Day 603 OUT OF Beijing: The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco City Guides.

 

Don Tussey from City Guides San Francisco.

Dan Tussey from San Francisco City Guides teaches us about the cables built for the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Jill and I needed to get some pictures for SF Tourism Tips and wanted to take a San Francisco City Guides tour of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We hopped on the 7:11 commuter bus out of Petaluma and settled in for a relaxing ride to San Francisco.

It takes about 1 hour, depending on traffic, and the bus drops us off right at the tool booth on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We then walk underneath the bridge, through a tunnel, and over to the side that allows us to have amazing views of the San Francisco Bay.

We ended up getting there pretty early and decided to grab some coffee and talk with the staff about the Golden Gate Bridge, their jobs, and their dreams.

There were two men there and they both talked about how they will move out of San Francisco when they retire, as it has become quite expensive.  It is sad since they love their jobs but can’t really afford to live in San Francisco anymore.  They both stated that the best part of their job is being able to interact with people from all over the world and to make so many friends.

Both of them said they were probably going to end up overseas, in some place like Costa Rica or elsewhere, when we brought up we were planning on traveling there in about 6 months.

It is interesting to me how many people are talking about leaving San Francisco, because of the financial burden of living there, and where they are thinking of going and what they want in their lives as they make this change.

It seems as if a lot of people are being “forced” to make a change but are also quite excited about this change as it allows them to figure out what is really important to them and their dreams.

These are the kind of people we want to work with helping them figure this out when we debut our new website.

As 11 am arrived, we walked over to the Joseph Strauss statue (no relation to Levi Strauss of Levi pants fame) and noticed our guide was already there.  Dan Tussey was a very friendly, happy and welcoming person and probably the best person to introduce newcomers, and even locals like ourselves, to the Golden Gate Bridge.  He does 4 walking tours a month, one a week, and rotates the tours so that he does each one each month.  So, this was his once a month tour of the bridge.  He also does City Hall, the Gold Rush and one other.  The City Guides also don’t get paid so this is a very generous gift that he, and the other city guides, give back to this beautiful and magical city.  They do ask for a $5 donation, to keep City Guides running (with a paid staff of 2 people) which is more than fair.  We, of course, gave $10 for the two of us at the end of the tour.

 

 

About 15 people, from all over the world, ended up being on the tour with us and Dan told us historical facts that neither of us knew.  I’m not surprised I didn’t know them but I was surprised that Jill didn’t.  Her site is so well researched that she usually knows as much, if not more, than most the tours we go on at this point.  She did, however, give Dan a few new facts that he didn’t know because he hadn’t done the tour for over 2 months and things have changed since then.  One wouldn’t think that this bridge would have many changes in 2 months, but it does, and Jill and he had a great time discussing some of them as we walked around with the crowd.

We went out to the vista point and looked over the SF Bay.  It was a very windy, and for San Francisco, cold day but we did our best.  Since we are minimizing, I only have a fleece jacket at this point.  It is something that I will probably keep as long as possible because I earned it by completing the Hopi Reservation 100 mile challenge.  This is a challenge, to anyone that wants to join, to walk or run 100 miles over 4 months time.  There is a lot of diabetes issues on the Hopi Reservation and this is one way to help reduce it and encourage people to be more healthy.  I’ve had this fleece for about 6 years and I love it.  Luckily it was just warm enough to keep me from freezing.  And I rarely get cold so you can believe the wind was howling today on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We also walked over by the cable installation so Dan could show us how many cables were strung together to build the massive main cables that run all the way across the bridge.  In case you didn’t know, each of these two cables runs the whole way, without a break, across the bridge.  They go up to the top of each tower, and then drop back down to lock into the bases on either side of the bridge.  The main cable is about 3.5 feet wide and utterly impressive.

After that, we walked on to the bridge and up to the first tower.  Dan told us more about the bridge, including the number of people that have committed suicide, which is about 1,600 at this point, and that people usually commit suicide every 2 or 3 weeks by jumping off of it.  I saw a report that 2014 had about 1 a week commit suicide off of the bridge and no one knows why there has been an increase.  I won’t hazard a guess.

The bridge is truly a monument to beauty, and for some reason, one to suicide also.  I think the reason for that is it is so iconic and it is a pull for people to memorialize themselves and “fly away” to some place better.  They are going to put in a suicide barrier, at some point, and I’m glad that they will because studies show that iconic places, like the Golden Gate Bridge, do actually represent something special to people committing suicide and when they are stopped from doing it, they don’t use other means to kill themselves.  There really is something special about places like this and spending some money to save peoples’ lives is more than worth it.

As we walked back to the vista point, we talked more about the bridge and Jill, Dan and I talked about Jill’s site and we gave him a card to check it out.  He was incredibly sweet and said, “You should be tour guides” but after we told him about our idea to do this work from the beach, he agreed that we had a more interesting plan.

Last note: I highly recommend the City Guides of San Francisco Walking Tours to anyone that is visiting San Francisco.  I would definitely recommend finding a tour that Dan is running as he is an incredible tour leader and has a wealth of knowledge.

 

 

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