Friday, September 12, 2008

So Long San Fran!

San Francisco, California
It's time to bid this city farewell. Perhaps Walter Cronkite said it best, "Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible."

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meet Me at the Golden Gate

San Francisco, California
One of the challenges to photographing an icon like the Golden Gate Bridge is finding a different way to see it.

We took a drive across the bridge...

It was covered in a blanket of fog.

Neither rain nor snow nor fog will stop this photographer!

The sun started to come out...

....right at the end of the road.

We continued on to Sausalito, which was about 20 degrees warmer than San Francisco. By the time we drove back, the bridge was almost clear.

I'm so lucky Michael drove across and back so I could take these photos!

We continued on to Baker Beach for another great view of the Golden Gate.

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
- Pooh's Little Instruction Book

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

There's No Escape

Alcatraz Island, California
The Rock looks foreboding as we get closer and closer.

Just in case you feel drawn toward the island, this sign makes it clear you should stay away.

Alcatraz is only 1.5 miles away from San Francisco but escaping meant braving the cold waters.

Birds have taken over this island. It is home to many species, including seagulls, herons, egrets, and cormorants.

Walking into Alcatraz Penitentiary is like walking into a black and white photo. The deep blue waters of the bay and the bright green of the grass are all outside. Inside is gray.

Each inmate had his own 5' x 9' cell.

A list of regulations governed all the details of the prisoners' lives.

Regulation #30 CELLHOUSE RULES
At the wake-up bell in the morning you must get out of bed and put on your clothes. Make up your bed properly (as shown in the diagram on Page #8) with your pillow at the end near the bars, blankets tucked neatly under the mattress, and extra blankets folded neatly at the foot of the bed. Sweep your cell and place the trash in the trash basket.

Alcatraz was reserved for the worst criminals.

Among the baddest of them all, was the Polka of Alcatraz. Her quick shooting skills landed her in the joint for life.

Polka's partner in crime was Mike "Shifty Eyes."

There is no escape from the bars. Even the shadows mock you.

Regulation #42 YARD PRIVILEGES
Exercise yard rules: All inmates in good standing are allowed the yard privilege on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, if the weather permits.

I wonder how many only saw the outside world through these dusty dining room windows.

Regulation #33 DINING ROOM RULES
Meals are served three times a day in the dining room. Do not exceed the ration. Do not waste food. Do not carry food from the dining room.

The glass case surrounding a guard's uniform reflects some tourists.

Looking into the offices it seems as if time froze.

Regulation # 21 WORK
You are required to work at whatever you are told to do.

There's even a date stamp. I'm guessing it's from 1952, but I'm not sure of the significance. Anyone know?

Inmates who did not follow the regulations were sent here.

The prison hospital is the creepiest of all. I feel like I'm in a horror movie.

Medical attention is available to all inmates.

This looks like a torture chamber!

That hospital gave me the chills. I could not get out of there fast enough!

I believe that's the guard quarters, with San Francisco gleaming in the distance.

We finished the tour listening to some more prison stories.

The island no longer belongs to the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Regulation #3 STATUTORY GOOD TIME, MERITORIOUS GOOD TIME AND INDUSTRIAL GOOD TIME are types of reduction in sentence which can be earned only by inmates who establish and keep a good conduct record and a good work record.

Thank you to the National Park Service for all of their hard work in preserving history. I highly recommend the Alcatraz Tour for anyone visiting the Bay area. Quick tip: Be sure to reserve your tickets early as they sell out fast. We bought ours a month ahead of time and the night tour the day before ours was sold out.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Chinatown

San Francisco, California
I love exploring new neighborhoods, especially old neighborhoods that are just new to me. Maybe it's just the mood I was in, but San Francisco's Chinatown had a mystical, ancient feeling to it, like the dragon guarding the gate. Is he a good luck dragon? Or will he lash out with flaming breath? Maybe he just needs an Altoid.

This is Chinatown: bright-colored signs competing for your attention, each building like a ribboned soldier standing in formation, sunlit lanterns bouncing in the wind peacefully ignoring the bustle below.

The dragon is in the details...

Have I told you I love photographing signs?

Michael's mission was to find Sam Wo's, a hole-in-the-wall cheap Chinese restaurant that's been around for over 100 years.

I love studying languages. One of my favorite B.U. classes was an archaeology course on languages and decipherment (taught by the incredible Prof. Paul Zimansky). I'm especially fascinated with the languages that use characters. Did you know that to be fluent in writing Chinese you need to know over 3,000 characters?!?! I wonder how many different characters a newspaper typically uses?

In the middle of Chinatown is Old St. Mary's, rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Below the clock is this bible quote: Son, observe the time, and fly from evil.

We didn't fly away, but we did take the cable car.

Apparently so did Humphrey Bogart. You can barely make out the scrawl in the front: H. Bogart rode on this car - circa 1946 - 47 (Dark Passage) I'm intrigued. I'll have to add that to my must-watch movies list.

It's not the end of the line for us!

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Bad Motor Scooter

San Francisco, California
Our adventures continue. We love this city. We were happy my mom and sister, Alicja, joined us for a few days.

We had brunch at a place we discovered last year, Liverpool Lil's. My favorite is their Monte Cristo but it's only available as a special and they didn't have it this time. So I had their delicious waffles instead.

All four of us thought we'd try a scooter tour of the city. It was fun - except for the times I had to get out and push the scooter uphill.

Alicja and Michael put their best face forward, with me in the middle, reflected in my mom's helmet.

We're always scouting new photo shoot locations like the one below.

And the sun goes down on the city...

Cafe Maritime boasts it has the best crab cakes in San Francisco. They're absolutely right.

It's the end of another day, as Michael and I kick up our heels.

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