Alcatraz Island, Day 2

Have any of you watched the new series, The Great Escape on TNT? I confess I haven’t, but I’ve seen so many commercials for it while watching Falling Skies that I feel like I have.

Anyway, the first episodes are set at Alcatraz, which I thought was ironic since we were just there. Surprisingly, no one mentioned the show while we were there just a week or so prior to the premier.

It was really appropriate I think that our visit to Alcatraz was gray and misty. It added an air of heavy history to our visit.

The seagulls followed us there. Or maybe we followed the seagulls there. As it turns out, it’s nesting season for the birds, and there were plenty of the seagulls (and two other bird species) with their chicks on the island.

We were the first tour group to arrive to the island, so after an introduction from a book author and former resident of the island, we headed up to the cell block to try and beat the crowds.

There are 4 cell blocks; Cell Block A, pictured above, was not secure enough for prisoners, and was actually used for storage and supplies. Cell Block D had a few more nicely furnished cells, and then the solitary confinement cells.

Some cells were “faux furnished” with “people”; some were set up as if for new inmates, and a few cells were even open.

I also got a shot of myself doing this same pose. Yes.

There is a self-guided audio tour, which Brian and I didn’t listen much to. Neither of us had much patience for the slow speaking on the tour, but I have since read up a little more about the island.

On the other hand, by escaping from the rest of the groups, we had an opportunity to get this lonely shot of the recreation yard without a soul in it:

Alcatraz has a lot of history behind it: It served as a prison, then occupied by Indians, then abandoned for years. There were escape attempts and political drama; everything you need for plenty of good stories.

But some of my favorite parts of the island was the gardens contrasted by the old structures:

By the time we left the island, the mist had begun to lift, leaving great views of the city and back toward the island.

While I wasn’t originally planning to enjoy Alcatraz as much as I did, I walked away feeling like we both had an opportunity to see something interesting to each of us. For Brian, the prison and its history was fascinating. For myself, I loved the birds, gardens, and old run down buildings.

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