Our car pulls up in the dusty parking lot in the shadow of the massive bridge traversing the bay. The only other people there are some construction workers in hard hats and reflective vests. Which is a bit concerning, to tell the truth.
But my concern is quickly allayed. They’re actually the people we’re supposed to meet here, our fellow adventurers, in disguise. I don’t have my own disguise, but that’s okay, I think they’re being overly cautious. To each their own, though, of course.
We start our journey. We’ve got a few kilometers of marsh and wetlands to traverse before we get to the bridge that we’re looking for, and the swampy ground ends up doing a number on my new boots, but it’s worth it.
The bridge is blocked by the standard protective fence. Have you seen the kind I mean? It’s a chainlink fence, sometimes topped with barbed wire, that extends not only vertically up but also to the sides, to keep you from shimmying around to get on the bridge. Of course, a chain link fence has never stopped anyone who really wants to get up there, and in this one the barbed wire has been helpfully removed in an area, so it’s a cinch to get over it.
The bridge is a kind I’ve never been on before. It’s a truss bridge meant to support two massive pipes, with a narrow walkway in between them, and another on either side. The bridge and the pipes and the central walkway are metal, but the outer two are wood, and so despite having a better view of the bay, we avoid them for the most part, as they have rotten or missing planks too frequently for comfort.
Between the pipes, at night, with only a sliver of moon, we can barely see anything at distance. The pipes rise to one and a half times my height, and, after an unknowable amount of time walking, as far as the eye can see forward and behind.
There are ladders on the pipes at regular (but quite distant) intervals, and we clamber up. The view is breathtaking. The cameras don’t do it justice; I don’t have anything that comes close to the human eye for admiring a sparkling city in the distance in the dark of night.
One of the ladders leads to a square platform on top of the right pipe, and we stop to rest. There’s a manhole-like cover bolted down with a series of giant, pale blue bolts that look for all the world like cupcakes set on the ground. We share some MealSquares and I do my best to take a photo of a pair of my friends, to little avail.
And so it goes, for what feels like miles, and honestly may have been. I’m not sure. The bridge we’re on isn’t on any maps.
And then we’re there. A windowless, locked white cement building sticks out of the bay like a blind lighthouse. We’re on an artificial island marking the end of the bridge.
We circle the building; yep, this is the end of it. The pipes enter the building and then, presumably, the Earth. We sit and watch the stars and the city lights, all so small in the distance. Allison rests her head on my shoulder. Three of our number start playing pranks on each other. Another three try to set up a hammock.
The night passes peacefully. With no reference but the moving of the stars, hours seem to disappear into eternity, and somehow, before the night is through, we find ourselves back at the cars and ready to return to the regular world.
At the request of my guide, I will not reveal the location of this bridge.