(Toledo, OH) I hate heights.
There. My most noteworthy neurosis is out in the open, for all the world to see and for the amusement of those who read; at some point in the 1990s I developed acrophobia, and there have been times when this phobia has been incapacitating. Perhaps there was a subconscious motive behind my decision last winter to take photos under the High Level Bridge.
Nonetheless, I was interested in taking some pictures of the Toledo skyline, and thought that there would be some impressive views on the High Level Bridge, which is officially known as the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge.
Actually getting to the point at which good photos can be taken, of course, was the real challenge, but a cup of coffee can work wonders in matters motivational.
Left: Skyline of downtown Toledo, OH; click picture for larger image
And magnificent panoramas abound when looking at downtown Toledo from the High Level Bridge. Even at this early hour of the day there were already boaters cruising on the Maumee, perhaps heading out to Lake Erie to get away from the projected 90-degree temperatures today.
Yet it was at the halfway point across the bridge when my fear of heights really took hold. In the middle of the bridge the safety fencing stops (no unsubstantiated Jack Ford anecdotes, please), and vertigo began to settle in. Even holding on to the rail was no help for me, as once can feel the bridge bob and sway in the wind and with the passing tanker trucks from the East Side refineries.
A grandmother and her son were crossing the bridge, traveling west to east as I gripped one of the suspension cables in a vain attempt to steady my nerves.
"Beautiful view, isn't it?" she cheerily offered.
"Yes, beautiful," I managed through gritted teeth, envious of people who can manage to walk in a carefree manner on a narrow sidewalk hundreds of feet above a certain watery death. I resisted the urge to holler at the boy to save himself, and shuddered as he peered over the four-foot railing.
Left: Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge; click on picture for larger image
It was time to walk back down the bridge, and I felt a bit silly that I was not able to make it across the entire span, but also relieved that I was a few minutes away from solid ground. There were indeed a few beads of sweat on my forehead, and the bridge seemed to swim as I walked back westward toward a sensible height.
"Sensible" being, in my definition, within a foot of the ground.
I much prefer taking pictures of bridges from the ground, and from Ottawa Street the view of the High Level Bridge grandly rising above the Maumee River was inspirational. This is the street that runs along the Owens-Corning campus and behind the Oliver House, and there are few sources of heart-pounding anxiety.
Bless you, oh solid earth.