Even in the broad daylight, Alcatraz is spooky.
Sitting in the middle of San Francisco Bay, sticking out of the water like a giant turtle back, the island seems to grow meaner and meaner as you approach. Of course, now you get there on a ferry service run by the National Park Service – I can’t even imagine what it was like heading there in shackles with armed guards surrounding you.
Built to housed Civil War prisoners in 1861, then converted to be a federal prison in 1933, it housed some of the meanest and baddest men in the country. Today it’s one of the main attractions in San Francisco and a definite stop when Kim and I were there. It was originally named La Isla de los Alcatraces by the Spanish who first discovered the island, meaning Island Of Pelicans. Even though we didn’t see any Pelicans, it seems that seagulls greatly outnumber humans.
There’s no threat of being locked up there today, but that didn’t stop the creepy tingling I had in the back of neck the whole time I was there. The cells were small and cold. The bars were heaby and thick. The “Hole”… well it’s pretty much everything you expect The Hole to be. Even though the door remained opened, I only spent a few minutes inside, I can’t even fathom spending any more time than that in there.
Leaving the island, we knew we had a great day – capped off by July 4th fireworks and dinner at a five star resturant … but that wasn’t the only reason I felt relieved to be going. Maybe since it was July 4th, I was appreciating my freedom a little more – or maybe it was just that the message Alcatraz was meant to give in the first place was working.
Crime doesn’t pay.
More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…