Wednesday, August 12, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Bridge Builder's Tale XVI

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor


Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" -- C. S. Lewis

Now that small fortune became the initial capitalization for Zimmerman's great bridge. With investment pouring in and a bond offering being finalized, Rupert and Martin embarked on the infamous camping trip to Wales. A bush pilot carried them and their gear into Wales where they set out to hike to the great hill where their bridge would spring from. They insisted on going alone and struggled to carry out a copious quantity of Guiness, O'Malley's favorite beer. After toasting the venture over and over, Rupert suggested a swim in the strait... the first ever meeting of the "Prudhoe Bay Beach Club!" Drunk and fighting hypothermia, they proceeded to set their tent on fire, destroying all their supplies. They managed to assemble a shelter and dry themselves and their clothes by the fire.

Zimmerman and O'Malley engaged in a heated discussion of fire suppression systems for their bridge and engaged in a fairly beneficial analysis of the fire that had closed the English Channel Tunnel in the past Century. They stumbled into Wales a week later with a safety and security plan well developed and handed it to their designers.

In his last communication with his loved ones on Earth, Zimmerman wanted to set the record straight lest the "heroic survival" legend persist. If the truth be known, Rupert enjoyed the legend that had come to surround him, but he valued accuracy in history even more. He had also become keenly aware of the value of admitting his errors in judgement to his most trusted apprentices. The young and brilliant men and women who came to Wales to shadow him probably benefited most from learning how NOT to proceed in a given situation. Ironically, it had seemed hardest for Zimmerman to admit his weaknesses to Pat.

The unique pontoon design allowed for rapid fabrication in shipyards while providing a minimum exposure for workers to the harsh and variable conditions in the Bering Strait. They were floated into place by seagoing tugs and anchored by cables placed by robotic submersibles, allowing for a very short construction time. Zimmerman was appalled by the notion that worker deaths were inevitable on a project of this magnitude. Though the actuaries said it was impossible, the job was completed with zero fatalities. Zimmerman's Israeli engineer friends provided the latest in safety technology. 
Graphic by Bob Kirchman

Elizabeth Zimmerman O'Malley would lay out agricultural greenhouse communities across the tundra.
Graphic by Bob Kirchman

(to be continued) [click to read]

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