Friday, March 13, 2009


The change last weekend to Daylight Savings Time, brought to mind a visit my son and I made to the incredible Sundial Bridge in Redding, California. (The large photo above shows us standing atop the bridge passageway). Since the sun is not obliged to follow guidelines required by the U.S. Government, my imagination drifted along the lines of a banner flying in the air at the bridge location, with a disclaimer, proclaiming that the bridge was following what my granny referred to as "God's Time", and not "DLT"! In fact, in the extensive article I found about the bridge on Wikipedia, there is a disclaimer that the time, silently announced moment by moment as a sunny day proceeds, is exactly accurate on only one day in a year - the summer solstice, June 21. But unless you are a student of horology (my expedition to the Museum of Horology in Pennsylvania will be explained in a future blog), the discrepency in minute by minute time accuracy is not as important as enjoying the visual delight and physical exercise that the bridge provides. This unusual pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Sacramento River was completed in 2004, at a cost of 23 million dollars (US), and was designed by Santiago Calatrava. The fact that it uses some rather non-traditional construction techniques is what makes its architectural statement so dramatic. More traditional bridges are built using a symmetrical arrangement of cable forces on each side of towers that a bridge rests on. However, in Calatrava's design, there is only one tower, which is loaded by cable stays on only one side. and the tower is tilted away from the river in order to resit bending and torsional forces at its foundation. (I am giving the "Victory Salute" in front of the foundation, in upper left-hand photo). Also unusal, is the fact that the 700 foot bridge crosses the Sacramento River, without ever touching the water. The photo above in the lower center provides some prospective on the size of the gnomon of the world's largest sundial. (I had to look up that word---it means the "indicator pin" of a sundial). In the case of the Sundial Bridge, the gnomon is also the spar (i.e. tower or pole) that contains the cable stays (supports) that hold up the span of the bridge. The hour by hour time indicators are large spheres, covered with a mosaic pattern, and a bronze plaque on top, telling the hour. To get some size perspective, you can see my son's shoe resting on the 2:00 sphere in the lower right-hand photo above. Although we visited in the daytime, the literature says that the translucent structural glass that forms the surface of the bridge is illuminated from beneath and glows aquamarine at night. Seeing "eye candy" such as that is one reason I would like to make a return visit to Redding, as well as touring the many other attractions at Turtle Bay Exploration Park where the bridge provides pedestrian access to the north and south areas of the huge complex that contains environmental, art, and history museums, an arboretum/gardens, and the Sacratmento River Trail. Only "time will tell" if that wish turns into a reality! Of course, that brings to mind the melody made famous in the folk-music generation of the last century (which is based on a book in the Old Testment of the Bible). The song starts with with words "To everything, (time, time, time), there is a season (time, time, time), and a time to every purpose under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1). I am praying I have time for lots more fun expeditions with my son like this one! Miles of smiles! Tricia
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