We “Conquered the Bridge” in the Port of Los Angeles as summer is slipping away…

I have felt summer slipping from my grip for several weeks now. The university’s rhythms are in full swing, and even in still-summer-heat, I’m slowly accepting that fall is almost here. But Monday, our holiday, we made the choice to enjoy a free day, packed with our last  hurrah of summer freedom.

The first Monday in September is an American federal holiday, originally established in the late nineteenth century as an observance recognizing the economic contribution of the workforce. There are probably some families who consciously observe the original intention of Labor Day , but for most it stands as more of a symbolic end of summer.

What did we do? Some might think we two senior citizens don’t have the common sense we were born with. No worries. I often think the same thing!

This summer our daughter told us about a San Pedro local event, “Conquer the Bridge.” It sounded like fun! I drive across The Vincent Thomas Bridge, the 1500 foot, 4th longest suspension bridge in California, at least a couple of times a week. The bridge crosses the internationally famous Port of Los Angeles, the busiest container port in the United States.

I’m fascinated with the Port and the opportunity to walk over the bridge with a bird’s-eye view of the massive shipping, railroad and container yards  was irresistible. The City of Los Angeles Harbor Department negotiated significant Port-wide Labor Agreements protecting more than  20,000 jobs directly linked to what is alternatively called Worldport Los Angeles.

We donned our fancy t-shirts affixing our numbers and time-tracking sensor, and joined thousands of other enthusiastic runners and walkers. It was a beautiful day and simply a nice way to get out and move! It took a while for the pack to thin out, and since the runners were given front-of-the-pack priority position, before we’d even arrived at the mile 1 marker we saw a few runners making their way back on the other side.

For us, it wasn’t a race, but an opportunity to just do something fun and a little out of the ordinary–out of OUR ordinary, anyway. And, we reasoned, since Jay is a seasoned labor union leader, we would walk across and give a symbolic “high-five” to the men and women of the Port below.

But I’ve never seen the Port so quiet! Not a sound! Union employees enjoyed the day off.  I would need a photo from a helicopter if I thought I could adequately share photos of more than a very small fraction of the space occupied by containers, cranes and hostler trucks.

We are “walkers” and the five-mile route wasn’t a significant challenge, but we were curious about the steep incline and wondered if that would prove difficult. It wasn’t too much, compensated nicely by the corresponding decline.

With my camera snapping as many photos as I could without impeding the flow of the walk, we ended the “race” securely in the middle of the pack, and that was a satisfying place for two “oldsters” to cross the finish line.

And then we moved on! A lot of water and a little lunch, and we were off again. The U.S.S. Iowa, designated the “World’s Greatest Naval Ship,” is now a permanent floating museum in the Port of Los Angeles.

The retired World War II battleship, built in 1940, deserves its own post. So I’ll get to that! I think you’d enjoy hearing more about the “Big Stick,” the only battleship with a bathtub built for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Los Angeles is quite proud to be her new home.

And one final note….

I had a thought going over the bridge. I TOLD you fear of earthquakes didn’t significantly shape our activities, didn’t I? Monday morning, just hours before we walked across the bridge, a small earthquake shook the LA area. I did think about it for just a moment as we hit the crest! Ah well…it really was a beautiful day and participating in a fun, active event is always good for my well-being! It’s better just to keep moving, don’t you think?

35 thoughts on “We “Conquered the Bridge” in the Port of Los Angeles as summer is slipping away…

  1. What a fun thing to do on Labor Day weekend! I’ve never seen the Port before. Your shots are great! Thanks for the view. I’m glad you had a wonderful weekend Debra. Here’s to a great fall and continuing to breathe lighter throughout. :)

    • Our bridge crossing was just a very fun activity. It’s a privilege to be active, and we like to take advantage of the ways we can just enjoy some community fun. And yes, we do need to just embrace fall and plan as many lovely family times in the next season, too! :-) I hope back to school has gone well for your family, Kristy! D

