Better safe than sorry

Aug 15 • Bruce Uncorked, Feature StoryNo Comments on Better safe than sorry

It’s been a frustrating year to be a driver in Chatham if you are travelling through the core of the city on a regular basis.

That is, until you realize our “frustration” would be most people’s dreams in terms of traffic congestion and construction.

First, the Fifth Street Bridge did not get completed until June.

Next, the construction from last fall along Grand Avenue West, stagnated around the intersection with Lacroix Street. Turning left – and sometimes right – was prohibited for most of this roadwork, making it a pain in the butt for anyone not headed straight through that intersection.

But it is wide open this week!

What isn’t open, however, is the Third Street Bridge. That’s closed for at least another week, until municipal officials get a report on exactly how safe/unsafe the steel support structure is on that bridge.

It’s not getting any younger, and that 57-year-old bridge got an extra heavy workout with the Fifth Street Bridge’s extended closure.

As for anyone chirping at municipal staff over the Third Street Bridge’s closure, think about it for a second: Better safe than sorry.

During the busiest times of the day, traffic can sit on that bridge as it backs up from the traffic lights on King Street in one direction and Grand Avenue in the other. If the steel holding that bridge up is in question, wouldn’t you rather be on another bridge?

Besides, the added drive time in Chatham is nominal. There is a bridge on either side of this one, and each is only a short distance away.

It might add a couple of minutes on one’s drive time each day. For me, as I usually take the Fifth Street Bridge anyway, that means more traffic on that bridge and higher congestion at the intersection with King Street. That might add 30 seconds or a minute onto my commute to work, and basically nothing on the way home.

I can handle that.

I remember commuting to and from downtown Toronto from Lindsay many years ago. Through a combination of driving and taking the GO Train and subway, that was about two hours each way.

Most GTA commuters face long treks to and from their workplaces.

I’ll take 11 minutes, thanks.

Sizzling summer

Yes, it has been a warm summer, driving many folks indoors.

But how hot is it these days? Chatham Voice reader Lynn Hackett lives in the south end of Chatham and said her outdoor thermometer on her deck redlined at 130 F in the sun on a recent hot afternoon.

I realize the heat of the direct sun plus some reflection off the house can combine to add extra sizzle, but the starting point was likely in the low-to-mid-90s (that’s about 35C).

Add in our regular dose of humidity, and it would feel like 40C (104 F) or more. And that’s even in the shade.

Sit out on a deck such as Lynn’s and you had best have a hose spraying you.

Still, the heat sure beats the cold of winter, so I’m not whining.

It does, however, limit what you can do outside, and when. When it feels like 40C, even sitting out barbecuing can have you soaked in sweat in no time.

The great outdoors

We enjoyed a recent weekend of barbecue, despite the heat. And we were visitors on both occasions.

One event wound up indoors due to the extreme temperatures. Dale and Jessie, connected to Mary Beth through the Laurie family tree, had us over for some barbecued pork loin and corn on the cob.

It was delicious!

Dale had wanted us to cook the pork loin low and slow on the Big Green Egg, but that lovely cut of meat didn’t need the slow-smoking process to taste great. He did a fine job, rubbing it with mustard and then coating it with seasoning.

As for the corn, I have to admit, it was our first taste of local corn this season, and it was a big hit. I think I could snag a half-dozen cobs of corn, cook them on the barbecue, and we Corcorans could just have that for dinner. Well, I might need more than six for the three of us…

A day after Dale and Jessie treated us, we headed over the Char and Eggless Chad’s place for another barbecue. The weather didn’t co-operate as well on this day, as it rained as we arrived, and returned sporadically throughout the afternoon and evening.

They were in the process of putting up a pergola when we got there. I assisted by hoisting the top up so we could get the support legs in place, and then I helped put in a bunch of the screws that anchor the legs and brackets to the top. All I did was hold the top high for a couple of minutes and then raise my arms to align and hand-tighten some screws.

I was sweating vigorously in no time!

Chad had the task of tightening everything. By the time he was done, he needed a shower and his arms ached. I’d joke that the screwdriver doesn’t weigh much, but I knew there’d be some aches after he had both arms over his head for so long.

But it was nothing a little liquid medication and hydration couldn’t fix.

Chad did some bacon wrapped chicken and steaks on his propane barbecue, and they were quite tasty, combined with Char’s macaroni salad.

Growing up, I wasn’t much of a pasta salad guy. Or potato salad for that matter. You cook both, so why not serve both hot?

But I’ve become wiser and appreciate both salads.

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