Wednesday: October 10, 2012
Big day of touring for us. Our itinerary for the day consists of taking the ferry over to the port of SF (Pier 1) and then a trolley car to Pier 33 for the Alcatraz tour and ferry at Noon. After the Alcatraz tour we headed back to our RV site and got ready for the dinner cruise from the SF Pier 3 at 7 pm. Then we returned from the cruise at 9:30 PM and the last ferry to our RV site is at 9:35 pm. We made all of our connections, barely! We also used all but $.50 of our Clipper transportation cards we purchased when we arrived on Sunday for $60 each.
First, a little about Alcatraz. Alcatraz sits about 1.5 miles into the SF bay on a rock island, it can be seen from everywhere in the city. From what we are told, that didn't ever sit well with the residents of SF. Alcatraz would not have been an attraction to the city when it was open for prisoners. The prison as we know it only existed for 29 years and was closed in 1963. It has been a National park longer than it was a prison. However, it was used as a military prison since the Civil War.
Alcatraz prison is a scary place. Times have changed for prisons as this one is cold, damp, and the cells are very, very small at 5x7x9 high. The cell blocks were also surrounded by guards behind bars with guns that watched everything a prisoner did. I don’t know how one could stay sane in this place. Even with the scary nature of the place, it is a must see in SF.
|Pier 33 with our ferry to Alcatraz|
|First thing you see as the ferry docks.|
|Isolation cells. No lights were on while you are in this cell. One prisoner said that he would pull off a button on his shirt and throw it in the air and then spend his time looking for it as something to do. Then repeat this for weeks!|
|Inside isolation looking out with the door open of course!|
|Visitation from the prisoners side.|
|View of San Francisco from Alcatraz|
|The mess hall. You got your food through the slots in the bars from the kitchen.|
|Tear gas canisters in the mess hall. If there was an issue these could be dropped from a remote place.|
Now, for the dinner cruise. It was expensive for what we got from it. The best thing about it was the view of the city at night. However, for $69 each, we can see a lot of the same view from our ferry to our RV site. The ship first travels along the coast line in the bay which is the only thing that is unique and entertaining from this cruise. Next it goes to Alcatraz which is barely lit. We were just a few yards from it before we knew we were there. Not impressive at all. Next we went to the Golden Gate Bridge. We were very surprised here as well. The bridge is not well illuminated. For a very famous bridge we would have thought it would have been really impressive to see at night. The best view of this bridge by far is in the daytime. After the bridge we just slowly meandered back to Pier 3 where we started. The ship just cart wheeled for the last 40 minutes while we finished eating. The bay is also rough making the small ship rock a lot.
We also paid extra for a package that gave us a bottle of champagne and a window seat. That was probably worth it as a bottle of wine was $30-40 and without a window seat there was nothing. The entertainment consisted of a male guitar player and woman singer/bongo player. They were pretty good for soft dinner music. We kept waiting for the dinner to be over and then the music to pick up for the dance floor. The music wasn't really enough to even slow dance to. Very disappointing!
The cruise was to be over at 9:30 pm and we needed to make the last ferry at 9:35 pm if we didn't want to find a bus. Usually these cruises dock earlier than the published ending time so we headed for the exit gate and waited for the doors to open. They in fact did open the doors early at about 9:27 pm giving us 12 minutes to get to the ferry. This was only possible if we ran about half way which we did. After 2 bottles of wine and dinner, running wasn't real fun. We made it as they were just closing the gates to the ferry. Whew!!
|Our dinner ship|
|Patty on board. Note the long bridge behind us. We are taking the rig on this tomorrow morning when we leave.|
|Me on board|
|View of SF|
|View of SF|
|The orange tower is on Telegraph hill.|
|View of the mouse boat (a Disney Cruise ship)|
That so ends our San Francisco exploring for this trip. We think we saw as much as we wanted to see but we were somewhat in a rush. We were seeing the city in the off season and had somewhat of a hard time getting to see things. If one was to go there during the summer you would need to make reservations months in advance. If we had to do over I would add a day in between each day out to just chill. We have an inside joke that we need a sign in our rig that says “NO RUSHING ZONE”. We might travel quickly sometimes, but no rushing.
Tomorrow is a travel day. We are not sure where we will land but it will be a couple hundred miles south in California. We plan to work on our travel plans and do some domestic chores the next couple of days. Need to get propane for the rig and wash clothes. Also need to just relax after the SF experience.