Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Visit to Alcatraz and Angel Island

We really wanted to go to Alcatraz, but when we looked at the tours for when we would be in the area, the only thing available was a tour to both Angel Island and Alcatraz so we decided to take that one.

We booked the tour a little over two weeks ago and were glad we did.  Once we got to San Francisco, all tours were sold out until the end of July.

We left bright and early in order to make our 9:40 departure time.

The one nice thing about the heat is that San Francisco has not been foggy.  A local told us that when there is no fog around San Francisco, it usually means the inland is very hot.

San Francisco still has cool temperatures. Today it was in the 60's most of the day.

We loaded on our boat to cross over the bay to Angel Island, but first we crossed in front of our afternoon destination, Alcatraz.

We crossed in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This was our first glimpse of Angel Island which was used from 1910 to 1940 to process immigrants, mostly Chinese, as they came to the U.S.   It is often referred to as "the Ellis Island of the West".  It was also Fort McDowell in the late 1800's and was used to process returning Spanish-American War soldiers.

During World War II, many soldiers returned here for their processing home.

Today, it is a California State Park.

Once we arrived, we were given a brief lecture by a park ranger and we then boarded trams to take us around the island on a narrated tour.

There were some pretty neat views, here is Alcatraz in front of San Francisco.

I got a picture of the Italian's America Cup catamaran practicing with the San Francisco backdrop.

After our tram tour, we had a relaxing lunch on the terrace overlooking the water at a little sandwich shop.

It was then time to get back on the boat and head to our next destination, Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz is best known for the penitentiary that operated here from 1933 to 1963, but the fort was originally built to protect San Francisco during the gold rush and Civil War.

Today, Alcatraz is a National Park for us to visit as well as a bird sanctuary.   I snapped this picture of a pelican looking out, however there is nothing behind it, so it is free to fly out.

The thing that really struck me about the island was the contrasts.  At one point it looks like an Italian villa overlooking the ocean.

Flowers and gardens were all around.

Then there was the prison.

As we entered the prison cell area, we were given headphones for an audio tour.  It was very well done with commentary by actual prisoners and the haunting sounds of closing cell doors and prison riots.

This was one of the main cell blocks.

Here is the recreation yard.

This was D Block, the maximum security unit.

There were even cells set up with some of the activities of some of the prisoners.

The sea gulls are all over the island right now with their babies.  Here is one with her baby that took over the fireplace in the warden's home.

 We saw another one sitting on the concrete rail among the flowers and when you look below her,

there was the baby.

There were more great views.

Here is Oracle, the U.S. America Cup catamaran in front of San Francisco.

We enjoyed watching the birds and admiring the views as much as the visit to the prison.

About 4, we joined many others as we boarded the ferry back to San Francisco.

We were really glad we had not only gone to Alcatraz, but also Angel Island.  It was a wonderful tour!

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