(The third day after surgery is often hard since the meds from the hospital tend to wear off. I am okay as far as pain goes. I am having a more difficult time emotionally. It bugs me that I am essentially disabled another six weeks since I am on bending and lifting restrictions. I know I have to follow the restrictions. It just bothered me today. Here is one of my posts from last summer.)
I love bridges. I marvel at the engineering behind their construction. I don’t have an engineering mind. I can read about their physics and the logistics, but that does not make me think I could design or build a bridge.
The Blue Ridge Parkway has two of my favorite bridges.
I love how the Linn Cove Viaduct seems to float over the base of Grandfather Mountain.
I love how the bridge over Highway 421 south of Boone frames the scenes beyond the bridge.
I cross at least one bridge almost every day. It does not have the beauty of the Linn Cove Viaduct or the Blue Ridge Parkway Highway 421 Bridge, but it is functional. I could not make it to or from town without that bridge.
My favorite bridges are those that cross over water, especially large bodies of water. Two of the most beautiful are cable span bridges.
The Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge crosses the Savannah River from South Carolina into Georgia.
The Arthur Ravenel Bridge crosses the Cooper River into Charleston.
This Swing Bridge in Beaufort, South Carolina, is one of the most unusual bridges to see in action.
The bridge in the background of this photo crosses Skull Creek and takes me to one of my favorite places – Hilton Head Island.
With its hills, valleys, rivers, and sounds, it is almost impossible to drive twenty miles anywhere in North Carolina without crossing a bridge. Given my love for coastal North Carolina, most of those drives take me across multiple bridges en route to my destination.
In the Wilmington area, there are several opportunities to cross the Cape Fear River.
The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge has a love/hate relationship with motorists. It is one of the busiest bridges. Careless drivers shut down this bridge on a regular basis when they wreck. The Snow’s Cut Bridge to Carolina Beach is one that I have crossed over one hundred times. A few years ago on a rainy Christmas eve, a soon-to-be engaged man lost control of his truck and plummeted to his death in the Intercostal Waterway below. The engagement ring was recovered from his truck.
I don’t dwell on those accidents, but crossing a bridge requires several acts of faith. There is faith in the original design and construction of the bridge. There is faith in its continued maintenance and structural integrity.
That faith was tested one summer while crossing the Lindsey C. Warren Bridge over the Alligator River. I was about two miles over the river when this stop light greeted me. I felt the bridge swaying in the strong river currents those fifteen minutes while I waited for the light to turn green. When I finally drove past the short section that was being repaired, I was thankful for those workers and especially grateful that I was not one of them suspended over the river.
The next long bridge on that trip is my favorite – the five-mile long Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge.
I feel like I am ready to take flight as I enter the west end of this bridge.
The seagulls often fly along side, reminding me of who is really in flight.
The anticipation builds as I approach and finally cross the crest of this bridge.
Each descent reminds me that I am closer to my goal – Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks beyond.
There are smaller bridges once I reach Roanoke Island.
They remind me that small things often lead to great treasures.
The drive from Roanoke Island takes me to my second most favorite bridge – the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet that leads to Hatteras Island.
Ironically, this is one of the most structurally unsound bridges in North Carolina.
Originally built to last thirty years, it is close to doubling its effective life. On a scale from one to one hundred, its safety rating as been as low as a two.
It is so significant to life, tourism, and economic development that North Carolina spends millions of dollars each year stretching the life of this bridge while plans for its replacement plod slowly along.
My sister called me last year to say that she and her husband planned to visit North Carolina. I looked forward to being their tour guide. I imagined time at the coast, where they would see a life that is foreign to their life in central Utah. My sister knows me well and that is when she shared something I did not know – she has a huge fear of bridges, especially those that cross over water. We needed to stay away from the coast.
I was disappointed.
I had hoped to share the beauty of the Carolina coast and the majesty of its tall lighthouses..
I wanted her to experience the lives of these people.
I wanted her to live the history of these islands. But I knew and loved my sister enough that I needed to respect her request, and so we stayed inland, hundreds of miles from the coast.
We had to cross some bridges during our tour of central and western North Carolina. But my sister had faith, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes when necessary.
There was one bridge that she wanted to see and wanted to cross – the historic Pisgah Covered Bridge that is just a few miles from my home.
My sister reciprocated that respect and love when I came out to her earlier this year. It was news that she did not expect, yet she had confidence that I was on the path that I felt was right for me. She trusts me to cross the bridges as I move forward in my life.
We cross bridges every day, physically as we travel and metaphorically in our minds. I love both kinds of bridges. They take faith to cross, especially when we do not see the end.