“Get over it people. It is a bridge.”
Yelp review referring to the Bixby Bridge.
Weeks after returning home from my Central Coast / Big Sur / Monterey Peninsula trip, I still felt pretty ecstatic about the places I visited and about the area in general. I have to admit that I continued looking for photos, articles and places to visit in a not so distant future. You know, we travel fanatics tend to obsess a little bit about places that capture our heart. And, I haven’t even discussed the piles of literature I accumulated during the trip (which are scattered throughout my apartment and are not going into storage anytime soon).
Well, during one of those research sessions, I bumped into some pretty interesting Yelp reviews. Overall, the Bixby Bridge has good reviews (almost 5 stars). But, reviews are reviews and they tend to show the different facets of the human psique. The comments ranged from the frivolous (“beautiful”, “awesome”, “amazing”) to the impressionable (“best place ever”, “I have no words to describe it”) to the negative (“Who writes a review about a bridge?”, “Get over it people”).
The Bixby Bridge has become a worldwide landmark. Even if you do not know the name or location of it, you have seen it (no kidding!).
The bridge has been featured in a wide array of print publications, films, commercials, music videos and advertising materials. An out of state friend once told me he wanted to visit California and go to the place where the white bridge near the coast is. I immediately understood what he was talking about. The constant appearance of the bridge in many popular culture diffusion mediums makes a lasting impression in people heads. Yes, the bridge is that famous!
As you can imagine, prominence brings all sorts of unenthusiastic comments: “Tourist trap”, “Crowded”, “Not impressive enough”, “Overrated”, etc.
After my visit, I am not sure if I can rate or classify my experience. I like to think about my time with the Bixby Bridge in other terms.
Even if our brains are oversaturated with an image, that image continues to provide a flat vision of the world. What is more, an image cannot transmit an experience-based emotion.
I had seen numerous photos of the Bixby Bridge before my visit. None of those photos were able to convey how deep the Bixby Creek Canyon is, how much the parking lot next to the bridge sucks or how difficult it is to cross the street in the area.
A photo is not going to let you feel the vibration or the decrease in velocity of the cars passing over the bridge. A photo will not tell you the truth about how white the sand is in the cove beneath the bridge, or how turquoise the water is or how small the people walking down there look.
A photo cannot tell you stories that were specific to the moment you visited the place. I can tell you about the guy that was walking barefoot over the bridge, about the kid who almost got ran over by a car, about the nervous woman who was dissuading her husband of getting closer to the cliffs or about the car which back up into a dirt wall in the aforementioned horrible parking lot.
In other words, admiring the bridge and all the natural elements surrounding it create memories (and what kind of memories!). It is not easy to understand how a work of man combines so harmoniously with some of the best coastal views in the world. Now, that is something you have to see!
What else can I say? There is no way to complete the Big Sur journey without passing over the Bixby Bridge. Make sure to stop by, even if it is for a couple of minutes. Observe and try to find the story or element that will create a connection with the place (I am so sure something will come).
Next time you see the bridge in an image or film, it is not going to be the same.
Have you experienced the Bixby Bridge?