Video by Nick, words by Jay.
Tonight we are camping on Angel Island. If you have to visit the city for any reason, come here. Stay if you can. From our tent, we can see the broken grid of the city, the rise of all the hills, the lighthouse on Alcatraz, the LEDs of the Bay Bridge and the deck of the Golden Gate. When we went to sleep, the fog was playing peek-a-boo, hiding all the shores from us, but now we’ve awoken at midnight, it's clear and breathtaking.
If you've ever wanted the chance to feel like you're the last people left on Earth, it's here. We arrived on the last ferry of the day and cruised around the 5 mile circumference, seeing only two park employees in the several hours we explored, amidst half a dozen or more deer, racoons, salamanders, angry geese, hawks and a mix of other sea birds. The island is a mix of native and non-native wildlife. It's unknown, for example, if the deer were imported for hunting or if they swam over, and some animals were cut off when glaciers melted and Angel Island was cut off. Other non-native species include many trees that dot the island, Cyprus and Eucalyptus, planted by the military to form hedgerows in front of officer housing and disguise bunkers. I've been smelling Eucalyptus for days but hadn't been able to put a name on it in the wild, as it accompanied us through Mt Charlie. There was a huge fire here a few years back that is being used as an opportunity to help native wildlife stage a comeback here, such as Manzanita and monkey flowers, even if it also means poison oak. The wildlife is doing an excellent job claiming the buildings, at least.
Speaking of the military, the history of Angel Island is that it has been a protector of San Francisco Bay for the last few hundred years. It's gone through various generations of military installments and immigration facilities comparable to Ellis Island before being given over to parkland in the 1960s. This means that there are rampant battlements and buildings in various states of repair or decay begging to be visited. Ones that were totally restored we're locked to us but open as museums during the day or staff housing, while the rest were either securely boarded over or had their stairs removed to discourage adventurers or graffiting. It is clear that some of these are only a strong gust of wind away from tumbling completely, so despite our various skills, we elected to remain outside. We learned and explored nonetheless, with signs posted at every outcropping of buildings to educate us on the evolution of the sites.
We learned a ton, had fun exploring and will see a few more things tomorrow before heading off to camp… somewhere? We haven't actually decided yet.
Total miles est. due to lack of signal
Bicycling: 10, walking: 1-2