Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Angel Island

Today we made the painful decision to leave Sausalito, after 4 wonderful days here. We could definitely spend more time here, but we want to see other places in the Bay before we head south. So we made a very short hop over to Angel Island, across Raccoon Strait from Tiburon. It is a State Park that preserves a small scrap of natural landscape in the middle of a vast metropolitan area. For most of the time since Euro-American settlement it was used by the military for various purposes, and only became a park 40-some years ago. Now you can take a ferry or your own boat to get there, and once there you can hike, bike, camp, or take a tram tour. We don't normally do tours, but several locals told us this one was well worth it, so we ponied up for tickets and hopped on the tram. There was an audio tape augmented by periodic stops in which the driver gets out and explains something in more detail. There were buildings dating back to the Civil War, a WWII-era fort, gun emplacements, a Nike missile base, a Coast Guard installation, and a number of camping and picnic grounds.

But the most poignant and memorable sight was the Immigration Station, the West Coast equivalent of NY's Ellis Island, where Chinese were detained, quarantined, and interrogated, sometimes for years, before either being admitted to the US or deported back to Asia. There are people still living who were detained here, and their stories (captured on video) were quite sad to hear. This was a place where the American Dream was systematically denied to people based solely on ethnicity. The most unique remnants of this sad era are the anonymously authored poems, carved as Chinese characters into the wooden walls of the detention center, describing the anguish felt by those who lived in hope of a new life, but without any certainty that they would be allowed to enter the US.

Tonight we are anchored in Paradise Cove, on the east side of the Tiburon Peninsula, with a view NE toward San Pablo Bay, and the Napa Valley beyond. The temperature has warmed and the skies are clear, although we can see a thick ribbon of fog winding its way toward the Berkeley hills across the Bay to the southeast.

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