Redding, California
Turtle Bay and Sundial Bridge
Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay Exploration Park pedestrian walkway

The first day we drove from the Bay Area to Redding. On the way we made a side trip to Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory in Petaluma for the factory tour. The introductory video was very good, and so was the tour of the factory floor. At the end of the tour, everyone got a small packet of stickers that could be used to make Halloween postcards. There was also a factory store that had a few marked-down items, but mostly full-price sticker products. I saw a guy by $150 worth of stuff!

We arrived in Redding in the late afternoon and checked into the Oxford Suites hotel, a very nice and reasonably priced place to stay for a family of four. The included breakfast the next morning was mediocre, but a quick and convenient way to start the day. We checked out of the hotel and headed for Turtle Bay Exploration Park right in town. The park has a museum, garden, art gallery, playground, and cafe, with plenty of things to see and do for a few hours.

The centerpiece of the park, and the new landmark for the city of Redding, is the Sundial Bridge. This $23 million suspension bridge for pedestrians was designed by Spanish architect/engineer Santiago Calatrava. It has translucent decking to allow sunlight to filter through to the river below. We heard that it is spectacular at night because is it lighted from below, but we missed our chance to see it at night.

Redding Sundial Bridge
Sundial Bridge, Redding, California
The museum has an informative half-hour film about the bridge. We also saw a temporary exhibit about frogs, which included live specimens of blue poison-arrow frogs and many large color photographs of exotic frogs. We skipped the art museum. I would like to have seen the gardens, but I went to see Shasta Dam instead.

I was the only one who wanted to go on the tour of Shasta Dam, so I went by myself and left the rest of my family at Turtle Bay. It's about a half-hour drive from town. They give a few tours per day at scheduled times, first-come, first-serve, limit 40 persons per tour. During the summer they sometimes turn people away. But on that October weekday, I was the only person to show up for the 11 AM tour! For security reasons they have two tour guides per group, even a group of one. So I was given a private tour.
Shasta Dam
Shasta Dam and Shasta Lake (Mt. Shasta obscured by haze)

To get to the tour, I walked out to the farther of the two towers, where I went through a security check. The tour group (two guides and myself) took an elevator straight down into the dam. The elevator opened into a 300-foot corridor leading to the face of the dam. It was well-lighted and looked like the inside of a large office building. The tour guide clapped his hands to demonstrate the weirdest zinging echo sound I have ever heard. He invited me to make some sounds, and I had fun shouting and clapping and listening to the echoes.

We walked through the corridor to the outside of the dam near the bottom, where I could see the dam and five truck-sized pipes leading to the generator building. I was given a tour of the generator building, where the huge, 60-year-old rotors were being replaced with newer, more efficient rotors.

I recommend the Shasta Dam tour if you are interested in civil engineering or energy production. My family would have been bored by most of it, although my kids would have liked the echo chamber.

When I returned from the dam, we left Turtle Bay and headed for Hat Creek.

Next: Hat Creek

©2005 Gray Chang