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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

checking out "the rock"

our last day in san francisco had an early start.  we'd gotten instructions from our troop leader to check out and leave our bags with the bell desk before meeting at 8:00 to get started on our visit to alcatraz.  once that was all done and everyone was groggily assembled in the lobby, we headed out of the hotel and began the walk towards the pier.

it was a relatively short walk and we were there with plenty of time to check in, look around and take pictures.

i'm such a rebel.  heh.

time to board the ferry!  it was a pretty short ride to alcatraz island, although the bean still found time to whip out a sketch pad and start drawing.  it kept all three girls busy though, so it was all good.

once we arrived, we headed over to the building to listen to the announcements and then make our way into the building to watch the video about the history of the island.

we made it through about 3/4 of the video before our phones started blowing up with text messages from the troop leaders.  apparently, we'd missed the instructions that said we were to gather together and tour the cellblock as a group.  oops.    so we skedaddled out of there and headed back outside to find the group, pick up our audio tour equipment and start our tour.

it was a lovely day, and we walked past what was left of some of the prison buildings.  there were remnants of where ammunition used to be stored when the island was used by the military, glimpses of the period when native americans took it over, and the building that served as the morgue.

we headed inside the main building and got in line to pick up our headphones for the narrated tour.  once inside, we found ourselves in the shower room.

 we climbed up the stairs and the tour began.

the tour took me outside to the recreation area, which was the most popular section of the prison while it was in operation.  outside, the inmates were able to get some fresh air, exercise, and if they were lucky they could hear the sounds of the city that was just out of their reach.

this cellblock was reserved for the roughest, most dangerous and difficult inmates.  you had to be one hell of a troublemaker to be sent here.

there was a library where the prisoners were able to borrow books and magazines.

this was the gun gallery, where all of the weapons were locked up using the key that dangled on a string high above.  one of the attempted escapes involved a couple of prisoners who managed to get ahold of that key, which got them guns but not their freedom.

in this room you could still see where bombs went off during that escape attempt.

apparently i really like visiting filming locations for nicolas cage movies.  remember "the rock"?  i love that movie.

in some of the old cells you could see items that some of the more well-behaved prisoners were allowed to use to keep themselves busy.  art, music, radio - things we often take for granted but kept many of those men going from one day to the next.

the really lucky ones got to come here for short visits with folks who took the ferry ride across to see them.

during the time that alcatraz operated as a federal penitentiary, they had four different wardens.

just outside the warden's office and control room, you'll find what's left of what was the warden's home.

they had a pretty awesome view.  along with the warden and his family, there were also a good number of employees who lived on the island with their families.  the narration goes on to say that despite the prison aspect, alcatraz was a pretty nice place to live.  the kids would take a ferry to the city every morning to go to school, and usually by the time they returned all of the prisoners were back inside, locked up tight.

the knives and utensils in the kitchen were stored in such a way that they could be easily spotted if any items were missing.

that's where the tour came to an end.  and just in time too, because it was time to meet the troop at the dock for the ride back.  everyone had gotten separated, so i walked through the gift shop solo and found a couple of things i wanted.  too bad the line for the cashier was almost a mile and a half long.

as luck would have it, there was a little shop right by the dock that had zero line and carried all of the items that the hub, the bean and i all wanted.  score!  and then it was time for the ride back, during which the girls all buried themselves in the books they'd bought and the hub found time for a quick catnap.

once back on the mainland, we managed to get our little group together for a picture.  these girls have been friends forever, and their families have become our extended family.  all three are going to different schools next year which makes me sad, but i'm hopeful that we'll all stay in touch and get together as often as possible.

lunch was a prepaid box from the alcatraz landing cafe.  there were several types of sandwiches and salads, and everyone got a bottle of water, a bag of chips and cookies.

once we got back to the hotel, the official trip with the troop came to an end.  our troop leaders had done a fantastic job of organizing and keeping everything and everyone together, and it was an awesome way for the girls to "bridge" to the next scouting level.

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