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Posts tagged ‘Alcatraz Island’

Saturday Farmer’s Market and Alcatraz Island

This morning Kelly and I took my mom and Ed into San Francisco wherein the plan was to visit the Saturday farmer’s market at the iconic Ferry Building which overlooks the bay.  As an added bonus, Kelly made arrangements for us to spend part of our time touring the market alongside a private guide through the local non-profit Edible Excursions.

Kelly and I have participated in the tour once before and had a great time.  This being the case, we were optimistic the experience would once again be a positive one.  We arrived to the market just in time for the 9:30am start and quickly found ourselves sampling all sorts of goodies from various local merchants, most local to the NorCal region.

At each stop, we heard how each of the merchants arrived to their current role as an artisan and details about their preferred methods of cultivating farm-to-table ecosystems.

Farmer Al of Frog Hollow Farms talking about his fruit trees

Farmer Al of Frog Hollow Farms talking about his fruit trees

Some of the cheese goodness at Cowgirl Creamery

Some of the cheese goodness at Cowgirl Creamery

Our pickled zucchini and tomato sauce from Happy Girl Kitchen

Our pickled zucchini and tomato sauce from Happy Girl Kitchen

The private tour lasts about two hours, spread across roughly a dozen stops.  Today’s experience with Edible Excursion was another positive one, and I highly recommend the organization.

Mom and Ed at the Ferry Building

Mom and Ed at the Ferry Building

Once the tour was complete, Kelly and I bought our weekly stash of fruits and vegetables before a rendezvous with mom and Ed – our next stop being Alcatraz Island.

The obligatory "I was at Alcatraz" picture

The obligatory “I was at Alcatraz”picture

The start of the audio tour

The start of the audio tour

Like most people, I’ve heard plenty about the infamous prison many refer to as “the Rock”, but I’d never visited what is today, a National Park operated by the National Park Service.  Additionally, I didn’t know much about the history of the island.  To that end, the tour was pretty effective at providing visitors – and there were lots of them today paying $28 per ticket – a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse, West Coast military fort, an infamous federal penitentiary, and details of the 18 month occupation by American Indians.

Grafitti of the 18 month American Indian occupancy (1969-70)

Graffiti remains from the 18 month American Indian occupancy (1969-70)

Given the age of the buildings, most are in poor condition and in need of significant repair.  I suppose the NPS must walk a fine line maintaining the mystical look of the island properties, yet ensuring this cash-cow revenue generating park maintains a safe operating state.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a natural side to the island – complete with gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and of course … bay views beyond compare.

The crumbling exterior wall of the main administration building

The crumbling exterior wall of the main administration building

The island's original lighthouse

The island’s original lighthouse

San Francisco bay

San Francisco bay

I’ll be honest, I was expecting the tour to be mostly a tourist trap.  We’ve all seen Alcatraz movies and other Discovery Channel-like documentaries, but it was nice to see things with my own eyes.  Overall, I was quite pleased with everything and would suggest that the tour is worth the money … once.