Alcatraz Lighthouse

Alcatraz islands off the cost of San-Francisco have only two lighthouses. The foundation of the first was laid in 1852, and the entire structure became operational in 1854.

The first lighthouse was a two storey structure with a tower at the center. The fifty-foot structure was black and white and used a fixed third order lens. The need for this lighthouse can be attributed to the 1849 gold rush, which made west coast lighthouses a priority. By 1856, it was found that the San-Francisco fog often rendered the lighthouse ineffective. This led to the installation of a fog-bell. The bell was first rung by hand and later, thanks to a clockwork mechanism, the bell would ring automatically at prescribed intervals. Due to the growth of the city, a flashing fourth order lens had to be installed later, to help mariners distinguish the lighthouse from the city lights. This lighthouse was badly damaged in the 1906 San-Francisco earthquake, which cracked the lighthouse tower and toppled one of its chimneys.

The military prison on the island rendered the old lighthouse ineffective and by 1909, work started on a new lighthouse. With an eighty four feet tall tower and fog sirens at the front and back of the island, the new light house ran on electricity. In 1963, when the Alcatraz prison was finally closed due to the high maintenance cost, the lighthouse was automated.

The lighthouse stopped working for a short while in 1969, when electricity to the island was cut because it was being occupied by the natives. Power was restored after a while, with the help of a generator smuggled in by prominent San-Francisco citizens who were worried about maritime safety.

By 1972, the natives were driven out and Alcatraz became a national reserve. Today a 200,000 candle power lens is used in the old lighthouse.

Alcatraz Inmates

Alcatraz is famous for having housed some famous gangsters and criminals. Most of these prisoners were those considered dangerous, disobedient, escape risks and known for committing serious crimes such as murder, racketeering, smuggling etc.

Al Capone, one of the most notorious gangsters in America, was born in New York in 1899. He started his career in Brooklyn before moving to Chicago and had already been on the Bureau of Investigation’s “Most Wanted” list by the end of the 1920s. Al Capone was indicted and convicted for income tax evasion in 1931, and found guilty on five counts. In 1932, he was initially sent to an Atlanta prison, and then finally transferred to Alcatraz in August of 1934.

George “Machine Gun” Kelly Barnes, infamous for crimes, which included bootlegging, armed robbery and kidnapping had already been in the gangster business by 1927. In 1933, Kelly received life sentence for the kidnapping of Charles F. Urschel, a wealthy businessman and his friend Walter R. Jarrett. He was first incarcerated in Leavenworth, Kansas and was later transferred to Alcatraz in 1934 due to his constant escape threats.

Henry “Henri” Young started his career as a bank robber and committed murder in 1933, was found guilty and served time in different state prisons. In 1935 he was sent to the U.S. Penitentiary on McNeil Island in Washington State and was transferred to Alcatraz in the same year. In 1942, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after he stabbed a fellow inmate to death. His life-story was made famous by the Warner Brothers movie, “Murder in the First”.

Robert Stroud, the “birdman of Alcatraz, was first convicted of manslaughter in 1909, after he brutally shot and murdered a bartender. Stroud was transferred from McNeil Island, Washington to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas where he began to develop a keen interest in birds. He was allowed to breed them and maintain a lab. He was transferred to Alcatraz in 1942 to spend the rest of his days. The story of his life was made famous by the movie, “the birdman of Alcatraz”, starring Burt Lancaster.

Alcatraz History

Alcatraz Island was declared a military reservation in 1850 and troops were permanently stationed by 1859. For almost eighty years Alcatraz Island was the site of the first fortress and military prison on the west coast. The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz were acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 12, 1933. Soon, it became a federal penitentiary on January 1, 1934

Alcatraz was also the first long-term Army prison. The first prisoners to be brought in to Alcatraz were Civil War and Spanish American War Prisoners during the 1800s. With the number of inmates increasing everyday, the prison structure was also extended and renovated. By the 1920s, the three-story building was almost at full capacity.

Due to its isolated location and the freezing San Francisco Bay waters, the authorities considered Alcatraz as an ideal place for holding dangerous prisoners. Criminals like George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert Franklin Stroud, Alvin Karpis, Henry Young and Al Capone are some of the most famous inmates to claim residence on Alcatraz.

