Sunday, July 18, 2010

Update Post

wrote about how I got stuck in the small town of Bridgeport, California, when my car broke down after hitting a large rock.  While it was not fun to wreck my car and stressful to be unexpectedly stranded more than 200 miles away from home with no immediately discernible way to get back home, I did have a good time in Bridgeport.  Bridgeport sits in a gorgeous part of the country, just east of the imposing Sierra Nevada mountain range, and is surrounded by breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks.  More importantly, all the people we met were incredibly open and friendly people.  In a city, with its teeming anonymity, faces melt into the urban landscape.   In Bridgeport -- where someone you meet on the street is someone you might see the next day at the only coffee shop in town -- everyone stands out as a distinct human.  Whenever I stopped strangers on the street to ask for advice, each person listened and answered my questions with care.  No one seemed to be in a hurry to shake me off or eyed me with suspicion about my motives.  Some people offered to let me use their phones.

Several people, in particular, buoyed my (and my boyfriend's) spirits during this stressful time:
  • Ramon and Merna -- the wonderful couple we met at the coffee show.  Ramon and his blue-grass band, "Big Meadow," played several fun, toe-tapping songs while my boyfriend and I sat in the sunshine outside the coffee shop waiting to hear from Steve about the car.  Merna inspired us with stories about about driving snow-mobiles in Swagger Creek and building her hydroelectric powered house.  
  • Brian -- the slightly drunk, bigger than life personality that made two different phone calls on our behalf to his friends to see if he find a hotel or camping spot for me, my boyfriend, and my dog, for the night.  Brian also went out of his way to knock on the door of a friend who might have been able to give us a ride to Mammoth Lakes (a city about 60 miles away).
  • Kathy -- the incomparable hostess of the Bridgeport Inn who not only made us feel welcome at the Inn, but went out of her way to inquire about Teabiscuit several times.  
  • Steve -- the mechanic who went above and beyond the call of duty -- including working on a holiday weekend and driving 1.5 hours to search for the right transmission fluid -- to try to get my car running again.  And when all those efforts failed, Steve refused compensation.  
Also, Fourth of July in Bridgeport is a must-see event.  The city spends the whole year fundraising, planning, and looking forward to this occasion.  Even the most cynical, I've-seen-it-all naysayer would be charmed by the honest-to-goodness earnestness of Bridgeport's Fourth of July celebration.  
  • There is an old fashioned parade, complete with donkeys, horses, marines, balloons, fire trucks and old cars.  Everyone shows up to the occasion wearing red, white and blue.  

  • The city coordinates festivities that involves many members of the community.  Men and women arm wrestle in their weight class for trophies.  Kids climb up greased poles to grab dollar bills. These simple games were enormously entertaining to watch.
  • The community organized an arts and crafts fair where you could buy handmade birdhouses shaped like tractors and kids could make candles in the same of ice cream floats.  There was also mobile studio that took old-timey photographs that portay you as a western-style gunslinger or showgirl.  I went for the Annie Oakley look.  (Thanks to Chris, at who did a great job.)
  • Of course, there are also fireworks.  It was a spectacular show.  In a year of depressing economic times when major cities struggle to pull off fireworks, the Bridgeport display is a testament to the resilience and come-together spirit of small-town residents and businesses.  

All told, it was a beautiful way to spend a holiday weekend.  I plan to head out there next year.

(Peace Love Bridgeport)

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