Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I've been looking forward to writing this post because a lot of people LOVE San Francisco.  For a couple years, I lived in the Bay Area and for most of that time, I tried to avoid this tourist trap...until my parents came for a visit. Then there was no avoiding it.  So we joined the lines and lines of people to cross the water and head over to Alcatraz island.  Plan ahead as this tour gets booked months in advance!  This link will take you to the place that you need to go for more information.  Alcatraz gets very busy while Angel island is less busy and much more slow paced.  However, back to Alcatraz.  It used to be a prison island similiar to the one I visited on Coiba Island except that it didn't have tropical rain forest.  You'll hear all the great historical accounts of escapes and why they shut the place down, but it's what you don't hear about that makes the place interesting.
I was there in the late 90's before my Peace Corps travels and I remember it being very cold.  Bring a light jacket because the island gets quite windy.  The sun can be intense even if there isn't any sun at all.  The island is covered with sea birds and a society of gardeners that live to make Alcatraz beautiful.  They were just beginning to work their magic on this island while we were there. Their link can be found here .   I saw what they were planning and I became excited.  If I still lived in the Bay Area, I would have volunteered my time there. They finally got the club together in 2003 after some time planning everything out. It's really a unique area of gardens because the plants have to endure strong windy conditions and salty air.  If you don't like the prison stories, you'll definitely love what the gardens contain in them.  The plants are absolutely gorgeous.  And for you birders, well knock yourself out.  Lots to see here as well.  If and when I get back to the Bay Area, I want to revisit both Angel and Alcatraz islands to see all the improvements that they've done.  It's such an expensive place to visit!!!
While I enjoyed the Bay Area, I missed the Sonoran desert and celebrated when I finally came back to Tucson and made it my permanent home!  If you head to San Francisco for that trolley ride or expecting warmer temps, be ready for cooler weather and long lines.  BUT the Bay Area still has maintained most of its charm and gardens.  Alcatraz is for those of you who like the popular attractions.  Angel island is for those who like a slower paced walk(or bike) around an island without the crowds of people.  I mean, there will be people(because it is California), but it will be more spread out.  Angel island, by the way, is the place where the Japanese were held in camps during the World War.  It's another fascinating spot to explore.   More tomorrow friends.....
 And of course, here's the cheesy family photo opt.  Alright, I'll admit, I'm glad we took it.


  1. You know I have been living in CA for most of my life and have never been to Alcatraz. I have been to S.F. many times but we never went over and did the tour. May have to make it a destination. Did they let you take any pics inside? Great family shot by the way!

  2. Hola!! We have some cold weather coming in tomorrow....and I can't wait! You can take pics fact, I have a shot of my mom an dad behind bars. It was jammed with tourists, but I would be interested to see what they've done with the gardens now. While we were there, they had little areas with some growth...but since it has been over 10 years now with an organized group, I bet it has taken off....and there were a lot of succulents growing along the shores!


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