Its hard to believe that we have already been home from our amazing trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley for over a week! We had a such an amazing time and I have so much to share with everyone. To begin, I figured I would cover a major San Francisco attraction: Alcatraz Island. On my first visit to San Francisco, I chose to skip this stop, but after taking a ferry by the island, I realized that I should have made the trip. However, you have to book your tickets ahead of time because they sell out quickly, sometimes weeks in advance. Knowing this and not wanting to miss out, I bought out tickets two months before our trip!
It was a beautiful day for our expedition to the Island. After a short ferry ride, we arrived and gathered around a park ranger who told us a little bit about what to expect and where things were, and then we were off to explore. We first checked out a video that gave a great overview of the history of Alcatraz Island and then caught up with another park ranger giving a a more in-depth tour, so we decided to follow him and were so happy we did! These park ranger tours take you into places of the Island you otherwise could not go. The rangers have such a love for Alcatraz and enjoy sharing their knowledge. Following the tour we headed up to the cell block where we did the guided audio tour. Normally I avoid these, but here it is a must. The tour is narrated/directed by Correctional Officers and prisoners from when Alcatraz was a Federal Prison and gives such a unique, in-depth view of life on the Island. We ended up spending about three hours on the Island and it was such a fantastic, touristy thing to do! Needless to say, I got plenty of photos - get ready!
|View from the ferry: Coit Tower and the Trans America Building|
|Arriving at the Island|
|In the 1970's a group of Native Americans occupied Alcatraz in an effort to have more lands recognized in the states|
|Where the Officers and their Families lived|
|We Made It!|
|Cheap concrete and iron does not hold up in the harsh, salty conditions of the Bay|
|The gate we got to go behind|
|Various foundations from the civil war era as a base, to today|
|Tunnel to bring the gun powder from one side of the Island to the other|
|In the tunnel...|
|Looking up to the cell block|
|Views out towards Angel Island|
|Cell Block Entrance|
|An example of a typical prison cell...|
|The Hole - AKA solitary confinement|
|In front of the administration building - so close (1.5 miles) to the shore that inmates could hear people in the city!|
|Fog rolling in and hiding the Golden Gate Bridge (plenty of photos of that in another post...)|
|Such a cool view...|
In the 1960's three men actually attempted an escape from Alcatraz. Initial reports indicated this could not happen and they must have died in the water, but the Government recently admitted that evidence was found suggesting these men actually made it in their make-shift raft and life vests (pieces of the life vests were found on Angel Island), and that a car was reported stolen in a nearby suburb the night of the escape. The brains of the operation, who actually did not attempt to leave the island, was working on fixing the roof and had access to many different areas of the prison and materials to make the escape a reality. The park ranger said that the families of the escapees gathered to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the escape and that Federal Marshalls were on hand, just in case any of the three prisoners brazenly came with them! Of course, Whitey Bulger wrote a note to the families members after he was caught saying he know the truth. Isn't Whitey always involved!?
|A diagram of the escape|
|Holes carved out around the radiator with spoons. They used cardboard, painted in the correct colors and grid pattern to cover the hole|
|The Rec Yard|
|At the rec yard|
Needless to say, we had an amazing time exploring Alcatraz and learned so much! I would highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in San Francisco. One tip we learned (while in Dubai of all places) was to get on an early boat because the Island gets crowded quickly.
There will be plenty more posts coming. This is just to get your feet wet!