A Sunday morning walk to Nicollet Island yielded a nerve challenge not planned as I exited my home yesterday. I just thought I'd take my camera out for a little traipse around the neighborhood to see what caught my eye. I love Nicollet Island, an historic little bubble of quaint homes and gorgeous bridges just a few blocks away from my place. One of the bridges there is an old train bridge, pictured above, that is absolutely open for anyone to walk on. I'm always surprised by this because in America it seems every single place that could pose even the remotest of hazard is cordoned off like a crime scene, unreachable by all but the most lawless of types. It makes me think of the pyramids of Teotihuacan in Mexico City, huge and imposing, with steps that were not originally designed to be steps so are all different sizes and lengths. They are dangerous and challenging, and in America the pyramids would be available for viewing only. However, in Mexico, children and oldsters alike climb their frightening facades without giving it a thought. Mexican women in impossibly high heeled shoes slowly walk up the silly steps and teens scramble around outside of the designated areas. But here at home even a set of stairs with a split piece of wood is closed until completely repaired.
All bets are off on Nicollet Island, though, where this old train bridge spans a small offshoot of the Mississippi River and is completely open for all to traverse. It has no handrails, no "cross at your own risk" signs, nobody to stop you from drunkenly rolling off its wooden rails right into the drink below. With my camera in hand I was thinking there might be a photo op if I walked out onto it, a view of the river I couldn't otherwise get. Turns out I'm a bit of a wuss, because as I stepped up onto the old train slats, I noticed when I looked down between them that I could see all the way to the ground, a considerable distance. I could see discarded beer cans and food containers and the mighty river. I'm a pretty brave person, but I couldn't bring myself to walk very far onto that bridge. There was just nothing to catch me if I were to stumble on one of the uneven old wood posts or if I inadvertently tripped over a large metal spike. I kept telling myself I wasn't scared to be on the bridge, I was just scared to drop my beloved camera into the dank waters below. That may be true, but I'm not sure I wasn't just scared in general. Of course, if a Mexican woman had been there, she would've sprinted across it in a pair of cheap heels and carrying a child on her back, leaving me squarely in her dust.