This article tells about one day, of the six-day Road Scholar Program #21900 ( www.roadscholar.org ) that I recently attended in Marin County, California. I first heard about Angel Island a few years ago, when I was visiting relatives in Tiburon, California. They took us to downtown Tiburon, where I saw the information on the ferry to Angel Island State Park, and I was hooked (just like the shark my cousin was able to hook, while fishing from his deck above Richardson Bay in Tiburon! Since "tiburon" is the Spanish word for "shark", I think it is very memorable that he snagged a "tiburon" in Tiburon!)
When I expressed surprise about the California coast being significant in the Civil War, our Road Scholar leader explained to me that this area of California was reaping the benefits of the 1849 gold rush, and there were large stockpiles of gold to be protected in the San Francisco area. Although the South was not famous for a naval fleet that could easily reach the Pacific Coast, there was speculation that the South might have some allies in the better-equipped British navy. Hence, the goal was to protect San Francisco from invaders looking to steal their gold---regardless of who it might be!
The students were divided into well-organized units, and were very well-behaved. It was fun to see them march to their assigned seats, as their drummers pounded out a cadence! I asked one of the leaders which school they were from, and the answer was the nearby city of Cupertino. Since I knew nothing about that town, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and saw that the per capita income for that town is about three times the per capita income for the town where I live! In addition, Cupertino is considered one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S!
When we arrived at Angel Island State Park, our leader showed us the map of the island, and told us all to take a photo of it with our cell phones. He indicated that there are usually paper maps from the state park to give to each person, but (perhaps because of budget cutbacks) none were available on the day of our visit.
From the ferry dock, we started up the North Ridge Trail, which was quite steep and had lots of steps!
However, there were places along the trail with scenic views, so it made the climb worth the effort!
This photo shows thedocks at sea level, as seen from our location part way up the trail.
All of us took a few minutes rest and catch our breath before we proceeded further on the trail.
As you can see, Angel Island is not very far from the mainland, and can be a destination for ocean kayakers who don't mind a good workout!
The town on Tiburon is easily seen from Angel Island.
From the island, you can also easily see the border of the undeveloped part of the mainland, that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Private vehicles are not allowed on the island, although there are official state park vehicles used throughout the island.
No matter where one happens to be around the island, the views are fantastic!
The first stop our group was going to make was the Angel Island U.S. Immigration Station, which i a National Historic Landmark. Before one goes on a Road Scholar program, you are given the names of suggested books to learn about the area you will be visiting . In reading one of those books about Angel Island, I learned that it might be thought of as the "Ellis Island" of the West Coast. It was the place where most immigrants were detained, before they could be absorbed into the general population.
The hillside building in this photo was one of the official residences for Immigration employees.
The long building on the left of this photo is the dormitory where the immigrants lived during their time here.
This photo shows one of the Road Scholar ladies reading one of the commemorative placards that tell the story of this period of U.S. history.
This bell would be sounded for significant events that happened on the island.
An Angel Island State Park employee is shown in this photo, giving a history lesson to a group of students on a field trip.
Some of the bunks have been left in tact, so that visitors can get a feel of the "density" of people that lived here. I have slept on a bunk bed that was second level, but never one that was on the third level!
Notice that even the space above the third level bunk is not wasted, as it is use to hang up clothes!
There is a nice picnic area in front of the dormitory, and that is where our group had their box lunches.
Throughout the park there are maps that tell where you are on the island.
This chapel was in use during the last century, whenever Angel Island was an active military base. It was a reminder to me of Psalm 139:8 that says, "If I went up to heaven, you would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there." If I do not feel as close to God when I am out on the West Coast, it is NOT because God is not there! Perhaps it is because I neglect my morning prayer time, skip my daily Bible devotions, and I am not surrounded by people speaking "Christian-ese", like they do in my home state of Arkansas. I know the "perceived" lack of closeness is NOT because God has changed, it is because my time with Him has diminished while traveling. (Note to self: Do not neglect your SPIRITUAL preventive maintenance when away from home!)
I do not want my life to be an empty shell, like the empty shell of the former military building shown in this photo. A building needs regular preventive maintenance to stay functional. Likewise, as a human being, I need regular preventive maintenance---Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, and Mental---to keep me functional!
This variegated century plant was in the yard of one of the military officers residences that look out over the ocean. Although most of these formerly-elegant homes are now vacant, we saw at least one of them had been renovated and was being used as a residence for park staff.
This is view that you would have if you lived on present-day Angel Island---the skyscrapers of San Francisco, and a gigantic cruise ship, docked and loading passengers.
Although visitors cannot bring motorized vehicles over on the ferry, bicycles are welcome, and we saw folks enjoying the paved and hilly roads that can peddled on for miles throughout the island.
This was the first time I have ever seen a "philosophical statement" carved into a picnic table, and I loved it!
This photo shows a part of the old Civil War-era fort, and some of the student re-enactors out doing their military duties.
This former lens/light was once located inside the Angel Island Lighthouse, and can now be seen in the museum there.
As our time on Angel Island ended, we boarded the ferry to head back to the mainland.
It was a beautiful day, so many of the passengers enjoyed the breezy trip on top of the ferry, instead of inside the enclosed cabin below.
This is the view we saw as we approached Tiburon on our return trip.
Once back in Tiburon, we went to visit the train museum.
Volunteers at the museum have re-created what Tiburon was like in the early days of its existence, especially during the railroad era.
This photo shows the tiny street that is adjacent to the Tiburon ferry. Our leader told us that many of these buildings used to be waterfront "arks", that were later converted into retail establishments.
The Tiburon fountain looks different, depending the angle you look at it. From this angle, it might remind you of the fins of a shark--i.e.tiburon!
From another angle, I am reminded of the sails of a group of yachts! Whatever the interpretation, there is one thing for certain----the experiences I had on this Tiburon/Angel Island excursion gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!! Tricia