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?