On day 3 we departed from the bay area and headed south toward LA. Instead of taking the direct route down Highway 5 we opted for the curvy and scenic Highway 1. After a brief stop in Monterey to see the ocean for the first time, we settled into a great sushi restaurant just a little down the road in Carmel. The sun was out and shining down on us from our spot on the patio…a huge change from the chill of the bay area.
We continued on down Highway 1. Around every curve a new view of the ocean appeared against the steep rocky cliffs that were almost dizzying as you looked over the edge. As we neared Big Sur, there were people pulled into scenic turn-outs right next to a gigantic concrete bridge. We decided to pull over and take a look, our progress south was somewhat slow but we were trying to take it all in.
Commissioned in 1931, the Bixby Bridge was meant to connect the residents of Northern and Southern California. With an initial budget of $203K the project was completed in about 14 months and came in under budget. At around $3M in today’s dollars the project seems like a relative bargain when you consider the $8M that was just recently spent on lighting up the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.
I hiked off a bit behind the bridge, to get a better view. The bridge was stunning from the view where we parked the car but as you moved further to the Northeast you got a perspective that made the concrete arches look dynamic. Standing right on the edge of the cliff, my head started to spin just a bit and I had to take a step back due to the height. Looking at the bridge from a distance made me question whether or not what I was seeing was even real…I started to think about the workers who constructed it over 80 years ago.
This bridge stood in front of me as a symbol of American ingenuity…not unlike what I had seen over the last couple of days. Though today’s entrepreneurs aren’t building bridges, dams or interstate systems, Americans haven’t lost their desire to tackle interesting problems. Literally building a bridge over gaps rather than turning around and giving up is something I see in San Francisco and I know I see it in KC. We’ve entered a new era, one that requires us to appreciate the infrastructure our ancestors built and do them proud by advancing the American economy into the next era.