May 5, 2012

Trip Start Apr 28, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This morning  we headed into San Francisco and our excursion to “Alcatraz”.  Again this morning we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, and this trip over was just as awe inspiring as our first crossing, because the roadway is so high you cannot see much of the
approaching city, but just the visuals of the bridge construction and the roadway holds your attention completely.
 After finding a parking lot close to Fisherman’s Warf we set off to find a restaurant for lunch; and we found a delightful place overlooking the harbor called “Alioto’s” where we both had a
delicious fish stew
Rather than walking down The Embarcadero we decided to take the trolley, this was a vintage trolley; the kind I remember riding as a child in Philadelphia, it was great and it brought back many wonderful memories. 
Arriving at the Alcatraz Departure Point we obtained our tickets and boarded the ferry for the trip across the bay. On the ride over we sat on the top for the view of the surrounding area,
it was windy and chilly, but the sun made it bearable.  Alcatraz Island was the site of the first
lighthouse and fort on the west coast built by the U.S., after serving in this role through the Civil War it was turned into an Army detention center and later became a federal penitentiary for the worst of the worst prisoners in the system. 
Attorney General Robert Kennedy closed the penitentiary because it had become too expensive to maintain, and it fell on disrepair for several years until it was taken over by The National Park Service. 
In the 1960’s during the “Peace, love and protest period” it was occupied by Indians from several tribes for 18 months.  The Park Service is trying to preserve the island and the buildings, but it is an enormous task.  Many of the structures are in disrepair to such a point that there is a debate about what history should be told.  Is a complete reconstruction of the buildings the story to tell or should they convey the story of the island as it existed when the Park Service took over the facility?  They are currently reconstructing some of the more important features and intentionally leaving other buildings in disrepair and in some cases in a totally collapsed condition. 
A self-guided audio tour took us through the cell blocks and the administrative buildings, with the narration given from the point of view of both a prisoner and a guard; and through this narration you felt as if they were speaking directly to you. 
Life at Alcatraz was extremely hard as the facility was there to incarcerate the men not to rehabilitate them.  The cells were extremely small and the privileges given to the men were
almost nonexistent. 
Because the island was not used for many years the sea birds virtually took over parts of the
island and during the nesting season those parts of the island are closed off to the public, and this is that time of the year so we did not get to walk the entire island; but what we did see was fantastic
After returning to the mainland we walked up to “Fisherman’s Warf” where we watched the Sea Lions at Pier 39, they have taken over part of the marina area, and because they are a protected species they are free to do whatever they want, luckily they are only in a small section of the marina.  We watched them for about a half hour, doing whatever it is that sea lions do. 
Before returning to the camper we had a wonderful fish dinner at “Lou’s”, a restaurant on Fisherman’s Warf.

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