Golden Gate Bridge in fog.

Golden Gate Bridge

This visit to SF has been more or less idyllic. Yesterday I was lying down in the grass in Dolores park, listening to the cacophony of other people’s personal speakers all blending together, having a picnic lunch with friends, thinking about the ways we could spend out afternoon. I was lazy, the sun was warm, my sandwich and beer were delicious. It was very easy to imagine napping the day away. Instead, knowing it was my last full vacation day and I would be happier later if I used it to the fullest, I found motivation to lace up my sneakers and join Husband and Boyfriend for a long and beautiful bike ride.

We had talked a little about riding over the Golden Gate Bridge, something that appealed to me but that I had no idea about. Didn’t know how long it was, what kind of ride I was in for, nothing. H led us a pleasant winding route though the Haight, the panhandle and Golden Gate Park. We stopped briefly in the park to walk through the public rose garden, where dozens of varieties of multicolored flowers were either in peak bloom or just past it, each with their own subtly unique fragrance. Just East of the rose garden was a small valley surrounded by enormous trees, also fragrant, and impressive. We watched a man playing fetch with his majestic, happy dog for a moment, then continued our ride.

The park is relatively flat but the lead-up to the bridge becomes very steep, very quickly. By the time we reached this dramatic incline, I was feeling very worked out already and walked, pushing my bike part of the way to catch my breath. H, having more SF biking experience than I have, didn’t seem to break a sweat. Walking was just fine, though, and I took my fill of misty photos of the views of the city, the water, and the bridge in the ever-shortening distance.

The bridge itself is perhaps a mile and a half long, and an easy ride. The Brooklyn Bridge is a nasty uphill climb by comparison, but the GG is pleasant and easy, if extremely windy. The wind was whipping so hard that around the midpoint of the bridge, I struggled to stay upright on my bike at times, and when I stopped to take a photo the wind was actually raking tears from my eyes. The ride back down was exhilarating and wonderful.

On our slightly less meandering route back home, we stopped to explore the Palace of Fine Arts, the enormous column decorated dome structure, originally built for the World’s Fair in 1915. Situated on an artificially enlarged and landscaped lagoon, populated by many ducks and gulls, a pair of gigantic white swans, and many picture-snapping tourists, the structure and grounds cover a 17 acre area in the Marina District. This charming fake Beaux-Arts monstrosity looks as though it were a fantasy book cover or Romantic landscape painting come to life.

With all of our starts, stops, twists and scenic routs, we estimated about 16 miles of biking for the day: a final vacation day and July 4th well spent.

I went to bed for the night considering a thought that I often return to for motivation: the difference between people who do interesting things and people who don’t is simple. The former group says, Yeah, ok, let’s try that, and the latter group says, Eh, it sounds like a lot of trouble.

Usually it is a lot of trouble. That’s the point. I think that’s why I do a lot of what I do because usually I’m so happy at the end, whatever it was.

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