Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A beautiful day to go to jail

Well, Sarah and the Bug are at the airport getting ready for their red-eye back to Minneapolis. Hopefully Sarah doesn't run into any Republican National Convention craziness in St. Paul. We had a blast during our three days together, and Ella was a real champ!

This morning we took the ferry to Alcatraz and walked the prison and the grounds. The audio tour was really well done and featured former prisoners and wardens telling the tales of the big house. The escape stories were fascinating. The cells of the three prisoners who escaped (and were never found) were preserved to show how they placed dummy heads made of soap in their beds, widened their cell vents with spoons (over a year or so) and climbed up the pipes to the roof to escape on a raincoat raft. We also got to go inside the D Block isolation cells where no light came in...creepy. The view of San Francisco from the island is so picturesque. The prisoners never went a day without realizing all they were missing.

I scored the Alcatraz dining hall cup that Michael Symon used to serve risotto in his Dinner Impossible episode that took place at Alcatraz. I'd like to think that I'll make risotto and eat it out of my cup, but for now, I'll be realistic and say that I'll use it for soup and cereal.

So far, Sarah and I made good use of our muni passes. We've ridden a cable car, streetcars, the train and a bus. And, we got to be pros at plucking Ella from her stroller, collapsing it and carrying it aboard with us within 30 seconds. I was the happily designated Ella holder on transit (pretty peanut) and was rewarded with graham cracker crumbs on my shirt and I don't even want to know what else. Her adorable smile showcasing her four teeth always made me forget. She's such an easy going baby and reminds me of my niece, Alessandra. Sarah and I giggled any time we got the feeling that whomever we were chatting with thought we both were Ella's mommies.

After we made it back to the mainland from Alcatraz, we stopped at the Ferry Terminal to snag some yummy baguette sandwiches from a bakery and my beloved cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. While we were waiting to be seated at Greystone yesterday, we browsed Wine Spectator magazine and read about the top 100 cheeses. Cowgirl's Red Hawk made the list, so I picked up a chunk. We sat outside and ate our sandwiches, blueberries and cheese. Mmmm! After our quick lunch, we caught a long train ride to visit Cliff House and the beach. We had a gorgeous 30-minute or so walk through Golden Gate Park and passed the Dutch windmill, pretty flowers and a random guy playing his drum set on the street (?). We also walked through a neighborhood with the Victorian houses that are identified with San Francisco.

Sarah was determined to have Ella's piggies touch the Pacific, so we pushed the stroller on the beach up to the water. Ella was tickled with the sand, but quite the mess, so we had to strip off her pants. Thank goodness she's not modest.

We walked up the hill, oceanside, to visit the Cliff House and get a great view of Seal Rock. Today's weather was gorgeous and much warmer than expected, as it was supposed to be around 71 degrees. I think it ended up in the low 80s, so I am now sporting a hillbill sunburn on my chest and arms since there was zero shade once we left Golden Gate Park and I had zero sunscreen with me. And, I was so diligent all summer! Good times.

After Cliff House, we walked back toward Golden Gate Park and took a bus to the section of the park that houses the Japanese Tea Garden. We stopped in for tea and cookies and then walked around the grounds. Everything was very zen and relaxing, and we were glad we made the trip.

For dinner, we ended up at a Japanes
e/sushi joint called Hang Zen (which I thought was hilarious). Ella got her first taste of chopsticks and chowed down asparagus and teriyaki chicken. Then we crashed at the hotel and Sarah helped me prep for my meetings tomorrow until their car came to take them to the airport. Boo hoo! I don't know what I'm going to do the rest of the week without having the luxury of stuffing my giant purse underneath the stroller.

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