After years of planning and dreaming, collecting frequent flier miles, and tossing loose change into our “family vacation” piggy bank, we finally got to take our long awaited trip out West.
This had been a goal of ours (okay, mine) for over four years! I was pinching myself during the five and a half hour flight to San Francisco, thinking over and over again, “I can’t believe this day is finally here!”
We did the typical touristy stuff like…
Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge
We actually drove over the bridge twice because Keith took a wrong turn (the GPS told him to) but we ended up discovering the beautiful quaint town of of Sausalito.
We also walked around Golden Gate Park
We took in the sights and sounds of Pier 39 while eating our way through all the fun stores and souvenir shops.
We even stopped by Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company. Pss….Check out Brody’s giant shoes!
We strolled down Famous Lombard Street, even though it took us f-o-r-e-v-e-r to find it.
There were so many other fun things that we enjoyed like Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Boudin’s Bakery, Buena Vista, North Beach, Little Italy and even Beach Blanket Babylon.
But, our favorite part of San Francisco was touring Alcatraz.
At first, I wasn’t sure about taking the tour. I honestly was not interested in spending half a day exploring an old dilapidated jail. But, Keith and the boys really wanted to go and I figured the boat ride would be kind of fun, right?
Once we arrived on the island, a tour guide lead us from building to building, explaining all the interesting facts of what life was like when the jail was in operation.
Did you know that families lived on Alcatraz Island? I didn’t either!
The jail workers and wardens had private living quarters for their families. Their children would take a boat ride into the city every day for school and then return home in the afternoons. The women created beautiful gardens along the walk ways, which bloomed a natural sanctuary for all sorts of birds.
They certainly had a spectacular view of the city skyline!
Once inside the jail, we walked through the long hallways, listening to our private headsets. The narrator explained what life was like for the prisoners and what they could and could not do during their stay.
Although sunlight flooded in through the ceilings, there was a darkness you could sense that felt so tangible but wasn’t visible.
We were then lead to solitary confinement row. It consisted of several cells along one long hallway. They were double secured with two rows of steel bars.
Cells number 10-14 were designed to house those criminals considered “the worst of the worst”. These cell doors were made of solid steel and once shut, no light, not even a tiny stream of visibility, was apparent.
The tour guide allowed anyone who was brave enough, to enter one of these dark claustrophobic chambers. He would slam the door behind them and keep it closed for about 30 seconds, so they would get a sense of what the prisoners experienced for hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months at a time.
I had no desire to go inside and neither did Keith, but the boys quickly pushed their way to the front of the line without hesitation. I held my breath as the tour guide slammed the door shut behind them.
As I waited for the 30 seconds to end, I could feel my heart beat pulsing faster and faster. Something about them being inside the same dark and dungy space, where hardened criminals resided years ago, was totally creeping me out!
You’ll never guess what happened next!
Since this post is getting pretty long, I’ll sign off now and you’ll just have to check back next week to hear what happened to our boys…