It's no secret that we have fun finding innovative solutions to big problems. Recently, some fellow software engineers and I applied this to a couple of extracurricular activities.

In mid-August, Google moved into a new building in Mountain View, just west of our main campus in Mountain View, CA. Unfortunately, dinner was only available on main campus, just beyond Permanente Creek. Here's a map to help you visualize.

A few people joked about building a zip-line as a shortcut to cross the creek. One Friday afternoon our friend Doug said, "Hey, I just bought a cable to make a zip-line. Want to help?" By Saturday, we had one up and running.

In true Google fashion, we followed the "launch early and iterate" philosophy. The zip-line started with a single pulley traveling across the cable. We knew two pulleys would be faster, so Seth built a custom bracket to hold them together. Eventually, we upgraded to a professional trolley with harder wheels and ball bearings. After someone fell off the zip-line into the rather foul creek (don't worry, he's fine), we added grippy tape to the handlebar.

As we got better at running the zip-line, it became the normal way to cross the creek. Some of our friends still hadn't worked up the nerve to try it, though, and they insisted upon walking along Charleston Road instead. So Doug and I decided to build a bridge so that everyone could stay together. Here's the blueprint we came up with (alligator and piranhas not to scale):

The goal was to give people an easier way to cross — but not be so easy that they would stop using the zip-line altogether. Sure enough, those who worked up the nerve to try the bridge were met with a narrow, wobbly bucking beast. Like the zip-line, we improved the bridge incrementally. A week later, it had been tamed, and we were excited to show everyone.

But when we got in on Monday, we found that the bridge and zip-line were both gone: the city of Mountain View asked that it be taken down. Well, it was fun while it lasted, and for a few weeks Googlers had a faster and more exciting way to cross Permanente Creek. More importantly, it's great to know that we work at a company that lets us live out our rascally dreams.

Here are more pictures featuring the work of the entire G-Zip team (Seth LaForge, James Lyons, Vincent Mo, Doug Ricket, Michael Schultz):