31 May 2008

Good Vibrations (of the slightly scary variety)

The Golden Gate Bridge is 8,981 feet across, and you really have to walk it to get a feel for how enormous it is.

When you do, the giant red structure, which seems more like artwork than engineering from afar, becomes a real working, moving, imperfect thing. You notice scratches and big dull spots in the "International Orange" paint. You hear the roar of traffic.

And, most of all, you feel the vibrations. The road is suspended from cables, and those cables vibrate "like piano strings," as one passer-by put it. No shock, really, since the bridge is built to handle 27.7 feet of sway in the case of an earthquake or disaster.

(some info for post came from National Geographic travel guide to San Fran ... which I highly recommend)

Bark! (get off my stinkin dock)

SAN FRAN -- At Pier 39 in San Francisco, you'll find a whole gaggle (or whatever) of sea lions. They bark at tourists and each other as they slide around looking for resting space on the pier. They're quite social, and snuggle on top of each other in piles. The sea lions come and go on their own, and, according to a sign in the area, the pier's owners actually abandoned a section of docks since it's become such a social gathering spot for the animals.

We stood by the pier for 20 minutes or so just watching the sea lions shove each other around. They have very different personalities. The fat males (you can tell they're males by the lumps on their foreheads) seem grumpy and territorial. Smaller, fuzzier sea lions stayed far away from the aggressors, content to sleep like sardines in a row.

I would have been one of the lazy sea lions. I mean, the whole point of the stop is to rest and chill out ... no need for all that alpha male drama.