Overcoming gephyrophobia to get to Garth

By Melanie Yingst

They say if you don’t like the weather in Ohio, just wait a minute.

Well, Mother Nature’s wrath decided to take a break at the most convenient time last weekend.

Last weekend, The Queen and I headed south for yet another Garth Brooks concert.

Yes, that’s three times we’ve seen the country music star live and in concert.

And yes, that’s three times we’ve bought tickets behind the stage because one, they were cheap, two, he performs on a circular stage, and three, it’s closer than the back of the arena.

And that’s three times we’ve seen him in three different cities — Detroit, Columbus and now, Cincinnati.

And, like always, just getting there was the hard part.

Following last minute texts about driving logistics, we left three whole hours early to head to the Queen City.

If we could only find a parking spot …

You know you are getting older when you worry about traffic and parking and getting to the concert in plenty of time to beat the crowds. In my younger days, I used to be one of those who rolled in seconds before the headlining act took the stage. The older I get, I’ve become quite the opposite.

So, we missed the exit to US Bank Arena and headed even further south to Newport, Ky.

We weren’t exactly expecting her husband to dump us off at the gate, but heading across state lines induced slight panic.

Insert the Purple People bridge.

When you see your intended destination on the other side of the Ohio River, one could start to panic. OK. And we all kinda panicked. But we found ample parking in the Newport area, and decided to take advantage of the spring-like weather in mid-January to walk across the purple bridge.

“Queen. It’s 60 degrees. It’s 60 degrees in January! It won’t be that bad!” I think she tuned my optimism out —we’ve been friends for that long.

So we walked over the bridge from Newport to Cincinnati — all 2,670 feet — to the concert. If it wasn’t for one small issue, it would have been a highlight of the evening. It wasn’t cold. Not a snowflake in sight. The city looked like a beach town on a moonlit summer night.

The stroll on the Purple People bridge with the skyline views looked like it would be a nice change from being cooped up inside. I also noticed all the love locks dotted along on the barriers, an ode to the now lockless Pont des Arts bridge in Paris.

The bridge was such an unusual hue that as we were parking, I looked up information about it just because I needed to know why it was purple in the first place.

The Purple People bridge opened in 1872. Whoa. In 1904, it was renamed the L&N (Louisville and Nashville) bridge. In 1987 it shut down for railroad traffic and then road traffic in October 2001 due to deteriorating infrastructure. Um. Yikes.

And it was then as we first approached the bridge over troubled waters, I suddenly remembered — I’m terrified of bridges.

Like, not a fan. Especially metal transportation bridges over murky and dangerous river waters with unknown depths and lurking river creatures. In all my excitement of a night out with friends, I completely forgot my fear of bridges. I’m not afraid of bridges in Troy because, well, I know how safe they are. I also know how deep (or not so deep) the Great Miami River is at any given day.

It’s those large industrial urban bridges that freak me out.

Like a gust of wind could toss me overboard. The bridge could collapse, hello! Only $4 million went into making this safe for bikes and people. Um, $4 million doesn’t seem like a whole lot of money in terms of a half-mile bridge.

It’s no longer safe enough to carry cars across! It may be warm, but the waters are going to be cold if this bridge gives way like it could at any moment. You think the Hooters boat will rescue us in time? Why are we leaving our lives to chance to a floating bar boat, you guys!

“Miami County residents die during bridge collapse: Garth Brooks concert-goers on their way to US Bank Arena. Garth Brooks extended his condolences, but kept rocking anyways because that’s what they would have wanted.”

I think in headlines people. It’s an occupational hazard.

Needless to say, we walked extremely fast and right down the center of the bridge until we got to solid ground of the south banks of Cincy.

There was no love lost on this petrified person along the Purple People bridge. Thankfully, a little liquid courage and a whole lot of Garth Brooks got this county music fan over the bridge of trouble waters after the night was over.

And, at least it was a warm, yet slightly terrifying, jaunt in January.


By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. In Pieces is her favorite Garth Brooks album. She was 11 when it was released. Now she feels old.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. In Pieces is her favorite Garth Brooks album. She was 11 when it was released. Now she feels old.