Over the Bridge, but not over the hill
Today we reprised last week’s ride over the Bridge to Sausalito, although it felt somewhat different. The biggest difference was the incredible headwind over the bridge that had us crawling along even in lowest gear while riders coming the other way were moving at wind-assisted warp speeds. The high winds had also weeded out the casual locals, leaving only the lycra-clad serious riders and a bunch of tourists.
Even with the wind it was a glorious ride. A significant portion of the ride is on the flat or downhill and over half is on bike paths, so it is a fun ride with the kids. And of course the views are great. Both times we’ve made the ride the sun has seemed to shine right down on Alcatraz, making even its grim walls shine golden. The Golden Gate Bridge itself is so iconic that riding across it is a treat only improved by the fantastic views out to sea.
We had lunch in Sausalito – clam chowder for Jennifer and a meatball sub for me both of which felt appropriately local (the boys had pizza, of course). Then on to the ferry back to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. After dropping our bikes off we visited the Musee Mechanique which is the sort of place that cannot help raise a chuckle.
The Musee Mechanique is a warehouse filled with ancient slot machines. Some of these are only from the 1980s – Pacman and Galaga always bring a smile to my face – but most go much further back than that. Back to a time when you put a nickel into a machine and turned a handle to watch a silent movie or further back still to your penny activating a clever mechanical diorama.
It’s these last I particularly love; both because I like contemplating a time when something that seems so simple in today’s terms was worth spending a coin on, and because of the sheer mechanical brilliance involved in making a complex diorama work. There’s something truly special in knowing that under the table-top there are gears and belts and levers making it all go and that if you had access you could trace the paths and understand how it comes together. And the truly great thing is that all the machines still work.
Of course, the sobering thought is those Galaga and Pacman machines. Those machines – which were at the glorious cutting-edge of my teenage years and consumed so much of my hard-earned pocket-money – in a museum? Surely not! Ah well, I don’t care if it ages me, I can’t pass a Galaga tabletop without my fingers itching to get the high score; and I have a feeling that will always be the case.
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If you’re ever in Wisconsin, don’t miss The House on the Rock. Plenty of mechanical, coin operated delights.