From all I read and heard, the boat trip to Alcatraz is uber-cold. I layered up with all I could and we walked down to Pier 33 from our hotel for our 9am ferry.
Next to our ferry boat, I saw this hybrid ferry boat. Aren’t the wind turbines on it neat? The morning was a sunny one. Our ferry pushed away from the dock and we were on our way. As the sun rose, so did the temperature. Amazingly, I didn’t need all those layers afterall! Soon we were at Alcatraz island and we disembarked. We were fortunate to be able to take advantage of, all things, a free garden tour of the grounds. What? GARDEN tour? At Alcatraz? Yes, indeed. Gardens, we came to find out, were an integral part of the island and its history. You can click on alcatrazgardens.org for more info.
We learned some neat things on the garden tour. We met one volunteer who’s specialty is composting and vermiculture. He’s even won awards for that stuff! Even more impressive is that he’s been able to get a compost pile to generate heat up to 170 degrees – wow! (I am SUCH a green nerd!). Another neat thing we learned was that, among all the beautiful flowers, the Welsh Rose was grown on Alcatraz. It’s a good thing that it was, because in the meantime, the Welsh Rose went extinct in Wales, England. Clippings of the rose were sent from Alcatraz back to Wales so that country could have its flower back!
The fireplace you see in the ruins is from the Warden’s house (actually a mansion). The mansion was built on the highest point of the island. I’m sure it was quite something before it burnt. The views from there were beautiful. When our garden tour was done, we went on the sheeple walking tour of the prison. Here’s David in a jail cell! The cells with the thick doors are solitary confinement – eeek!
Here’s the cell of one of the guys that may have actually successfully escaped from the prison.
And this picture is just for Janine, since she made several requests to see me behind bars. With my sunglasses and walking tour headset on, I TOTALLY look like a sad Valley Girl that just got thrown in the can!
After our tour, we got back on the ferry boat to get back to the wharf. As we left Alcatraz, I saw this sign.
When we got back, we grabbed lunch, then walked back to our suite where we dumped our stuff, and headed back out to explore. We went to the Musee Mechanique. What a wild place! It had all sorts of old arcade games. The admission was free, but where they make their money is when you play the games. Yep, they alll worked! There were games, music machines, claw machines, old risque movies and other cool oddities, as you can see from some of my pics below:
After exploring Musee Mecanique, we walked down Pier 45. Hey, is this Rosie or Wendy the Riveter?!?
You can see the walkway for the U.S.S. Pamanito submarine in the background. It was our next stop, where we did an interesting walking tour inside the sub. I don’t know how the Navy guys could live in such a confined place for several months at a time in such tight quarters. Could you live here?
From here we walked down to see the turn-aroundfor the Cable Hyde cable car. The line to get on was super-long, so we skipped that. We went back to Pier 39 to see the Sea Lions. On the way there we saw some neat things:
There weren’t a whole lot of sea lions at Pier 39, but they were fun to watch nonetheless. We also watched the boats going by, even the Rocket Boat take off.[vimeo vimeo.com/32425701]
It was nice hanging out at the pier, just chillin and observing the activity around us. After a while, we decided to have our last supper back at Boudin Bakery. As we approached, I saw an awesome 2 person table on the small balcony upstairs at their restaurant. I had a feeling, sort of a gravitational pull, to that spot. We went inside and as we made our way upstairs, I spied another interesting bread animal. This one was of a huge sourdough alligator eating a smaller bread alligator!
We walked up to the hostess and asked if we could sit outside. Almost immediately, we were whisked away to that very balcony table that I saw from outside. It was meant to be! We had a great view and were able to chat and reflect on all of our awesome adventures. After our tasty dinner, we walked back to our hotel and packed up for our flight back to Atlanta. Out plane was taking off at 7am PT, so we had to get up at 4:30am. Yeahhh, it was an early night for us! As I finished packing, I was a little sad that our trip was coming to a close…but then I remembered the quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I’m bringing home with me, much more than the few clothes I was packing. Indeed, I was bring home a whole new set of fabulous memories shared with my best friend, whom I love so dearly. I wonder where our next trip will bring us?