I’ve wished to walk on the iconic Golden Gate Bridge that spans the Bay to connect Marin County to San Francisco, but it was unlikely to happen. For about ten months of the year, the bridge is socked in with fog for hours, and as we rarely go to San Francisco, we could not plan on doing it.
However, earlier this week, we took a two-night trip to the City, and as promised in travel books, October is often fog-free there, the weather warm and sunny. It was a wish come true; we got to walk the Bridge!
The Golden Gate the “most photographed man-made structure in the world,” was built during the Depression era, l933-1937, through the marvel of civil engineering. There is a plaque commemorating the names of visionary persons and counties that participated in planning and building it at a cost of $38 million and done in four years. (The 75th anniversary was celebrated in 2012.)
Although the bond and interest were paid by 1971 with toll charges, to continue to pay maintenance costs, vehicles driving into San Francisco still pay a toll. It now costs $6 and no longer does traffic slow down at the toll plaza to pay, but payment is done via Fast Track passes or bills sent after a photo of each vehicle’s license plate is registered.
On the morning of our walk, we drove north on the bride from the City to the scenic overlook where parking is free. A statue of a Coast Guardsman stands at the circle, and restrooms are provided for persons planning to do the bridge walk or sightseers to enjoy the panoramic view of the Bay Bridge, parts of San Francisco’s Marina and Financial districts, Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz and Angel Islands.
Because it was a warm, practically windless day,the skies blue and cloudless, the rather narrow walkway was crowded more with cyclists than pedestrians. WE could walk at our own pace and stop to lean on the railings to admire the view or take pictures of the scenery. We waved to tourists on tour boats.
There was no graffiti, but some persons had scratched initials and symbols on the railings. But maintenance workers who paint the bridge year-round will eventually cover markings to keep the bridge looking bright and orange.
A small annoyance was the cyclists who rode in the pedestrian lane, not heeding the symbols painted on the pavement indicating where pedestrians and cyclists belonged. Luckily, there were no collisions.
Although there was no swaying or shaking of the bridge as we walked, the din of the hundreds of vehicles driving swiftly by was deafening.
When a pickup pulling an empty trailer passed, it’s rattle went BUMPTY BUMP! We wished we had earplugs; ear muffs would’ve been perfect.
At each of the towers there were emergency telephones and signs reading, “THERE IS HOPE. JUMPING FROM THE BRIDGE IS FATAL AND HAS TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES.” The bridge is a magnet for suicides and statistics report an annual average of thirty who jump to their deaths. Suicides occurring unwitnessed during the dark of night are not counted.
WE are proud we walked the round trip of about three miles, an easy stroll, and I silently dedicated it to the memory of my father who wished he could but did not have the opportunity to do it.
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