In July, 2004 i discovered that Santiago Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge had just been opened in Redding, CA, so i drove up there, parked in the bridge lot on the south side, rolled the Segway out the back, and spent an hour taking pics, starting at the south bank.
Then i decided to go down underneath, which provided some entertainment to a bunch of guys drinking beer beneath an umbrella at a little table about fifteen yards from the dirt river embankment, along the edge of which I was rolling back and forth, looking for a route down that would combine the least possible slope with the minimum loose gravel, which was abundant.
Even at that distance, I could tell from those guys’ body language they were on my side. They were rooting for me. They wanted me to succeed. And somehow I also knew that, like me, they clearly understood that failure was a very real possibility and that if Fate (or lack of skill) so willed it, they wanted to be watching when the wipeout occurred and the Segway and I slid, perhaps even tumbling dramatically over and over each other, until finally we came to rest at the bottom and they could make their way cautiously down as the dust cleared and either render aid or, my being beyond aid, put me out of my misery and make off with the Segway.
So I picked my spot, eased over the edge…. and started losing traction immediately. So I had to increase my speed, limiting the increase as much as possible in hope of reaching the bottom in an upright position. Knuckles were white. My audience permitted itself a mild murmur of what I took to be approval when I finally came to a stop on the flat, dismounted, and took a few deep, thanksgiving breaths.
And then took a couple of underbelly shots, first looking across at the north shore.
And then straight up.
I was then ready to attempt the ascent back up the embankment. This time, of course, I needed to be going as fast as possible when I hit the incline so that I could decrease speed as I started losing traction. By the time I made it to the top, I was barely moving, and on the ascent I was no longer quite so sure that all of the observers were wishing me success since a loss of control near the top had such high entertainment potential. But i made it and went up on the bridge.
And then got carried away with arty shots.
Then over the bridge and down around the smooth concrete ramp beneath the other end, taking pics all along.
A side view from the east.
Another shot from the east taken on a brief visit in 2011.
And then a shot from underneath toward the south bank.
The glory of this bridge is that just about anywhere the camera happens to be pointing, you’re going to get a good shot. Actually, after seeing this bridge, the phrase “amazing grace” has new meaning for me. That bridge enraptures me. It just jumps in front of the camera and exposes itself.
Maybe next visit i’ll get a shot of the whole thing in one frame.
Note: José Miguel Hernández Hernández published a couple of my photos of this bridge in his 2007 book on Calatrava, Turning Torso.
Later note: One the the best things about this bridge is a superb news article about a proposal to add a second deck. Do read it.