than my walking alone. However, I do not recommend walking on this highway as a healthy pursuit. Again traffic wins out over pedestrians. I came to the downtown airport, and rested by the terminal. I was not harassed by the 'Barney Fifes'. By this time, I was really feeling my weariness. The temps were in the 80's and humidity was high. I felt a little ill before I rested. I trucked on, across the looming dreaded Broadway Bridge. So now I look up Broadway Bridge in wikipedia, and find....

"The Broadway Bridge is a through arch bridge that spans the Missouri River in Kansas City, Missouri, in the United States. It first opened for traffic September 9, 1956 on U.S. Route 169. It was built at a cost of $12 million dollars. It was a toll bridge until 1991.
It replaced the Second Hannibal Bridge just to its east which had handled auto traffic on its upper level."

I have driven, but have never walked the Broadway Bridge. I take that back, I walked it once when there was an accident scene I had to shoot on it, and it was scary then. I knew that it could be walked from that experience, plus I have seen a few pedestrians walk it regularly. However, the walkways on the bridge are not much, and people come at you fast. Some drive so fast, that in the areas where the road curves, they try to cut the corners and close as they can, which means the come very close to hitting you as you walk the walkways. I held onto the railing, and walked fairly confidently. It may not be much here, but it is something. I stopped briefly twice to enjoy the view. I'm sure as I did so, I spotted some drivers on their cell phones probably calling in a 'jumper' to 911. Some were just on their cell phones probably in deference to their safety, pedestrian safety and the safety of other drivers. I saw some hefty looking white guys in an SUV flash big doughy angry looks on their faces, like, how dare somebody be walking on their bridge. I got across safely, finally on the south side of the Missouri, which much more appreciation of rivers and what it took for pioneers to cross them without feats of engineering such as bridges to effortlessly spirit them across. By, this time, I was feeling the soreness of my feet and the churning of my stomach. I needed water. I took a break at the park on the east side of Broadway, that covers the old street car line entrance that took you out to the west bottoms from downtown. I felt sick for a little bit, and, yes, again, quite invisible. I thought about those guys who beg at the north side of the Broadway bridge. I walked to the Quaff, went in, and asked the bartender if I could bother him for a cup of water. He was really nice. He said, "are you kidding, in weather like this, I'm happy to give you some water." It was nice to reappear to someone as a living breathing human being worthy of respect. The Quaff has a new fan. I walked to Bartle Hall, thinking I could refill my cup, which I drained quickly. I walked in the revolving door, which was still open, and spotted a water fountain. I was, however stopped by a security lady, who smiling told me I could go no further without a badge. I told her I was only there to get some water, and she denied me. I said, "are you serious, even though I can see the water fountain you won't let me get a drink?" She just said, "I'm sorry sir." I said, "well I guess that's the way life is." I left thinking that my tax money supports that place, and I can't even go in to get a drink of water. So, I headed south, and I stopped at YJ's. I could go no further. I gave in and called my wife from YJ's. i drank plenty of free water at YJ's, and I know they are quite good to the homeless there, much better even than I am. Jesus is everyone you meet.

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