This is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
It crosses the mouth of Tampa Bay and it separates the Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. The bridge connects St. Petersburg and Terra Ceia, the town immediately across the water from St. Pete.
The entire length of the bridge is five-and-a-half miles and I rely on my many crossings to serve as a kind of mini vacation. Mobile service cuts out about half way up the center span and doesn't kick back in until you cross to the Terra Ceia side. I used to find that to be irritating but these days it's one of my favorite things about that bridge. It's a five minute respite from being available.
It's the tallest thing around here and if memory serves, at 431 feet, it's the tallest bridge in Florida. As tall as it is, it's a singular thrill to be crossing it when a cruise ship squeezes underneath it.
Driving north and home to St. Pete never ceases to inspire me. It feels like I'm landing an airplane on the downside of the hump and no photo I've ever seen or taken has come close to capturing the azure-emerald clarity of the water of the south Bay. "I live in paradise" I say to myself every time I'm making that drive.
It's difficult to live here and be near the water and not see that bridge. It looms over everything and it serves as our visual anchor. No matter where you are on land, air or sea, seeing the Skyway is an automatic location beacon. It's the pivot point around which the entirety of south Pinellas and north Manatee counties rotate.
It frames the sunsets and reminds me of the vast expanse and possibility of the Gulf of Mexico on its west side. The whole world's out there, just waiting.
That steel and concrete can join together to form such sculptural utility gives me hope for humanity. It reminds me time and again that art can be anywhere and that beauty abounds, it's just a matter of taking the time to make it and to appreciate it.
More than just about any other feature of the the part of the country I call home, The Sunshine Skyway feels like it's mine. It feels like my retreat, my point of reference, my personal bridge. No matter what happens, no one can take that away from me.