8/24/2008

We did our “Escape from Alcatraz” today… it was more like escape from ass clowns, kamikaze short people who kept bumping into us and waiting in line… but it was worth it…

We started out leaving the motor home at 7:15am, stopped at McDonald’s for a quick breakfast, then to the BART station. We obtained a good parking spot, purchased tickets and then went up to the platform where a train was waiting. After a 10 minute wait, the train started on it’s way. We were in downtown San Francisco 45 minutes later.

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Our boat arrived - named "Escape"

We needed to get to Pier 33 where the Hornblower tour company was located. Our options were to take a city bus, cable car or walk. We ended up walking the mile and a half down Market street and down the Piers to our destination. We made it in 30 minutes – right on time – 9:00am. We purchased our tickets online, so all we had to do was obtain a yellow card and then wait in the yellow line for the boat to arrive. The yellow signified that were we doing the tour of Angel Island and Alcatraz. We then waited 35 minutes for our boat to arrive and to board.

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Alcatraz Island with SF skyline in the background

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I think John prefers to be the Captain of the ship instead of a passenger..

The boat took 30 minutes to get to Angel Island. On the way it had to stop at Alcatraz Island so the “boat could touch the island” – some sort of rule or technicality they must follow. We then arrived at Angel Island. After we boarded, we waited in a group for a guide to explain that we needed to board two trams. She basically explained that there was not room for everyone on the two trams, but there would be a second tour in an hour. She explained that were was plenty of time and to not hurry. We managed to get on the first tram. I was a bit under whelmed with the tour, but the island does have an interesting history and some pretty views of the bay. We were not able see the Golden Gate Bridge very well because of low clouds, but did see lots of pretty sail boats and the city skyline.

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View from Angel Island

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I'm checking out what I can see of the Golden Gate Bridge - not much....

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Glimpse of the Japanese internment camp.. it is being renovated right now...

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Both of us.... Two pictures I combined into one....

After the tram tour, we waited in line for some lunch. We settled on turkey sandwiches and nachos. There is no food service on Alcatraz, so we figured we should eat something…. After eating, we spent a half hour watching sailboats and jelly fish int he water while waiting for the boat to arrive

John and I both agree that we would like to return to the Island sometime and spend a day on bike or Segway to see everything in more depth. They do allow some type of primitive camping on the island and John said that “he would do it once” – so I will have to research it….

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John, Live at Alcatraz.... He walks the line....

We then boarded the boat and in 20 minutes we were on Alcatraz Island. Upon our arrival, we were required to stop and listen to a park ranger explain some safety rules that amounted to don’t be stupid, run or go where you are not supposed to. We then hightailed it up to the main cell block for the audio tour. This is the best audio tour I have taken – it does a really good job of creating the ambiance of being incarcerated here “back in the day”. The tour featured guards and inmates who spent time “on The Rock”. The building was pretty much as I remembered it – with the addition of some Plexiglas installed in front of some of the cell blocks that had been decorated to look like they did back when prisoners were here.

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One of the cells - very small, and depressing....

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View of SF skyline from Alcatraz

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One of the cells where the famous escape occurred. They dug out the heating vent in back with eating utensils.

We then spent some time wandering around looking at some of the other buildings and checking out some more exhibits, watching a Discovery Channel video about Alcatraz and also a four part video about the Indian occupation of Alcatraz. This is the second time I have been here, and each time I leave thinking that the park service really needs to fix the place up some more. Many builds are just empty shells, boarded up, broken windows and in a state of disrepair. Yes, some buildings were burnt in the early 1970’s when the Indians occupied the island, and the weather is hard on things, but they really could do better. You would think they could rebuild some of the destroyed buildings to be historically accurate…. oh well… it is still an interesting place to visit…. It would have been a sad and lonely place to be locked up in…. I also noticed that the Rules and Regulations of Alcatraz are similar to the rules that John imposes around the RV – especially rules #1 – #5. I asked John about this and he said “well, they’re good rules”… I draw the line if John attempts to get me an “inmate number”.

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View of lighthouse ruins on top of island.

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In line, waiting to board the boat on the way back to Pier 33...

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Another view of SF skyline on our way back to Pier 33

We then waited in line for 15 minutes to board the boat back to Pier 33. The trip back took us 20 minutes and it was interesting to see all of the people from other countries around us. Next to us was a family from Germany, next to John was a couple from China talking to a man from Australia.. I also noticed lots of tourist chicken all around – it’s fun to look ;). After we go back on land, we walked down the pier back to Market Street. On the way, we stopped at a Taylor’s Automatic Refresher for supper. They specialize in upscale fast food. I had fish tacos, John had a hamburger and we shared a order of fries. The fries were a bit odd, they were covered in olive oil infused with something that resembled pesto… they were ok…. the fish taco’s were a bit bland – I think too many tasteless tomatoes in it… but I was hungry so they were fine….

We then sauntered back to the Embarcadero BART station and waited 10 minutes for the train to arrive. 45 minutes later were we in Pleasanton, and then 15 minutes later we were home. We are now both tired – we did lots of walking and John’s face is a bit sun kissed… Prince was very happy to see us. He greeted us on the front dashboard with lots of meows – I think he was telling us about his day and all of the coming and goings around the mobile home park.

John goes in for day 1 of this two day Home Depot training. He has to drive 35 miles to the training center, so he is leaving at 7:00am with hopes of arriving by 8:30am.

If you have not done so yet, please place your vote in John’s Home Depot poll…

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My first avocado dip... not too bad for first attempt.....

Also – my first attempt at making guacamole dip turned out well. I used 4 small avocados, 1/2 an onion, 1 tomato, 1 garlic clove and lemon juice. I mashed the avocados with a spoon and used my handy chopper to mince the onion. I might add some jalapeno’s or sour cream on top next time I make it…

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