An hour and a half drive north of Santa Cruz along the Pacific Coast Highway is perhaps the most beautiful and certainly the most photographed bridge in the world, the Golden Gate. We stopped in the Marin headlands to take a shot of this magnificent structure on our ride down the coast a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day so the photo doesn’t really capture all the surrounding beauty. The bridge was designed back in 1930′s by engineer Joseph Strauss to withstand brutal winds, surging tides and persistent fog. For his efforts Strauss received $1 million, a lifetime bridge pass and two backstage passes to a Grateful Dead concert.
The Golden Gate is the strait that connects San Francisco Bay to the ocean. It was given its name by Army Captain John C. Fremont in 1846 because it reminded him of a harbor in Instanbul named the Golden Horn. For many years the crossing of the strait was accomplished by a ferry running between San Francisco and Sausalito. When it was completed in 1937 the Golden Gate was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is currently the second longest in the US after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City.
Despite its red appearance, the color of the bridge is an orange vermilion called “international orange”. The color was selected by consulting architect Irving Morrow because it blends in well with the natural surroundings yet enhances the bridge’s visibility in the fog. If the US Navy had its way, the bridge might have been painted black and yellow to assure greater visibilty for passing ships. During construction, a safety net below the bridge saved the lives of 19 men who became known as the “Half-Way-to-Hell-Club.” Unfortunately, 11 missed the net.
Since its completion, the bridge has been closed five times due to windy conditions, the last being in 2005. In 1982 the wind was so severe that it set the bridge in visible motion. The Golden Gate is also notorious for suicides as there is an average of almost one suicide attempt every fifteen days. And just in case you were wondering, the fall takes only about four seconds and jumpers hit the water at 75 MPH.
On that happy thought, the second shot is a half hour drive south from the bridge along Highway 1 where the road winds thru the precarious Devil’s Slide. Then as we head south we see the lighthouse as Pigeon Point, low tide at Waddell Creek, the wildflowers at Scotts Creek and finally the Monterey Cypress trees on the cliffs of Davenport. This is one truly spectacular drive and for those of you who haven’t experienced it you’re in for a real treat.
So that’s it for today, next time we’ll discuss the Golden Rule, the Golden State Warriors and my favorite geometric structure in Southeast Asia, the Golden Triangle. And feel free to leave your comments on the bottom of these blogs. They cannot and will not be used against you in any court of law. Enjoy the cruise down the coast and have a great Monday.