3rd Thursday [10]: Separated Twins, Ghosts of Prisoners, and Toy Bridges

This is about a few of our adventures in San Francisco in 2006, and one that notably did not happen.

In 2006, Jen and I flew out to San Francisco to do the touristy things, with Alcatraz at the top of our list. Our reliance on someone else as transportation has often led to some unintended adventures, and this trip was no exception. We shared an airport shuttle with a couple of other people, and we were the last stop.  Upon entering our hotel room and beginning to get settled, Jen realized she did not have the right luggage. Her bag, it turns out, had her engagement ring inside. She had someone else’s.

So we spent a couple of hours tracking down the next-to-last person to get off the shuttle, and praying that the ring would still be inside. Upon finding her, we realized that her bag and Jen’s were separated at birth, and we’ve attached a brightly colored luggage tag ever since. Fortunately, that story had a happy ending for everyone, and our vacation truly commenced.

036Alcatraz was the first prison time served by either of us, and it was the fun we thought it would be. I am not typically a fan of audio tours, but I wanted to take one this time, since a self-guided tour past identical cells sounded like a boring concept. We took the obligatory photos of each other behind bars, and saw the famous cages of Al Capone and escapee Frank Morris. While no particular ghost stories were mentioned, it was easy to sense the experience of the men inside, and from the cafeteria prison time must have felt the worst, because while eating your wonderful incarceration food you got to look across the beautiful San Francisco Bay at the city you might be in had you made better choices. I will say “no, thank you,” and stay on the path of an honest man. Evidence of the deteriorating effects of sea salt air could be seen everywhere, and you get the sense that if it were still operating as a prison today, one could just push through the walls to get out.

We fully intended to walk on the wonderful Golden Gate Bridge, but our plans changed and we ran out of time to stand upon the icon. We took a stroll through Golden Gate Park, but it turns out we we no where near the famous bridge. We spent hours in the park, and had a great time despite almost getting lost, but we both regretted the missed opportunity and have it on our “Next Time” list for a future return to the city. Most of the other “next times” are in Washington, DC, simply because there is so much to see.

We did get a small reprieve from missing the bridge, in 2012, when we returned to Hawaii for an anniversary.  We flew out of Denver, and the path took us directly west and over San Francisco.  From the plane, we got an amazing view of the city including the San Francisco Bay Bridge and, easily spotted in red below, the Golden Gate Bridge. It looked like a miniature city with tiny toy bridges. Later, in a photo I took (below), I could also identify Alcatraz and nearby Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the west). Though you can get a similar view from Google Maps satellite option, it doesn’t compare to actually being there, flying 30,000 feet above a place you’ve actually been before.

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