A Bridge to Nowhere

I was at sixes and sevens late yesterday morning when a number of plans for the day failed to materialize. I idly brought up Google Earth on my laptop, using it to better acquaint myself with our relatively new environs. It awakened my curiosity about a long pedestrian bridge that ran across the 10-lane highway two miles away. With that focus in mind, I prepared for a bike ride, packing a sandwich, apple, and a water bottle. The temperature was still balmy for November. I had a purposeful feeling as I retrieved my bike from the locked storage room in the parking garage and set off.

I took a familiar route through the quiet streets of our suburban neighborhood, cutting through the grounds of the local middle and high school complex to reach a large local park. Wooton Mill Park abuts the bridge I was looking for. The park itself is a real delight of woods, playgrounds, a large community garden, and paved trails culminating at a fast-running creek. From there, the bridge was visible. I’d been intrigued by this bridge because I couldn’t determine its entry and exit points. I rode down Watts Branch road from the creek to near the intersection of Hurley Avenue and the busy Rt. 28. There it was, a quarter-mile long white bridge, about 20 feet high, unmarked, but open and well maintained.

I was the only one on the bridge as I pedaled up to the constant sound of whirring traffic below. Halfway across, I did pass a young woman pushing a child in a stroller and wondered where she could be going. As I passed over the multi-laned highway, the traffic noise became deafening. This part of the bridge was completely enclosed by a mesh metal fence, obviously designed to prevent suicides. The bridge terminates alongside an exit from the highway, which left me perplexed, until I saw two other bikers crossing Rt. 28 to get to the bridge entry where I was. After clarifying my whereabouts on GPS, I was ready to ride the bridge back.

It was satisfying to do this little act of exploration on my bicycle. I felt completely relaxed and present throughout the ride. I was in no particular hurry to get anywhere, and I took an alternate route back, exploring another large forested park further east on Rt.28 and then meandering through quiet neighborhoods in the Fallsgrove area until I reached the Fallsgrove shopping center, where I parked my bike at a table outside a Starbucks. I got a coffee and enjoyed my lunch outside there, reading a chapter in Lawrence Wright’s excellent book, “The Plague Year — America in the Age of Covid”.

As I was pedaling home later, waiting on a long traffic light, I noticed how calm and relaxed I felt. I’m usually at least somewhat impatient with long traffic lights. But as I stood there waiting on my bike yesterday, I noticed my complete surrender to the moment. It occurred to me that “waiting is not wasting time”.

The rest of the ride home through an unfamiliar neighborhood was a complete delight. That two-hour bicycle excursion was the highlight of my day.

John Bayerl, 11/11/22

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