Archive for August, 2011


I did it. Today, I got rid of my last obstacle to legal bike-riding. I am otherwise a 100% street-and-bike-path-dwelling cyclist, but there was a final holdout, a single place I kept riding on the sidewalk… until today.

Why just one place? Well, it’s simple, really. Almost every street I ride on is not what I consider a “major” street in Springfield. The only “major” street between me and everywhere I ride is this little road called National Avenue, and it’s simply a street I cross, not ride along. While I legally should ride on the street wherever I go, it just seemed so intimidating to actually ride on National. When I cross on Cherry St, there’s a light, and I just go straight across.

However, there’s a spot where I frequently cross National which I can’t just “cross” the same way. Here’s a satellite image courtesy of my good friend, Google Maps.

Crosswalk on National

From home to campus, I ride in on Lombard, and from campus to home, I ride on Page. I’d have to ride on National for 10 to 30 feet to or from the crosswalk depending on which way I’m going.

Since National is full of big, scary cars, I’ve just been putting my tail between my legs and trekking up the sidewalk to get from Lombard St to the crosswalk, or from the crosswalk to Page.

No more.

No, yesterday, I claimed my liberation. After some initial tries in the last few weeks, I really did it: I rode on National. Both ways. Middle of the day. Lane changing, hand signaling: the whole shebang.

It felt good.

P.S. If you type in “National and Grand, Springfield, MO” into Google Maps and go to Street View, go a few spaces “backward,” and the car magically ends up in the Break Time parking lot, but still says it’s on the road. Gotta love Street View.


There are a few things that I would have benefited from knowing as a wee freshman Pride Bandsman, some of which I learned later on my own, some of which I was taught by someone else. I feel it would be prudent to share with the 15+ new trumpet players in the Pride Band, as well as the other new members of the band at large, some of the more helpful and important things to know starting out.

Things about Pride

1. Just go with it. Plans change, and directing 300+ people with instruments and full uniform to stop what they’re doing and do something else doesn’t always happen instantaneously (or well). Information gets lost in the chain of command, things happen you don’t expect, etc. Don’t fret. Just go with it.

2. There will be rain. Keep a plastic ziploc back in your instrument case (or pocket) for those days when rain takes us by surprise. At least 8 people lost phones to water damage last year in Pride.

3. Bundle up. Not during band camp, mind you, but after August is over, the weather has no guarantees. For those of you who won’t be visiting home for a while, bring some cold-weather clothes with you on the FIRST trip.

4. Go to the section activities. This is rarely an issue, but there are always one or two who neglect some of the section activities during band camp… and they tend to be the people who don’t come back for a second helping of Pride. If you don’t make friends in your section, you will spend 8 hours a week with people you don’t like. Don’t let it happen.

5. Act like a freshman, by which I mean don’t act like you’re smarter, more experienced, or more well-informed than upperclassmen. This is, thankfully, also rather uncommon.

6. Do something else, too. Pride is great, and if it’s the only thing you do for fun, you’re not alone, and you’ll still have fun. However, it’s enriching to have something else going on, even if it’s with people who are also in band.

7. Bring your own dang valve oil. Stinkin’ moochers.
However, if you forget it, I will always have some.

Things about being in college (at MSU)

8. Virginity is cooler than Hollywood might have led you to believe. I have never, in all my college years, been put down because of it. It rarely even comes up, to be honest.

9. It’s okay to be a Republican. Your professors will try their very best to make you think that Republicans are all greedy, gun-toting cowboys who spit upon civil rights and privacy, but in reality, most of us really aren’t like that. If I assumed entire parties were like their most vocal constituents, I’d probably assume all liberals were gay.

10. Balance. I’ve heard it said that in college, you can have two out of these three: sleep, social life, and good grades. The one to which I most commonly see other people give the short stick is sleep, though I’ve avoided that myself. Don’t make a habit of shirking any one of them, but rather change it up every few days.

Things about living in Springfield

11. Walk or bike places. There’s a grocery store and a half*, two theaters, a number of college-budget-friendly restaurants, pizza joints out the wazoo, and most other things you need – all within a mile of campus. Don’t give up that perfect spot in the Hutchens parking lot because you wanted to save 5 minutes getting toilet paper.

12. Ride your bike correctly. Riding correctly is simple: just behave the same as a car. Ride in the lanes, stop at stop signs/lights, use left-turn lanes, and for the love of all that is sacred, DO NOT RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK! Check out this video to get a better sense of how to ride a bike in an urban setting.
Also, this blog about biking (written by one of MSU’s own professors) is always a good read.

13. The drivers aren’t worse than everywhere else. You’ll hear it frequently: “$&!# Springfield drivers! They’re the worst!” I’ve learned that they say the same thing everywhere else about their region/city, so try not to blame the greater Springfieldness for a few bad apples.

14. Cherry St. doubles as a river. A few other streets do this to a degree, as well, but Cherry is especially bad. If you have to cross it on a rainy day, bring a kayak (or, if you forgot to bring your kayak to college, just wear rain boots).

15. PARKS. Springfield approved a 1/4 cent tax ten years ago to help acquire and develop more land for parks, and today, there are a number of great parks both close to and far from campus… and they’re all free! A few to know:
Jordan Valley Park – Just north of campus, has fountains to play in
Phelps Grove Park – Just south of campus, and a whole lot bigger than Jordan Valley
Nathaniel Greene-Close Memorial Park – Remember how I said Phelps Grove was big? It’s a postage stamp in comparison to this behemoth. While it’s a ways from campus, it’s only a 10-15 minute drive, or a 30-ish minute bike ride, most of which is along the S Creek Greenway Trail.
And many more.

While this isn’t everything you need to know, I’m confident that you’ll learn the other 90 bajillion things without me cluing you in.

Pride Band from the stands

*Walgreen’s is the other half