Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Golden Gate Bridge

As I mentioned in my last post, I was so sore when I woke up on Friday morning, I almost blew off my plans to walk the Golden Gate Bridge.  Almost. 

From the south (city side) vista point.  The bridge was started on January 5, 1933 and was completed on May 28, 1937.  I walked the bridge on May 25, 2012.  The color is called International Orange and was selected to blend in with the surrounding area.  There were more than 2000 lawsuits filed to block the building of the bridge.  Apparently, some were concerned it might hurt their property value.

Before leaving for San Francisco I found an online scavenger hunt by Mastermind Treasure Hunts.  I am determined to complete it.  However, I am due at the airport by lunch so this endeavor requires an early start.  I leave my hotel at 6:30 am.

I have been to the vista points on both sides of the bridge in the past but when I arrive at the one on the city side, I cannot park.  They are preparing for the bridge's 75th anniversary party which will happen over the weekend.

There are lots of sprucing-up efforts.  This bed was being planted while I took this picture (off to the left of the image).  The party is one day away so I guess they want it to look really fresh.  There are workers all over:  setting up a podium and seating area, cleaning, planting and more crews on the bridge doing I have no idea what.

I go across the bridge (assuring I will pay the toll to come back when I head to the airport) and park in the north parking lot, where at this time of the morning, parking is plentiful.

The distance from vista point to vista point is 1.7 miles (each way).  I didn't know until I read it later that you can't walk on the west side of the bridge.

I am not sure how you would get over there anyway.  Traffic is always flowing fast and heavy and there is no pedestrian bridge, crosswalk or anything else to get you across.

The first thing I notice as I start across is that there are a lot of signs.  Some of these will contain answers to the hunt so I photographed them to be safe.  Fortunately the hunt includes a map that gives you an idea of where to look for the various clues.

There are a few things on here that I don't understand.  Chiefly among them is why the sun is wearing sunglasses.  I can assure you that the bicyclists completely ignore the advice to "walk bikes across the bridge". 

Not only do they not walk them, if you are walking you are in danger of being run over by some of them.

Bikes have a dedicated lane.  So do men in suits wearing fedoras walking with young girls.

Since the fedora-clad men obviously hold the hands of small girls on the bridge, only the women need to be reminded not to leave children unattended. 

Injury to the bridge is a crime.  Injury to unattended children was not addressed nor was defacement of this sign.  Is it considered part of the bridge?

It is also a crime to drop a missile from the bridge.  I am woefully lacking in missiles on this trip.  I did commit a crime the last time I was in San Francisco.  More on that in my next post.

The rules for Pedestrians and Cyclists.  I suspect few people read this.  Also, it was only posted on the south side, I started on the north.

The bridge is famous as a favorite destination for suicide jumpers.  I read various stories on the Internet about the number of jumpers (this number varied greatly from 1200 to over 2000).  The first happened 10 weeks after the bridge opened.  In 2011, there were 37 jumpers.  Some of the bodies are never found.  Those who survive the jump (it happens) usually drown or die of hypothermia. 

This chain-link fence with barb-wire top doesn't go very far.  The rail isn't very high, about hip high in most places.  It would not be difficult to climb.

There are several call boxes and alarms along the bridge. 

Because the consequences of jumping are (almost always) fatal but more important...are tragic.

The drop to the water is between 220 and 245 feet (depending on the source).  There is only this small area sticking out on the other side of the rail.  Not much to clear with your jump.  It takes about 4 seconds after jumping to hit the very cold water below.

I read a story in Time about a man who jumped and survived.  He answered one of my questions:  What does a person think right after jumping?  He said he immediately thought, "I don't want to die". Four seconds is not a long time but it is probably an eternity to the jumper.  Definitely time to have second thoughts.  One article said that of the hundreds that have jumped only about two dozen have survived (the jump, drowning, freezing, broken neck/back, massive internal damage). 

The push to have a suicide barrier comes up over time.  One idea is to have a net but some opponents wonder what would stop the person from climbing out of the net.  They also don't want to spoil the view and you never know, it could hurt property values.  The view really is spectacular.

The people who created the hunt mentioned on their website that it might be best to do the hunt after the anniversary party due to some areas being closed.  I did have some problems finding some of the answers.

I didn't find any of the items in the flag area.  I also know that one of my answers is wrong because you are supposed to take the letters in the numbered slots and put them on the second page to reveal 3 facts about the bridge.  I had a J in several places where it made no sense.

I was able to use all I ever learned from Wheel of Fortune to figure out the missing letters.  The facts are: 1)  When it was built the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world; 2) There are five foghorns on the bridge; 3) The US Navy wanted the bridge to be painted with black and yellow stripes for visibility.

Maybe that is why the statue at the Lone Sailor Memorial isn't looking at the bridge.  He didn't see it because it blended too well with the landscape instead of looking like a huge bumblebee.

When I completed the 1.7 mile walk from the north vista point to the south, I met with Joseph B Strauss, the chief engineer of the bridge.

I think he should have been looking out at what I can only assume was his greatest achievement.

When I looked over his head to the bridge, I had a thought about my achievement of walking the whole distance across.  It was, crap, now I have to walk all the way back.

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