Alcatraz operated for a full 29 years and during that time, there had been no known case of any successful escape attempts. Most escapees were shot dead or presumed drowned in the San Francisco Bay waters. In 1962, three prisoners – Clarens Anglin, his brother John and Frank Morris – disappeared from the premises and were never found. But nobody knows if they ever reached the shore.

On March 21, 1963, when the prison was closed, Alcatraz had already accommodated 1033 prisoners. From November 1969 until June 1971, the American Indians inhabited the island. Since October 1972, Alcatraz has become a historic site and part of the “Golden Gate National Recreation Area” – supervised by the National Park Service, which is now open to tours.

Alaska Vacations

Alaska is considered to be place where wilderness and comfort co-exist. The place has varied vacation options, and one can choose from visiting the serene backcountry, fishing for tuna or enjoying wild land adventures. The state of Alaska has been known for its wild-land adventures since 1977.

People visiting Alaska can experience the unique native culture of the state through totem carving, the blanket toss, native dancing, traditional music, crafts and festivals along with cultural and historical museums and heritage centers.

Some of the major tourist attractions include Denali National Park, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Kenai Fjords National Park, Chugach National Forest, Arctic Region and Inside Passage. Denali National Park is home to a wide variety of animals, and was named after the highest peak in North America, Mt. McKinley (Denali). One can find an array of wildlife including grizzly bears, caribou, golden eagles, Dall sheep, moose, and wolves. The landscape is mainline alpine tundra and taiga forest, which has been the reason for the excellent wildlife and the great vegetation that the spot offers.

Kenai Wildlife Refuge consists of the western slopes of the Kenai Mountains and the forested lowlands bordering Cook Inlet. The place is also known as ‘miniature Alaska’, with a wide variety of Alaska tundra, mountains, wetlands and forest.

With glaciers, majestic hemlock and spruce, Alaska’s Inside Passage is one of the most attractive places for visitors. The region in blanketed by pristine water, snow-capped mountains, deep fjords and forested islands. The mild maritime climate makes the place the home for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and whales.

The Internet is a good medium through which a traveler can find various vacation packages to fit his budget. Vacations can be exciting when a person plans them out in advance. The climate and the environment in Alaska should be borne in mind when packing clothing. Proper preparations by the traveler can help him in relish his vacation to the maximum.

Albuquerque Hotels

Studded by landmarks and old historic monuments and marked by pleasant climate, colorful, vibrant cultural events, tasteful cuisines, and all-the-year round events and festivals, Albuquerque is a must-see for everybody. And to make our stay pleasant, comfortable, and truly memorable, some fantastic hotels exist in Albuquerque.

To suit different needs of people, hotels exist in different parts of Albuquerque. Hotels can be categorized according to their location such as downtown hotels, uptown hotels, luxury hotels, airport hotels, old town hotels, mid-town or university hotels, and many more.

Downtown hotels are suited to those who want to live in the heart or core of the city. Hyatt Regency, The Hotel Blue, and Albuquerque Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa are some examples of downtown hotel. Convention center, National Atomic Museum, the Hispanic Cultural Center, and Rio Grande Zoo besides others are all near to the aforementioned downtown hotels. Doubletree Hotel Albuquerque is another downtown hotel which is accessible to the Convention Center via underground concourse.

Hilton Albuquerque hotel, which is also highly recommended for guests and visitors, is located within 5 minutes of distance from downtown Albuquerque. Home to 3 highly popular restaurants, it has non-smoking rooms and a separate floor for woman travelers.

Old town Albuquerque is particularly studded with landmarks and old monuments. People wanting to view all the preserved ancient buildings can stay at one of the old town hotels such as Best Western Rio Grande Inn, Quality Inns and Suites Hotel, Sheraton Old Town, and Hotel Albuquerque. Such hotels are placed conveniently for those interested to see the Albuquerque Zoo, University of Mexico, the Kirkland Air Force Base, the Sandia Peak Ski area, Old Town Plaza, and many other eventful places.

