Tourists in Our Own Backyard: Angel Island + Civil War Days!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016



This past Saturday we took a trip to Angel Island with the kids!


We took every form of public transportation possible to get there (exception of biking): 
Walk --> Bus --> BART (train) ---> Muni (trolley) ---> Ferry.
It was an adventure!

Father/son bonding time waiting for the ferry.

It was the kid's first time on a ferry. I think they enjoyed it! Therese spent most of the ride in the Ergo (someone thought putting her hand in ALL THE PUDDLES on deck would be cool). John kept getting lulled into sleepy land by the rocking and white noise of the waves, wind, and ferry engines.

First glimpse of the harbor!


The ferry docks in Ayala Cove. It's where Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala anchored back in August 1775. The island was then christened Isla de Los Angeles due to the custom among Catholic explorers of naming sites for the religious feast days nearest to the time of discovery (I'm still unclear on exactly which feast that was.)


We had an early picnic on the many picnic tables in front of the visitor center.


The visitor center is part of the old Quarantine Station. Starting in 1891 this was where ships from foreign ports could be fumigated, and immigrants suspected of carrying diseases could be kept in isolation. (The cove was called Hospital Cove at the time.) All functions of the station were moved to San Francisco in 1946.



We took the pretty easy hike along the Parameter Road, heading towards Camp Reynolds (1.5 mile hike from the cove.) The kids are pretty good hikers. If we get to an area with lots of Poison Oak Therese goes into the carrier and John will either walk in front of an adult (to keep him in the middle of the path) or someone will lift him up too until we're past the danger area.

Our average day involves walking 2-3 miles, so this little hike was no problem for them.




Former hospital for the soldiers. Such a great porch! Such potential!
Yes, there used to be a lot of small pox and plague in there, but STILL!


By the time we reach Camp Reynolds, Therese was knocked out in the Ergo. We could see a number of reenactors readying cannons, tending cooking fires, and soldiers completing inspection.


Many had stayed overnight in Civil War era styled tents or inside one of the restored buildings.




Everyone was super friendly and more than happy to talk to us about everything we were seeing.




When we walked in the building, the first thing we heard was "want a cornbread fritter?" 
Fresh off the wood stove.
It was awesome.



There were both Union and Confederate reenactors. Union vastly outnumbered confederate fighters - which is pretty historically accurate anyway.




Before the battle started, everyone was instructed to head for the high roads.



We watched the Union soldiers drilling for a while.
There were a lot of new members who were still learning the marching formations.

The Civil War was the last American war to be fought in the Napoleonic style. As one man sitting near us put it, "it all looks very civilized."
In between drills, some of the reenactors would cover over and answer questions and give little history lessons.

This was an active camp during the Civil War. It was established in 1863 and was known as the West Garrison when the whole island was Fort McDowell. It became an infantry camp after the war and was used as a staging area for troops serving in campaigns against the Apache, Sioux, Modoc, and other Indian tribes.


The fighting began with the Rebels sneaking up on the Union soldiers, capturing their sentry, and charging onto the field.


The cannons were loud! John thought they were amazing. They woke Therese up from her nap so she had a bit of a lesser opinion of cannons.


Commentary was broadcast over speakers, with one of the reenactors keeping us informed about what was happening on the field.

Union won!
My favorite part is when all the "dead" have to come back to life after the battle. Even if it's always a little unnerving.


After the battle, we got to tour the old bakehouse.

Old flags are so cool!

It's currently their museum area for this part of the island, so lots of era artifacts on display/use.



They would be baking bread (as they had done the previous day) using the historic oven, but they were still heating the oven while we were there.





Old school pump meet modern day Dawn.


I really enjoyed trying out writing with a fountain pen! Pretty simple once you get the hang of it. I've written with feather quills before and this was much simpler and easier to use. 



They had sealing wax and a stamp if anyone wanted to sit and write out a real letter, but we had to start hiking back to the cove.

Tried to get John to do it, and he wasn't having it. He liked watching everyone else though.


We got back with a little time to spare, so the kids got to play on the little beach!


It was less winder and warmed in the sheltered cove than it had been over at Camp Reynolds. It felt good to just relax and watch the boats come in.


Live music at the island cafe/restaurant.


John fell asleep hard on the ferry home. Nap time is still something he needs I think.

Verdict: awesome adventure and super kid friendly. Would recommend a carrier of some sort for kiddos who might tire out.

We did not make it over to the immigration station, and I would like to go back and see it.

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