Wordless Wednesday: Bridges

Wilson Bridge

Bay Bridge

Bridge over Venice

Tower Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Must capture bridges everywhere I go!

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More than we bargained for on the Golden Gate Bridge

Some things in life just have to be enjoyed twice.

Whether we want to or not.

When Spencer and I began planning our trip to California, one option on the intinerary really stood out to me: a chance to walk the Golden Gate Bridge, the enduring and universal symbol of San Francisco. The city itself has great significance to my family, what with my dad falling in love with S.F. after a school trip there in the 1970s, and my parents honeymooning there years later. We visited twice as I was growing up, but I hadn’t returned to the City by the Bay in almost a decade.

Needless to say, I wanted to cram in as much as possible.

Our Trafalgar tour had us traveling from Sausalito across the bridge, getting a sense of what it feels like to drive it. (Awesome — “Full House”-style!) When Spencer and I hopped off our tour bus, the plan was to walk the 1.7 miles end to end and be picked up on the other side. Our driver was going to wait there and transport us back to the hotel.

Having our orders, we set off. The bridge was filled with families and joggers, many there to celebrate the Golden Gate’s 75th birthday on Memorial Day weekend. Though our faces were soon windburned and my feet began to scream, we took in the view of downtown San Francisco, snapped lots of photos, avoided kamikaze bicyclists and eventually made it to the other side. After a brisk 45 minutes, the stairs to the visitors center were an oasis in the desert. We’d made it!

Sort of.

Our tour director, Patsy, caught me first. Her eyes were wild, nervous. She gripped my arm. “Don’t panic,” she shouted, “but we’re stranded.”

The word should have sent me into overdrive. “Stranded” is not something you want to hear after a windy 1.7-mile trek. But I was on vacation and, you know, for once in my life? I didn’t feel like panicking. I didn’t want to be high-strung. I wanted to bask in the knowledge that everything would work out somehow or other, and I wasn’t responsible for fixing any of it.

That was poor Patsy’s job.

Four of our 26 tour members had decided to take the walk. When Phil and John caught up to Spencer and me, Patsy paced around trying to decide what to do. Police had closed off the rest area where the bus planned to pick us up. Despite officers’ warnings, Patsy had jumped off the bus to help us get back to safety. No one knew what was going on. Rumors spread of a “suspicious package” on the bridge; others mumbled about there being too many pedestrians, or the winds being too fierce. Regardless, we had two options: walk a few miles to Sausalito, where we could catch a ferry to Pier 39, or turn around and walk another 1.7 miles back where we’d started. Another bus would grab us.

We turned around.

Working off some of our heavy vacation meals, Phil and John didn’t seem to mind the extra chance to take in the view and get some fresh air. Spencer was fine with it, too, snapping photos and pulling me along by one hand. I focused on taking step after step, ignoring that ugly number — 3.4 miles — just on the edge of my consciousness. Poor Patsy looked near tears, but we had no choice: it was hoof it back or be stuck near Sausalito forever.

Not that that would be a problem. I mean, have you seen that place?

We made it back, of course. Frazzled and frizzy-haired and wind-blown, yes, but we arrived — and another bus was waiting where we started the whole madcap adventure.

And since I’d managed to burn off an unexpected number of calories that day, I didn’t mind chowing down in Chinatown. Which I did . . . heartily. Eating my weight in stir fry and fortune cookies. And I slept so deeply that night, I wouldn’t have stirred if you had moved our hotel on the Golden Gate Bridge.

I left my heart in San Francisco — and Yosemite

Okay — who doesn’t leave their heart in San Francisco?

Jet lag is currently holding me hostage, but we’re home. A week of fun and food and laughter and memories — and too many amazing, phenomenal places to mention. Yosemite completely stole my breath, and I’m already scheming of ways to make it back there someday. I loved the park so much that I’d wager half my heart is in San Francisco, and the other part is near Bridalveil Fall.

To be honest, I’m a little sad to be home. I wasn’t ready to leave. Usually my vacations stretch on so long that I’m desperate to get back to my computer, desk and “normal” life. I’m very happy to see my family again, of course — I missed them — but really enjoyed spending so much time with Spencer, neither of us busy or distracted. It took getting away for me to realize how overextended I feel — both at work and in my personal life. I made a vow to remember the quiet moments of our trip in my more stressful ones and find a way to keep a little of that serenity with me.

When I was in the UK last spring, I waxed philosophical about how difficult it was for me to disconnect from technology for a few weeks. I missed my phone terribly, irked beyond belief that I couldn’t keep in constant contact with Spencer. I fretted about not checking my email or keeping up with Twitter. I wondered what was happening in the blog world and checked local news abroad.

In California this year, the reverse was true — I was irked to be connected with the ol’ iPhone, though I loved snapping photos to share with family and friends on the go. I didn’t want to think about work or other obligations. I didn’t want to worry about any of my normal nonsense . . . in short, I wanted to truly be on vacation. And I guess that’s why it’s difficult for me now, being home, since I intentionally pushed all my usual worries into the “to be dealt with later” category. And later is now.

I’m sure everyone feels this way. Being away is such a rush — it’s euphoria, really. I needed the break and didn’t realize how much I desperately wanted time away with my boyfriend — seeing new things, photographing everything, eating All the Food in California — to rejuvenate.

So now I’m back! I missed you crazy kids, but I think I’m a better Meg after my journey 3,000 miles west. And I have stories, friends — lots of them. They’re on the way.

P.S.: Today is write meg!’s fourth birthday! Thank you all for your kind words, comments, support and friendship over the years. I love talking books and life with all of you — and here’s to four more.