A Greedy Seagul, and a Great Escape.

Trip Start Nov 17, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm on a train from San Francisco on my way to Las Vegas. I have a cookie and a coffee, and the view out of the window looks a bit like the UK, American houses and roads but lots of fields and farmland.  Lets talk about San Francisco.

We lay in  a little and then went to post office.  This was yesterday.  We walked to union square, went in the Westfield Mall which had the spiral escalators, and then caught the cable car to Powell st.  It awesome!  We got to hang off the edge.  They go really fast down the hills, and you have to be careful because you get pretty close to vans and posts and things on the side of the street.  At one point the guy warned us because we were about to go past a lorry….we had about a foot to squeeze into against the side of the cable car.  It was almost like being back in Orlando.

We walked to Ghirardelli square and looked around there, bought another hot fudge brownie sundae and sat on some steps by a beach in the sun while we ate it.  As usual I couldn’t finish it.  I put the bowl down next to me…and spotted a seagull watching me from close by.  He was very daring, only about 3 feet away.  He had his head cocked to one side and kept looking from me to the bowl.  I said 'I’m done, you can have it’ and pushed it towards him.  He quickly hopped backwards, but kept his eye on me and the bowl.  He crept forwards again.  I kept saying he could have it and pushing it a little closer, and he kept hopping away, and then creeping back, with that same cautious look in his eye.  Then as I was looking the other way, all of a sudden he grabbed it and dragged it away and tried to gobble it up!  It was so funny…. mostly because I was quite happy for him to have it and he was still being so cautious.  It’s like he had gone ‘YES!  I’VE GOT IT!’  Then to top it off,  he swallowed the whole thing it one gulp….and it wasn’t small.  About 2 by 2 inches.  I was panicking then….’Oh my god I’ve killed a seagull!’  He stayed there for ages and I thought he might be ill.  His wing was hanging down a bit and he wasn’t flying very far, only up onto the wall.  But after a while, and a little walk, he came back for more, so he must have been ok.  He had his eye on Kt’s now, so I cut it up into smaller pieces and tipped it onto the ground so we could put our trays in the bin.   Then we walked to Fisherman’s wharf, and pier 33 to get our ferry to Alcatraz.

We had a great view as we sailed across the bay to Alcatraz Island.  We got off the boat and walked up the hill to the Cell Block to collect our head phones for the audio tour.  You have to go in through the shower room, collect your  headphones and then head upstairs to the cell block.  The audio tour was great…it was narrated by actual former inmates and guards, and there were some great sound effects,  The sound effects were almost constant, with the narration over the top.  The tour took you up and down the cell blocks, which had nicknames like Broadway and Michigan Avenue, it took you to the recreation yard, outside to see the view of San Francisco, back inside to the wardens office, the visitation area, back to some more cells where the dummy heads were that were used for the only escape attempt that may have been successful, and finally into the dining area, which was known as Times Square.,  After the tour, I went up to the hospital wing, which I had never seen because it is only open at night.  It’s so creepy.   There is an operating theatre where they have the chair and the light above it, and a cabinet with gauze and bottles and things inside.  There is also a hydrotherapy room with metal bathtubs, some other pretty random rooms and then finally the wards, with the beds, and other doctors equipment.  It’s so creepy.  Al Capone spent a lot of time in the hospital wing.  I went back downstairs into the gift shop and we decided to go outside to listen to the walking tour about a prisoner who escaped, was thought to be dead but then came back.  The tour guide bored me, so I went back inside to watch the cell door demo, because I had really wanted to hear that anyway.  I’m glad I did, it was the best part by far.  The guy went up to the second level so we could see him, and opened a small door on the end where all the levers were.  There is one that you  can  position to select which doors to open.  He opened cell 3.  Then  he closed cell 3 and opened 4, 5, and 7 at the same time.  These levers controlled the 14 cells on this side of the cut off, on the second level.  There is another set of levers on the other side.  At the end, he opened and closed all 14 doors at once.  It echoed all over the cell block….it was so eerie.  He explained that this sound was so significant, because it was heard so often during an inmate’s day…maybe 14 times a day.  It happened when you got up, before and after every meal, recreation, work and everything else an inmate did.  At the end he explained that tourists used to ask to be locked in  a cell for the experience, but on a few occasions the doors would get stuck, so they would get a much longer experience than they wanted!  They are not allowed to lock tourist in the cells anymore.  So instead, he told us to close our eye and imagine we were in  a cell.  He opened and closed the doors one last time.  \after they closed, everyone just stood there, imagining they were locked in a cell.  We all gradually opened our eyes, and he said ‘would you like to escape from Alcatraz?’  We all said ‘Yes!’ and he said  ‘we have a boat waiting for you down at the dock.’ 

On the way back down the hill I ran into Kt who told me all about the tour she had watched.  She made it sound really funny  The guy planned this really well thought out escape, where he would use paint cans to float.  He spent months collecting paint cans,  by pretending he was painter, so he get paint brought to him in his cell.  But when he came to escape, he didn’t make the hole big enough for the cans,. So he had to go without them.  He got out, but the alarms went off, so he hid in a cave thinking the guards were looking for him, but they thought he was dead.  He was afraid to come out at first in case he got caught, but soon realised that he would probably die of starvation or something.   So he stepped out of the cave thinking he would be shot.  When he didn’t get shot, he didn’t know what to do.  His solution was to break back into Alcatraz and get arrested  again.   There are some very amusing escape attempt stories.  My favourite is the one about 3 prisoners who built a raft and got all the way out past the GG Bridge, only to find that the tide brought them right back in and washed them back up onto Alcatraz.  Then there was the guy who got a job in the laundry, spent months collecting all the parts of a military uniform so he could sneak off the island disguised as a military man, but accidently went to Angel Island right into the middle of a military base.  Of course, he was sent strait back to Alcatraz.

We on the other hand, were allowed to leave.  We walked back to Fishermans Wharf and got a tram back to Market Street.  We went to bed early because we had to get up early the next day to go to Vegas.
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Elltel on

Have a Great Christmas and New Year Miss you Loads
Elltel x

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