  2. Congratulations on your “conquer”! What a great and fun event — you know I would have been walking/waddling right alongside you over the port. Par of my childhood included holding our breath every time we went over a bridge — you’d really be breathing lighter if you had done that for five miles! I am REALLY looking forward to your story about The Battleship of Presidents… Go Navy! :-D

  3. What a fun thing to do Debra! I love ports, always something to see (even if there wasn’t any work going on). and thank you for the explanation of Labor Day, I had been wondering !! And it looks like you were in good company for your walk, lots of fellow walkers. I’m enjoying the positivity in this post, in fact I’m lapping it up :)

    • I’m glad to know that you like ports, too, Claire. I have watched the Port of Los Angeles go through many changes over the past five years. It was really frightening in 2007 to see the impact of the worldwide recession simply by watching the port. Thousands of automobiles were off-loaded with nowhere to go. The activity we were accustomed to seeing was in such an obvious slowdown it was frightening. I can see that the economy is picking up, even if slowly, simply by watching port activity. It’s really something to witness! :-)

  4. Memorable end to the unofficial end of summer . . . and aren’t you brave to get on a bridge with all those people after a “small quake” in the morning?

    You rock!

    • I got the biggest kick out of getting across the finish line and having community members cheering us on! We kind of giggled, having never experienced anything remotely like it before. I might do it again just for that! :-)

  5. I read about the quake, minor by your standards, and wondered where you were. (I say “by your standards” because even the most minor of tremors would send me begging for forgiveness at the nearest church. synagogue, or mosque. That would not be the time to get picky about denomination.) Never would I have thought you’d be bridge walking, though. Not that you’re incapable or anything like that. Bridge walking just isn’t an activity that springs to mind, that’s all. It sounds like a great way to spend a holiday afternoon, though, and it looks like the weather could not have been better. Thanks, Debra, for taking the time to both shoot and upload so many photos for us. :)

    • Walking the bridge was completely out of character for us, John. We’re very good “joiners” if others are having a good time at something, but it doesn’t usually involve something that has a competitive sound. This was billed as low-key, and so it sounded like an adventure. And I do love the ports, which had an appeal! As for the earthquakes, I think they are so frequent that it’s almost like the story of the little boy crying wolf…we do become very accustomed to the small ones, and probably are living in denial! Here’s an irrational fact about me…I’m VERY afraid of flying. So I’m not the last bit brave, just inconsistent! :-)

  6. What a great thing to do on Labour Day. I can’t believe how many people took part in that walk. We didn’t have Labour Day here last weekend but we did have Father’s Day and I also went on a walk but not across a bridge, it was around our harbour foreshore. Like you say, it’s great to be out and about and moving xx

    • I am glad you also appreciate port activity, Andra. We’ve quite literally been monitoring the Recession by watching that activity! In 2007 when the economy tanked, the port was a frightening symbol of what was going on all over the world. It looks much healthier today! :-)

  7. Cool L A event. I grew up in L A during the 50’s and 60’s, in the Crenshaw, Liemert Park area. Although I rarely go back, living 60 miles north in Ventura, the city still holds some fond memories for me.

  8. Dear Debra, I’ve never visited a port. Really, I’ve never seen a waterfront. (Is that the right word?) I can see I need to get out of the Midwest and do some sightseeing in the United States. I’ve been fortunate that I got to visit for a short time Amsterdam, England, and Paris and then much of Greece, but I’m not a traveler here in the United States and I’m clearly missing so much. Thank you for taking us on the five-mile walk with you. Peace.

    • We did have a lovely bridge walk on Labor Day, but it wasn’t as exciting as your Labor Day! :-) You must be just drinking in all the family time right now, Penny! It’s nice to hear from you, but you just keep right now feasting on the time with those TWO babies! oxo

    • Thanks for getting caught up on so many little stories from my recent activities, Elizabeth. It’s always nice to see you’ve dropped by! The bridge walk was fun, and I agree, it was the experience of doing so with other enthusiastic people! :-)

  9. Pingback: The Korean Friendship Bell, a gift of peace to Los Angeles | breathelighter

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