Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back From Angel Island

Back from Angel Island State Park now. We had a really great time. It was an awesome little trip. Backpacking through SF was amusing, riding the ferry out was good fun, and the island itself was just perfect for a three-day stint. I've done a lot of camping, but never in quite this setting: at a primitive site overlooking a busy shipping lane, with Alcatraz in swimming distance, with the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop and the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate at either side of the horizon. That was our view.

We hiked in about a mile and half, backpacks and all, and spent most of the second day walking the five mile perimeter road around the island. What's so unusual about the place is that it's an unspoiled collage of historical ruins from several time periods: 19th century barracks, early twentieth century immigration stations, quarantine areas, cold war military batteries, not to mention the Native American history that predates it all. By "unspoiled" I actually just mean that the ruins dot the island like ghost towns, decaying, haunted, so very quiet. There's something about the silence and the emptiness of the spaces that makes the connection with the place's history tangible in a way that no museum or complete reconstruction or reenactment could. It's like you're walking on sacred ground, across earth and through buildings with memories.

The kids felt it, too. On their own impulse, they couldn't help but tell tales of murder and hauntings, of escaped prisoners that lived on yet among the echoing halls. They just felt it.

This is not to say it was morbid. We were surrounded by life and movement and lights in the evening. (Ah, the view...)

I feel like mentioning as well that part of the joy of it was just being with my family without outside stimulus or interruption. We played many card games, read and told stories. I'd forgotten - and bear in mind that I'm actually home often and get to spend a lot of time with my family - just how completely wonderful it is to have belly laughs inspired by nothing other than the comedy that springs out of conversations with the ones you love. (A lot of the humor was Sage inspired. The boy has absolutely no poker face!)

If you'd like to see some photos you can check out the snaps at our family blog, Girl Cat Snoozing. (The two photos here I stole from over there, but there are a few more, as well.) My wife, Gudrun, is into experimenting with her camera, hence the strange effects...

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Blogger Dirk said...

Thanks for clueing me in on Angel Island. I never knew you could camp out there. Might have to try it sometime, looks cool.

Glanced through your other blog and had a flash of deja vu. My dad was in the army and we were stationed in Fort Ord (which was right near Monterey) when my sister and I were kids and we went on family trips all along the coast there. I swear we have some pictures someplace of us in Big Sur that look just like the ones you have :)

11:29 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


I definitely think Angel Island is worth the trip. I wouldn't go for too long - it is a small island - but for a couple of days or so it's uniquely interesting.

We love Big Sur, too. Been there recently, which makes it hard to think about the damage the fires are doing there now...

6:18 PM  
Blogger Kimmy said...

beautiful pictures!

6:13 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Thank you. (Or, thank you on behalf of my wife...)

8:22 PM  

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