Thursday, December 26, 2013

San Francisco: Sea Lions and Alcatraz

Months ago, Sebastian began declaring that he wanted to go out and see the grandparents for Christmas, so we decided we'd have a San Francisco holiday. And as I so often do, I got a bee in my bonnet. This one was about taking the kids to Alcatraz. I knew they'd be disappointed someday to have been in the Bay Area so many times and never seen it. In preparation for the tour, we listened to Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko while driving out in the car. It was good preparation, since it talks about the kids who used to live on Alcatraz and where they played, lived, and went to school. Rob opted to stay in San Francisco with Joss, and my brother John opted to come, so the five of us were dropped off on the Embarcadero early Monday morning.
In typical Shumway fashion, we arrived plenty early. We whiled away the time by walking down to Pier 39 and saw the sea lions. They were frisky and loud, and they were getting their pallets hosed off at K dock, so we watched them all diving into and out of the water.
They're one of those fortuitous additions to the San Francisco tourist scene. You can read about them here at the Pier 39 site.
Maddie wants to learn how to slip out of the pool as gracefully as they do!

Next we caught the ferry to Alcatraz. The last time I'd been here was when I was dating Rob. We'd gone with some friends to see The Rock and then decided, spur-of-the-moment, to jaunt over and visit the island. Those were the days -- when we had enough disposable income and time to spend an entire day on a Nicholas Cage film!

There were an impressive number of plants given that the island is a rock and all earth had to be imported. Gardening figures prominently in Al Capone Does My Shirts, too.
The audioguides were good. There were also a bunch of people there. I don't know what they're doing right, but it was sold out into January. You can't just hop on a ferry to Alcatraz any more -- you have to plan it days or weeks ahead!
Will and I tried out the solitary confinement. Which wasn't so solitary with two of us.
 The lighthouse (Alcatraz was used for a lot of things!). 
The remains of the warden's house.
The kids made quite a fuss over these jailhouse geraniums, trying to figure out what they were in for. We had exceptionally good weather. 
And the view back to San Francisco. We saw more in the afternoon, but I'll post that next.

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