Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Project 30: The Rock

Alcatraz Island

Task 26/30: Visit Alcatraz Island
Complete: November 22, 2008

Who would have thought that an afternoon visit to a prison would be so lovely? I couldn't have chosen a better day to sail upon the San Francisco Bay out to the famous Alcatraz island. Thanks to the internet, I was able to wait until the last minute to decide how much I wanted to sleep in, booking my ticket early in the morning with enough time to park and walk to the loading dock. The tour seemed to be sold out, and full, but not crowded. I was happy to go to the island about mid day and missing the morning fog. As usual, traveling alone allows me to get to the front and premium seating or able to break away from the big packs with my quick walking, so I felt happy with my whole trip in a way that I don't normally feel happy around tourists. The ride on the bay was absolutely beautiful, but still brisk. When we docked on Alcatraz, I purchased the self tour map and quickly walked away from the masses and up the hill into the cellhouse. It was nice because while I never take the audio tour, this time I knew I wanted to and I did not want to be on the same pace as the rest of the entire boat that I just landed with. I knew that I could linger my way back down the hill and around the island after, but was there to see the jail. The audio tour was great, and I actually really enjoyed my walk through history. It was most crazy to me to think that the prisoners would get these glimpses of the beauty just out of their reach. It reminded me of the jail in Boston that sits with the best views of the river. As a sociologist, I found myself imagining the thoughts of the people that walked the halls, what it must have felt like to live in that tiny space. I tried to imagine the stories of then happening in the times of now and realize how very far we have come in terms of the prison system that we often bash for being out of date. I found myself deciding to take the long seasonal route around the back of the island and through some amazingly large agave plants. It was neat to be walking just steps from the short of the bay as it splashed on the rocks. It was such a lovely afternoon and I found myself so excited to take in more of the city that I decided that 2.5 hours on the island was enough and got in line for the ferry back. I found that I enjoyed the whole experience on Alcatraz way more than I possibly expected, but was much more captivated by a chance to see the beauty of the bay from a different viewpoint. I definitely think that I will be scheduling a visit to Angel Island next, but for now, calling this MISSION COMPLETE (and a much better way to spend $25 than the Winchester Mystery House!)

Some pictures...

Alcatraz Island Alcatraz Island - National Park Service

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island - Warning Sign Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island - Water Tower

Alcatraz Island - Watch Tower

Alcatraz Island - Approaching the dock

Alcatraz Island

The whole set of pictures here.

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