Friday, April 30, 2010

The Rock


My senior year of high school I saw "The Rock" on TV.  I was very excited, not only because they always edit rated R movies when they show them on TV, but I had a mad crush on Sean Connery...nothing like an old man with a beard to get me all hot and bothered!  I loved the car chase scenes through the streets of San Francisco, the rendezvous with his daughter at the Palace of Fine Arts, and the incredible shots of Alcatraz.  Ever since then I have been wanting to stand on 'the rock' and see, first hand, the infamous jail that is Alcatraz.

Oddly enough, after so many visits to the bay area and then moving here a couple years ago, I still had not made the voyage.  It wasn't until Maren came into town and she expressed interest that I decided to fork out the money.  I couldn't have been more pleased!  The tour is so well done and extremely educational, not to mention that the jail itself has an eery beauty to the grounds and buildings.  I loved it so much that I took Janelle and Jason on the tour as well.  We planned it for the weekend so Dallas could join.


The history of Alcatraz is pretty amazing.  The tour begins with a brief video about the main events that occurred on the island.  Then you are free to explore, with the audio tour beginning in the main cell house.  Alcatraz was America's main maximum-security prison from 1934-1963 with famous inmates such as Al "Scarface" Capone, "Machine Gun" Kelly, Alvin "Creepy Karpis", and Robert "The Birdman" Stroud.

The tour recounts the Battle of Alcatraz where a standoff between inmates and guards resulted in three inmates and two guards dead.  They detail the accounts of some of the escapes from the prison (36 prisoners attempted throughout the years, but only 3 may have survived.)  Mainly the tour shows you the inmate's day to day life.  We were able to walk through the cafeteria, exercise yard, library, showers, visitation windows, and the rows of tiny cells.

What amazes me is how eerily beautiful it all is.  Whether it's the corroding metal or the cobwebbed filled bars, the deteriorating brick slowly being over taken by natural foliage or simply the knowledge of so many men being imprisoned where we were standing, I'm not sure.

Whatever the case, it gave us some GREAT picture we took them!

Janelle and Jason really took the tour seriously... a little too seriously!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Point Lobos State Park

Monterey is a perfect example of a Northern California beach town. It is home to the world renown Monterey Bay Aquarium and is surrounded by stunning cliffs and acres of eucalyptus trees. Point Lobos is a state park about 10 minutes south of Monterey along the Pacific Coast Highway 1.

My friend Alex took a group of us there back in 2005 and I have been in love with it ever since. Because it is a longer drive than most (about 1 1/2 hours from our home) I only get to take friends here that are staying for a few days. Janelle and Jason had never been to Monterey, so we started the day at Point Lobos for a picnic and then hiking along the cliffside. The tide was strong enough to show off some incredible waves along the coast line and we ended up spending a few hours just taking in the view.

I could stay here forever, especially in the spring when all the wild flowers are coming out...gorgeous!

After Point Lobos we drove into Monterey to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have a yearly pass because I love it here so much! They have the most incredible displays. Not to mention that it's massive!

After the aquarium we ate along the pier. I was a bit on the exhausted side and may have been a little loopy, but Jason was sweet enough to drive us home!

The hero hard at work on his photography...object: me!

A Wickedly Good Day in the City

I realize that I am bombarding everyone with post updates, but I figured while there was some down time up here in Washington, I needed to catch up on what's been happening. I am about half way there...

While Janelle and Jason were in town visiting in April we spent a fun filled day in the city. To ease the stresses of driving through traffic we took the BART from our place in Pleasant Hill.

We spent most of the day exploring Chinatown, taking photo stops along the way,

shopping around Union Square, and then eating at the Cheesecake Factory. Janelle and I were SUPER excited because Jason let us play "paper doll" with him. Meaning we were able to pick out an entire new wardrobe for him since he's lost so much weight in the past few months! It was pretty fun to have all the thrills of shopping and not have to deal with the price at the end :) Thanks Jason, for putting up with all our crazy outfit choices and excitement over clothes!

After dinner at the Cheesecake Factory we all went to see Wicked! Janelle and Jason were incredibly sweet and got me a ticket to go with them. It was amazing as usual and we even waited after the show to get pictures with the cast!


Overall it was a Wickedly fun day in the city!

Palace of Fine Arts

My favorite place in the city to visit (besides the beaches) is the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District. I remember seeing it for the first time with my sister-in-law and my two nephews and niece. We were taking them to the Exploratorium which is inside an adjoining building set behind the landscape. The kids absolutely loved the intricate hands on displays found in the science center, but I could not keep my mind off of the gorgeous view outside.

The Palace of Fine Arts was constructed in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, but has since been refurbished in the 60's to protect from earthquakes and basic deterioration. There is a constant stream of wildlife that have made it their home. Beautiful geese, ducks, and turtles (my favorite) are usually swimming in the reflecting pond.

I absolutely love the Greek and Roman architecture. It is the perfect romantic setting and not heavily populated which can be rare for the city. "So I Married An Axe Murderer" and "The Rock" both were filmed here along with several other movies. I try to take people here whenever they come to visit, as I did with Maren, Jason, and Janelle. I hope they liked it! I just can't get over how beautiful it is. Maybe someday we'll be lucky enough to live in one of the million dollar mansions across the street...probably not! :)

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