Infinite tunnels

· 542 words · 3 minute read

We bought Max and Zoe smart phones in June. This was a huge deal for us. We were going to wait until Max was in high school. We relented. An obvious bribe. Compensation for the chaos of what followed.

Of course the phones are super useful — especially for translating and text messages. Maps are key too. I can see when they are at school, at home, or on a tram.

The current map looks like this:

Google Maps

The lower icon is Max at school. The grumpy cat icon, about 40 km north, is Zoe. She’s on a three day trip with her classmates and teachers. They‘re staying at a little camp called Funiversum. I know it’s little because I drove there to get her — needlessly — and drove back alone.

The backstory on my wasted trip started when Zoe’s grumpy cat popped up on my iPhone. She was complaining about being uncomfortable at the camp, and wanted to come home. Alison and I debated it — but decided to make the trip. She had a bad cold and hadn’t slept the night before.

I left at 7:45 PM to get her. It took about 40 minutes or so. I parked and went inside. Her class was doing the Macarena. She was dancing all around. She was having a great time. Of course she wanted a ride home anyway — to sleep in her own bed — but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do anymore. Better to stay with her friends and finish the trip as scheduled.

The trip was not a waste of time. Not at all. On the drive up, and back, I saw a remarkable example of Austrian engineering. A massive highway tunnel. Colossal. “So what?” you say. It can’t be all that. Not like the 2-mile Seattle tunnel, or the Boston Big Dig. Sorry. It’s bigger. A mile bigger than either one. Almost 5 km. It is also wider, and brighter, and flawless-er-er. Right out of a video game or something — at night, no traffic, I was in this awesome thing all by myself.


At work I asked my office mates about this tunnel. It’s called the Götschka tunnel and it was finished about 4 years ago. “So what?” they said. But for them it’s justified. Austria has many tunnels like this. The biggest is the Arlburg tunnel. It’s 14km long. That’s like 4 Big Digs connected end-to-end — all beneath the alps.

There’s a tunnel arms race between Norway, Switzerland, and Austria. Norway is winning. The Lærdal tunnel, which goes under a huge fjord, is 25km long. It’s the longest highway tunnel in the world. The lighting looks amazing.

Swiss tunnel

The Swiss are in second place with a 16km highway tunnel under the St. Gotthard mountains. Under the same mountains is the longest train tunnel in the world. It’s 58km long — longer than the Eurotunnel between the U.K. and France.

Zoe comes home this afternoon. I am sure she’ll give me some flack about last night — even if she had a great time.

You should have taken me home!

As most dad-ninjas know — the best response is to change the subject.

Zoe — did you drive through that amazing tunnel?


Swiss tunnel