Posted by: TheAuthor | 15/11/2011

Day 53 – Final Days Of Road-Tripping Part 2

Today was make or break day, we had to sell our car Kevin because later on this evening we would be flying out of here ending our road trip.

First of all, before I went anywhere (as I would be going back to Oakland to deal with Kevin on my own) we were both going to visit Alcatraz Penitentiary. Getting up early we bumped into Falk and Claire enjoying their breakfast in the hostels kitchen, they would be going to Alcatraz as well but not before enjoying a bike ride first.

Running a little behind Shell and I walked quickly in the morning sun towards the wharf and to board the ferry that crosses over the bay to the isolated island. During our crossing we were engulfed by hopeful seagulls, searching for scraps of food.

Soon enough however we were approaching the fabled island that was home to America’s most notorious criminals, as well as decades of little known history. Such history as the building of a fort (converted to a prison) to defend the bay during the gold rush in 1848–1855. First a military prison, later adopted by the US prison service for a state penitentiary.

Included in our $36pp tour was an audio tour, narrated by various guards and inmates who helped guide you around the small interior – not allowing you to miss a shred of history. Absolutely fascinating, we walked along the rows of cells looking at crafts inmates had created as well as escape attempts made (of which there were few, fewer still were successful).

We also learnt about the famous escape attempt where (depicted by Clint Eastwood in a film) three men painted wooden heads, after carving a hole at the back of their cells over the course of a year with spoons, and left them in their beds whilst they scaled the drain pipes and swam for it never to be seen again.

Further round we saw visual history, marks left by the events that would soon come to be known as the ‘Battle of Alcatraz‘. On a clever break-out attempt six convicts ended up lasting 3 days while guards and US Marines attempted to kill or capture them, eventually accomplishing the former. A three of the escapees died during the battle and the rest executed, bar one who was acquitted.

We continued the fascinating tour, something you must do at some point especially as the buildings are rapidly deteriorating due to the harsh conditions they are subjected to. You can spend as long as you like on the island, ferries return back to the mainland every 30 minutes. A thing to note is to pre-book because, especially at peak tourist times, due to the limited availability, tickets can book out a week in advance. We left around lunch, before we were locked up and before time ran out for me to sell Kevin.

Leaving things to the last-minute I returned to collect our safely parked car and proceed to legally dispose of him. With a fortuitous stroke of luck I learned of a friend I had met while traveling Europe had descended into the city for University. Spending a small fortune in calls with my English phone we agreed he would look after Kevin and, when everything was in order, either use him for his own or sell him. With that, I was happy and went back to my rendezvous point with Shell.

We met Falk and Claire at the hostel for a farewell meal and drinks, looking for something cheap we head into Chinatown as that was the best bet aside from junk food. We ended up in a rather pricey restaurant, but bade a final farewell to our last companions on a road trip that had been in the making since February – a meer 7 months prior to the start of the journey.

Shortly after the meal, but before our flight and having to pay to store our bags at the hostel, we set off for the airport and to pastures new.

After 53 days; two cars, nine people, 18, 957 km/11,779 miles, through 9 Canadian provinces and 21 American states we had finally come to an end.

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