Walking or jogging over the Halifax River at sunrise serves as a morning getaway to many Ormond Beach residents.
BY WAYNE GRANT | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
When the sun rises over the ocean and begins to stretch its rays across the Halifax River, rush hour starts on the Granada Bridge. Not the rush of cars and trucks, but rather the walkers, joggers and runners getting some exercise.
To the driver, this graceful span may be just another roadway, but to the pedestrian, it’s Mount Granada, a rare incline in Ormond Beach, which provides a workout and a scenic view at the same time.
The distance over the bridge and back can be as much as 2.1 miles, according to everytrail.com. On the west side, the traveler must follow the pier under the bridge to the other side. On the east side, he or she must walk the sidewalk around Rockefeller Gardens and then loop under the bridge to the other side.
The methods of crossing the bridge vary from peaceful strolls to heart-pounding runs — and the reasons for making the trek vary, too.
Dan Santa Rita, 80, makes two roundtrips over the bridge three or four times per week. Pointing at the sunrise, he said, “It makes you feel closer to heaven when you see that. “
But Santa Rita doesn’t just enjoy the view; he’s also in it for the challenge.
“It makes you work harder,” he said. “It improves my health. I have better endurance and breathing the rest of the day.”
Sandy Glover, makes five weekly roundtrips of the bridge with her canine companion, Charlie, an Australian shepherd.
“It’s good for him,” she said, as the pair took a short break at the top of the bridge. “He needs lots of running and exercise. The doctor recommended walking to keep his weight down. ... It’s great cardiovascular, and the view is beautiful.”
Cheryl Burke, 63, says she has also been walking the bridge almost every morning for the past nine years. Starting from her home several miles away, her total walk is about three miles.
“I feel safe walking here,” she said. “We’re all here for the same reason, to get some exercise.”
Sandra Evans, 37, and Melany Carpenter, 39, say they get a spiritual reward, in addition to the exercise. “When you see the rays of the sun coming up, it just takes you to a whole new level,” Evans said. “It makes you feel great.”
Carpenter only started walking three weeks ago, she said, and has already lost several pounds.
“I’ve never seen a place to walk as beautiful as this,” she said. “You’re surrounded by water. It makes you feel so much better.”
Other residents, though, like Melinda Brown, 54, walk for social reasons.
“We talk the entire way,” she said, nodding at her companion, Kathy Silbermann, 58. They meet at the bridge two or three times per week to get some exercise and catch up each others’ lives.
“When you have high school kids, it helps to get away for awhile,” Brown said, laughing. “It’s good physically and mentally.”