Don’t Burn your Bridges

 I have always had an affinity…perhaps a love/hate relationship with bridges.  Some are so majestic and marvels of engineering, yet some scare the bejeezus out of me when my fear of heights kicks in. Now I am talking both literal bridges and how bridges are used as idioms. The expression “Don’t Burn Your Bridges” often can be good advice. Conversely, I recently heard a new take on that as quoted by Don Henley: “Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge”.   As much as I love the Eagles, if Don Henley said it, then it is poetic and certainly profound.  In my current situation, (especially with some of my writing and blogging forays) the light generated from burning some bridges of my past will certainly light the way for new opportunities. I want to take a can of gasoline, douse the bridge, light a match and let ‘er rip. Figuratively speaking of course.    So what’s all the hoopla about? I originally wanted to do a blog about all the cool bridges I have seen in my travels and was planning on placing it on my “travel” features blog. Ah….the plans of mice and men. I have had several troubles with my Word Press blog (american trekkerblog) for I would say at least the last year or so. Well, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was I was told by their customer service that I could no longer utilize the editing program I have used for the past 5 years. I was now FORCED to use their new program or be in danger of “corrupting” the existing documents/posts that are stored on my site. Now don’t tell me you can’t teach an old dog new tricks….I TRIED the new system and hated it, however I did at least try it. So….within one more month I am saying goodbye to Word Press. 

Of course FIRST I am making sure I have my own digital copies of each and every document that I produced. It has been an interesting journey and I have learned very much about blogging, formatting and just writing in general, and for that I am thankful. Yet I have also had hours of frustration and it’s interesting to note that I did not have those problems with my other “blogger” blog (operated by Google). 
     So now I have made the decision to be a one blog gal. No matter what the topic, it will be posted on (Outlooks and Inspirations) Perhaps this will serve to simplify my life, anyway.  I hope so. I could use some clarity and simplification in my life right now. So that is one “bridge”, my WP blog, that I am happily taking a match to.
Back to bridges in the literal sense. So many fascinating bridges to photograph and comment on, but the ones that really had a profound effect on me were the covered Bridges of Madison County.  Yes, the ones in Iowa that the book and movie were based upon.  I can just hear Meryl Streep with her soft, breathy voice saying:“There are images that lie within my heart…images with the power to recall the warmth of a summer’s night, the stillness before a storm. Reminding me of the first time I ever saw him…there was nowhere else to go except towards love.”  Meryl Streep as Francesa in The Bridges of Madison County.

Wow, I am already tearing up…so romantic. In any case, back to reality. Some of the most iconic, historic covered bridges are in Madison County Iowa.  I had the pleasure of touring them a few years ago and they do possess a certain magical and artistic quality about them; reminiscent of a by-gone era. You can almost hear the click clack of horse’s hooves as they pass across the wooden timbers.  

Holliwell Bridge- Built in 1880

The covered bridge style was prevalent when you talk about historic bridges, but I also think about the labor intensive, and impressive bridges that were created using stone as the key element. So many of these long standing structures were created as walkways in many of our National and State Parks. Acadia, in Maine, provides beautiful examples of these impressive stone bridges.  From 1915 to 1940 John D. Rockefeller financed, designed and directed the construction of the carriage roads. The roads provided access to the park by horse-drawn carriages and were banned for usage by automobiles. The carriage roads still prohibit automobiles and are treasured by hikers, bikers and horseback riders. The roads include 17 hand-built granite bridges, each a beautiful addition to your travel throughout the park.  Here are a few examples from Acadia. 

So with John D. Rockefeller as the main financier of the project, it was easy to see how the project was expedited.  Back in the early 1900’s and carrying through to today’s dollars, bridge building can be an expensive and time consuming project.  When we first moved to Wisconsin, the St. Croix Crossing Bridge, spanning the St. Croix river between the borders of Minnesota and Wisconsin was just getting ready to open. We moved in March and the bridge opened in August of 2017. It was a huge undertaking and from it’s original inception to completion took almost 10 years.  It’s a bridge that I frequently cross, with a beautiful view. However, that still does not diminish my discomfort; my hands still sometimes have a tighter grip on the steering wheel then is probably necessary. Nevertheless, it is a stunning bridge.

Aerial view of St. Croix Crossing (Photo from Minnesota DOT)

One more bridge for today’s blog that requires mention in the awesome bridge category: The Mackinac Bridge or the “Mighty Mack”, as the locals call it. It is pretty MIGHTY, and slightly terrifying, spanning 5 miles across the chilly waters of the Straits of Mackinac. It connects the upper peninsula of Michigan to the lower portion of the state.  The title of  “Mighty Mac” is very fitting: the two towers of the bridge rise an impressive 550 feet high making them easily visible from many sites in the vicinity.

Quite impressive yet to many folks, myself included, it’s an intimidating and scary bridge to cross.  Especially when occasionally they have had to close the bridge due to high winds…you don’t want to get blown off into the water….Yikes. I know the closure is probably only applied to high profile vehicles like semi-trucks, but still…it was sufficient to make me nervous about crossing it. Nevertheless, we survived it…I am still glad my husband drove. 

So wish me luck as I cross bridges in the future: both the literal and figurative kind. I am confident that I won’t regret the burning of that bridge to provide light for new experiences.  Julie E. Smith Mackinac Bridge-Michigan

Parks & Politics: Trying (so very hard) to keep politics out of the discussion.

I originally posted this 1 year ago…not sure how far we have progressed, but in some ways I feel we have protected our national lands to some extent: at least we have not started mining in the Grand Canyon!

American Trekker

I love our National Parks and am a strong supporter of keeping the beauty and sanctity of our most treasured natural spaces. I travel to the Parks, I research the Parks and I blog about the Parks. I have wanted my discussions and observations to be encouraging and support our National Park Service and perhaps encourage others to enjoy and appreciate our Parks.  Up to this point I have done that and will continue to do so, however in light of recent developments with the current federal administration I can no longer keep silent. I really don’t want my blog to be about politics, but if you discuss the National Park Service you can’t avoid talking about the federal government because after all, it is managed as a branch of the federal government. In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated their centennial: celebrating 100 years of the establishment and development…

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