24.09.2010 - 24.09.2010 38 °C
So much for the San Francisco fog! Today has been the hottest day the city's experienced for twenty years!
It was chance rather than good planning on my part that I was able to escape the stifling atmosphere by taking a cruise to a fabled island - not Treasure, not even even Tracy, but Alcatraz Island - the home to the former maxium security penetentiary, which is now a National Park. If you're coming to the city, please don't assume you can simply rock up, buy a ticket and jump on the boat. This is a remarkably popular attraction and an advance online booking, at least a week in advance, is essential if you hope to actually step foot on the island.
Mine was an afternoon visit. The sail to the island was short, which results in the question, so why couldn't you just swim out? The prison exterior was considerably less intimidating that I had expecting, however this is without down something that leads you into a false sense of security, for once you are island I doubt even JK Rowling's dementors could be as successful in sucking the life from your soul. The prison is dark, the cells tiny, the opportunity for exercise small and privacy non-existent. I thought the most interesting part of the audio tour was learning about an attempted escape where the escapees came remarkably close to setting outside the prison walls, only to have their plan foiled by the necessity of taking hostages who they then murdered. I wonder if they had a plan to get from outside the prison walls to anywhere else, because my initial question of "Why couldn't you just swim?" was soon answered. The water in the Bay is freezing cold and if your muscles weren't sapped with energy and your body pulled under the water by rip currents, then the sharks that patrol the waters probably would have you. Who said prison was a soft touch?
Once I was back in the city I took a route back to the Tenderloin that I though my avoid the worst of the hills. I should have remembered from my attempt to go running on Long Island, New York, that my sense of direction is utterly hopeless. It wasn't so much that I got lost (it's very difficult to in a grid system), but I hit some of the city's biggest hills, the main ones being those that California Street runs over.