Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 5 - Exploring San Francisco, CA!

Since we got back really late last night to update the blog, I'm starting on it this morning and then will most likely finish it tonight along with an update from today....

Yesterday was a day set aside to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco, CA!! We began by taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), their version of a Metro, into the city and then hoping a cable car down to the waterfront & Fisherman's Wharf. The views along the way were amazing and the hills were VERY steep! The cable car was pretty crowded with people, but we were able to get some cool shots along the way.

Hyde & Powell St. Street Car picking up passengers.

Getting ready to turn around.

The hilly streets of San Francisco! Glad we weren't walking!

Another view of the steep hills & beautiful homes of San Francisco!

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the street car.

Once we arrived at the waterfront, we admired the gorgeous view and headed for Ghirardelli Square to buy some delish chocolate! The main Ghirardelli factory is closed, but they turned it into a shopping center with the main chocolate shop in the center. There was also a cool fountain that Kylie couldn't resist throwing in some money!

The original Ghirardelli sign

Just enter these door for delicious chocolate! We definitely took advantage of this stop!!

Kylie getting money from Mom-Mom to throw in the fountain - make a wish!!

After buying more chocolate than we probably need, we made our way along the waterfront & the many piers to find lunch, take in the sights, & find the pier for our cruise to famous Alcatraz Penitentiary. At the start of our walk, there was a small strip of beach along the Bay that Kylie insisted she play in. She was definitely upset when we had to go, but she was able to take off her shoes and play a bit. From there we made our way along, stopping at a souvenir shop for some postcards, magnets, etc. and then to a restaurant for lunch where we got a table right on the water! We stopped briefly at Pier 39 to watch the sealions who make their home there before making it to Pier 33 to catch our cruise to Alcatraz.

Kylie playing in the sand along San Francisco Bay! Definitely our beach girl!

The sign at the famous Fisherman's Wharf of San Francisco!

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the waterfront - we never got to cross the bridge, but the views of it were terrific!

The noisy sealions of Pier 39 - definitely fun to watch!

Pier 39 - there was so much to do there, you need a whole day to get it all in!

After a bit of a wait in line, we all boarded the cruise ship for our short trip across the Bay to Alcatraz! The ride was wonderful with lots of cool breezes off the water and views of the entire city. Once there we got a brief introduction from a Park Ranger and then we were on our own to tour the prison and enjoy the island. We did an audio tour that had narrations from former prison guards & inmates of Alcatraz. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and we learned many different things about the life of the prison that we never knew before. Prisoners today should all have a tour and see what life was like on "The Rock!"

U.S. Penetentiary Alcatraz - view from our cruise ship

The guard tower

Sign greeting you when you land on the island - the "Indians Welcome" painted above it is remnant of the 19 mos. Indian occupation in 1969. Other evidence could be seen on various spots around the prison.

The entrance to the administration part of the prison. The warden's office, control room, & visitor's area were all housed here.

After a small tour on our own, we entered the main prison and did the audio tour. It was fascinating all you learn about Alcatraz, not only when it was a maximum security prison, but also when it was a military prison & the reasons why it finally closed in 1963. We heard stories about the famous & not so famous inmates, escape attempts, and about general life on the island. We were most surprised to find out that many of the correctional officers & the warden and their families called Alcatraz home along with the hundreds of inmates. There were cottages & apartments for the officers & their families on the island and according to a woman who lived on the island as a child, life was very pleasant. They never came in contact with the inmates and were even envied by their friends & classmates! Also, only one escape attempt in 1962 was successful. Three men created fake heads out of paper mache and placed them in their beds to look like themselves during the night head count. They had been working for months on digging out a hole behing the vents in their cells and after 6 months of planning and digging, they made their escape! They were not found out until the following morning and by that point, they were long gone. They were never heard from again. Many people believe they died in the dangerous waters of the San Francisco Bay and others believe they went on to live normal lives in freedom. We will never know!

Kylie checking out the photos of the 4 wardens of Alcatraz.

The cells on B Block.

Daddy & Jilly in one of the solitary confinement cells on D Block - this is where the inmates would go if they didn't behave - they were sometimes left in these cells for up to 19 hours at a time!

Kylie inside one of the solitary cells doing a little dance.

Entrance to the main prison.

A furnished cell - the way it would've looked when the prison was still active.

Pictures of some of the famous inmates at Alcatraz - notably Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, & Robert Stroud (The Birdman of Alcatraz)

The lighthouse on Alcatraz.

The remains of the Warden's House.

A look down what the inmates used to call "Broadway".

Evidence of the blast when Marines had to intervene on the island during a 2 day hostage situation when 2 inmates overtook the prison.

Craig wanted to caption this - "Wait - I thought I got out of the Navy!"

Daddy, Kylie, & Jillian hanging out in one of the cells.

The menu board in the dining hall with the breakfast menu on the day that Alcatraz closed its doors - March 21, 1963.

One of the tear gas canisters in the dining hall for when the inmates got out of hand. It was only used as an absolute last resort because it would also effect the guards who were in the room as well.

A quote at the beginning of the tour. Another favorite was Regulation #5 - You are required to receive food, shelter, and medical attention. Everything else is a privilege! That about says it all about life on "The Rock"!

We ended our day in the city by the Bay with dinner with our friends, Brooke & Aaron Hoff. They drove two hours from Monterey, CA to meet us in Oakland at the Pacific Coast Brewing, Co. for dinner. Mom-Mom was wonderful and kept the girls in the room so Mom & Dad could have a night out to relax. We had a great time catching up Brooke & Aaron and enjoying a nice quiet evening, which allowed us to relax and unwind from a long day. Thank you, Brooke & Aaron for driving 2 hours to come and see us!

Aaron, Brooke, Kim, & Craig - a good night with good friends! It was great seeing you guys and we pray that God continues to bless you both! Thank you for a great time!!

Our time in San Francisco has come to an end, but we loved every minute of it! We are now onto Mariposa, CA at the beginning of Yosemite National Park. Stay tuned..... ~The Thayers & Mom-Mom :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We loved getting to see y'all too. Have a great trip and say hello to everyone for us.
Brooke & Aaron