John & Anne Wiley

2013/02/05

Bridges

I like old railroad bridges. Some are truly magnificent, but even the more “ordinary” steel ones have a romance for me. The whole metaphor of a bridge as connecting people and places is of course powerful. Another factor for me is that when riding trains the best views are often in those brief moments when you’re on a bridge. Now that we fly, those fleeting bridge views pale in comparison with what we see for every moment of every flight. Even so, I now enjoy looking down at the bridges as we pass them.

2919 Western Bridge

2919 Western Bridge

This one’s close to Point Conception, near the Western end of the Santa Barbara coast where the rails turn toward the North and only a few people not riding Amtrak ever see it. Closer to home is this one still on the private ranch land where many mansions have been built in recent years.

2920 Lonely Bridge

2920 Lonely Bridge

Other than every train going to points North, and the few who drive this end of the private ranch to and from their homes, some surfers probably know this bridge best. The next one is more popular with them though, because we see cars parked here on most of our flights along that private coast.

2924 Surfer Bridge

2924 Surfer Bridge

There’s something very “California” about a surfer bridge. An iconic one of those is the longer railroad bridge across the public Gaviota Beach next to the popular pier below the bend in Highway 101.

 

2927 Gaviota Bridge

2927 Gaviota Bridge

Freight trains cross all these bridges of course, as beach campers on this coast well know from their late night rumbling passage. But I mostly think of the passenger trains with most people crowded on the South side gasping when the expansive views from beaches out to the island whip past on each bridge crossing.

2949 Amtrak Near Refugio

2949 Amtrak Near Refugio

We saw this one clickety clack along the water just East of Refugio beach and campground. Maybe some day I’ll get excited about train rides again, but for now I’d rather be flying looking down at them and back in time to memories over the years. The first I remember was going to San Diego as a small child and more thrilled by seeing the long curve to each end of the train at every gentle bend in the track, than by the bridge glimpses I enjoyed in later years. Trains are much shorter now, and made even smaller for me by this aerial perspective. Now it’s the bridges more than the trains, that capture my imagination.

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