Saturday, March 28, 2015

Golden Gate Bridge

Morning sun in Menlo Park. It's sweet to wake up every morning to another sunny day-the delight slightly tinged with anxiety about the fact that it isn't a day with much-needed rain.

We drove up I-280 and Highway 1 through San Francisco to Golden Gate Bridge. There's parking at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, where we left the car about 11:00 a.m., walked to the south end, got a small lunch, and walked back.

Fog hanging in the hills of the San Francisco State Fish and Game Refuge along I-280.

Highway 1 follows 19th Street north through the city to Golden Gate bridge. The row houses, each one different, for miles along the street are what I think of when I imagine San Francisco.

A glimpse of  the Bay from Golden Gate Park (we have never spent enough time here; always someone to see elsewhere in the city).

Fog shrouding the bridge as we headed north to the parking area on the Marin side.

Fog looking east toward the city.

We took a photo of a couple and their daughter, at their request, and they in turn took this one of us. The man works in Fairbanks often, so we compared notes briefly on the weather there.

A movable steel maintenance platform that runs on rails on the outside of the bridge.

Looking up, to the top of one of the towers.

A memorial plaque at the south end of the bridge. Perhaps at the time that the bridge was built, Marin was considered "nowhere" by some, and maybe people thought that it was foolish to build a bridge to get there?? Building bridges to nowhere is a sizable issue in Alaska politics.

A calla lily in the garden at the south end of the bridge.

We thought that this spooky-eyed bird in the visitors' area was a starling, but it is actually a Common Grackle.

The Visitors' Center had a few relics of the bridge-building days, including this raffle ticket.

A view of the bridge from the south end. I, for one, was very hungry by the time we reached the south end of the bridge, but found that the cafe was closed. The little convenience food place specialized in "C"s -- Coke, chocolate, chips and cookies -- so I ate chips and nuts that we'd brought along for sustenance.

Amid all of the dignified and straightforward memorials associated with the bridge is this one, put up in 2010  [wikipedia entry:] by a "drinking historical society."

We started out return trip, and took more photos of the surfers catching waves,

the greatly increased numbers of small sailboats on the Bay (an hour earlier there were two),

the fog lifting over the city,

the Matson container ship sailing under the bridge,

the pair of double-masted boats coming out of the marina (looking like something out of a fairy tale), and

the love-remembering padlocks on the fence near the end of the bridge.

At several points along the way were telephones, with reminders of a more somber side of the bridge. I don't mean to make light of the message, but the wording seems cumbersome: "The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic." Is someone who is maybe not thinking clearly going to process that? I spent some time trying to locate information about the use and effectiveness of the phone system, but found none.

Looking south along the bridge.

Our home for the night is the Marin Lodge in San Rafael, a charming, spacious, well-appointed room for the rock-bottom price of about $106 (with the 14% California tax). If you get a chance, it's worth staying at.

Later we drove at a very slow rate from San Rafael to Petaluma to meet more California cousins for dinner. We were due for some crawling traffic -- else how would know we were really in this state? Luckily, Marin and Sonoma counties are exceptionally scenic.

Petaluma bills itself as a town preserved from the worst effects of the 1906 earthquake and fire. As a result, it still has Victorian houses and buildings in greater quantity than other parts of the area It also has a river, that it is now starting to take advantage of, cobblestoned alleys, and many antique stores and boutiques.

An old bridge over the Petaluma River.

Nearing the end of the spring flowering season, and it's only late March.

Cousins at dinner: Rafael Flores Jimeno, Jim and Teri Carns,Terry and Nick Gibbens, and Rory Gibbens Flores.

Clear skies mean moon and stars. The moon at 6:00 p.m. (the time stamp is still on Alaska time). As we drove back to San Rafael (in a different traffic jam for the first third of the trip), the moon was higher in the night sky, just above Orion, and a few dozen other stars.

A last view of surfers below the Golden Gate Bridge.

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