Alcatraz — San Fancisco

John–12

Alcatraz was one of my favorite things to do in California.  Alcatraz is one of the most freakish places in California, too.  You start out taking a boat trip to the island from Pier 33.  We used Alcatraz Cruises for our tickets and ferry ride.  It takes about 15 minutes, and they sell food and water on board the boat.  When you get off the boat you get an introduction about Alcatraz.  Then you can walk up to the top of Alcatraz – the prison section.  You can take the tour of the prison.  The tour is conducted by a headset with a recording that talks all about Alcatraz; the people who talk in it are real people who have worked there and were the prisoners there. The tour takes you through all of Alcatraz prison.  When you’re done on the island, you take one of boats back to San Francisco.  I learned about the prisoner’s daily life.  They had time each day for music, painting, and reading.  They had their own library.  Once you are done you can walk around most of the island.  You can see the ruins for the warden’s house, the housing for guards and their families, the island’s power plant, a water tower, the recreation yard, the lighthouse, and the parade yard.  The tour takes about and hour and is really fun to listen to.  It costs $28.00 for adults (12 and older), $17.00 for children, and is free for children 4 and under.  It does cost more to take a night tour to Alcatraz.  I think it would be fun but scary to take the night tour.  The history behind the prison would be creepy after dark.

Hadley–10

Alcartaz was one of the most secure places in the world when it was in business as a prison.  It is not in business now, but it is now a tourist place.  Alcatraz is a big jail that held some of the worst people like Al Capone.  First, when you get to the dock in San Francisco (Pier 33) to get on the boat, you can get your picture taken and buy it when you come back.  The boat ride is good.  You get to see part of the Golden Gate Bridge and have a great view of San Francisco and the Bay.  When you get to the island you will want to get the audio tour which is included in the price; it is a lot better than just walking through the jail.  I learned about their maximum security section, called D Block.  The prisoners there had no light, no sound, no room.  The prisoners there had to work each day.  Some of them gardened, a few did laundry, and some even cooked in the kitchen – with real knives.  I really liked learning about the people who tried to escape.  They still don’t know if a few of them were able to swim across the bay and escape.  Many people do not think anyone could have survived that.  When you are done with the tour then there are some other places you can go around the island.  If I were you I would just get back on the boat and head back to the dock.  I thought the prison was really the main thing that was interesting to see.  The rest of the island was OK to see.  The next time you’re in San Francisco you definitely need to go to Alcatraz.  I think the night tour would be fun but a little scary.  I want to read some books to learn more about Alcatraz.  It is interesting!

Wild Island Water Park — Sparks, Nevada

John–12

Wild Island Water Park is close to Reno, Nevada.  It is one of the best water parks in the state. They have a bunch of slides and pools in the area.  They have thirteen slides including the little kids slides.  When I went I rode all the slides but two – the Blackwidow and the Viper. The Viper is an almost straight down slide; it is also a body slide.  Black Widow is a tube slide, and it is close in style to the Viper – it goes striaght down then straight then down again.  My favorite slide is the Scorpion.  It looks like a giant skate ramp.  It seems scary at first, but then it is really fun.  They also have a wave pool and a lazy river.  If you are under 48 inches then in the wave pool you need to wear a life vest.  You can also buy tubes for slides.  Some rides have double tubes so you can use a two tuber with a friend.  The lazy river makes a lap around an island.  Half way through the river there is a mushroom shaped fountain.  The wave pool is a rectangular pool, and it gets deeper as you get closer to the wave mechanisim.  It gets up to eight feet deep, and it gets deeper too when the waves get going.  I recomend that you come right when it opens at 11:00 so that it not packed, but if you go later in the day it is really, really packed.  It cost $26.50 for people over 48 inches, $21.50 for kids under 48 inches, seniors citizens (60 +) are 9.00, and 3 and under are free.  They often run specials and have coupons available in area stores.  We went on a Tuesday and they had a “Two for Tuesday” special that saved our family about $15.00.

Hadley – 10

In Nevada they have a bunch of water parks, but Wild Island is the best.  Wild Island is located near Reno, Nevada.  They have a bunch of water slides my favorite is the Scorpion; it has a u type shape.  You have to use a tube for this ride and must be 42 inches tall.  The other 2 slides I rode were the Dragon’s Eye and the Dragon’s Tail.  First, the Dragon’s Eye has a toliet bowl hole in the middle, so you have to use a tube and be 48 inches tall. But, on the Dragon’s Tail you don’t use a tube; it is a body slide, and you have to be 42 inches tall.  The 2 slides I did not ride were the Black Widow.  It is a tube slide which you have to be 48 inches tall to do.  The Red Viper is the worst ride (I think).  It is a complete drop and is a body side which you have to be 48 inches tall to ride. That is why I love to go to Wild Island.

