Monday, August 27, 2007

Playing Tourist

My mom is in town while D.H. is away camping so we have been doing some touristy stuff. It is Fashion Week in San Francisco so I took my mom to one of the shows. It was really fun. My mom said it was like being on PROJECT RUNWAY. I wouldn't be able to fit my big toe in any of the fashions but it is fun to see them.

On Friday, we took a double-decker tour bus around San Francisco and saw some of the sights. The cemetary at Mission Dolores was beautiful. I love old cemetaries. There was one near my house in Denver and I used to love to explore it. We also stopped at the Japanese Tea Garden which was wonderful. I can't wait to go back and have tea there sometime. On Saturday, we boarded the ferry to Alcatraz. I didn't know what to expect and I was surprised at the history there. Much of the island is in sad shape and is in desperate need of repair. There are lots of Civil War-era buildings that need attention. I was shocked at how tiny the cells were. They were almost the shape the twin bed. One tiny sink and toilet with a small square table and seat. We had the opportunity to be closed inside of an isolation cell but we opted out. I have some issues with claustrophobia. We then headed over to Angel Island which was amazing. So beautiful! You can camp and hike there. Angel Island has an old Civil War-era base as well as the infamous Angel Island Immigration station. Some people have compared Angel Island to Ellis Island. They had very different purposes, however. In a shameful episode from our past, American resented the influx of Chinese immigrants who were "taking all the jobs" and causing a "burden" on society. So, many of the young immigrants were rounded up and held at Angel Island in deplorable conditions until they could be deported. The most upsetting thing is that when you hear and read about this place, it echoes many of the sentiments that we are hearing today about Mexican immigrants. It is really chilling to think about.

After we got back to land, I drove my mom down the infamous crooked Lombard street. It was fun!

Even though I live within easy driving distance of San Francisco, it is really fun to go exploring.


Gary said...

I can't imagine how much San Francisco has to offer in both modern and historical attractions. To be in one of the country's premier fashion/art centers with so much rich history has to be a real treat.

I had no idea that Alcatraz's (American) history dated back to the Civil War. I've heard that visiting the prison can be a disturbing experience. I didn't know you could sit in an isolation cell, either. I'll be that would be unnerving!

I guess I had the ignorant notion that Alcatraz island was the only island in the bay. Is Angel Island pretty big? It sounds like it would be cool to backpack and camp there. I can imagine that visiting the places where some of our dark history happened gives you an entirely different perspective on those events.

What great info! Thanks for sharing all of that.

Genevieve said...

I love visiting prisons! (abandoned ones. not so much the ones with prisoners in them, though I have done that. just a different experience all together)

Malady said...

Hi Vieve! I agree! Abandoned buildings and prisons are cool!

You would so love seeing this stuff. The tour of both islands took about 5 1/2 hours and I could have easily spent more time. Find out more info on Alcatraz here:

and Angel Island here:

Gary said...

Thanks, M! I'm checking out both sites.

I forgot to comment on the cemetery part of your post. I like cemeteries, too, because they can be stunning combinations of architecture, design, and nature. And they certainly make you contemplate your own life, spirituality, and mortality. I'm sure Mission Dolores was a prime example.

Boy, your mom is getting the royal treatment. I'm so jealous!

Purl said...

I can't believe how long it's been since I've visited San Francisco--I lived there for 1 1/2 years after graduating from Trinity. I hope to take Chris there sometime; he's never been to CA.

Sounds like lots of fun. We have a gorgeous historical cemetery near our office: Howard Hughes is buried there. And I toured 2 working prisons while in law school. The differences between the male and female prisons were shocking. The female prison was a much nicer space.

Malady said...

Hi Purl.

I think it would be really interesting to visit a working prison. An eye-opening experience for sure.