Around 6p yesterday, I decided to head over to the Marin headlands to catch the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th Birthday fireworks display. I wasn’t the only one with this idea — dozens of photographers and other Bay Areans were in the Headlands. The usual mix - beat-boxing Marin teenagers, reformed Hippies and Beats, wine and cheese toting young and old couples.
The hike to the lookout atop Slacker Hill is a short, uphill jaunt from the intersection of Conzelman and McCullough. The trail is, for the most part, wide and sandy. It climbs quickly to a vista with one of the best 360º views of the Bay Area. On a clear day or evening, it is truly a spectacular site. Even before the explosions began, it didn’t disappoint.
I talked with a few fellow photographers up there, everyone anxious to know where the fireworks were coming from - a barge west of the bridge? small boats in the Bay? - and commenting on the ‘cold.’ A pleasant, self-selecting bunch - after all, it takes a certain type to lug chairs, coolers, tripods, and themselves up a hill on a brisk night.
I wandered off for a while, catching a beautiful sunset that bathed the hill in radiant yellow, orange, and pink hues. When I returned, there were many more photographers; the area under the bridge on both sides had been cordoned off from any sea traffic. The bay was full of boats of all sizes, a school of tiny lights twinkling like rubies and emeralds, gently swaying in the ocean.
A little after nine, the bridge was emptied and all of its lights were turned off. A pretty neat sight, and as a fellow onlooker noted, a short break for grandpa golden gate after 75 years of service. We sang the bridge happy birthday.
Suddenly, streams of light poured off the bridge, bright white streaks quenched by the deep blue. The stalwart red scaffolding caught the light, blazing phosphorescencently. Much to our collective surprise, the bridge itself was fully equipped with pyrotechnics of its own, supplementing the small firework-festooned fleet flinging explosives. Meanwhile, the Slacker Hill onlookers flung strings of excitement-tinged expletives. I thought briefly about the air quality, valiantly trying to quiet those impulses.
The show lasted 30 minutes or so, ending with a spectacular display and a long, slow drive home.