Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 6 - Alcatraz!

We finally made it to Alcatraz on our third trip to San Francisco, just JR, John and I this time (Ashley had to work today.)  We made our way to the Wharf via a really luxurious mode of travel here in San Fran called Uber, which are what JR called the "black" cars.  He arranged for these via an app on his phone and within minutes the car had arrived.  Nice! Both coming and going these were Lincolns, and you know how much I love those Lincolns. Sigh....
Our tickets were for the 11am boat to the island, and we boarded about 10:45. A few minutes on the water and we were disembarking in front of the prison.  We arrived at the dock in front of the prison and after an introduction to the island by a National Park Service, we walked through the guardhouse and by what remains of the Post Exchange and Officer's Club.  The prison started life as a military base. These buildings were beautiful in their disrepair. Moss, weather and time has worn them into shells of what they used to be.  It looks like the National Park Service is doing some renovation of the buildings, but I'm sure its going to take a long time, and lots of money.

We then took a look at the prison morgue (eerie!) with it's one slab and some wicked looking equipment, and storage lockers at the back.
Walking into the prison itself, we picked up some audio equipment for a self-guided tour through the prison itself.  Contrary to what I had always believed, there were a few prison breaks at Alcatraz, which I was surprised to discover.  We got to walk into a few cells, walked through D block and into one of the isolation cells.  These cells are so tiny, I do think people used to be so much smaller then they are now.  There was a prison library, a larger room then what I had expected.
Some of the walks around the island were blocked due to it being bird nesting season, but I would have liked to have seen more of the island gardens.  The ones near the prison itself were just gorgeous -- I'm so jealous of how well everything grows out here in California.  One of the most interesting plants I saw was a nightshade, just amazing. That plant embodied the prison feeling down to the barbs on its leaves and stems.  Gorgeous, and deadly.  I wish I could get one of these for my yard.  The succulents were huge and beautiful, also.
We had a great time!
After our trip back to the mainland, we enjoyed walking along the piers and had lunch at one of the little seafood places on the dock.  Lots and lots of tourists already.  No, I didn't eat any chowder, JR did.  John and I both had some shrimp and watched the people go by.  Part of the fun of being in San Francisco is people watching, you can see and hear people from all over the world here.  So many languages.
After walking by to see the sea lions on their floating docks, we made out way home to rest.  A very nice day!


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