The Golden Gate Bridge is at once grand and understated, contemporary and timeless, visually stunning and aesthetically settled into its surroundings. It is a beacon of architectural mastery linking the metropolis of San Francisco with the grace and grandeur of the northern California coast.
I don’t know why I felt a compulsive urge to walk the famed span. It just seemed fitting, like climbing the Statue of Liberty’s torch when touring the Big Apple. I even managed to photograph our horse and cart (Honda Element and 1969 Shasta travel trailer) as my wife drove them across the waterway (an unnecessary but gratifying piece of evidence that we did indeed make the journey about which I have been verbosely pontificating here on the BlinkPacking blog).
Once north of the orangish-red suspended structure, the landscape transforms from hilly metroplex to soaring skyscape, with craggy, coniferous cliff faces cascading into the jewel-toned Pacific Ocean. As harrowing as it was to careen our beloved trailer around the sinewy hairpins of this dramatic locale (known as the Marin Highlands) the reward of unparalleled mountaintop vistas was almost enough to ease the throbbing in my blood-starved white knuckles.
Around two miles before the road makes its first switchback into Muir Woods and the national protected seashore, a dusty Arco service station came into range. The last bastion of gasoline before miles of grand nothingness, everyone passing through Marin County makes a stop at this bustling corner of California 1 for a quick fill-up.
Cars were queued up five and six deep at each of the four pumps, overflowing into the intersection and causing Manhattan-worthy gridlock to clog the one-lane thoroughfares. With just over a quarter tank, we knew this was our moment, so we joined the throngs and pulled into the station.
Our trailer sideswiped a small yellow pillar, placed there to protect a streetlight from people like us. The metal-on-metal screech sent a tremor down my spine and left a hollow in my stomach. Daunting questions loomed: What’s the damage? How bad is it? Is it repairable? How long will we be in San Francisco?
After several sweaty minutes of unwrapping the trailer from the pole, backing it into the traffic soup, and zooming around the bend to a large parking lot, we bit our lower lips and tiptoed out of the car to survey the damage. Inventory: a busted corner seam, a new dent in the left, front paneling, and a nice yellow streak in the trailer door. Overall, not bad — nothing disabling and all repairable with a trip to Ace Hardware.
Respectfully, I will not divulge which of our family members arranged the meeting betwixt the trailer and the yellow pole. I will only mention that I was in the passenger seat, examining a map at the moment of impact, and my three-year-old does not yet have a license to drive. From there, make whatever assumptions you wish.
My family is currently traveling around the USA in a 10 foot Shasta Compact travel trailer from 1969. We are currently camped in San Francisco, California and headed up the coast. Keep it right here for tales from the journey, and please also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Nothing keeps us motivated more than the encouragement of hearing from our readers, so please keep in touch by commenting below. Thanks!