Date Traveled: 7/4/17
Is it just me or did June go by way too fast? June was such a busy month! Between a quick trip to LA with Tejinder, SF Design Week, and a bachelorette party in Malibu, I think I only had one weekend in the city. Things calmed down right before 4th of July which I was grateful for. Tejinder and I decided to spend the holiday weekend hiking on Angel Island.
Angel Island is a 1 sq. mile island perfectly positioned between San Francisco and Marin. The island, which is considered a CA Historical Landmark, housed military forts and quarantine stations but is well known for being the “Ellis Island of the West” due to the Angel Island Immigration Station on the northeast shore.
After a very windy ferry ride, we landed on the island and began our 6-mile loop. I know, a 6-mile trek doesn’t sound very relaxing, but it can be if you travel at a leisurely pace. The perimeter loop is a paved road that is relatively flat. It is the most popular trail on the island due to the variety of viewpoints the trail provides. On a clear day, you can see San Francisco, both bridges, and Alcatraz at one vantage point. There are also a bunch of benches and picnic tables scattered around the island for when your stomach starts to grumble or the view sweeps you off your feet. For the extremely adventurous at heart, Angel Island is home to nine – yes, nine - campgrounds. If hiking is not your thing, there are open air tram tours that’ll take you on a guided tour of the island. We considered hopping on one a few times during our hike.
Because Angel Island served so many purposes back in the day, a lot of the original buildings have remained on the island. It felt like we were going back in time as we walked through old mess halls and administration buildings. Do remember to be respectful of the space because 1) these buildings are extremely old and 2) some of the park rangers live in the remaining military homes.
There is a tiny beach in front of the Angel Island Immigration Station where we decided to refuel and relax before heading back to the ferry. When I first moved to the city, Tejinder and I came to Angel Island and took a tour of the detention center. Being back there, I was filled with the same numbness I felt when I first learned how the Chinese immigrants were treated on the island. From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island detained, inspected, and examined approximately one million immigrants, most of whom were from the Asia Pacific. Due to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which only allowed Chinese merchants, clergy, diplomats, teachers, and students to migrate to America, there was a lot of discrimination against Chinese immigrants and many were interrogated for upwards of 20 months before finding out their fate. Families were separated, immigrants sat through hours of interrogations, and health conditions were very poor. Sitting on the beach on Angel Island, I reflected on what these immigrants must have gone through – packing up their lives, saying good bye to loved ones they might never see again, navigating a foreign land they’ve never seen – to pursue the sought-after “American dream”.
As the daughter of immigrant parents, I witnessed the sacrifices my parents made for my brother and me, and it all started with the biggest sacrifice of saying good bye to their lives in Iran and making their way to America. I am proud of what my parents have accomplished and thankful for their courage and fearlessness all those years ago.
After finishing the loop, Tejinder and I split a beer at the Angel Island Café before hopping on the ferry home. We had a lot of fun walking around the island and spending some much-needed quality time together.
Traveling is a passion of mine because it is an opportunity for the world to challenge my way of thinking. No matter the distance, new experiences, like walking through old military buildings and sitting on the dock that welcomed over a million immigrants, teach me new things about the world around me. And I absolutely love sharing these experiences with Tejinder. Lucky for us, we have a lot more adventures awaiting us this year.
Until next time,