“The bridge is a triumphant structure, a testimony to the creativity of mankind.” – Kevin Starr
January 1, 2015. This blog tells a hiking story not quite like the others I have posted. Even though Larry and I walked and did not necessarily hike – the takeaway from our jaunt was as thought-provoking as any journey over the river and through the woods we normally take. My then boyfriend Larry and I walked the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco County to Marin County, California – some two and a half miles. We were told by the locals making such a pilgrimage was a tradition Northern Californians did on New Year’s Day. Not to ignore what we immediately thought to be a reasonable custom, my spouse and I bundled up – it was 48° – and took a roundtrip stroll starting on the Fog City end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our arrival to San Francisco a few days prior ended a 502-mile road trip Larry and I began in San Diego. Our initial goal was to fly from Atlanta – our home base at the time – to San Diego, spend a few days there, then fly back to the Empire of the South. Never to shun spontaneity, Larry and I thought it would be great to change the origin of our return flight from SAN to SFO. We decided to drive from America’s Finest City to San Francisco, scheduling stops in Los Angeles, Hearst Castle, and other points along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was exhilarating. The cool crisp air was refreshing to me, frigid to Larry. I captured a great number of pictures – the beautiful San Francisco skyline, different angles of the Golden Gate’s structural components, and the cool curvature of the roadway the suspension bridge elevates above the bay. As we put one foot in front of the other, traversing this Wonder of the World, I thought of the blood, sweat and tears invested into its rise. Not only did they have remarkable work ethic, they probably genuinely believed in the idea of the iconic structure – what it would say about them and their families, how it would represent the West Coast, and the message it would send around the world about the United States’ ingenuity.
I know nothing about civil engineering. I do know a thing or two about the evolution of technology. Look at the story of Apple’s iPhone. In less than a decade, the folks in Cupertino revolutionized the way we think of and use the telephone – giving it capabilities we had no clue we wanted. Phones and bridges are surely apples and oranges. The ideas and passion driving enhancements in smart devices and public infrastructure may not be all that different.
My point, I would imagine the Golden Gate Bridge construction crews worked harder than any of us present day Americans could ever imagine. They used machinery consider sophisticated during that era yet far less efficient, resilient, and precise as equipment used today. Admitting this is nothing earth shattering yet again attests to the working conditions under which the Golden Gate was built. Think of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis. Due to a catastrophic failure during rush hour traffic, the bridge fell into the river below on August 1, 2007. On September 18, 2008, not only had the wreckage been cleared from the unfortunate incident, the replacement – Saint Anthony Falls Bridge – was built and reopened to the public. This took 383 days. The Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1,603 days.
In walking across the Golden Gate Bridge on New Year’s Day 2015, I now believe this lauded custom delivered something resembling good luck to Larry and me – an outcome the locals promised it would. Granted, Larry and I do not fully believe in luck – espousing preparation meeting opportunity instead. We will fully embrace walking across the Golden Gate opened our minds to receive things we may not have otherwise considered. Since, we have “lived our lives out loud” as Larry often says.