The Blessings of a Round-Trip

The Marin RV Park isn’t much to look at, but its location is great! Just two miles or so from the kids’ house and about a half mile to the Larkspur Landing Ferry Terminal. It’s a commuter ferry which crosses the bay and docks at the San Francisco Ferry Building on The Embarcadro from which nearly all the city is accessible by public



transportation. Busses, restored electric trolleys from cities around the country, and, of course the Cable Cars. It’s a working transportation museum on wheels. Underground there’s the BART and MUNI high-speed light rail system. Once we figured it out, getting around became part of the adventure.

Today we ferried from a hot day in Marin to a cooler one in San Francisco, and decided to go out to Alcatraz: something we’d wanted to do on past trips, when the fog and cold made the idea less appealing. With our curious findingourway luck, we managed to get two tickets, for the 1:45 ferry to Alcatraz, and were congratulated by the ticket seller on our excellent weather. As we boarded another ferry to Alcatraz, which sits on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Bruce remarked on how it must have felt to be taking this trip with a one-way ticket.

Like many other National park adventures we’ve had on this trip, Alcatraz was better than we expected. We watched an excellent orientation documentary first, which presented the history of the island.

Warm sun shone on ruins, nesting gulls, gardens, and the ivy-covered limestone cliffs that flanked the steep switchback road up to the Cell House. There, an excellent audio-tour took us through our own personally-paced experience of the exercise yard, dining hall, library, significant historic cells, and photo-panels of famous inmates and attempted escapees. We got a special appreciation for the unique torture Alcatraz’s proximity to San Francisco provided. From a few tiny windows, inmates could see across the cold, deadly currents of the bay, to the shining city, so near and yet so impossibly far, just as today, inmates of San Quentin could see our ferry speeding its way to the pursuits and possibilities of San Francisco.


Alcatraz also brought us full circle to the fully blossomed pride we’d seen at the Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow in Albuquerque. In 1969, after it had closed as a prison, it was the site where many Native Americans first felt the stirrings of pride in their identity and heritage, during their 19-month occupation of the island. Out of this historic demonstration, a new, more compassionate national awareness of Native American issues came into being.

Back in San Francisco, we ate dinner this evening at an outdoor table at the Fog City Diner, (Dungeness Crab Louie salad, Haddock and haricots vert ) and luxuriated in our freedom, thankful to have taken a round trip, to and FROM Alcatraz.

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