Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: TOURIST ATTRACTION(S) (natural or man-made) (08/06/15)
TITLE: So Crooked Its Straight
By Ken Grant
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We had already had a full day when we came to the oddity that flowed downward from below our feet. We had treated the little people to a trip to the jelly belly factory; although we adults enjoyed eating the delicious concoctions as well. Fisherman's wharf with its bustle of people, its multitude of seals that have taken up residence along its shores, and an amazing view of Alcatraz Island where so many notorious criminals found an unhappy existence provided us much to enjoy. That and any number of other delights filled us with wonder and made our time there well spent. Our stomachs were filled with delicious sea food and a quick trip to Ghirardelli Square and its wonderful chocolate brought a sense of contentment that is difficult to find in our everyday busy lives.
Still, as we thought deeply about the amazing engineering feat that is the Golden Gate Bridge, we were stopped short at the sight of a street that seemingly could only have been designed by a mad scientist or a demented individual set on throwing people into a state of frenzy. My parents had first told me about Lombard Street when I was a young child. They remembered driving down it in their fifties-era vehicle and my dad recalled being amazed that more accidents didn't occur, while mom remembered being thankful that they had made it through in one piece. It seemed an odd mixture of road and amusement park ride, but with real dangers to people and property
I thought back to my parents' description, but nothing they had said could have prepared me for what I and my companions were witnessing. I hadn't realized that on this amazingly crooked street, people lived. It is a neighborhood, if an odd one. A group of people live on the side of a hill, not unusual in a city built on hills, but whose beautiful flowers adorn a road where tourists walk and drive continually all day long.
We might have stood atop the hill forever, but the fog rolled in quickly; so quickly that our view of the Golden Gate Bridge disappeared and the surrounding buildings seemed to float in the air. We rushed to our vehicles and began the descent. The nature of the road is such that the driver is continually on the brake; not much fun for him or her, but a joy for the rest of us. We waved to others standing outside their homes and to other tourists walking along. The amusement park analogy quickly gave way to the feeling of being in a parade. When we reached the bottom, to the great relief of our drivers, we took a deep breath. We got out and looked back up from the bottom. It looks so much different from below, but our memories of the ride will live with us forever.
We headed back across the Golden Gate shrouded in fog and concluded our time in the bay area, but that trip down Lombard Street was clearly the highlight of it all. To whoever created such a crazy thing we say a great big 'Thank you.' You made our trip brilliant and no words can ever be enough.
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