Thursday, July 03, 2008

Angel Island souvenirs

In the middle of San Francisco Bay there's a quiet retreat: Angel Island State Park. The Ellis Island of the West, it was the place where thousands of immigrants, mostly Chinese, were quarantined and processed for admission to Gold Mountain, or sent back home. It also was a naval base, with several batteries of guns placed around it to guard the bay.
You can see the island of Alameda on the lower right, separated from Oakland by a narrow estuary. The Bay Bridge runs from Oakland to SF, and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, a thin line on the left at the mouth of the bay. The Richmond bridge is to the north.

Ferries run daily to the island from San Francisco, carrying both tourists and commuters on their way to Tiburon and Sausalito. Many people bring bikes to the island or rent them (or Segways!) there. There's a nice road that runs all the way around, about five miles' worth. If I were a jogger living in SF, I'd probably go there once in a while for a pleasant change of scenery.
The kids brought their backpacks with a few toys and books and quietly amused themselves on the trip over, while their mom and dad were fully laden with backpacks and a baby buggy holding tent, bottled water, food and a clever cooler box (cardboard, filled with ice in trash bags and frozen bottles, that could be tossed in the campground bin the next day). The campsites have grills, picnic tables with a lockable food cabinet, trash bins, outdoor water spigots and a pit toilet (reasonably clean as outhouses go, but exceedingly stinky).

We considered asking for spare change when the open-sided tour buses passed us on the road.

The campsite was about two miles from the ferry, mostly uphill. Easy for me, coming from high altitude! The oxygen-rich air meant I wasn't even winded on the climbs. The kids had a meltdown or two on the way but made it without completely falling apart.

From the campsite we had a great view of the Richmond bridge and all the bay traffic. This photo was an accident, but it makes me laugh. ("Honey, I was taking a picture!" "Oops, sorry!")
I didn't take a huge amount of photos (need a bigger memory card!) but a few nice pictures of the trees and scenery are nice souvenirs.

Here's San Francisco and Alcatraz, marred somewhat by a dirty lens, alas.

And some trees:
Despite our proximity to civilization, the only night sounds were foghorns and ship horns and some wind. Oh, and some raccoons that came snuffling around after dark.
If you have a chance, you should try camping there yourself. It's not expensive; you'll just need to plan ahead if you want to go on the weekend, since the sites get booked up fast. Try it!


  1. I can just imagine my family on a 2 mile walk up hill with all our camping supplies...

  2. Wow, these are beautiful pictures. Todd isn't here with me now but he'll especially love this post. His beloved grandma's ashes were scattered over Angel Island. This island was very, very special to both her and Todd.
    Happy 4th to you!

  3. Aw, that's sweet, Diane. It is indeed a special place.

    Yep, it was cool, Jessy! I like camping, too, especially the easy kind.

    Julie, it's not too bad, really. The uphill isn't extreme, and most of it is on pavement, so it's easy to use something with wheels to haul extra stuff, such as beer.