How did Carly know what would happen on Wilmot Road this week? For Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #77: The Cone Zone, she asked to see road construction - traffic cones, works crews or other inconvenient-but-necessary evidence of our highway safety dollars at work. A few days later, I reached the end of Calle Mumble and was greeted by this:
(If you lived in Tucson and were familiar with my part of town, this shot would be a dead giveaway of exactly where "Calle Mumble" is. But ah, well.)
This continued all week, slightly different stretches of the right lane closed off while crews tore up three patches of pavement and laid in three large metal plates, the kind that require an orange sign marked "BUMP."
But that's not what I wanted to talk about today.
It was probably close to ten years ago that John applied for a job as a graphic designer for the Pima County Highway Department. In order to show them what he could do, John created an animated GIF and other graphics featuring an original character he created, Sammy Safety Cone. He also made a fun animated GIF of toy Chevron cars driving down the street. He didn't get the job, but I thought he definitely should have. Although John doubts he even has a copy of those graphics files any more, they live on in my memory. And when I'm not too busy being annoyed and inconvenienced by the many road construction projects that impede my progress across town, the sight of a Sammy Safety Cone in the real world still makes me smile.
One of the reasons Tucson needs so much road work, aside from an ever-growing population driving over the same old streets, is the extremes of weather we get here. In the summer we get our famous "dry heat," followed by the summer monsoon rains that regularly flood the city streets. Then in the winter, if we're lucky, we get the milder "winter monsoon," with less thunder and lightning, but lots of rain, some flooding, and a good chance of snow in the mountains. The pavement expands in the summer heat and then cools and contracts, creating potholes and sinkholes and cracks for the flooding to fill and make worse.
Yesterday was a prime example of Tucson flooding. I had just worked around the clock - twice, almost - from early Friday afternoon to late Saturday morning with a half hour off for dinner before I returned to preparing all night long, despite significant computer issues, for two important meetings at church on Saturday morning. When I finally got home around 11 AM it was time to pick up my friend S. for our promised trip to the Animal Fair at Reid Park, there to find a new cat to replace the recently-departed Luna. And it was starting to rain.
We carried on anyway, got a neighbor to help life her mobility scooter into the trunk of my car, and headed over to Reid Park. When we arrived it was pouring down rain, and dozens of people and their dogs were starting to leave. After a week of 70 degree whether it was cold and windy, and S.'s umbrella quickly blew inside out. But we made it into the flimsy tent of one of the rescue groups, where we were immediately greeted by a very nice woman who was cuddling a black and white cat so similar to Luna that he could be her younger brother. Shamrock is a Turkish Van, according to the rescue group volunteer. When she let S. pet Shamrock, he snuggled into her and reached out to clutch her jacket with his front paws. We'll take him! She has to wait for several days while they get him neutered and chipped, but she'll have her year-and-a-half old, beautiful and affectionate new cat by the end of the week.
But I digress.
Coming back from the park, I drove through badly flooded streets as my trunk lid bumped up and down over S.'s scooter. My jacket and sweatshirt were soaked through and the driving was hairy. S. told me that many years ago, she saw a picture of people waterskiing on Alvernon Way, before they installed better drainage on that road. It still floods, but not quite that badly any more.
But there are compensations for weather like this. The ever-changing view of the Catalina Mountains in my rear view mirror can be dramatic and wonderful. And yesterday I saw a long orange pipe along the side of Wilmot, where Sammy and his friends were this week. Maybe they're working on the drainage.