Monday, December 17, 2007

Visitors December 2007-Part 2

As I said in the last post, Amber stayed on after Jason left. Since Max and I both have jobs out here, we left Amber on her own to discovery this city and visit places she wanted to go. So we got her a bus pass, showed her how to use the bus program on the Internet, and left her to explore on her own for a few days. On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday she shopped, had lunch with me at a little French Bistro, visited the Museum of Modern Art, shopped, visited the Exploratory and the Palace of Fine Arts, and shopped a little more. She did adapt to the metro system without any problems and became a real San Francisco Urbanite.

On Wednesday, I had the day off and it was off to Alcatraz. Neither of us had been before- and we both wanted to go. The day was foggy and damp-

which certainly added to the ambiance of this looming place. We were surprised to learn that it actually started as an army post- and then drifted into its status as an army prison- and then finally became the prison that has been the subject of books and movies. It is remote- and cold- and dreary.

I think Amber is happier on the outside of the bars.

The prison warden, guards and families all lived on the island- and because the prison was so very secure no one felt afraid. The children would take the ferry over to San Fran everyday to go to school. There are still remnants of playgrounds and houses from the days when it was a prison.

Ultimately President Kennedy closed the prison. For one thing the "Gangster" era of prohibition was over- And of course there were cries for prisoner rehabilitation not just isolation. But the deciding factor was the cost- it is very expensive to maintain a prison on an island off San Fran (it is very expensive to live in an apartment in San Fran I might add)- So ultimately it was a budget decision- And now Alcatraz is a place for visitors to step back into time. But you can be sure I'm going to watch Clint Eastwood in "Escape from Alcatraz" with a new perspective.

But I think there must have been some distant relative of our dear friend Oliver Delaney-

Because there was an accordian in one of the cells!

But then we finished the day with a haircut- Amber's that is. She tried out a new salon (can't say I loved the one I tried for my haircut).

I've got an appointment next week with the stylist that cut Amber's hair- now that will be the real test of her talent. I think just about any stylist- talent or no- can end up with a gorgeous look on Amber- now the test will be what I look like.......

I took the day off on Friday, rented a car, and Am and I crossed the Golden Gate and headed for Sausalito and Muir Woods. We stopped for a bite to eat in Sausalito where Amber got something that looked like a tortilla with chocolate sauce. It was called a nutella crepe and the chocolate was really hazelnut and chocolate, but you can decide for yourself from the picture. Amber said she ate it often when she was in Spain. It was particulary good when mixed with peanut butter. Sounds like a Reeses' Cup to me.

After our snack, we headed up to Muir Woods, one of my favorite places on this earth. It was a beautiful day and the park was not crowded. In fact we hiked up one of the trails to the top of the mountain where we could see both the bay and the Pacific and then back down again and didn't meet anyone on the trail the whole time. It was a wonderful walk. It's always humbling to walk among these giant trees that have been standing here over 1000 years. And since it had rained the day before, the forest was clean and quiet with only the sound of water bubbling down the several streams in the valley or the wind blowing through the tops of the trees up on the ridge. I hope you enjoy the pictures and then come to visit us so I can take you there myself.

After the walk in the forest we headed for the coast and an overlook of the cliffs along the Pacific. This is a beautiful coast line with rocky cliffs and the surf pounding and spraying water up into the air. This picture is looking north towards Reyes Point which juts out into the Pacific.

On the way back to the apartment we turned off the road just before the bridge and headed up the hills to an old gun implacement that was put there to protect against invasion of the bay. The view from there of the bridge is wonderful
Saturday was a more relaxed day. Amber wanted to see Berkeley, so we drove across the bay to visit the campus. Berkeley is truly a contrast of people and ideas. While on one side it is one of the best technical universities in the country that stretches the bounds of science and thought. On the other hand, the east bay is much more of a blue collar city than SF, but it also attracts some of the weirdest people I have seen. Berkeley is known for allowing people to express their feelings regardless of what they may be. For instance there was a guy there that was on campus in the early 90's who never wore clothes. He stayed around for over a semester attending classes wearing only his sandles before he was finally expelled for indecent exposure. We saw several others in Berkeley who all had clothes, but they were pretty weird nonetheless. The best part of the visit was the Berkeley Botanical Gardens. Because of the mild climate, they have plants there from all over the world planted into gardens of each of the geographical areas. Of course, being the parents that we are, we take pictures of our children, not the plants.

Finally we visited the Lawrence Hall of Science, a children's museum at the top of the mountain above the university. There is a great sculpture there depicting a double helix strand of DNA. It's more like a jungle gym made up of nucleotides.

We had so much fun during Amber's visit. And can't wait for her to come again- though I think perhaps we'll slow the pace- but then maybe not. But it was a great time- and time we'll remember for a long time to come.

1 comment:

Lucas said...

Sounds like a great visit! Can't wait until I can get out there. I've never been to Muir Woods so you can definately take me there and take my picture! It looks gorgeous! Love you guys.