Escape TO Alcatraz

After eating at Straw, we had the afternoon to look around before our evening tour of Alcatraz.

We checked out The Pour House since Amanda had a Groupon or Living Social deal.
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Nothing like some drinks in the middle of the afternoon!  Amanda went with the wine tasting, and she got to try some pretty good reds.
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We passed through China Town.  We found a kosher Israeli restaurant in Chinatown and decided that was a good place to borrow their bathroom, and we greatly thank them for this.
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You always have to get a picture of a trolley heading up the road.
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More Chinatown
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Then it was time for Alcatraz.  We signed up for the night tour with Alcatraz Cruises.  
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We thought the night tour sounded nice and spooky and since it was approaching Halloween, this would be perfect.
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I love to go on boat rides, but I will admit I have some pretty bad motion sickness.  The good news is that going there I did not get sick at all so I was able to enjoy Alcatraz.  Too bad that coming back I did get really sick and had to go back to the room and get in bed to prevent myself from being sick.  Next time I will remember the meclazine!
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I did get some really pretty shots.  Since I need the fresh air when on a boat, we all sat outside, and although it was cold out, the views were amazing.
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So we dressed warm!
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Looking back at the city.
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Looking ahead to the island.
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I took quite a few pictures from different angles.
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Up close shot.
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Here I am with Amanda Panda!  Yes, Amanda has a super warm panda hat and the long floppy ears have a place to warm your hands at the end.  Let's just say it made for an interesting conversation piece.
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Check out how spooky it looks, and this was when it was still light out.
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I believe this was used for housing for employees and their familiaes.
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Indians, or Native Americans (to prevent confusion over Indians from the country of India) protested here at one point and camped out on the island.
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An employee told us this building was used for family activities for the staff.
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I am not sure how much you know about Alcatraz, but this was IT when it came to maximum security prisons.  Big name criminals were kept here.  There were some escape attempts, and in one case some men did get out, but they never found their bodies and were never seen again, but they were assumed to have died.  The part that made it rough here for the prisoners, other than just being in prison, was that they were so close to civilization, and they could see it, but they couldn't be there.  The prison was finally closed in 1963.  I believe it closed because it was too expensive to keep running, but I could be wrong on that.  They gave an amazing tour with a ton of great information.  I just can't remember all of it now.

Here is the room where the prisoners were taken when they first arrived.
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They would get out of their clothes and get washed up before being taken to their cells.
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Here you can see the cell.  It is small, with not much to it, and of course, in very poor condition here.
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Here is Danita and Toni listening to their audio tour.
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Sorry mom!  I managed to get locked up behind bars!
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You saw the old, falling apart cells above, but these are fixed up to show you what it would have looked like at the time when the inmates had their own things in their small cells.
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This is in the administrative area.
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The staff would sit here.
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This is the light tower.
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Here is the kitchen.  They have the menu posted up from the last day it was in operation.  I am not sure if this is a replica or added after the fact for effect, but it may very well be the actual signs that were left.  I think the point is to show you that right up until the last minute it was business as usual.  There was no real indicator that that day would be any different than any other.
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Here is where things got really scary.  They opened up the hospital area for us to look at.  Tell me this is not the scariest picture you have ever seen:
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I had some serious chills. 

Here are other rooms inside that were used for medical treatments and procedures.
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Here is Amanda, being goofy.  Only she will get the true meaning behind this picture.
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So glad to see Amanda Panda having fun!
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To end the night, we stayed around for the closing of the doors on the cells.  They still work.  It is a heart stopping sound.  The clicks and the bang of the doors being locked up tight.  Bone chilling!
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Basically, it was dangerous to close each cell door individually, so they developed a way to close and lock the doors all at the same time from the end of the cell row.  See, if the guard walked down the row, as soon as they passed one cell, their back was to the inmate.  You can imagine this was not safe.  It was so carefully guarded there that the person locking the doors did not carry a key on them.  Instead another guard would swing him the key and he would use that and then send it back on a rope, and then operate the doors.  The whole process seems very well thought out and only once did it fail (the result of not following the rules and the guard being too relaxed in their habits).  Talk about secure!

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to Alcatraz?  Ever toured another prison?  Do you get seasick/motion sickness?

5 comments:

bejellyfish said...

Wow! That looked like an amazing experience! So cool! I would LOVE to go to Alcatraz! I've toured a local jail, but never a prison. I know that is something my husband would love because he is very interested in criminal justice.

Mer said...

we are so on the same page :) http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtargaro/4006423570/in/set-72157622572850560

Yes, I have been to Alcatraz twice - once w/ parents circa 1995 and w/ Matt in 2009.

Special K said...

Creepy. Never been, and somewhat am okay with that. creepy.
But, as always, you make creepy look kind of fun.

Jessie said...

Sorry to hear about the motion sickness :( I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to Alcatraz, though - I did visit once in the early 90s with my family. I remember thinking it was a bit creepy, but we were visiting during the day, so it didn't seem so bad. That hospital room is seriously creepy, though! I also remember that when we visited, there was a former Alcatraz inmate signing books on the island. I can't imagine coming back to the place where I was prisoner!

I love your friend's panda hat - it looks so warm, and cute!

ALW said...

I grew up about 3 hours north east of San Fran, & have still never made it to Alcatraz! You've made me want to go even more now. Looks like fun! I've heard the night tour is the best too!

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