The Sundial Bridge In Redding, California

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The Sundial Bridge
The Sundial Bridge

I often ask myself why most people travel when they complain about it so much.  A lot of people simply hate the hassle of airplanes and airports.  They hate having to get a rental car or being in a foreign place.  For me, each new experience is eye-opening and fascinating.  The second I step off of a plane, train or bus in a new place, I forget about how tired I am, I forget about the hassle I went through to get there and set out to explore.  Yesterday I  was given a chance to explore someplace new and I am grateful for that.

This week I am visiting my father in Northern California.  Since I have been up here several times, there isn’t much that is new for me too see.  On past trips we have visited the local Golden Nugget Museum here in Paradise, have taken a tour of the Sierra Nevada Brewery down in Chico and taken walks through Bidwell Park. This isn’t exactly the center of tourism in this region.  Yesterday though, in an effort to find something unique, we drove up to Redding to walk across the Sundial Bridge.

The shadow is cast across this dial.
The shadow is cast across this dial.

Believe it or not, this bridge is now an icon in Northern California.  Completed in 2004 at a cost of $24 million, the pedestrian bridge spans the Sacramento River.  It is located within the Turtle Bay Exploration Park which houses animal exhibits, botanical gardens and a museum.  The coolest part of the bridge aside from its pleasing aesthetics, is the fact that it is a working sundial.  The shadow cast from the bridge’s support tower aligns with a dial across the way to tell the time.  While it is only 100% accurate on the day of the Summer Solstice, the idea and execution are wonderful.

I have really learned to love bridges over the years.  So often they are a way for the locals to express themselves.  To show something unique about their city or their culture.  This bridge not only impresses, but it welcomes everyone to enjoy the area.  While we didn’t take in all of Turtle Bay, we did stroll through the Botanical Gardens and enjoy a short walk on some of the nature paths.  Unfortunately California is in the middle of a drought, so much of what normally would be green is now brown and dead.

There are also wonderful nature paths and Botanical Gardens here as well.
There are also wonderful nature paths and Botanical Gardens here as well.

Originally I wasn’t going to post about the bridge and my visit yesterday.  Then I started thinking about how many cool places we miss when traveling through one place to another. Sure the Sundial Bridge isn’t as impressive as the Golden Gate Bridge a few hours south, but it doesn’t have to be.  Yesterday was a reminder that no matter where I am, there are always unique things to see and interesting people to meet.  That is why I travel so much and why it never gets old for me.

What are your favorite unknown places to visit?  Let me know in the comments!

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Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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