Another roller coaster, bumper car ride from Vallejo into San Francisco. However, first we went to Fairfield to do the Jelly Belly Factory Tour.
The Jelly Belly Candy Company dates from 1869. The first gourmet jelly bean was invented in 1976. In 1980, Presidential candidate Ronald Regan let it be known he was a fan of Jelly Belly jelly beans - and their popularity expanded. We took a guided tour of the factory. It takes up to 20 days to create one (1) Jelly Belly jelly bean. It doesn't even take one minute to eat one (1). The tour was very interesting. The stacks and stacks of Jelly Belly trays in all colors were quite a site! The beans go down a conveyor belt and the ones that stick together, or are even a little discolored or misshapened are tossed out by hand into another conveyor belt. The odd ones are called Belly Flops. The colors are mixed up and packaged. Connie and I each bought a bunch of the packages and have been snacking on them since. My favorite is the coffee. We tried buttered popcorn at the factory and it was good!
After we left there we went to Sepay Groves, Premium Olive Oil Company. They had numerous flavors of their oil and bread pieces so we could dunk and taste. We were hooked and Connie and I had to buy some. They have their own olive groves and process the oil.
We had purchased tickets for the boat ride to Alcatraz. We could see it from the Pier and it looked very small and foreboding. We rode the ferry from Pier 33 to the island. Not a long trip, but fun.
Alcatraz was used by the army as a fortress and military prison and by the Department of Justice as a maximum security federal penitentiary. In 1853 construction began on the island. The reason for its construction was that in 1850 a military board set up a three point defense strategy for San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz was selected as the smaller fortification as it is directly in line with ships entering the harbor. Alcatraz was in use by the time of the Civil War in 1861. It had cannon, open gun emplacements that were carved out of the island's slopes, a fortified gateway (a sally port) protecting the road to the brick citadel that was on the highest point.
The Alcatraz lighthouse was the first on the Pacific Coast and has been in operation since 1854. In 1907 the army formally decommissioned Alcatraz as a fortification. However, it was a prison almost from the very beginning. In 1859 soldiers were confined in the sally port basement and during the Civil War soldiers convicted of crimes were held there as were the crew of a Confederate ship. The army also inprisioned Hopi, Apache and Modoc Indians captured during the various Indian wars and for military convicts during the Spanish-American War in 1898. OK, I am getting carried away with dull old history. So, in a hurry-up: In 1915 Alcatraz was renamed 'United States Disciplinary Barracks, Pacific Branch'. It reopened as a federal penitentiary in 1934. Most of the inmates were men who had proven to be "problems" in other prisons.
Housed in the penitentiary were: Al Capone, Doc Barker, George 'Machine Gun' Kelly, and the Birdman of Alcatraz...who actually conducted his famous bird studies when he was imprisoned at Leavenworth.
In 1963 Attorney General Robert F Kennedy closed Alcatraz due to increasing maintenance and operating costs. In 1972 Congress created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and made Alcatraz a part of it, administered by the National Park Service.
Now-a-days, there are numerous tide pools with all sorts of sea animals, and there are mice, lizards (salamanders), hawks, raven, geese, finches and hummingbirds along with the Western Gull and the black-crowned night heron.
It really was an extremely interesting place to explore.