Yes, I am alive! My apologies for the brief hiatus in the posting. I hope you all had a wonderful President’s Day weekend and that you were able to spend some time with your loved ones.
Mark and I had originally planned on camping in Yosemite to capture photos of the infamous Horsetail Falls this weekend, but alas, the weather did not permit us to do so. The two of us therefore turned to plan B and decided to have a ‘staycation’ in San Francisco where we played tourists and visited parts of the city we’d never had the chance to see.
Our main destination was Angel Island, which is, interestingly enough, the Ellis Island of California.
If you enjoy hiking, nature, and history, this island is definitely a must visit because it’s rich with all three of those things. Angel Island is considered a state park and you can hike, camp, bike around the island, and learn about the history of the people who used to reside there: from Coast Miwoks to immigrants to WWII soldiers to WWII POWs. This island is honestly a beautiful hidden gem, even on a semi-cloudy windy day.
Mark and I only had enough time to explore Mt. Livermore, Fort McDowell, and the Immigration Center (which surprisingly relates to a lot of the issues that the United States is going through today, fingers crossed history doesn’t repeat itself). I’ll cover all these places below, mostly with photos and a few captions. Hang tight, this post is photo heavy.
If you’re interested in traveling to Angel Island, you’ll need to purchase tickets to ride on a ferry boat (note that you’ll need to purchase 2 tickets per person for the trip there and back). We traveled on Blue and Gold Fleet.
We began our journey to Angel Island at Pier 39 (where we picked up our tickets) and then 41 (where we departed). We arrived at the pier a bit early, and so we meandered around.
Pier 39 has some little shops and finger foods for you to check out if you have some time to kill before your ferry ride.
If you’re not afraid of some wind, and if weather permits, the top deck offers some magnificent views of the city and Alcatraz. The top deck generally also alleviates motion sickness if any of you struggle with that.
The North Ridge Trail to Mt. Livermore
When you disembark the ferry boat, go straight towards the welcome building and there will be a map of the island. I suggest that you snap a quick photo of the island so that you’ll be able to navigate the island easily.
It’s equally important to keep in mind when the last ferry back to San Francisco will depart. Remember, if you miss the last ferry, you’ll be stuck on the island until the next day (at least, that’s what they make it sound like will happen to you).
Anyways, once you finish studying the map, you can head to the North Ridge Trail. It will branch off into different roads and trails for you. We stayed on this trail to reach Mt. Livermore. Keep an eye out for signs to help you stay on the correct trail. The signs are well placed and every trail is clearly marked, so it’ll be difficult to get lost if you know where you want to go.
In the very beginning of the trail, you’ll have a clear view of the bay to your left. You can wave ‘bye bye’ to your ferry boat from where you are. I’m going to have to give Mark the photo credit on this shot. Too good!
The first of many steps and uphill climbs.
Since this winter has been unusually stormy, there were a few fallen trees we had to clamber over to continue our trek. Let me tell ya, capri leggings was not my best wardrobe choice.
Trust me, we eventually reached the top where we took a break for lunch. We packed avocado sandwiches!
I artistically carved my sandwich with my teeth and transformed it into the Golden Gate Bridge. Major skills, right? The trick is to hold your sandwich vertically, look at it from the top, and take a big bite from the center.
(If you don’t see the resemblance, then just pretend it’s abstract art.)
We were spoiled to have such lovely views of the city.
Fort McDowell (East Garrison)
If you backtrack down North Ridge Trail and then keep your eyes peeled for a road (Perimeter Road), that road will take you through Fort McDowell and eventually the Immigration Center.
Fort McDowell resembled a post apocalyptic town, and with only Mark and I strolling through it, boy, was it eerie! I really did feel as if I had traveled to another realm or time period. Truthfully, the fort was a place where many WWII soldiers resided before they were deployed and it was where they returned after they’d served their duty.
All right, here are all of the photos. Captions and commentary will be below the photos this time.
This is the ballpark where the soldiers played baseball. In the background you can see the building of what used to be the barracks.
These buildings used to be homes for the army officers and their families. Some of these homes currently house Angel Island’s employees.
Barracks that housed about 600 bunkmates.
The mess hall where over 12,000 meals were served day (pictured above and below).
This Guard House looked like the most ‘modern’ building. It was where soldiers under arrest and some Alcatraz prisoners were dated. It was also headquarters for guards who patrolled for any misdemeanors (such as suspicious activity).
Fort McDowell’s General Store.
This was a hospital built to treat soldiers who returned from overseas sick or injured. Later on it was transformed into barracks (during the Nike Missile Crisis). The photos below are of the hospital. This was probably my favorite building. It seemed to hold a lot of stories. Too bad we couldn’t explore the interior of the building.
This immigration center used to be comprised of 97% Chinese immigrants and 3% of other immigrants who sought refuge in America. Visiting it was a somber experience, especially since our country is currently going through an immigrant crisis similar to the one during the mid 19th century to the 20th century. To read about the history of the center and to see the accurate ‘modeled’ living conditions of the immigrants, it seemed to make everything that these people experienced and what immigrants today currently experience all the more real.
These immigrants are the faces of our nation. When these immigrants arrived in San Francisco, they were segregated by race/nationality. Europeans were generally allowed to disembark if they had the right tickets. If they were Asians, Russians, Mexicans, or other nationalities, then they would be ferried to Angel Island where they would be quarantined, processed, and interrogated (AIISF).
Mark read through many of the immigrant profiles in the binder.
During the mid 19th century, many Chinese people fled to American in hopes of a better life. Sometime during 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. This negatively impacted all Chinese and most Asian immigrants because it prevented many of them from entering the United States.
Many of the Chinese immigrants felt as if they were in a prison, trapped in this building for weeks to two years or more. To manage their angst, they carved poems into the walls. (Yes, that’s the original poem carved on the 3 layers of lead painted wall…yeah…don’t touch it).
That was their bathrooms.
Chinese men’s quarters (photographed above and below). Chinese and Japanese immigrants were segregated from all of the others.
I believe this was the room where they processed WWII POW…or something like that. I can’t remember.
Recreation room for immigrants.
Living quarters for all of the other immigrants. Millions of immigrants from other countries fled to America between 1910-1940 and many of them appeared in San Francisco where they would be ferried to Angel Island to be processed.
Based on the photos alone, we know that the immigrants’ living conditions were less than ideal. There was racial segregation. Immigrants were treated like criminals and Asian immigrants were treated worse than the others. Good thing this is all in our past, right?
I guess this is where I leave the post on a heavier note than anticipated. Our nation is comprised of immigrants, and our nation is currently ostracizing a specific group of immigrants. These people need our help, and it’s important to remember that just because a few people commit atrocious crimes, it doesn’t mean that an entire group of people is guilty of the same. Just some food for thought before I leave you all for the night.
Angel Island, it’s a place full history and wonder. I hope you all find the chance to visit it sometime.