Also near to the old town hotels are the museums like New Mexico Museum of Natural History, the Albuquerque Museum, the National Atomic Museum, and the Rattlesnake Museum.

Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown and Amerisuites Albuquerque Uptown is also another highly recommended hotel for travelers.

Located near to the airports are the airport hotels. Some of these hotels also provide free shuttle service to their customers. Hotels like Airport University Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Wyndham Albuquerque Airport Hotel, and Comfort Inn Airport among others provide excellent service and are conveniently located near to the airport.

Providing all basic and luxury amenities, the aforementioned hotels are perfect amalgamation of luxury, style, and southern hospitality.

Alaska Vacation Packages

Alaska is home to a wide variety of wildlife and sea life, and can be considered the place where nature is at its best. The place has a wide range of vacation options, including paddling, fishing, glacier hikes and tabbing the wildlife in the region. Travelers who visit the place find it a culmination of nature’s magnificence.

Some of the vacation options include fishing, wildlife viewing, adventure and eco-tourism, backcountry experiences, historical cultural and educational activities, winter activities, flight seeing, sightseeing and tours, day cruises, multi-day cruises and more.

Alaska offers some of the most spectacular fly-fishing, saltwater, freshwater and even ice fishing in the world. Visitors can cast a line at the roadside or can hire a boat or float plane to angle. The state has some 627 species of fish that inhabit its water. There are over three million lakes and countless fish-filled streams where a traveler can cast a line.

Wildlife adventure vacations can include exploring the splendor of nature. Travelers can see the undisturbed natural habitats of polar bears, bald eagles, blue and humpbacked whales, gray wolves, grizzly bears, orcas, lynx, moose, and hundreds of other endangered species. Adventure and eco-tourism attract people keen on seeking a personal connection with nature, the wilderness and the local people living in the place. The largest mountain in North America, Mount McKinley (located in Denali National Park), offers unsurpassed experiences for hikers and backcountry enthusiasts.

Backcountry experiences can be a real outdoor adventure. The place offers hikes near an ice age glacier, or river rafting. For people who prefer water over land, kayaks and canoes can offer unlimited opportunities to explore Alaska’s rivers, streams, lakes and protected coastal waters.

Tour operators consider flight seeing the ultimate trip while visiting Alaska. The site seeing with a bird’s-eye view is splendid. The many birds, glaciers, villages and bears are a treat to the eye.

Alaska Paddling Vacations

Paddling vacations are romantic getaways from busy city life. The vacation is an adventurous scenic cruise, thus making it a pleasurable way to understand nature and its magnificence.

Fox Island, one of the best places for paddling in Alaska, has a magical mix of temperate rain forests, sculpted cliffs, long pebbled beaches and protected coves. Sea lions, sea otters and whales are a common sight in the waters of Alaska, adding a touch of grandeur to paddling. It is a great place to learn or refine your paddling skills while becoming familiar with the ecosystem.

Kayaking is one of the most talked-about summer paddling activities in Alaska. Paddling is the most favored vacation option for most people, because of the many miles of coastline that the state has to offer. During the summer months, visitors can see orca whales. One of the most exciting aspects of an Alaska kayaking expedition is the opportunity to see abundant marine wildlife at close range.

Experienced sea kayakers and educators often overlook paddling exercises. Some of the tour operators hire environmental scientists or biologists as guides. The traveling groups are restricted to small sizes, thereby ensuring the safety of each traveler.

Alaska has unpredictable weather, and it is always advisable to dress in layers. This allows people to stay warm and dry if the temperature drops; they can also cool off by removing layers when the temperature spikes. People should carry adequate warm clothing, rain gear and extra sets of clothing. It is also wise to carry a first-aid kit while traveling.

Alaska Fishing Vacations

Alaska’s fishing vacations are one of the most popular with tourists. With people wishing to escape the hustle-bustle of the daily life, these relaxing fishing vacations are a great way to can get closer to nature.

Salmon is common along the Alaskan coast. So is giant halibut. Visitors can also catch salmon weighing up to 50 pounds. Other varieties of fish, like grayling and northern pike, are easy to catch in many inland streams.

