Remember seeing some postcards of idyllic beaches or mountain lakes or the grandeur of Yosemite Falls? You sigh wistfully wishing yourself there, sipping your gin and tonic in the vacation of your dreams. And then, fate willing, you find yourself in the exact spot where that picture postcard was taken. And then—too late—you realize you’ve been duped.
The pristine postcard beach didn’t communicate the fact that it’s 105 degrees and humid and the beach is jam packed with tourists like you, except they’re playing loud bad music on the blanket two feet away from you. And there are shark-warning signs and biting flies. The tranquil postcard lake neglected to mention the swarms of mosquitoes, the jet skiers and that the sun in the photo has been hidden by five straight days of rain. Yosemite Falls is magnificent, but you forgot that you’d be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for three hours to get there and by then, you’re so exhausted that you snap a quick photo and head for the overpriced park hotel.
And so a few days ago, I had the romantic notion that it would be lovely to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, thinking it would be a nice change of pace from my neighborhood walks and Golden Gate Park bike rides. I looked forward to the inviting expanses of the water on both sides, the view of the city, the fresh ocean breeze. I was ready to enter into the picture postcard of that symbol of my beloved city, tall, majestic, inviting. And then, once again, I realized that I had been duped.
Because though the views are indeed lovely and the waters shimmering and the boats and skylines picturesque, I forgot about one thing. The traffic! As you’re walking across, you realize that you’re four feet away from a steady stream of cars hurtling by at 60 miles an hour. Pretty much like walking on a freeway. The assault of the sound of traffic is anything but relaxing. Then, of course, the bikers are whizzing by you so you have to be constantly on the alert and while for some weird reason I like that the rail is low, I can’t help but think of the people who have jumped off, two of whom I knew.
So after walking to the first tower, I turned around and decided to walk to Fort Point down below instead. And that was indeed refreshing.
So the moral of the story? Beware the Postcard! Remember everything it doesn’t show.