Crossing The Golden Ears

I originally posted this story on July 23, 2009 in a different category. I didn't know there was a group in E.P. about bridges, otherwise I would have left it here.  Better late than never, I suppose.

Since being laid off of my last job at the end of June, I've been moping around more, staying at home, wondering what to do with myself.  In the middle of summer, too!  Every time I'm unemployed, my primary past-time is wondering how I'm going to get by without a job.  I seem to forget that I have the opportunity, especially now, to do a few fun things.  I've already spent a lot of time writing, both on and off EP.  I love to write, have studied it practically my whole life, earned my B.A. in it, and worked for a while writing for small-town newspapers. 

I've found, however, that anything done to excess, even writing, becomes tedious.  I can find other things to do that I'll enjoy.  So I got off my butt today and did one of them, driving due east of Vancouver for one hour, to the city of Maple Ridge.  There, the brand new, long overdue, and much anticipated Golden Ears Bridge, which crosses the Fraser River, was recently completed. 

What's all the fuss over a new bridge?  For the longest time, the communities of Maple Ridge, on the north side of the Fraser River, and Langley and Surrey on the south side, have had to rely on two vehicle ferries to get across.  Oh, there are other bridges.  About 50 kilometres to the west, in Coquitlam, is the Port Mann Bridge; and another 50 or so kilometres east of the ferry crossing, is the Mission Bridge, joining Abbottsford and Mission.  Nothing in between, however, to link these bustling communities. 

Aside from the new bridge being a public-private partnership  (3P) undertaking, meaning a toll has to be paid to cross the bridge, people have long been waiting for this to happen.  They'll probably stop collecting tolls around the time I'm planted in the ground. 

Anyway, I'm easily impressed by big things.  Although vehicles have to pay to cross, pedestrians and cyclist most certainly don't.  After parking as close to the bridge as I thought I could (which was still at least one mile away), I gave myself the opportunity to take a leisurely walk across, then back again.  It was evening by the time I arrived, the sun still bright in the western sky, and the landscape and wide river stretched out beneath me.  In Maple Ridge, the area around the bridge is mostly residential, but industrial on the Surrey/Langley end, an area called Port Kells.  Using the walkway on the bridge's west side, I had a splendid view of Barnston Island, a farming community and First Nations reserve in the middle of the Fraser.  One hundred fifty-five people live on the island, which is serviced by a small ferry.

While I crossed, back and forth, I was passed by a few cyclists as well, enjoying the new, challenging route as well.  It's a good climb to the middle of the long bridge.  As walks go, I know only about one hundred routes that are closer to where I live, prettier than the one I chose today.  Though different, I enjoyed the outing.  At least it got me away from my ho-hum routines at home.  I'm glad I picked myself up and went.

Oh, yeah -- about the name?  This is not British Columbia's neighbourly answer to California's Gold Gate Bridge.  Golden Ears is a mountain on the north side of the Fraser, with two jagged peaks that kind of look like rabbit ears.  Golden Ears Provincial Park borders the north perimeter of Maple Ridge.  People around there associate with it the same way folk in Portland, Oregon associate with Mount Hood, or those in Abbottsford, BC and Sumas, WA associate with Mount Baker.  Google the name, and I'm sure links will be provided.  Anyone wanting to know more about the bridge, here's a link:

UnderEli UnderEli
46-50, M
Sep 26, 2012