Barnett — 7

Wild Island is a water park in Sparks, Nevada – which is really next to Reno, Nevada.  They have a ton of water slides.  I started in the Little Kiddie Lagoon Pool.  There are three slides here.  You can have a tube on one of them, but you don’t have to use a tube if you don’t want to.  The other two slides are body slides.  They are too small for a tube.  The water is very shallow – like only a few inches deep.  Babies and small kids would like this area.  Next, I went to Hurricane Cove.  It is like a playground with water.  There is a bucket on top, when it gets full, it splashes down on you.  My brothers and I all liked this area.  It is mainly for kids 10 and under.  I was tall enough to ride the Scorpion.  It looks like a scary slide from the top.  You need to use a tube for this ride.  This slide sends you down a steep hill, then you slide back and forth until you stop.  I was also tall enough to ride the Dragon’s Tail slide.  You have to be 42 inches tall to ride this.  It is a body slide.  You can only go one person at a time.  It is fun and a little bit scary.  Next, I went in the lazy river.  It has a mushroom waterfall in the middle that sprays water out on you.  You can be in a tube in the lazy river if you want to.  I didn’t use a tube, but I just swam through the water.  Finally, I went in the wave pool.  Kids that are under 48 inches tall have to wear a life jacket.  You can borrow one from them, they have a bunch of them, and they don’t cost anything to borrow.  I didn’t do the other slides because you have to be 48 inches to ride them.  I am not big enough to do them.  My favorite thing was the Scorpion slide.  It was fun to slide up and down – if I were heavier I would have gone up higher and it would have been more fun.  I did not like that there was not a hot tube there.  They need a hot tub for the kids to go into.  There is a hot tub, but it is only for older people.  It is near a bar for adults – not for kids.  I liked the water park and you will too.

 

The Scorpion Waterslide

 

Lots of Slides to Choose From

 

The Wave Pool

 

Water Playground

 

Little Kids Slides

 

Boudin’s Bakery — San Francisco, California

John–12

Boudin’s Bakery is known for their making of sourdough bread.  They’re near dock 39 of San Fransisco. It is a two-story building with the restaurant on top and an “On The Go” restaurant on the bottom.  They also have a coffee shop on the first floor area.  They’re known for making sourdough bread.  If you’re waiting for your reservation you can go through their museum and see how the restaurant was started.  As you go through the museum, you can see the factory they have right next door to the restaurant.  The factory is connected to the bottom resturant and the coffee shop.   An other thing they’re known for is their clam chowder bowls  made of sourdough.  They cut the top off of the original sourdough ball.  Then they fill it up with fresh clam chowder that they make there. Their food there is great and it is at a reasonably good price.  I recommend that if you’re in San Fransisco that you should try to make it to the restaurant.

Barnett — 7

Boudin’s is a bakery, a museum, and a restaurant.  The bakery is where they make their bread for all of the food in the restaurant.  They can even bake the bread into animal shapes — turtles, bears, and even an alligator.  Some of the animal shapes are very big.  On the second floor is a museum.  You can look from the museum into them making the bread.  You can try a free slice of bread in the museum, and you will love it!  I learned that sourdough bread has a momma dough.  It is the secret ingredient to their bread.  The restaurant has many things to order but we got we got a clam chowder bread bowl.  It is a loaf of bread shaped like a bowl with soup in it.  It was good, and I ate all of mine.  I like it and you would too.

Famous bread bowl with clam chowder

Looking down into the bakery

Restaurant reception desk

Mist Trail / Vernal Falls / Curry Village

John–12

Have you ever seen a waterfall, and do you like hiking?  Then the mist trail is the thing to do.  It is in Yosemite National Park. It is a really steep hike up.  The hike up is about a mile, and you come to a bridge with a really good view of white water rapids and of the wildlife of Yosemite.  There is also a drinking fountain to refill your water bottles. Then, it is another hard walk up to Vernal Falls.  When you are close to the top, there are steep and tricky stairs that are really slick too. It looked easy at first but then when you look over the edge you see straight down to the bottom to the white water rapids. When we made it to the top of the Vernal Falls it was so beautiful that the mist even made a rainbow.  The mist also gave off cool water that made us feel so much better. On the way down my sister slipped and almost fell off the side but luckily where she slipped there was a railing which stopped her.

