Inside Alcatraz Prison

The contrast between the beautiful views outside the prison gates, and the tiny 5′ x 7′ cells prisoners were relegated to on Alcatraz is unsettling.  Right when you enter the former federal prison, you step into a room with a giant communal shower which feels like it’s straight out of a concentration camp.  Each tourist is issued a set of headphones and is guided by the voices of former prison guards and inmates around the prison cells, through the library, and warden’s office.

Want to know which cells the Anglin brothers lived in prior to their escape?  Listen in and you’ll find out.  If you do the night tour, there are a few lectures you can attend after walking around the prison.  We learned about John Paul Scott’s* “successful” escape – he swam all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, passed out from hypothermia and woke up less than 24-hours later in the Alcatraz prison infirmary.  I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy.

Jude and I attempted to explore an area on our own after the lecture ended, and  I completely freaked out.  I don’t care if it’s haunted or not, I had the heebie-jeebies (yes, a technical term) and gave Jude a good laugh.

*During the lecture, we learned that Scott had tried to escape alone.  According to Wikipedia (clearly, a reliable source), Scott tried to escape with Darl Lee Parker.

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Ferry to Alcatraz

Jude and I went on the night tour at Alcatraz.  It rained during the day, but cleared up just in time to leave us with a beautifully ominous sky, perfect to set the mood for visiting the deserted prison (and for a spectacular sunset).  There’s a decent amount of walking, so I’d recommend wearing comfortable shoes.  One woman in line grimaced when she realized she had to cross a puddle in heels.  We debated whether her boyfriend had bought tickets and neglected to mention where they were going, or she was just a moron.

Photos inside the prison, of the sunset, and the rainbow to follow.

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Russian Ridge Trail, San Mateo County

Today I went hiking on the Russian Ridge Trail, nine miles west of I-280, in San Mateo County.  Mind you, it was nine twisting miles where I was practically getting passed by cyclists.  (Yes, I was in a car).  Beautiful views in every direction.  Bring snacks, water, and a jacket.  It gets windy!

Beware of the giant crows, ticks, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions.  Fortunately, we only encountered a crow.  Although, he was attacking a Prius that was apparently in his parking spot.

© Sarah Milstein 2014

St. Paddy’s Day Parade, San Francisco

What’s St. Paddy’s Day without a parade?  Well, actually this was the first one I’ve been to, so scratch that.  This parade was much more tame than the one at the Notting Hill Carnival, but pulled a good-sized crowd.  Very cute to see the uniformed men and women toting their kids around, dressed in green from head to toe.  What?  That kid’s shoes are green if you squint really, really hard.

P.S. To those of you who think it’s “St. Patty’s,” well, you’re wrong, it’s “St. Paddy’s.”  This website will set you straight.  How embarrassing for you!  (Fine, I was one of them.)

© Sarah Milstein 2014

de Young Museum, San Francisco

Today I went to the de Young Museum to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit.  There was no photography permitted, so you’ll have to settle for my photos of the gardens and tower from outside.  I was surprised to learn that O’Keeffe had rejected the notion that her flowers were metaphors for sexuality:

“Well – I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flowers you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower – and I don’t.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Nevertheless, the museum suggests that her painting Brown and Tan Leaves (1928) represents her husband Alfred Stieglitz’s affair with Dororthy Norman, a woman 40 years his junior.  Sure, you can see it.  The young leaf (Norman) lies on top of the older, torn, and tan leaf (Stieglitz), their stems lining up, with a third smaller leaf (O’Keeffe) cast aside, away from the stem, yet hiding any imperfections on the right side of the tan leaf.  But you can’t have it both ways, if her other flowers were just flowers, then these are just leaves.  Unless of course she was painting vaginas. . .  On that note, here are some leaves and flowers.  No really, they are just leaves and flowers.

Here are a few photographs of the Ruth Asawa sculptures in the tower building at de Young.

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California.  Open Tuesdays – Sundays.

For more information about logistics, click here.  I was pleastantly surprised to find out that people with Bank of America accounts receive free general admission during the first weekend of the month.  (You still have to pay for the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit.)

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Exploratorium, San Francisco

Whether you’re an actual kid, or just a kid trapped in an adult’s body, there is something to entertain you at the Exploratorium. You know when you are at a museum and the security guard gives you a dirty look because your pinky toe has crossed the red line and you’re too close to the art? Well, the Exploratorium is not that museum.

I think my favorite part of the day was when we were looking at termite larvae (gross!), and my friend said, “This is awesome,” and a little girl repeated, “This IS awesome!”  Future scientist or Orkin woman?  Only time will tell.  I was more excited by the flashing lights and magnetic sand than with the bacteria and larvae.

Exploratorium, Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), San Francisco, California 94111.  Click here for directions!

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Noe Valley Farmers’ Market, Part Deux

Eat your veggies! I’m trying to make a weekly trip to the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market.  However, it’s pretty small and makes me miss the enormous Bastille Marché, where I could practice my French and wander through produce, literally for blocks.  I only bought potatoes, beets, and haricot verts (the vendor corrected me, “these are not green beans”).  If you like beets, they’re one of the easiest things to make, and I just discovered that beet greens aren’t so bad either.  Scroll to the bottom for an easy recipe!

To make roasted beets, chop of the tops and the tails, wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil, and pop them in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 for just over an hour.  Take ’em out, unwrap the aluminum foil (you may want to wait for them to cool), and then just run them under water and the outer skin will peel off like magic.  Just don’t wear white.

© Sarah Milstein 2014