End of the Road Trip: Alcatraz, Tech Entrepreneurs and 8 Stitches in San Francisco

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After almost two weeks on the road through Northern California and then Yosemite, an awesome trip made possible by State Farm and Chevy, we headed back to San Francisco for what we thought would be two interesting but fairly relaxed days.

At the top of our agenda was a work-related meeting with top Latino tech leaders from the Bay area and Alcatraz.  Well, that was the plan but life does not always happen as planned and on our last day we had a small medical emergency that really challenged us.

Briani, Rover our State Farm mascot and Elena nearly freeze to death during the ferry ride to Alcatraz.

Tech Entrepreneurs Gather for Impromptu Hispanicize 2014

We know it’s a major vacation no-no but when the good folks over at the San Francisco-based networking organization LAM invited Hispanicize and Hispanicize Wire to co-host a small, VIP gathering with them of Latino tech leaders at Stanford University, the heart of Silicon Valley, my wife Angela and I couldn’t resist.  Just being near where my business idol Steve Jobs lived made us feel extra special.

Pictured here are some of the tech leaders from LAM and other organizations that came to the breakfast mixer.

Angela Sustaita-Ruiz, my wife, and the every pleasant blogger/realtor isabel Garcia of the blog At Home In Pleasanton CA (www.AtHomeInPleasantonCA.com)

We were especially inspired to meet Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Air Force military veteran, author and entrepreneur. She gave us a copy of her children’s bilingual illustrated book Good Night Captain Mama.

Stanford University courtyard near the journalism school where our breakfast took place.

Some of the discussion revolved around Hispanicize Wire, our new socially savvy press release wire service that is fully multimedia.

The group of 25 was a snapshot of folks we’ve grown to respect, including leaders from tech start ups, bloggers and new media entrepreneurs like our friend, a media entrepreneur and journalist herself Mary Aviles who was responsible for connecting us with LAM and two of its leaders Giovanni Dubois and Sofia Perel.

The essence of what this awesome group discussed is the topic of something we’ll announce shortly through Hispanicize but needless to say many of us found common ground during our meeting and something real and substantive will take place because of Mary’s initiative.

Alcatraz Revisited

It’s always ironic that a city as beautiful as San Francisco has a dark and gloomy island Alcatraz as one of the area’s top tourist attractions. My kids had Alcatraz as one of their Northern California road trip priorities for two reasons.  First, because Alcatraz reminds them of one of their favorite TV series, the now defunct “Prison Break”.  The other reason is because we always like to incorporate places that have appeared in films.   Alcatraz Island appears often in media and popular culture, including films dating from 1962 The Book of Eli (2010), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Rock (1996), Murder in the First (1995), Escape from Alcatraz (1979), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

A couple of things really stood out to us about Alcatraz:

– It’s a tiny island.  If it hadn’t been the iconic maximum security prison that it was you would easily see Alcatraz island as an island that today would be owned by a Bruce Wayne-style, Silicon Valley billionaire.  Alcatraz measures just 22 square acres large and is located 1.5 miles from San Francisco.

During the prison years, a couple prison guards lost their lives on duty.

– Alcatraz must have been a real gloomy place for prisoners to live.  The island is seemingly always foggy and chilly.  One of the biggest tortures they apparently had to endure was when they looked outside the bars of the jail and in the distance they could see San Francisco glimmering.

– Alcatraz Island has a U.S. Hispanic connection.  According to Wikipedia, “The first Spaniard to document the island was Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, who charted San Francisco Bay and named one of the three islands he identified as the “La Isla de los Alcatraces,” which translates as “The Island of the Pelicans,”[1][6][7][8][9][10] from the archaic Spanish alcatraz (in English: “pelican”).  Alcatraz started as a lighthouse in the 1840s and had also been a military fort before it turned into the maximum security prison that made it infamous between 1934 and 1963, when it was permanently shutdown.

– Even though Al Capone was jailed in Alcatraz for several years he actually spent most of his time there sick in the creepy third floor hospital where he got treated for Syphilis.

– There were several prison break attempts at Alcatraz including the infamous one of 1962 that was immortalized in the film Escape from Alcatraz.  By the way, the waters near Alcatraz are so frigid, no one is sure that one of the few men that escaped the prison ever survived the freezing, rough swim from the island to the mainland.

– The warden, prison guards and their families lived IMMEDIATELY outside the walls of the penitentiary.  The children would go to school every day by ferry.  In the archive footage you Most of those families recall very happy memories in archive footage.

– When you get to Alcatraz you’ll hear the park rangers say that you should do the Alcatraz history video last.  My wife and I disagree.  Do the Alcatraz history video first as it will give you a great general overview before kicking off your audio tour.  The audio tour of Alcatraz is excellent.

– If you want to go to Alcatraz, be forewarned that you will need to book the short ferry excursion MONTHS in advance.  It is always sold out.

– Even thought the island is known for it’s infamous prisoners, Alcatraz is also home to a diverse ecosphere.

Eight Stitches in San Francisco

With less than a day to complete our entire road trip vacation to Northern California, my wife, kids and I met for brunch with super Latina mom blogger Claudya Martinez of Unknown Mami/ MamásLatinas and her two daughters.

Before the stitches: Angela and the girls together with Claudya Martinez of Unknown Mami and her girls.

I was having a pleasant conversation with Claudya and waiting for our food and drinks when my wife attempted to lay a tray full of lemonade-filled glasses on the table.  As she got my attention to help her put the tray down, my middle daughter Briani bumped her head on the bottom of the tray, upending all the glass cups.

BOOM, CLANG, CRASH, CRASH, CRASH, CRASH! Every glass on the tray crashed, spilling everything everywhere on the table in slow motion like I’ve never seen. My pants got drenched in Lavendar-flavor lemonade, prompting us to laugh at the ridiculous spectacle until  Briani started screaming and crying with good reason.  A piece of glass had sliced her left fore finger, creating a bloody gash that freaked all of us. Angela took immediate action, hailing a cab to the nearest emergency room while I stepped in to manage the rest of our tribe.

Briani got immediate and excellent care at the hospital.  Eight stitches and two hours later Briani and Angela returned from the hospital and later Jonathan and Angela even caught a movie before we all boarded our red eye flight back to Miami.  We got back beyond exhausted but really grateful that State Farm and Chevy provided us with a full paid opportunity to take an awesome vacation.

Travel Wisdom (Sponsored by State Farm)

The more people you travel with on vacation and the longer your vacation, the higher the odds you may need to see a doctor (or in our case, a surgeon).  The wisdom is to always have your health and car insurance with you at all times.  In all three of the road trips Briani has been with us she has gone 3 for 3 in needing to see a doctor.  In 2010, she developed a fever and had to be seen by a doctor in Austin.  In 2011, Briani developed a urinary tract infection and had to be seen by a doctor aboard the Disney cruise we took to Alaska.  This year we had the eight stitches in her finger.

one of the many road trip bumper stickers we stumbled upon this summer.

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