When we finished we were all tired and hungry so we took a bus to Curry Village. There was a buffet and a pizzeria. The buffet is one of the worst places to eat at Yosemite National Park. The pizzeria had really good pizza but their salads were frozen and tasted really bad. As they thawed, the lettuce became slimy like cooked spinach.  So, I recommend not getting the salad but getting the pizza instead. My mom took the salads back to let them know to turn the refrigerator temperature down and to quit selling the frozen lettuce, but they acted like she was crazy and didn’t care.  They have a bunch of different toppings you can choose from and eat.  I recommend going if you like hiking and are in good physical condition.  But, I also recommend you packing your own food, because there are not a lot of good inexpensive choices there.

Hadley — 10

The hike to Vernal Falls was hard, but when saw the view it was definitely worth it. Vernal Falls is located in Yosemite National Park; it is near the famous Ahwahnee Hotel. When you get to the parking lot, you need to get there in the morning so that you can get a good parking spot.  Once you get there, you can either walk to the starting point which is .5 miles away. But if you just want to hike from the starting trail, then you can take a shuttle which is free – but you might have to wait in a line. From the starting point, it is about a 1 and a half mile hike that is really steep. Once you go about a mile, there is a bridge that you can see the waterfall from.  It is a good veiw, but if you want the best view, then you have to hike the extra half mile. At the bridge there is a drinking fountain that you can drink from.  If I were you – I would hike the whole trail. (When you get to the top don’t try to touch the water you can drown.)

After the hike your going to be hungry.  (I do recommend taking the bus this time because your going to be tired.)  You’re going to want to get off at Cury Village to eat. You will want to eat at the pizza place.  They have good food there, but you do not want to get the saled.  It is frozen and gross. That is the reason I think you should hike Vernal Falls and see Yosemite National Park.

Barnett – 7

We went to Yosemite.  There are a lot of waterfalls there.  My family hiked one of the waterfalls named Vernal  Falls.  It is nicknamed The Misty Trail.  Part of the way up the hike there is a bridge with a drinking fountain.  You can stop there to get a drink and take pictures.  Then you have to hike up very small steps to get to the top of the waterfall.  The steps are slippery.  I slipped and fell, but I caught myself on a small piece of railing.  If I fell I would have gone over the edge.  Many people have died on this trail.  They try to touch the waterfall and get sucked into the undertoe.  The view at the top is very pretty.

After you are done hiking, you are hungry.  We were.  We went to Curry Village to get pizza.  The pizza is OK.  The salads are not.  Ours was frozen.  When my mom took it back, the workers still sold them to other people.  We also got a pitcher of Mountain Dew and Pepsi.  My brothers like to mix the two drinks together.  Finally, we went to the gift shop and bought magnets to remember our hike.  I would like to do it again.  The end.

View of Yosemite

Vernal Falls

Big Tree Tram Tour / Mariposa Grove — Yosemite National Park

John–12

We had the opportunity to take the Big Tree Tram Tour through Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.  The Giant Sequoia trees are some of the largest trees I have ever laid eyes on. They are in with the rest of the many tall trees at Yosemite. They are the tallest and the widest at Yosemite National Park.  The tram ride taakes you through most of the Sequoia trees they have at Yosemite. The tram ride talks all about the history behind the trees and the ones who saved the trees from getting chopped down. It also shows you all the unique trees they had there. Some of the trees that are unique are like the clothespin tree; it looks like a clothespin from the many wild fires they have had there. My favorite tree is the Giant Grizzly.  It is one of the largest Sequoia trees, with one limb or branch that is seven feet wide. The other one that is my favorite is one with a hole so big that a pickup truck can drive through it.  It cost $26.50 for an adult, $25.00 for seniors, Child $19.00, and children under five are free.  I recommend  going on the ride instead of walking the few miles to see the entire grove.

Hadley–10

In Yosemite there are big trees called sequoias. They are so big one is 31 feet wide. The tour we did is the only one you can do in that area.  It is called the big tree tram tour. On the tour there is a free audio tour that you can listen to. There are 2 stops they make one is near the end and the other is closer to the back of the trail.  The first stop is at a small museum.  The museum has samples of the pine cones and seeds.  You cannot take any of them with you from the park.  The second stop is to see the Great Grizzly tree and one of the trees that you can walk completely through.  All of the trees they have there are unique — one has been growing for over 4,000 years. One of the other trees is able to have a bug car that can go threw it, but they won’t let you try.  That is one of the reason we went to see Yosemite to see these amazing trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Tahoe Standup Paddle — Lake Tahoe, Nevada

John – 12

Have you ever been paddle boarding? Well, if you haven’t, you should try it. It may sound hard at first, but it is really quite easy. The first thing they do is give you a paddle that fits your height. Then they tell you to stay up on your knees. When you are ready, you stand up.  You can get going quickly, but if you fall off you get soaked in cold water. -The warmest Lake Tahoe water gets is 68 degrees,even in the summer!  It is really easy to control the paddleboard and to paddle/row it.  It is fun for the whole family; if you have kids younger they can sit on the edge of the front part of the board, or they can have there own board. My sister (7) had her own board and did really well. It was fun to paddleboard at Lake Tahoe.  You could see clear down to the bottom (about 10 feet where we were at). -Lake Tahoe is over 1,600 feet deep in some places!  The place that we went to, South Tahoe Standup Paddle, was really helpful and nice.  They helped us with getting our paddleboards, and they also helped carry all of our equipment down to the beach.  Their shop had a nice atmosphere, and they were nice and kind to all of us.  I recommend going sometime and trying it out.  Included in the rental price was a 15 minute lesson that was very helpful.  The price is $20 per person per hour.  That can be a little expensive, but it is worth it!

