We took a boat ride to Alcatraz on Wednesday night to celebrate the end of D's conference (you know, out of one prison, into another).
Alcatraz is one creepy place. It looms out of the choppy water like a jagged rock as you approach and your first thought is, "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea." After being sternly herded off the boat ("You must choose the LEFT or the RIGHT gangplank only. Do NOT pause on the gangplank."), we were treated to a ten minute tirade about where not to wander by a park ranger (Alcatraz is actually part of a national park) who had the most horrific voice I've ever heard - kind of a cross between Patty & Selma from the Simpsons and Joey's agent from Friends.
D and I snuck away before our eardrums started to bleed and joined the line to tour the facility. We were handed headphones with a marvellous 40 minute-long guided tour, featuring the voices of former inmates, guards, wardens and even the daughter of one of the wardens who lived on the island for three years as a child. It was like listening to a really high quality radio drama. Totally worth the lineups and screechy park ranger.
But my favourite part? The story of the three guys who managed to escape in a dinghy and were never heard of again. They dug through their cement cell walls with SPOONS, for Heaven's sake. And they cleverly tricked the guards by creating dummies of themselves out of paper mache - using real hair they'd saved from their hairbrushes! That's innovation. I wonder if they made it. Some speculate they went to South America and started new lives. In a way, I kind of hope that's true. I know they were bank robbers and kidnappers, but hey, anyone with enough brains & guts to escape from Alcatraz deserves a second chance, don't you think?
Next: Muir Woods, land of Ewoks