July 2016 Volumn 17 Issue 193 - Page 54

Alcatraz prison sits atop the island in the San Francisco Bay. Many of Americas’s most notorious criminals spent time here. Only three prisoners escaped the island but their fate remains unknown. Having seen the prison in movies, it was awe inspiring to see it in real life. The self guided tour is narrated by one of the last prisoners to leave the island and guards that were on duty. A great way to understand life as it was within the walls, from both sides! Bridalveil Falls. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls like the Bridalveil Falls shown here. While the falls are spectacular from May through late July, there are also valleys, meadows, lakes, mountains, giant sequoias and just beautiful wilderness. Whether you want to take a walk, hike or do some wilderness camping, Yosemite offers all of it. We took several hikes in Yosemite Valley. John Muir was the real driving force behind protection laws and the eventual dedication as a National Park. Muir took Teddy Roosevelt to some of his favorite spots and Roosevelt was so moved that he later signed documents making it a National Park. 54 Cable cars are a fun way to get around and by making connections, you can get around much of the area. A one day pass, good for the cable car and buses are only $20 a day. Hoping on a cable car for one ride is $7. Lines will be long at each end of the route. We learned how to hop on and hop off at stops along the way, thanks to a helpful ‘native’. It is fun to just hang on! https://www.sfmta.com July 2016 www.marshandbayou.com We arrived in San Francisco early on a Thursday morning after a nonstop flight from San Antonio. The sunrise was chasing us across the distances, and no one could sleep on the way. Flying over the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountain range was like a hint of what was to come. After getting our rental van, we headed to our first planned stop, the Twin Peaks. They overlook San Francisco and are said to offer a great view of the city; but like so many winter mornings trying to navigate the Mississippi below Venice, all we could see was fog! Heading back down, we started towards the Leroy King Carousel. Driving in San Fran is not like really driving; It’s more like a moving parking lot. In fact, the first parking lot that we pulled into had a big sign that said something like, "Parking, $6." Pulling into the building, the attendant could tell we were tourists and asked how long we would be. "Maybe an hour or two," I told him. "That will be $48," he said. We missed the part about $6 for fifteen MINUTES! We escaped and headed for our hotel in the Marina District. The way to navigate the city is to use streetcars and buses! It’s easy and for only $20 a person, you can really get around. Forget driving! After a fun ride on a street car, we were walking towards China Town. Surely you have heard about the hills in San Francisco? Well, for a flat lander old man, they were a challenge. Hopping off the streetcar on “The Crooked Street” was easy to see why it’s called that. We then took a bus to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and walked on the famous bridge as the fog moved in. You just can’t go to ‘Frisco without going to the famous bridge; and by using the bus, it is so easy. Just get a route map, or ask someone. Everyone we talked to was more than willing to help us out. The next morning, we had reservations for the Alcatraz Prison tour. I highly recommend this tour! Head straight to the top and get a headset for the narrated selfwalking tour. Alcatraz was actually the favorite stop on our trip for my grandson, Caleb. Then we headed across the Golden Gate Bridge and up Highway 1, the coastal highway. I recommend that after crossing the Golden Gate, take Highway 101 to Santa Rosa, then take the Bodega highway to Bodega Bay, and then up the coastal highway as far as you want to go. There are some beautiful spots to stop and see the coast and several beaches with cold water, but a fun thing to do. We stayed in the little town of Gualala where we found a good Mexican Restaurant just up the road. It had been a long day – Alcatraz, scenic stops, beaches, and a few short walks - and then we crashed for the night. The next day, we decided to head back to Highway 101. We had enough of the windy Highway 1. By driving 101 to Santa Rosa and over to Highway 1, I think the drive all the way to Leggett where you get back on 101 is the best route; but whichever way you head up to the Redwood Parks, stop in Leggett to see the “Drive-Through Tree.” We stayed in the town of Arcata, the home of Humboldt College, at a very nice condo, the Arcata Stay. Having a fully-equipped home for