The extreme tides and ocean currents surrounding Alaska creates ideal habitats for baitfish, which in turn attract returning salmon and bottom fish in astounding numbers. Alaska promotes fishing as its main sporting event. Large numbers of tourists visit the place to take part in this adventurous sport.

South-central Alaska is home to the most famous fishing areas in the state. Coastal waters and watersheds embody the place with varied land and seascapes. In addition to salmon and halibut, other fish like trout, pike, grayling, Dolly Varden, burbot, whitefish and other species can be found year-round in the many watersheds that form the main tourist attractions.

Lower Cook Inlet is also a popular fishing destination in the summer months. Clams, halibut and salmon keep the anglers busy throughout the day. The Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers drain most of Interior, Arctic and Western Alaska, which is sparsely covered by trees. Grayling are most widespread in the region, along with trout, pike, burbot, char and shellfish.

It is advisable that first-time visitors should have a professional guide to advise them. It is always wise to visit the place as part of a guided tour, which will provide all necessary fishing equipment.

Alaska Fishing Trips

Alaska is the perfect place in the world to have the fishing experience of a lifetime. With an infinite number of fishing resources, Alaska is the location to go to fish for rainbow trout, king salmon or halibut.

Alaska fishing trips assure a splendid fishing experience against the spectacular wilderness of the land. When choosing where to go in Alaska, it is important to know the type of fish you are hoping to catch, because some species are region-specific. For example, if you are going on a fishing trip in Alaska and are looking to catch halibut, you should try and look for the fishing locales where halibut is known to reside. Ask the local population where this might be, and you will get some good tips.

The climatic conditions must also be conducive to the fish you are looking for. If you are fishing in the summertime, you may not be able to catch the same types of fish you caught last winter. Again, ask around.

Southeast Alaska is popular for salmon, steelhead and halibut fishing. A great abundance of fighting fish is found in the Kenai River. Anchorage, Seward, Soldotna, Homer, the Kodiak Island of south-central Alaska, Bristol Bay and the Kuskokwim River of southwest Alaska are prime fishing destinations. Lake Hood in Anchorage Alaska is famous for fly fishing.

No matter where or when you choose to fish in Alaska, be sure to pack all of the necessary supplies. In the cold winter months, you should dress extremely warmly. In other seasons, dress in layers so that the sudden shifts in temperature can be accomodated as you fish all day or over the course of a week or weekend.

Alaska Cruises

An Alaskan cruise offers something for everyone! For those who like adventure or for those who just want to sit back and view the wildlife from afar this is the right choice. It is the most popular way to explore Alaska, which is twice the size of Texas with 47,300 miles of shoreline, 4 million acres of National Parks, preserves and monuments, 17 of the nation’s 20 highest peaks, and the largest number of active glaciers and ice fields in the inhabited world. A cruise is the best way to combine sightseeing with options like glacier viewing, whale watching, fishing, hiking, beach combing, berry picking, bear viewing, photography, bird watching and kayaking. The cruises are seasonal with July and August being the most popular months for tourists.

There are two major routes for Alaskan cruises that usually last seven nights: the Inside Passage route and the Gulf of Alaska route. Round trips from Vancouver or Seattle may include ports of call such as Glacier Bay, Juneau or Hanes. While Gulf of Alaska cruise route travels from Anchorage to Vancouver or vice versa with ports of call including Hubbard Glacier, Seward or Valdez.

Over 30 ships from 13 cruise lines sail in Alaska’s waters ranging from small vessels offering a casual atmosphere, medium size (800 to 1500 passengers) to mega size (2000 and more) offering a host of amenities and activities in a resort-like setting. The latter has equal focus on shipboard activities as on the landscape of Alaska. The smaller ships focus more on nature activities and often get closer to shore and enter some fjords that may be too small for the larger ships.

Enjoy ancient history at the 10,000-year old settlement of Prince Rupert Port, view the extinct Volcano at the northern city of Sitka and the unique 25 story tall monuments of ice floating in Glacier Bay. Most Alaska cruises are affordable and include meals, ship transportation, cabin accommodations, entertainment and most activities. Many lines include side trips to Denali National Park but shore excursions can be more expensive, so check before you book.