What to Expect from a Trip to Alcatraz.

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It’s very surprising that being from the bay area, I had never been to Alcatraz until this past weekend.  I knew I’d eventually make it there but didn’t feel a sense of urgency since it’s just right there in the bay and I see it from a distance all the time.  My mom and stepdad had never been either so we planned a trip with Rob, who had been but many years ago, for this past Saturday.  It was interesting and beautiful even though so many dark things have happened on this little island.

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Included in your ticket price is your ferry ride over to the island from Pier 33 and also the audio tour of the prison.

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The ferry offers beautiful sweeping views of the city.

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Once you arrive, you are greeted by a park ranger who explains all the details of where you need to go and what times to be able to return to SF.  They will also point you in the right direction of where to pick up your audio tours from to get started around the property.

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The watch tower on the island.

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Walking up to the prison, you pass a lot of buildings that are falling apart but were instrumental in running Alcatraz.

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The audio tours are definitely the way to go.  They are so well organized and dictate the history at a good pace.  Here’s Rob in the Library room.

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Pretending to be locked up 🙂

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Views from the tiny hallway prison windows.  It must be so eerie to see the lively city as you are confined to the concrete walls.

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There were three escapees who are still unaccounted for to this day.  They stowed away the steel silverware from the dining hall and slowly chipped away at the concrete walls.  Slowly but surely, they dug holes in the wall and were able to climb up and out of the prison.

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The dining hall.

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The outdoor yard where the men could come for 2.5 hours on Sat/Sun as long as they had been behaving well.

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Remnants of the warden’s housing.  A small community lived on Alcatraz to be able to maintain the prison.

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A garden now grows inside the structure of the Warden’s home.

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The tour is so intense and interesting that after we were done, I had to play around a little bit 🙂

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Sweeping views.

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Rob snapping some photos.

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Teaching my mom how to take a selfie with the city in the back.  The island is very windy mind you, so make sure to bring a jacket!

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Then we headed to my favorite area, the warden’s gardens.

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The flowers were beautiful.

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Overall, I’d say the most interesting story from Alcatraz was about the battle that happened there between prisoners and guards.  It’s a tragic story for those who lost their lives but interesting to know the story and see exactly how and where the battle happened.  To loop back, the top things to expect when you go to Alcatraz include windy weather, unexpected beautiful grounds, and a lot of Alcatraz history that happened in a short amount of time.

Have you been to Alcatraz?  Tell us some of your favorite things about it!

Whale Sightings at Ocean Beach.

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If you follow our blog, you know how much I love to be outside.  The weather has been incredibly warm this week in San Francisco.  We are talking above 70s which is not the norm.  I took full advantage of the time outside which included a walk on the beach after work on Tuesday evening.  As I was walking out to the waters edge, I started seeing spouts bursting straight into the air.  3 of them right among the surfers and there were the most surfers I’ve seen out there in a while.  What I saw next blew me away, a large pod of humpback whales breaching and frolicking amongst the surfers.  I’m sure it wasn’t as neat to be a surfer and have one of them surprise you next to your dangling feet but it seemed like an extra special sighting that I felt lucky to witness.

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You can see one spout in the distance.

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Two of them here popped up to watch the sunset.

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It was truly unbelievable and I hope to see them again on my next beach walk.  There are places you can go in the bay area to whale watch and it looks like this weekend might be the time to do it!  Check out this company to leave right out of Pier 39 and maybe you’ll get luck enough to see these beautiful mammals navigate the seas.

Have a great weekend!