Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alcatraz and Muir Woods.

My mom had a "big" birthday this year. I probably shouldn't tell you which one...oh well, she's hundreds of miles away, she can't throw anything at my head from that far away...

My mom turned 30 this year. Yup, the big 3-0. Can you believe it?! Where have the years gone...

Anyways, we've missed out on many a birthday since we've been in North Carolina, so we decided to do something fun. My dad and I started scheming in early September for her end-of-October birthday. Flights were SO much less from WA to CA than they were to NC!! We thought it would be fun to surprise her with a trip to visit us.

My dad was amazing. He called her boss and arranged for her to take a couple of days off, explaining the circumstances. And then on the big day, he picked her up for "lunch". Her friends at work knew about it and were so excited for her, they could barely restrain themselves. Apparently my mom's boss told her that she (her boss) would be going out of town this weekend, so my mom needed to get some extra work done. My mom wasn't aware that her boss was fibbing, and was just helping my mom get caught up on everything before she had to leave town so she wouldn't have a pile of things to do the size of Mt. Everest when she got back. my dad shows up to pick up Mom and she's hurrying to finish everything and her co-workers are hurrying her out the door. They get in the car and he says, "Where do you want to go?" Thinking she's being a smart-alec she says, "North Bend!" (North Bend has a large outlet mall, and is conveniently 2/3 of the way to the airport they were flying out of.) So Dad says, "OKAY!"

So they pull into the outlet mall, drive around, and Dad says, "You know what? This is NOT good enough for this milestone birthday." And he leaves. Of course Mom is thinking, "What the heck does he have up his sleeve...?" Over the course of the afternoon, he takes her to various restaurants, etc. saying, "How about this? ...No, not good enough."

They finally end up at the Mall in Tacoma (I think that's the one, anyway) where he drives around seemingly aimlessly, looking for "the perfect parking spot" (which was directly in front of my grandma's pickup truck...but Mom didn't notice). So they head inside the mall, meandering...they end up in the men's boots section (I believe it was), and "randomly" run into my grandma and aunt!

So they all head out to the car and my aunt proceeds with the, "Hey let's go in here...nope, not good enough" act. Finally she starts driving in the direction of the airport. When it becomes obvious that that's where they're headed, my aunt says, "Hope you brought your passport!" HA!

They finally get to the airport and Dad opens Mom's door, "Do I need my purse?" is her reaction. Um, yes, you need your purse. Then he unloaded all of the luggage--Dad had been keeping a notepad of information over the previous week about all of his favorite things she wore so he'd know what to pack. He also packed an ENTIRE SUITCASE with everything "beauty" from her makeup box to nail polish and remover to hair stuff that hadn't been used in years. Unfortunately, he was so busy trying to get everything right in that bag that he forgot to pack more than 2 shirts for her...whoops! So he got to take her shopping.

Anyways...once they got to the airport they called me and I told her she was coming to visit. Goodness...that story should have been a post all in itself!

Okay...on to the photos...

So Mom and Dad got in late Thursday night and we had to be up and out of the house by 8:30am to get to Alcatraz. Everyone was excited!
Checking out all of the different piers--SO much to do and see in San Francisco!
We got there just in time to take a potty break and then get on the ferry.
It's not hard to be silly when Grandpa Scott is around...
View of San Francisco as we pull out of the dock.
Can you tell we're excited?? We've been talking and reading about this trip all week!
Alcatraz with the Golden Gate bridge on the far left.
Did you know that Alcatraz wasn't just a prison? It was first a desolate rock that served as a military outpost as it was the first thing intruders would see as they came into the bay by ship. Then after it closed, the native americans claimed it as their land and took over for awhile--there is graffiti randomly painted around the grounds as evidence of them. Then it soon after turned into the oh-so-famous prison.
Another thing that I didn't realize is that the majority of the people that worked at Alcatraz lived there. Families and everything. They had houses and gardens and everything. The only actual prison area is that building on the top of the hill (above photo).
Listening to the speaker tell us where to find everything. Brooklyn didn't want to let go of her Grammie and Grampa Scott.
We were much happier hanging back out of the crowd while Sam was more than content looking in and poking his fingers into holes in the cement. Fun.
We watched the movie that they recommend you start off with and by that time, everyone needed a snack before we went off exploring.
I love the architecture here. This would be perfect for some wedding portraits, don't you think??
The men fell in with a tour-guided group, but we didn't have attention spans big enough for we did this instead.
This used to be the officer's barracks or something I think? Where they had all of their entertainment...I believe they used to have some sort of bowling in here...I'm fuzzy on the facts. My reading of information boards was severely punctuated with "Be Careful's!" and "Stay Where I Can See You's!" and "Watch Out For The Tourists!!"
The water tower. Very cool architecture.
Not sure this girl's feet ever touch the ground...
Sam was hungry and tired and had a full-blown face-to-the-pavement meltdown. Grandpa picked him up and sack-o-potatoes carried him up the hill.

We got inside the prison and decided to attempt the audio tour. Of COURSE you have to go through the showers to get your audio tour. It was pretty crazy.
I highly recommend doing the audio tour--it's absolutely captivating. It's like a book on tape--you get to hear from the prisoner's and guard's point of views and stories's just amazing listening as you walk through there, imagining what it was like.

The D-Block...apparently awful as it was always either sweltering or freezing. And then there's the whole solitary confinement thing on the bottom that puts a damper on one's afternoon, I would imagine.
Checking out solitary confinement. One of the prisoners stories on the audio tour was that the first thing he'd do when he was in confinement was rip a button off his clothes and toss it (keep in mind that it's pitch black when the door is closed) and spend hours trying to find it to keep himself sane.

Our Alcatraz tour got cut short as some of us didn't have the attention spans required to keep going. And it was lunch time. And nap time.
We drove around San Fran and stopped at a Safeway for some lunch supplies. Had lunch in the car with all of the doors and windows open, basking in the glorious sunlight. Then we headed out for the Muir Woods, where all of the redwood trees live. Of course nearly the entire car passed out from exhaustion while driving there, and nearly missed driving over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Everyone was all rested up by the time we got to Muir Woods. Unfortunately, we only had an hour to hike, but we ended up getting a family pass as it was cheaper than paying for the one-time entrance fee. Woot! Can't wait to go back and do the 5 mile hike.
The kids love looking at tree rings. This was neat--each of those dots corresponded to certain things in Columbus arriving in the America's. Crazy.

It was absolutely gorgeous here and we were all so excited to finally see the redwoods. Next on the list, the giant sequoias in Yosemite. We were hoping to spend Thanksgiving there, but given the fact that they recommend having a 4x4 vehicle while visiting there in the winter...I think we'll wait until spring...

As we were leaving, Brooklyn had to use the restroom. When she came out, she had this big wad of toilet paper. "What is that for??" I asked. "In case anybody has to go potty on the side of the road!" Duh, Mom.

On the drive home, everyone promptly fell asleep...minus the children in the very back yelling, "MORE WATER PLEASE!" and other lovely things. It was good though--the sunset over San Francisco was nothing short of absolutely breath taking. Can't wait to go back again!

No comments:

Post a Comment