Thursday, September 19, 2013

California Dreamin' Day Two

We Walked and Walked and Walked… and Walked

We spent most of the day in Prison. Literally. Alcatraz to be precise. Home of the most notorious very bad guys in history… Al Capone, Robert Strouse (the Birdman)... and others. We heard their own voices tell their stories. We felt an inkling of life with no agency. Fascinating, but so very sad that men through their own choices, lived the rest of their lives with none. A great audio tour allowed us to hear their thoughts and feel their pain. Most poignant to me was an inmate describing New Year’s Eve… if the wind was blowing their way, they could faintly hear the party at the Yacht Club way across the bay, the voices of girls laughing, the sound of the fireworks at midnight. Can hardly stand the thought of how hard it must have been to know that real living was so close… yet so far away. We’re anxious to rent the videos of Escape from Alcatraz and The Birdman of Alcatraz when we get home. Kudos to those who make this piece of history alive and accessible to all.

No, we didn’t walk to Alcatraz… it’s on an Island out in the bay. But we parked our car for the day… $18 for the pleasure, and walked and walked to Pier 33 where we caught the Alcatraz Cruise ship. It was a lovely day for a cruise, cool air, a bit of a breeze and again the sound of so many foreign voices around us. America’s Cup in San Francisco this year surely has brought visitors from all around the world. We had hoped to see a qualifying race on Friday, but apparently New Zealand edged the challengers out. The next race is on Sunday… and we will be on another leg of our California Dreamin’ Vaca. We did get to watch the US entry—sponsored by Larry Ellison of Oracle—make a practice run across the bay while we made the boat trip to Alcatraz. Amazingly fast! Later we walked down to the pier that is hosting the event, took some pics and reveled in what it must be like to live a different life. These are not your grandmother’s sailboats, carbonite construction allows them to skim along the top of the water… extreme high tech. We enjoyed exploring the America’s Cup Village and the exhibits that gave us a glimpse of understanding how the physics of sailing has changed. Remarkable. 

By now, I was beginning to slow down a bit. We had been walking all day with the exception of our boat ride to the Island of Alcatraz. I know we walked for miles and miles. Wish we had a pedometer to track our steps. We were a long way from our car so we began making our way back through the embarcadero shops and sites. Emilee would have liked spending more time in the shops, but by now I was dragging. We’d been too busy to stop for lunch so we were not only tired but hungry. We had bought a loaf of sourdough bread before heading to Alcatraz and enjoyed eating it French style on the cruise ship. But that was hours earlier. We were now being fueled by sugar from the salt water taffy.

We kept on walking… and walking… down to Fisherman’s Wharf where we finally decided on a restaurant to get some real food. We enjoyed our meal and the rest and again delighted in the many languages around about us. A father and his two teenage daughters with a language we didn’t know, kept us entertained, taking pictures of their American Cheeseburger… apparently a real treat.
We finally made it back to our car and on the drive home, happened upon the famous Lombard Street. Loved the thrill of the zig zag. Made our way back to our hotel… thankful we didn’t have to walk. What will tomorrow bring? More walking for sure… this time we’ll be smarter about our food choices.

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