Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Beauty and Magic of the Bridge



  “You cannot have the right to cross a bridge without respecting it! You cannot have the right to use the things without respecting them!”   

                                                                  Mehmet Murat ildan   

As restrictions have been lifting concerning COVID over the last week, I like many folks, have ventured a little bit further than I had for the last 14 months or so. I have been fully vaccinated, one wears a mask on all public transit, and seating is still limited on some interstate mass transit. So I felt comfortable traveling some 90+ miles from home. I caught a bus and spent last weekend in New York City, one of my favorite places to visit. I generally visit Manhattan three or four times a year, and I have been doing that for decades. It is an important part of my year, along with going down to Baltimore and Washington DC. Manhattan has so much to offer for me; I love to spend time at the hundreds of museums, walk in Central Park, visit the Main Library and Bryant Park, eat my way around the world, marvel at the architecture, and drink in the incredible diversity, energy and intensity that makes Manhattan Manhattan. I had not been to Manhattan in about a year, and it was great to be back.  


     I did not do all of that running around this time; however. I visited my niece, who I had not seen in about a year. We ate an incredible meal at a restaurant to which she introduced me, and then spent an absolutely marvelous Sunday at the Metropolitan Museum seeing a stunningly expansive exhibit on the works of portraitist Alice Neel and drawings and paintings from 1833 and 1834 by Swiss artist Karl Bodmer of Northern Plains Native Americans. Both shows were powerful and moving, and I will probably write about them at another time. What I want to focus on now, though, is the realization of something that I had missed without realizing that I had missed it. As I was not doing any intense traveling due to the pandemic, I had forgotten what were some of the simple pleasures of traveling for me. I love traveling-the act of going from one place to another. I love noticing roads and landscapes and mountains and hills and views. I had forgotten how much that means to me. And with not traveling for a year, I had also forgotten that I flat out love bridges and tunnels.   


    To get to New York from Philly one has to cross several bodies of water. There are major ones- The Delaware River, and Newark Bay, the Hudson River. There are also numerous creeks, streams, and ponds with wetlands and marshes. And as one navigates all that water, one uses tunnels and especially bridges to make it all possible. There are the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the Walt Whitman,  Ben Franklin, and George Washington Bridges, and there are also views of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. And from not traveling for a while I had forgotten how much these structures impress and amaze me. Seeing and making use of them has long been of my favorite parts about land travel, and it was good to be reawakened to that.   


   Back in 2015 or so I wrote about two of my favorite bridges that I traversed when Penny and I traveled down to VA for a comping trip and to visit family. I am including some of that piece because my trip to NYC brought back specific memories of 2 of my favorite bridges:  

        I love bridges. I really love them. Since I was a kid and first rode across the Ben Franklin Bridge with my family to New Jersey I have been fascinated and amazed by the fact that humans can somehow envision, design, and build structures that can carry them across rivers, creeks, and bays. I love crossing large bodies of water. Seeing the grand views of the water, noting the structures built on either side of the cliffs above the water, and marveling at the design of the pylons and cables and approach roads that safely carry me across the spans never ceases to amaze me... I have been reflecting on our  camping trip to MD and VA a few weeks ago and our experience with bridges. I got to experience a couple of my favorite bridges on that trip, and I really enjoyed them. They are on roads I do not regularly travel, so the crossings were special indeed.  

    The William Roth Turnpike Canal Bridge was the first special bridge we crossed. Located on Rt 1 in Delaware, it is a uniquely designed bridge with several massive cable-stays holding in place the long and elegant gold plated cables that give the bridge its distinctive appearance. Until my first time on this bridge several years ago I had never been on a bridge that did not have supports and cables stretching the entire length and height of the bridge, and I admit it was a little unnerving at first. But I loved the sleek and daring  design, and the view of the Delaware-Chesapeake Canal it provided was almost magical.  After that I looked forward to every time I had to cross it. Crossing the span almost feels as if you are floating,..It is a wondrously designed structure that feels light and open. It is one of my favorite bridges. 




