Long ago, when I would return from a journey to San Francisco’s notorious Alcatraz prison, after a field trip or outing with visiting relatives, I wondered what it would be like to get locked up in jail…even just for the day, let alone the night or for weeks and/or years on end.
Little did I know that I would one day find myself imprisoned in an Alcatraz jail cell, which is temporarily holding residence in Yuma, Arizona.
There is way too much to try to explain about my career and what extremes I go to for my clients, but needless to say, this journey to Yuma in search of “Alcatraz” is a departure I have not encountered before.
Why? You might ask am I headed to Arizona to find a prison that physically resides in the middle of the San Francisco Bay…moments from home? I enjoy “bending over backwards” for my clients…I really do. Just not in the good ole boy prison sort of way, if you know what I mean…
But honestly, while visitors to San Francisco often include Alcatraz Island in their bucket list of things to do, there isn’t always enough time nor available boarding passes due to “The Rock’s” immense popularity. So, Hyatt Regency San Francisco will be the next home of this virtual replica of Alcratraz, hosting a 2800 square foot exhibit of the prison as well as several auxiliary historical displays in the hotel’s Guinness Book of World Records “Largest Atrium Lobby.”
Sidebar: I sit here in the 80 degree heat on the tarmac in Phoenix (yes, while the rest of the country is cursing about the below zero weather)…we’re sweating, waiting for delay after delay on this USAirways flight to Yuma. First it’s a change of gate without informing us passengers, rendering most of us late for the scheduled departure time…perhaps they thought none of us really wanted to get to Yuma in the first place?
Once on board an aircraft we were being scolded about almost missing, they ask that we all put down our shades, conceivably to keep the heat out, but we soon discovered they needed to fuel the plane. Who forgets to do that? As we finally back out of our gate, they discover a fuel leak. Hmmm. So we all scramble back across the tarmac to the gate for some shelter and perhaps water and explanation. Not forthcoming. So we sit and sit. Because she was my seatmate, I am now responsible for a 70+ year old woman and her baggage as they have no wheel chair escort for her due to the unexpected disembarkment. So I am caring for Gail, our four bags, and our walk of shame (cane and all) back into the airport. They call us to board our replacement plane, and within minutes redirect us back into the terminal because plane #2 has a hydraulic leak. Hmmmmm…we’re all wondering if Yuma is our calling. So we wait, and we wait, and we wait. Cancel our dinner date in Yuma, then wait again. After a three hour delay, we finally board a plane that gets us to our destination, but not without lots of heart palpitations, prayers and begging to land safely.
Well, I did start out by saying I was going to look for a prison named Alcatraz in the town of Yuma, but I think instead we superseded that journey aboard USAir.
Finally grounded in Yuma, we discover it’s a very gracious town full of very happy people. I guess the 80 degree winter weather helps their disposition. Anyway, we have a big date the next day with the Charles and Tina of the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park (www.YumaAZ.gov.) to find “the island of Alcratraz” in Arizona.
What we discovered is a great town rich with history, mystery and beautisery. We were also successful in uncovering the amazing Alcatraz Comes to Yuma exhibit (http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/exhibit/index.html) at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot (www.visityuma.com) and getting lost in the appeal of all “The Rock’s” illustrious and sordid past.
As if one stint in “jail” for the day wasn’t enough, we ventured onto the Yuma Territorial Prison (www.visityuma.com) to check out the competition. Absolutely stunning!
While I love Alcatraz and grew up in San Francisco, I’ve visited “The Rock” on many occasions and am familiar with its “virtues,” thus eliminating the element of surprise. However, the Yuma Territorial Prison was a complete and pleasant wonder. Each building/vestibule we entered made my eyes tingle with excitement. Our hosts/guides/the people responsible for restoring this treasure (the aforementioned Charles and Tina) smiled in delight as we acted like “kids in a candy store.” They are deservedly the proud parents of an amazing museum of criminal curiosity.
“Why?” might you ask do two native San Franciscans fly to Yuma, Arizona in search of anything to do with Alcatraz…it’s actually in our backyard, literally. Well, this journey was in a quest to bring “The Rock” into the city proper so that everyone can enjoy the notorious history of Alcatraz from the comforts and free admission at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.
Coming to you, April 28 through July, 2013…stay tuned!