Alcatraz and An Unexpected Picture

BayFromAlcatrazSaturday hubs and I took a trip to Alcatraz. If you haven’t taken a trip out to the rock, it’s something I’d definitely recommend. There is so much history on Alcatraz, and while the tours are geared toward a narrow section of its history, the experience is well worthwhile. We started off listening to one of the rangers talk about a former inmate, Jim Quillen. His passion for his topic showed through, and at the end, when the ranger choked up when talking about Quillen’s death in his 70’s, several of us in the audience cried, yes, me included. The talk brought us to the opening of the cell blocks. So hubs and I entered the intake room.

Before we left on vacation, we talked about going out to Alcatraz. I’ve visited the bay area frequently throughout my life, but have never done the touristy things, so hadn’t been out to the rock. Hubs wasn’t sure it was a good idea because Alcatraz has a reputation for being haunted and I happen to be super sensitive to vibrations in places. And if you think about the history of the place and the prisoners who made Alcatraz their home for a period of time, the vibrations wouldn’t likely be good ones. But we were extremely fortunate to be able to get tickets – it was sold out for several weeks, so I figured that was a good enough indication… we were going. We entered the intake room and walked toward the area where the arriving inmates would receive their blankets, clothes, and be showered before being led to the cell. Apparently I paled because hubs asked me whether I was going to be okay continuing on, but we did and I’m glad we did.

The audio tour is an excellent presentation and would highly recommend going through the cell block with the presentation. Toward the end of the tour, we were in the administration area, and were told to exit to the patio area outside of the administration area. There was a light house to our right and the ruins of the warden’s house to the left. Directly ahead was the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the skyline of San Francisco. At the top of the steps leading the edge, I stopped to take a picture of the bay and skyline. SFBayWGirlBecause of the glare, I couldn’t really see what was on my screen, so pretty much held the phone up, snapped, and then retreated to see whether the picture was decent. This meant I was watching what was happening in front of me instead of the screen. I saw a lady to the right and a group of people making their way to the rail.

I tried to look at the picture, but still couldn’t see the screen well (brightness was turned down), but I saw a weird white disc in the picture, so went to the shade, upped the brightness and found a girl carrying wheels of something, wearing heavy gloves, and carrying some shears of some kind. I showed hubs and his reaction was the same as mine. Where did the girl come from? She definitely was not someone I saw (I would have waited to snap the pic so as to not have her in my shot.) The other question I had was where was she going? The direction she was heading was toward the Warden’s house, which was nothing more than ruins. To come into the cell blocks, she would have passed us — and that didn’t happen. So hubs wanted me to take another picture (at the top of the post) to see what happened. I got the picture I had intended to from the beginning.

Why did I get this picture? *shrugs* Maybe to highlight the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz from 1969-1970. Maybe just to give us something to talk about. Maybe because the main character I’m working with right now happens to be half-Cherokee, and I’ve been researching Indian issues to help me with her background.

Speaking of my main character, I’d better get together with her and get some words down on the page.

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6 Comments on “Alcatraz and An Unexpected Picture”

  1. Very interesting, especially about the picture. What was she doing indeed? Sounds like a great mystery. Someday I would like to go to Alcatraz. It will be a while though. I worked in a prison for almost ten years and after quitting, I don’t want to be anywhere near one for a long time.

    1. I totally understand why you’d put off going, Heather. One of the things they stage at 5PM is the locking of the cells so you can experience what the inmates (and guards) heard every day, but the audio tour had the sound as part of it as well, so we did not stick around for that portion. I think that would have been a bit too disturbing to hear. It was disturbing enough on the tour with the sound of a single cell.

  2. Oh man, that’s an incredible experience and the picture just makes it all the more interesting. Who knows why she was there or what she was doing but it sure gives you a lot to think about!

    I’ve always wanted to visit “The Rock” because I’m fascinated by history. Unfortunately, like you, I tend to be extremely sensitive to…well, everything…and that can make exploring places like Alcatraz a bit of a sticky wicket. My hubs is always torn between wanting me to push the boundaries of what that sensitivity means (like can I learn to control it and fine tune it) and wanting to protect me because he knows that the heavy, negative emotions that hang in places like that can be extremely invasive and difficult to shake. I’m not one to necessarily want to push the boundaries but it’s kind of like having a sore spot in your mouth and you have to keep pushing at it with your tongue to be sure it’s still sore. I half don’t believe what I experience in these types of environments so I have to keep poking at it to see if I can figure it out.

    1. Rhonda, I totally understand. All I can tell you is other than the push back I got at intake and tripping 3 times on the stairs, the worst of it was heavy feelings. And then I got the picture and both hubs and I were having a moment.

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