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Friday, July 1, 2011

Walking Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Last year one of my hubby's high school friends from Canada and her husband came to stay with us for a few days. We took them over the Golden Gate Bridge meaning we drove them in a car across the bridge, went under the highway and up the side of a big hill to the Marin headlands to take this picture. It was cool. I'd never been to the Marin headlands before. I'd only seen them on tv.

How to get there: From HWY 101 North take Exit 422 to Alexandar Avenue to Conzelman Road. You can't miss the vista lookout. A short hike on a path and you can take a photo just like the one above!

Last week we had more out of town guests, Chris and Cara. Chris also went to high school with my hubby. But this time instead just driving over the bridge I rode with them to San Francisco, we parked the car at the Vista Point Overlook on the Marin side and then we walked towards the center of the bridge.

Sounds easy enough right? LOL turns out it's not for the faint of heart or people, like me, who only ate a light breakfast. Walking the 1.7 mile bridge with a constant and strong wind requires a heartier breakfast than the one I had because the wind pretty much wiped me out. Described on a bridge sign as "gusty" it felt more like a "blow you to the ground if you don't throw your entire body weight against it at all times" kind of wind.

And this was a small hole in the sidewalk. Odd. It was probably about 3" in diameter and there were many spaced a short distance apart from each other as we walked the span.

On a whim I lowered my camera lens into a hole and snapped a shot. I thought the bay, shadows and girders looked pretty cool when I saw the photo.

I was glad to see there are emergency phones that offer crisis counseling on the bridge because sometimes people suffering from depression jump or consider jumping off the bridge. The phones may offer a last chance to talk to someone before a distraught person chooses suicide. If you ever find yourself suicidally depressed on the bridge I hope you will pick up the phone and talk to someone. Or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433 before heading out in the first place.

By the time we made it .85 miles (1366 meters) to the mid-span point I was so tired I felt kind of shaky and weak but success, that's San Francisco on a somewhat hazy morning from the middle of the bridge.

We had intended to drive up to the Marin headlands after our walking excursion but as it turned out I wasn't the only one who felt tired and hungry so we got back in their car and drove back to San Francisco.

Where to have lunch? We followed HWY 101 to Marina Blvd and just up ahead was Fort Mason, home of Greens the famous vegetarian restaurant that sits on the waterfront near the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I had the Pappardelle pasta with snap, snow and English peas, pine nuts, spring onions, green garlic, meyer lemon butter, chive blossoms and grana padano cheese in a very light cream sauce. And yes, I ate the whole thing. Every last noodle, pine nut, pea, shard of cheese and chive blossom.

For dessert we shared this Fresh Blueberry, Lemon Pudding Cake. Yes, it was as delicious as it looked!

The Golden Gate Bridge from a Pier at Fort Mason

If you want to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge my tips to make it as much fun as possible would be:
  1. Wear layers because it can be much more windy and colder crossing the bridge than on land
  2. Wear comfortable walking shoes. At 1.7 miles that's over three miles if you walk to one end and back
  3. If you wear a hat make sure it has a chin strap you can tighten or odds are your hat will end up in the SF Bay
  4. If you park on the SF (south) side of the bridge there is a fee to park and a gift center. If you park on the Marin (north) side of the bridge parking is free but you'll have to pay the $6 for cars bridge toll when you return back to San Francisco. Instructions about each option are here on About.com.
Also, it turns out there are all kinds of rules about what you can't do on the bridge:
  • Electric Bikes may be ridden but cannot be under power while on the bridge.
  • Small Scooters may not be ridden on the sidewalk in the power-on mode. They are allowed to be pushed or ridden across the sidewalk in the power-off mode only.
  • No Roller Blades
  • No Skateboards
  • No Roller Skates
  • No Pushcarts
  • No Wheelbarrows
  • No  Animals, including dogs and horses, which are being led, ridden or driven. The only exceptions are service animals, such as guide dogs, signal dogs and service dogs

Currently (as of June 2011) the West Sidewalk is closed due to seismic retrofitting construction work through September 2011 so for the summer, cyclists and pedestrians must share the East Sidewalk.

More San Francisco Tourism Suggestions:

My First Trip to Alcatraz Island
The California Academy of Sciences

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