Our first order of business in San Francisco was a visit to the chiropractor. You may recall the time the kids picked up these coats from the second hand prop store in LA? They all decided to wear them this morning, and truly looked like a singing group walking down the street with their vocal coach and mother. We will continue to sing in the privacy of our bus or van.

For our chiropractor readers, this is an interesting approach to adjusting kids on the deer table. Funny story though, they put the big kids in the room with the deer table, and the little kids in the adult table room. Hm.

Alcatraz- First of all, we did bring all the children back out with us.

We will reveal how we picked up our $69.50 in cash at the gift store after arriving, and we were the only ones in this special and little known ‘line’.

As we gently bumped into the Alcatraz pier, everyone was still smiling, not knowing what lay ahead, or if we were serious about buying one-way tickets for a couple of them...

We started out getting organized at the best RV park in the San Francisco area, which does not translate to a good RV park compared to most other parks. In a nutshell for all of you fellow RVers that may be coming this way- be prepared to pay $80 a night for a pull through, your sewer adaptor will not fit their site connections (but they sell the right one) and the WiFi speed will cause you to consider jumping off the 60’ cliff to the sea directly below…  It’s the San Francisco RV Park in Pacifica, CA. Today, enroute to a big parking lot in Daly City to stash Bussie while we shipped out for The Rock driving the van, we located a side street shaded by very mature trees with only medium traffic that had wide lanes for parking without restriction. We’re just going to stay the night here in fact, after a busy day walking and looking… We have had pretty good luck just happening across space to park that is out of the way. TO get here, TomTom sent us away from the RV park and over a steep hill and through a tight neighborhood and finally, to the perfect parking spot. Small complication, the old cemetery that’s 12 feet from the window, and the thick fog that rolled across the headstones and onto the sidewalk like special effect smoke didn’t help comfort me- but as I said before- once those blinds are closed, we could be anywhere!

Chinatown was second on our list when we arrived in the city. 24 blocks of China. It really was like someone plucked up a bunch of folks from the other side of the globe and they landed here complete with the smells and chatter and meat in the windows.

Alcatraz: easy ride across the SF Bay on the Alcatraz Cruises ferry and we were off to explore. I should mention that the day before, we had stumbled across an Alcatraz gift shop on Fisherman’s Wharf, and we purchased a $12 CD that had the cellblock walking tour on it, as well as a small picture book, along with a couple of other Alcatraz goodies. We did that because just yesterday, Kelly read somewhere that part of the ticket price was for an optional audio tour on the island, and if you asked, they would refund that part of the ticket. Well, $8 x 8, and $5.50 x 1 equaled enough to cover the cost of the CD, and made it worth my time to rip the CD files to 5 iPods, which we happily shared for the walking tour- and saved enough for pizza on the way back to the bus, next to the cemetery. We figure that everyone on vacation probably doesn’t have the ability to approach the tour this way with iPods, but it worked for us, and we have a neat memento of the tour. Well, not the only memento. Did you ever see my piece of actual Titanic coal?? We might wrap this trip up with a curio/side show of our own when we return bearing my collection of ‘Actual Pieces Of’… That, will be fun!

The first step into the CLOSED area. We will not identify the ranger that was involved. We are heading down a stairway below the public viewing area to see the oldest cell on Alcatraz Island...

Next, descending through the vines and lush foliage onto a crumbling, weather beaten concrete landing that hadn't been walked on for a long time. It was covered with dried bird bones and stray feathers and bird 'mementos' that we were forbidden to touch.

Re-entering the sally port portion of the island, under which the cell was located. Above us, hundreds of visitors continued to walk over and peer through the grate covering the cell.

Kelly is good at sticking to it, and that came in handy when we decided not to continue working on the Junior Ranger badge for Alcatraz… I thought everyone had lost interest, and she stuck with it- so that the 5 youngest came out official Junior Rangers. There are perks to being a Junior Ranger, like visiting the inside of the first prisoners cell on Alcatraz… We started out listening to the Ranger talk about how the prisoners were lowered to the cell below us through the grate in the floor, and of course Henry had 50 questions for him, rapid-fire. Then, he asked if we would like to see the cell, and go where no one else was able to go- if it was alright with the parents? Oooooh yeah it was alright I said, before getting permission from the other parent… We paused at the ‘Closed’ sign to review the special rules- he warned us that we may walk across bird bones and piles of feathers, but we were not to pick up anything, or touch anything- just look. That was T-O-U-G-H for 6 year olds, but he took us down the overgrown steps into the dank, dark, smelly, OLD impressive room that once housed bad guys, if only briefly during the fortress days (before Alcatraz was an actual prison). Finally a privilege to have curious kids.

Discussing what it would feel like to have been imprisoned here, one of the questions on the Junior Ranger test. This test was why the ranger showed his soft side and encouraged the kids with this special perspective of the island.

We continued the hike up to the cell house and thoroughly enjoyed our time on Alcatraz- so much that we had to send Trevor and Lauren back on the ferry ahead of us to feed the meter for a 5
th hour as we wrapped up the Junior Ranger ceremony, and followed on the next trip back to the mainland to depart San Francisco for a well earned dinner and good nights sleep.

Just 2 of the 5 Junior Rangers in our group. We did have to remind 2 of the male Junior Rangers that Jr Rangers don't chase birds while on the island.