Monday, May 16, 2011

An Icon of America Right in my Own Backyard.

The Most beautiful Bridge Ever Built
 The Golden Gate Bridge is only about 30 minutes away from my very own house. How Lucky am I?

The Approach to the Bridge

In the commission of my job I was sent across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin. I wasn't driving my own truck, but the vehicle of another employee- so I was a little nervous.
I made my way through the mean streets of San Francisco, which actually weren't so mean after all, and onto the Bridge.
It was amazing, it's tall orange spires rising above the road, the glittering city on my right, the chopping green bay below. The day was brilliant, no fog in sight which is weird for San Francisco.
I made it to Marin, and on the way back I was able to sneak my camera phone ( that trusty damn camera phone!) out of my bag and take a quick couple of pictures.
As I was marvelling at the construction, the style and the color of the Gold Gate Bridge I remembered the last time I had travelled across the Bridge.
It was in 1974.
1974, I lived in Santa Rosa going to school. One of my boyfriends and a couple of other friends decided to travel down to San Francisco, and tow a Volkswagen mini bus home. Yep, with a tow bar and chain.
We were eighteen - or so-.
As we travelled down the road, it was a pretty steep incline with a dog leg to the left, my boyfriend looks out his window and comments " Oh, look, there is a bus just like mine going past us."
We all looked over to the fast lane and fer sure there was an identical bus flying past us going about 80.
Then we looked behind us.....
only to discover that the bus that had passed us was the bus that we HAD been towing.
It was unoccupied, no driver and the wheel wasn't tied off or anything, so it continued past and when the road did that dog leg- the bus ran straight, right over the guard rail and down the small embankment.
To say we were shocked would be an understatement.
Yep, it sure would.
The girls and I hitched a ride back to Santa Rosa, and the boys stayed to pull the VW up out of the ditch.
I laugh today about that bright green and white bus flying past us!
And that ,my friends was the last time I had a chance to cross that bridge!
Why? Because I live in the East Bay and the Bridge is in the north Bay. I get into San Francisco by crossing the Bay Bridge, or going under the water in the BART Train.
So back to the Bridge.
It was completed in 1937 for 37 Million Dollars. The project was only 5 months later than the deadline and the came in under budget by a million and a half dollars. The Designer and architect was named Strauss and he received a Million Dollars for bringing the project in so well, as well as a free for life toll pass. I'd sure like to have that pass now- the toll to cross is $6.00
My husband's Grandfather Brooks came to America from England to help build this very bridge as well as the Bay Bridge that we travel over. Grandpa actually had to make his own tools to be a carpenter/mason in the early 1930's. One morning he actually fell from the Bay Bridge- fell thirty feet into the rocks and water. He wasn't a swimmer, but someone hauled him out of the water. Unfortunately his tools went into the drink with him and they were not recovered.
He went to work the next day using borrowed tools.

View from the Truck

 There have been many suicides that have jumped off the Bridge, but in the last two months two teenagers, at different times, have jumped off the bridge and survived! That is practically unheard of. The Bridge is not only high and wide, it crosses some of the most treacherous and cold waters known to man. If the drop don't kill ya, the cold or sharks or current probably will. Both kids were reported by surfers in the water ( can you say crazy?) and one surfer actually pulled the first young man onto his board until the Coast Guard got there. The second, the girl was pulled from the water within five minutes of her going in. Amazing.
The Bridge has a distinct color Orange and it is painted non stop. By time they finish it is time to begin again.
The Navey wanted to paint it yellow and black, so it would stand out in the fog!
The roadway has been expanded since 1937, but there are no physical barriers on the bridge- The lanes are change twice a day for the commute. See those little bitty markers on the left of the picture? Those are the lane markers, Cars whizz past you going 65- it's a trip! Luckily at noon when I was on the way back to SF the roads were a little less busy and I took these pictures.
The towers have an art deco look to them, and it fits with the semi goth scene of the Ancient Precedio all around it, especially the Military Cemetery.
I was also stuck by the feel of theNorth Beach neighborhoods. It looks and feels a lot like ever other beach town on the California Coast. The building have a glaring whitewashed look to them, the streets seem to be laid out in the same kind of way. Surfers still stand on the shore assessing waves. The air feels clear and salty- just as I like it.
So though I have been under the bridge several time in the last forty years,and flown over it once or twice. I wont let it be another thirty before I cross this beauty again.
Dangerous -yes.
Thrilling- Yes!
Worth seeing- YES!!!


Mikey said...

I've crossed that bridge in a VW bus too, lol. How crazy is that? Your photos bring back a ton of memories for me. We used to cross it to visit my grandparents in San Jose. I also lived in Santa Rosa (went to the Community College there) and I'd go down to the city quite a bit. Ahhh, such great crazy memories :)

Maia said...

Too Cool. Great story

Samantha said...

It has been 20-odd years since I've been on that bridge. Hard to make it a point from northern WV. ;)

Corinna said...

my parents are in Napa so I cross the bridge about every 2 weeks, and adore it every time! I have walked it once but have yet to fly over it like you- one day!

p.s. your VW story is ridiculous :)

best, Corinna