In order to fulfill a long time desire and Donnalee's birthday, David booked tickets to the island a few weeks in advance. While Gary drove a water delivery truck years ago in San Francisco, Donnalee had never spent any time there at all. After I got over my shock at this concept, we decided to try and jamb as much as we could in the weekend without too much a flurry. Saturday morning, David and Anne, Donnalee (DL) and Gary left the four week record of a hundred degree plus weather and headed out in our jeep, Betsy, aka LDY ANE.

A quick breakfast stop at Cafe Deva in Modesto that was next door to an antique store Anne & DL drooled over as David and Gary pulled them back into the car.

A late start and intense traffic caused concern we would not make it in time for the 12:45 Alcatraz trip we had looked forward to for so long. Calling for reservations for dinner that evening to the Cafe de Paris, only to find it was closed created a dismal attitude. No wonderful omens this morning until we spotted a bumper sticker that said "Well behaved women rarely make history."

The wharf was crowded as usual at 1:30 as David and DL dropped Anne and Gary to beg forgiveness while they drove off to park. Anne almost leaped through the ticket window to hug the clerk when he said, "No problem, you can hop on the next ferry." Waiting for our spouses, we people watched. We are observing a huge bus carefully wind it's way through the crowded, heavily populated streets and Gary shakes his head at the wonderment that he once drive a large truck in the city without ever once hitting anything or any one. When our spouses showed up, we put on dismal, disappointed faces, then surprised them with the fact we were indeed going after all.

Alcatraz, was, well, stunning. My opinion will differ from every one else's, I am sure. I got to see it after all this time, and have no need to go again. Great photography, eerie experiences and a very oppressing atmosphere. Shivers to see a cell they did not 'decorate."  Standing at a window in the cell block dining hall, looking out to the city, fully appreciating what the prisoners could see but not share in was overwhelming. So close, so far away. A tap on the shoulder at this point with no one near me didn't help the dismal atmosphere. The winds off the bay darn near knocked us over at the top of the island near the cell block. We stood at the rear of the ferry on the return trip, filled with a lingering sadness yet a relief as the island again, slowly drifted back to it's usual harmless detachment. If you are into this sort of thing, more about that here.

Back on land and out of the wind, we stopped at the first wharf bar we came across to warm up. The bartender, Steve, at the Cafe Pescatori's made our stop a delight, putting up with these four strange travelers with extra ordinary humour and banter.

A quick stop at the Cost Plus provided a array of wine and four new special glasses for the Hartchord's, a combination of our last names.

Off to check in at the King George Hotel on Mason. As with the Queen Anne, the atmosphere is a delight, complete with the most charming, tiniest circular stairway going from the roof to the basement, and an sardine can elevator that fit only six skinny people as long as no luggage was included. The clerk's attitude left a bit to be desired, our bags were most cheerfully transported for us, and the rooms were a jolt. We bargained for the lowest prices, and got exactly what we paid for - closets on the ninth floor. Our understanding was that we had a smoking room on the smoking ninth floor while DL and Gary had a non-smoking room. Well, we had room 918 while they were in 916. When I was researching hotels, they assured me we would have coffee in our rooms. Nope.

We met in our room for drinks with our new glasses, decided on Original Joe's in the Tenderloin just down a few blocks and off we go. We were all familiar with the San Jose Original Joe's, so it was nice to see a similar atmosphere. The waiter's are experienced and older, elegant in tuxedos, with equally delightful old style manners. Scampi, veal parmesan and lasagna were all delicious, the garlic bread was saturated with garlic as ordered. A cigarette break on the sidewalk was thoroughly entertaining with a Jamaican carrying a large brass bed frame asking for a cigarette and giving me a kiss on the hand, a local club with entertaining clientele and chippies with boas by the bus load. The guys told the waiter it was DL's birthday, so we returned to the table to singing and cake. Tee hee! A slightly tipsy short walk uphill to bed where everyone crashed and burned at 11 pm, hours past our normal bedtime. We did laugh ourselves to sleep, after maneuvering around each other to move just in order to get undressed, with, "At least we are not sleeping in the car!" The street party outside nine floors below was quite loud, but we were too tired to be affected.

I mentally gave the beds a point when I woke Sunday morning. I don't remember a thing, so I obviously slept well. A leisurely morning, down for coffee in the dining room where DL was not allowed a muffin without a sticker (Hello????) a  long que for the elevator, showering in a dribble of good hot water, dressing in such a small space that you could not bend over to tie your tennies, packing up by having to put everything on the bed again as there was no floor space!

Off to The Ramp for breakfast.  This restaurant rates a three, which means we plan trips around going back.  DL snapped a picture of the weirdest building on the way, the top floor wall was designed at several different angles, giving a drunken surreal appearance. Construction in China Basin provided the usual wild maze of detours, and runners for an AIDS marathon left us parking on a sidewalk. A round of Bloody Mary's in the sunshine next to the water, steak and eggs, Daniela's scramble, corn beef hash (a bit too salty) and DL's dish were, as usual, perfect as breakfast can be. People watching is at an all time high here.

Chinatown! David parked while we visited the Fortune Cookie Factory, I received two propositions while waiting for David to catch up. Donnalee did some light shopping and we headed for the Green Apple bookstore. We usually go Saturday nights after dinner, so Sunday was quite crowded. Donnalee broke her budget, I did fairly well under $20 for once. David was not feeling up to par, so we shortened the day with a quick stop at the Queen Anne to show DL the place we call normally home, a quick drive thought Haight and the Golden Gate Park.

Stopping at Andronica's was to be our next stop, primarily to pick up drinks for the road. It turned into a regular grocery shopping trip as DL and Gary oohed and awed. We left with Forbidden and Jasmine rice, Ginger beer, berries, Beeman's gum, and clotted cream! I was so excited I bought four jars! A highlight  in the store was a thin, blonde, curly haired young version of Liberace in a brilliant purple velvet coat with tails and matching pants.

The last hysterical event was the Leather and Leadership gathering on the way to the freeway. We almost circled the block to get pictures until we saw the overweight stomach walking down the street, not a stitch on save a tiny black leather g-string. I have seen these guys around, but not that volume of biker black leather, spikes, pierced nipples with heavy chains, or weird underwear in one location before. The ultimate in San Francisco kink.

A near pile up just before the Altamont brought my heart beat up to say the least. Back home. Always good to get back home, even with the heat.

Pictures of Alcatraz

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