Escape *to* Alcatraz - Taking the Ferry to The Rock

Ferry to Alcatraz
Mother J. unknowingly picked a perfect weekend to visit. She really wanted to see Alcatraz and we bought tickets a couple weeks ago to visit the island. Little did we know that the very day we chose to visit was the 75th anniversary commemorating the opening of the prison.

The island rose up out of the fog on the 10 minute boat ride from Pier 33.

View of AlcatrazWe were greeted with a stern warning: "Persons procuring or concealing escape of prisoners are subject to prosecution and imprisonment". It's a good thing Alcatraz is no longer an active prison so there is little chance of running afoul of this ordinance.

Alcatraz warning: "Persons procuring or concealing escape of prisoners are subject to prosecution and imprisonment"In its history, Alcatraz has served as a military prison, federal prison, reclaimed Native American lands, and a US National Park.

Alcatraz signThe buildings on the windswept island were difficult and expensive to maintain which is one reason the maximum security prison was closed in 1963.

Alcatraz prisonWe walked uphill for about a quarter mile from the dock to the cell house. On the way, we saw this lovely diversion: "Bird Viewing: Please Join Us for Guided Viewing Ahead". We didn't even have to go down that path. One of the gulls decided to pose right next to the sign. How convenient!

Birdwatching on Alcatraz IslandIn addition to the usual audio tour, we were treated to a short talk and extensive Q&A with a former bank robber and inmate of The Rock -- Darwin Coon. Coon was sent to Alcatraz after he had escaped from 4 different correctional facilities including three county jails and the Nevada State Penitentiary. Coon credits the harsh and strict conditions at Alcatraz with turning him around. He claims that the US should have "one hundred facilities like Alcatraz" if the government truly wants to reform criminals.

Alcatraz prison cell
Darwin Coon - former Alcatraz prisoner speakingLooking out from the inside of AlcatrazAfter Coon's session, we toured the facility using the provided audio tour which was narrated by a number of former guards and inmates. It was a fascinating tale and included information about various escape attempts over the years, everyday violence and intimidation, and fear-inspiring conditions.

cell block at AlcatrazCoon told us how he spent 29 days in D Block. Here's a picture of Cell 13, one of about 5 solitary confinement cells also known as "The Hole".
prison cell at AlcatrazAfter a rather intense and dark time touring the prison, we decided we needed something a little more uplifting to round out the weekend. We walked along Fisherman's Wharf again and stopped at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. They actually sell a frozen, chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick! No wonder Americans are so fat...

chocolate covered treats - Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Fisherman's WharfHooray! for furry pastel hobby horses and pink balloons on Union Street. This was a welcome contrast to the sites around the prison.

Hobbyhorses in the Marina Neighborhood of San FranciscoWe had dinner at Luisa's on Union Street and reflected on our weekend amid a ceiling full of decorated Chianti bottles.
Wine bottles and corks at Luisa's on Union Street in San Francisco We covered a lot of ground this weekend and managed to satisfy our inner tourist.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Escape *to* Alcatraz - Taking the Ferry to The Rock
Escape *to* Alcatraz - Taking the Ferry to The Rock
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