Hadley – 10

if you have been kayaking, then you will love to go stand up paddleboarding. We went to a place called South Tahoe Standup Paddle.  You can probably guess that it is in Lake Tahoe on the south shore.  It doesn’t matter what age or size you are for paddleboarding.  You do not want to fall into the water at Lake Tahoe – it is really cold!  You can get a 15 minute lesson that is free with board rental.  They also have 1 hour lessons for $35.00.  They were very nice.  Everyone in our group wore life jackets – kids have to wear them.  At Lake Tahoe you can see through most of the water, but if you look down while you are paddleboarding, you lose your balance and could fall.  It is easy to catch on to paddleboarding, but they suggest you start out on your knees and work your way to standing up.  I liked it because I felt like I could see more than when I am kayaking.  I think people should try this experience.  I would go to the same store if you are in Lake Tahoe, they were really helpful for beginners like us.

Barnett – 7

Have you been paddleboarding?  I have.  It looks hard, but it is actually easy.  The idea of standing up when there are waves coming in sounds hard.  It is easy because you can stay on your knees if you want.  It was fun.  I fell once into the water – it was freezing!  It is OK to fall in, just get back up on the board.  The people at South Tahoe Standup Paddle gave us tips and instructions.  Some other people in the area gave us tips too.  Everyone was very nice.  Here are some tips:  start out on your knees, try to stand up, don’t look down, keep your knees flexible, and when you wobble fall back onto your knees.  Little kids should always wear a lifejacket.  Adults should probably wear one too.  I would go back to South Tahoe Standup Paddle because they were nice and it was fun.  We even saw a person paddleboarding with their dog!

 

Outside of the shop

Paddleboards

Inside of their shop

 

Red Hut Cafe

John – 12 

The Red Hut Cafe is one of my favorite breakfast places I’ve eaten at. They have really good omelets. They are known for their waffles. I had the cheese and bacon omelet. I thought that they would give me just bits of cut up bacon, but instead they gave me four or five strips of bacon whole. They give hash browns and toast with each omelet. They have six locations around Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  Some are up to fifty years old, and some are also brand new.  The one that we went to has a great view of the lake and the mountains around the lake. It is really hard to get into, and they don’t take reservations. They are only open until two o’clock  (they open at 8:00). The atmosphere is friendly and nice.  The Red Hut Cafe has good food and is definitely worth going to if you are near Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Hadley – 10

Lake Tahoe has good places to eat, but one of the best is the Red Hut Cafe.  When I went to the Red Hut Cafe.  I had something strange – a bacon waffle.  The bacon waffle may sound gross, but it is really good.  It has pieces of bacon inside the waffle.  If you don’t like bacon – this is not the waffle for you!  You can have it with or without whipped cream.  I tried the biscuits and gravy.  They were good, but the gravy had a lot of pepper in it.  I also tried their bacon and cheese omelet.  It was really good too.   They have a lot of variety of waffles.  There are two really old slot machines in the restaurant.  They don’t work.  It is an older restaurant, but they ere are more located around Lake Tahoe.    The one we went to is one of the older ones they have.  It is small and not fancy.  You do not have to dress up.  You want to come, and you may need to wait.  It is worth waiting for.  It is good for breakfast, and it is worth your money.

Barnett – 7

The Red Hut Cafe is good.  I had a Mickey Mouse pancake.  It is a Red Hut Cafe tradition!  It was shaped of a Mickey Mouse head.  Blackberries were the eyes, a strawberry was the mouth, and a scoop of butter was its nose.  It was good.  I also tried the bacon waffle.  I like bacon and waffles – so it was good.  I tried the biscuits and gravy.  They were too spicy because of the pepper.  I ate some of my Dad’s hash browns.  They were so good, I had to get a second helping!  The bacon waffle was the best of everything I tried.  There was tobacco sauce on every table.  It was packed.  There were a ton of people there because it is good.  I would go there again and get my own bacon waffle.

Everything on the menu is Yummy!

Inside is small – but worth the wait

Kingsbury Location

Look for the sign