04/19/2016 - 04/24/2016
The end of April saw my trip to San Francisco and Yosemite National Park come to life. This was a shorter trip then usual but careful planning allowed me to see all the sites that I thought were important and worthwhile. I flew into San Francisco late Tuesday night and stayed over night close to the Golden Gate bridge and the beaches. The next morning I got up, jumped in the car and began my trip west towards Yosemite National Park as my first area to see on my list. I reached my first stop in Yosemite in about 4 hours which took me across the Bay bridge and thru large areas that were mostly vineyards near Sonora. I entered Yosemite at its North entrance near Mather California where I would then drive into Yosemite and along the highway known as Hetch Hetchy.
As I reached the end of the scenic drive and came around a sharp bend in the road I saw directly in front of me a large body of water and a large flowing waterfall. As I got closer I then realized what I was looking at was a dam that was built to hold and control the water and was being feed by a pretty high waterfall that I had no problem at all hearing it when I got out of the car to take some pictures.
Close up of waterfall flowing into the Dam
I continue my drive towards the Yosemite Valley which is where the most popular waterfalls are located. Below is "Half Dome"
Further down the road I come across yet another rather large waterfall that appears and flows into a river below it.
Close up of waterfall above. I continue on my way towards Yosemite Valley
At the beginning of Yosemite Valley is the Bridal Vail Falls flowing from the top of a cliff down hundreds of feet which you could hike to the base of if you wanted to.
Above view is called the Tunnel View because this is what you see once you emerge from a 1 mile tunnel built thru the middle of a mountain on the way to Yosemite Valley. Only in California!!! One of my favorites from Yosemite
More sites in Yosemite Valley......
El Capitan above
Another view of Half Dome
To wrap up Yosemite I finished seeing Yosemite Falls.......
Yosemite Upper and Lower Falls
After my final stop in Yosemite I then head back to San Francisco to see the sites there and finish up the trip. I had several sites that were "must sees" and of course they included Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge. How can you not do those sites and call yourself a tourist? I had to see for myself what all the talk was about there is no known prisoner escapes from Alcatraz. How hard can it be?
The next morning I was scheduled for the 11:00 am Alcatraz tour. In order to get to and from Alcatraz you had to take a ferry that would take you the approx 1 mile journey in the San Francisco bay (hence the name Alcatraz Island)
The day started out to be pretty crappy with low cloud cover, rain and a wind that would gust to over 20 mph at times. I was not sure how that would effect the ferry ride to and from Alcatraz in the bay but decided that I would not try to show off in front of everyone and leap into the bay and just swim it. Remember, that cant be that big of a deal right? Its just water and a few small fish that might brush up against a swimmer on their journey to the island. I saw several ships out in the bay towards Alcatraz and they seemed to be just fine so I was pretty sure there would not be any issues due to the weather. I boarded the ferry and watched the brief video they were showing about Alcatraz and its history during our 15 min ride to the island.
After the ferry docks at Alcatraz I got off the ferry and was presented with the following visual indicator informing me of my present location.
So much better then one of those stupid maps that just have a red circle that says "You are here". After my successful escape that will happen later in the day, they should put up another sign that says "Dave is no longer here" "He escaped!!!"
Another indicator that gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling below.
What a nice bird viewing tower! Those prisoners had so many things to do to keep them occupied huh?
Once on the island everyone was pretty much on their own to go explore and look thru all the buildings and exhibits on the island. There was a audio tour of the actual building that housed all the prisoner cells and facilities. It would walk you through the maze of hallways and buildings telling both the description of what you are looking at as well as stories about events that happened in the past such as prison riots and actual stories of some of the prisoners that were housed there such as Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and the "Bird man of Alcatraz", who actually did not have a single bird at Alcatraz. He had birds at another prison but never at Alcatraz.
Cells for prisoners in Main Cell Block. There are several levels
Prisoner Cell above
Above is a cell for those prisoners who needed a "time out". Sometimes prisoners were kept in these type of cells for 2 weeks or more depending on the nature of their acting out
We all know the story of the most famous "escape from Alcatraz" that according to officials the 3 men that made the attempt to escape drowned in the bay on their escape attempt so "officially" they did not escape. Their bodies were never found but there is a lot of evidence that has just recently come to light that they did indeed survive and made their way to South America. There has been talk about changing the official report to reflect they did escape and provide evidence of this such as photos of the men some time later in South America and letters from family members of the escaped men that have been proven to be almost certainly the hand writing of the prisoners.
Above is the Cell of one of the 3 men who may have escaped the island by cutting out part of the cell wall where a air vent was and constructed a "fake" head of themselves to fool cell guards during their nightly checks
Wardens house after it burned down and was never rebuilt
lighthouse on Alcatraz and was first Light House in the US
Above is the view of San Francisco from Alcatraz Island. Notice one of the guards in disguise to thwart any escape attempts
Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry on return trip from Alcatraz
Alcatraz from a distance on return ferry ride to dock in San Francisco
Back on the main land I went to Inspiration Point to take a few photos. Great view of Alcatraz from the point.
My trip to Yosemite National Park and San Francisco ends with this......................................
Next inline are Budapest and Bucharest in September. Stay Tuned!