Spanning seven urban bridges, 1 – 3

One of my very favorite things to do is to get out and walk. I enjoy walking for exercise either by myself or with a friend. I love to walk the hills of my neighborhood, or go down to the bay and walk along the shore, or up to the local mountains and hike the trails. I also enjoy walking as a way to discover hidden gems in unfamiliar places. Walking allows me to see the small details I would miss if I was in a car, or even on a bike. When I’m not trying to raise my heart rate, the less hurried pace allows me to observe my surroundings and to stop and take a closer look or snap a picture.

A while ago, I read about an urban hike in our city called the Seven Bridge Walk and was intrigued. The hike is about 5.5 miles long and meanders through several older neighborhoods and crosses over a mix of historic and newer bridges. The walk sounded like the perfect combination of exercise, sightseeing, and  a bit of history, so I filed it away as something to do in the spring.

Finally, last Tuesday, my husband and I decided it was the perfect day to put on our walking sandals and go.

This was the trunk of a very strange tree.
This was the trunk of a very strange tree.

The route begins on the east side of Balboa Park, near the succulent and cactus gardens. After spending some time playing in looking at the plants, we crossed the first – and shortest – of the seven bridges.

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This concrete walking bridge was built fairly recently to provide safe passage over a busy street. The bridge has a graceful design and it was a nice way to enter Balboa Park, San Diego’s jewel and the nation’s largest urban cultural park (which deserves—and will get—its own, separate post).

Cabrillo_Bridge

Continuing west along El Prado through the middle of the park, we reached the majestic Cabrillo Bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1914 and is the first multiple-arched cantilever bridge built in California. Although Cabrillo Bridge originally spanned a small lake, cars traveling on State Route 163 now pass underneath its arches.

You can see a downtown high rise, San Diego Bay, and the end of Point Loma off in the distance.

After a few zigs and zags and several stops to take pictures, we reached the third bridge on our walk. Built in 1931, the First Street Bridge is the only steel-arch bridge in the city. It was built in a fabrication plant in the Midwest, dismantled, and then shipped to San Diego to be assembled again.

Come along to see the remaining bridges on our walk in my Spanning seven urban bridges, 4 – 7 post next week.

A Backward Glance at 2014, Part 1

Although I don’t have a tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, I think it can be helpful to take stock of the year gone by and look for ways to do more of what worked and improve on what didn’t.

2014 was a year of big changes for me because on May 16, I made the leap into retirement. Some of the changes I experienced were predictable, but some took me by surprise. I’m happy to report that most were positive, but some… not so much.

Here’s how I think I did in a few categories (more in my next post):

Embracing Retirement – A+

It's hard to predict what is around the retirement corner
It’s hard to predict what is around the retirement corner

No one can predict how well they will take to a life change as major as retirement. I remember approaching the date with a mix of excitement and trepidation. I was grateful that I had the opportunity at a fairly young age, and I looked forward to joining my husband who retired two years previously.  On the other hand, I had a good job, an almost non-existent commute, and work friends that I enjoyed and knew I would miss. My fear was that I would wake up one morning and realize that I had made a terrible – and irreversible – choice.

I know now that I had nothing to fear. I wake up every day thankful that I don’t have to go to work. I stay in touch with several of my work friends and none of our conversations that are about work make me want to dive in again.

Diet and Exercise – C

I really had every intention of putting together an exercise program and sticking to it. Nothing crazy or too time-consuming; I wanted consistent and semi-challenging. Even just walking my three-mile, hilly course around our neighborhood would have been a great start. I envisioned taking up yoga.

That didn’t happen.

The worst part is that I have no excuse. Weather – too hot or cold – is seldom a barrier in Southern California and I actually enjoy exercising once I get started. It’s the getting started that has been the problem. I’m fortunate to be in pretty good shape despite my lethargy but I know I can’t rely on my good genes forever.

Fortunately, I have been successful in keeping my weight in my target range. I was concerned that being at home with the refrigerator just a few steps away would be my undoing. Although the temptations are plenty and my husband and I go out to lunch more often than we probably should, we manage to eat fairly healthily. In addition, I continue to follow the Fast Diet, a way of eating based on intermittent fasting. After learning about Dr. Mosley’s research on a PBS program almost two years ago I lost the weight I wanted to, and have kept it off without feeling deprived. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

Travel – A

Birds of a feather in Abilene
Birds of a feather in Abilene

A couple of months before I retired I went on a two-week cross-country road trip with a friend. She had made this trip many times alone, traveling between her home in Pennsylvania and Southern California, but this time I decided to tag along. It was great fun and I saw many parts of the country I hadn’t seen before.

In June, my husband and I traveled to Northern California for a three-week adventure that included car club activities and visits with both sides of our family. It was the first time we’ve vacationed that a work schedule didn’t force us to come home earlier than we wanted.

In the fall, we took off for a three-week trip to the big island, Hawaii. We were fortunate to have a very generous friend who opened her home to us for the entire time. Staying in someone’s home and having the luxury of time made the trip very special. Not only was our host an excellent tour guide, we didn’t feel that we had to choose between snorkeling, relaxing, and sight-seeing – we could do it all.

 

In my next post, I’ll look at several other retirement goals I have and assess my efforts and outcomes for those.