Day 8: Thursday we were up, out of the house and at the BART station by 7:15am for our adventure in downtown San Francisco. We had reservations for our Alcatraz tour at 9:30am. We made a stop by Philz Coffee, for some delicious caffeine. I had a Tesora coffee which is now my favorite drink. Unfortunately, back home the closest shops are in DC.

We arrived at Pier 33 and began lining up for the boat to take us over to Alcatraz Island. Needless to say the girls weren’t too keen on the rocking of the boat.

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I love this pic of all the girls.

On a nice clear day you get some great photo opportunities of the whole bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Wow that looks high.

Once we arrived, the Park Ranger gave us information about our stay on Alcatraz. Our takeaway from our Ranger’s welcome, “don’t be late for your ferry back to San Francisco” and “welcome to the Rock.” Alcatraz island offers an audio tour, which we used.  It was awesome and very informative. I highly recommend it! The prison is known to house several well-known criminals, such as Al Capone, George “Machine-Gun” Kelly, Alvin Karpis (the first “Public Enemy #1”), and Arthur “Doc” Barker. And Robert Franklin Stroud also known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz.” Al Capone was released from Alcatraz due to his late stage Syphilis. Who knew?! In order to grasp of whole feeling of Alcatraz and its grounds, you should plan a minimum of two hours on the island.

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A great family shot on Alcatraz Island.

The other interesting fact we learned was about the Battle of Alcatraz, which lasted from May 2 to 4, 1946, and was the result of an unsuccessful escape attempt. Two Corrections Officers, William A. Miller and Harold Stites, were killed along with three of the inmates. The marines were called in to bring order and the picture below shows damage from grenades that were used by the marines.

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Grenade pot marks.

After our Alcatraz tour we were able to meet up with Briana’s cousin, Anthony, and his family at a lovely cafe in the Marina District. From there we ventured over to Ghirardelli Square. It was so warm, we had to wait in line for some yummy ice cream and shakes.

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YUMM!!!!

The one thing that Sienna did not like about San Francisco was how steep the streets were. Take a look at these, pure crazy!!!!

We walked up from the Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street and damn those streets are steep.

After our photo ops we hailed an Uber and went over to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies, also known as “Postcard Row.” The girls loved it, and we just chilled on the grassy park across the street and took in the sites before hailing another Uber to the nearest BART station.

Day 9: Friday we took another trip to Philz Coffee, this time in Walnut Creek. We had a reservation for a biodynamic vineyard tram tour at the Benziger Family Winery, in Sonoma at 12:30PM. I loved this vineyard! It was so informational and I had no idea that Sonoma Mountain is actually a dormant volcano. The vineyard withstood October’s Sonoma fire by the family protecting their vines by constructing firelines below the property. The tour took us through the vines, into the wine cave, and ended with a lovely tasting. What I really liked about this vineyard was how quiet it was. If ever in Sonoma this is a must do!

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Welcome

The wine cave was awesome. The smell of the cave, the wine, the barrels was amazing! We all loved it. At approximately 28,000 square feet, the cave holds 4,000 barrels. It made for a great educational portion of the tour. The cave also had some cave paintings, one of which was the California Bear.

Our tour ended with some tasty wines in a lovely tasting room.

A few more photos from today’s adventure in Sonoma.

Tomorrow will be our final day out here on the “Left Coast.” We’ll have one last day exploring the area before we take the red eye home to Washington, DC tomorrow night.

Until tomorrow.