   My favorite bridge experience of the trip, though, was crossing the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel-Bridge that so gracefully spans the Chesapeake Bay, linking Norfolk,VA and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Crossing that bridge is always an awe-inspiring experience. Sleek, curving, low to the water, and over 17 miles long, it was voted one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineering. And it definitely deserves that award. It combines a beautiful, expansive, curving bridge with a tunnel and, surprisingly, a mid-bridge restaurant. That combination was daring when the bridge was built in 1964, and it has been carried off in spectacular fashion. The bridge crosses the Chesapeake Bay-one of the most spectacularly breathtaking and beautiful bodies of water I have ever seen. And the sense of wonder that I feel as I approach and start the long elegant crossing on this structure is hard to describe. That wonderful ribbon of  concrete that takes you across the Chesapeake feels like a venture into the great unknown-a mythical journey. Suffice it say that crossing the Bay-Tunnel Bridge is one of the joys of any trip to or from eastern Virginia. There are always dozens of waterfowl, amazing waves, sailboats and other vessels, and absolutely stunning views in all directions. It is a crossing that combines beauty, daring, engineering and subtlety in a way that few creations have ever done. I just love it and feel grateful  to the designers and especially the builders every-time I cross it.  It is simply wondrous.   


   Beautiful bodies of water and great bridges can inspire wonder, amazement and joy, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to experience these marvels of human design.


    I hope you can all soon get out an enjoy some of the pleasures of going to and being in places you have missed. Savor them; We who have places and routes that mean a lot to us are fortunate indeed. Happy travels.  


 (A link to the Met:   



 1) The Dukes of Destiny at Drexel Lodge Park; Saturday, June 12th: 4PM-6PM  RAIN OR SHINE 104 West Chester Pike; Newtown Square, PA   Drexel Lodge Park    

   The Dukes first live gig of 2021 is in lovely Drexel Lodge Park, a large park with a gazebo, Railroad Museum, and playground. It is a family affair, so bring the kids, lawn chairs and a friend or two, It is our first time at this space, and we are happy to be in front of a real live audience. So come on out and welcome the Dukes back at their first live gig of 2021! The event is rain or shine. CDC and Public Health guidelines will be followed.   


2) The Dukes at Kahn Park Summer Series; Wednesday, July 28 (raindate July 29); 12th & Pine Sts; Philadelphia; 7:30-9PM   

     We are so happy to be back at this charming Center City Park with great plantings and flowers in a great neighborhood and with food trucks. Places to sit, dance, and welcome the sunset and evening. We have not played in Center City in a few years, so please come on down and help welcome us back.   


 3) Food Trucks and Dancing in the Street: Downtown Swedesboro, NJ; Thursday, August 26; 7:15-9:30PM Swedesboro, NJ; 856-467-0202   

     We are back in the great village of Swedesboro, NJ-one of my favorite Jersey towns. I love walking the downtown main drag and noting some of the historical sites in the town. This is a great event with a variety of food trucks, a street set off for dancing and for sitting, and a wonderful family vibe with activities for kids. So come on out and welcome us back to this great town and this wonderful gig. Activities start at 6;30PM and the Dukes play from 7:15-9:30PM   


Music Review connected to the Dukes  

   Chicago Carl Snyder, the Dukes’ legendary keyboardist who has played with Son Seals, Otis Rush, and Junior Wells, also owns a record label. He has released a new recording by the Christopher dean band. Here is a review of that recording:  


THE TWO JOHNS GIGS-Johnny Never, guitar and John Colgan-Davis, harp; acoustic country blues stylings   

1)Sunday, June 13 :The Blue Crab  322 Suburban Dr,   
Newark, DE 19711; 2-4 PM (302) 737-1100 https://www.bluecrabgril   

Great to be back at this great seafood restaurant with great food and a wonderful staff. We played here before the pandemic, and are glad to be back. A nice way to do Sunday brunch-brunching with the blues and some great seafood. Hope to see you.   


2) Buck’s County Summer Blues Party: Saturday, July 17; 12:PM-6PM; Tow Johns from 1PM-1:40: Terchon VFW Grounds; 1315 Hardy Rd; Edgely, PA; $32(Includes picnic food, bottled water); limit 250 people   

   The Bucks County Blues Society has been putting on great shows since 1977, and this is another one featuring national acts Billy Price and Regina Bonelli and local acts Tom Craig, and of course, The Two Johns. For info and tickets,    


 The Dukes on YouTube : Down Memory Lane