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Snapshot: News-Sentinel readers rate their vacations Angel Island offers heartfelt experience, California history

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Posted: Friday, September 17, 2010 3:22 pm

Who went: Lap and Yee Wong, of Lodi; Jannie Wong, of Lodi.

The trip: A trip to Sausalito and Angel Island.

The highlights: The city of Sausalito, once a gritty little community of fisherman and sea traders, is the first town after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Ferry traffic links to Pier 4 at Fisherman’s Wharf. Sausalito offers a semi-tropical climate, sweeping views and timeless sophistication, all of which make its appeal undeniable.

This elite hamlet has only 1.9 square miles of land area, but has spurred rows of white quirky, pastel-colored houses on a maze of hilly terrain at the balmy Banana Belt. Revel in the sublime setting that is Bougainella hillside. It is covered with expensive yachts and houseboats that form a community in Richardson Bay.

Sausalito’s main commercial thoroughfare is essentially one street, south on Bridgeway Boulevard, brimming with Victorian facades and new buildings that cater to the exquisite glut of fetching galleries, upscale boutiques and restaurants. Join the crowds browsing at some of the clogging streets closest to the ferry landing flaunt their share of shops selling T-shirts, souvenirs, jewelry and handsome crafts.

Hang out at the center of town, Landmark Plaza Vina del Mar, which is flanked by two 14-foot tall elephant statues and a lovely fountain.

The San Francisco Bay Model Visitor Center on the Sausalito waterfront, built by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1957, mimics the effect of the tidal action and current, and the mixing of salt water and freshwater in a size of two football fields. Today, the Bay Model Center, the only one of its kind, is dedicated to the education of the San Francisco Bay watershed.

Take the Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry and float in a marina abutting the visitor center. In the late 19th century, the U.S. Army Designated the 1.2 square miles of Angel Island as Fort McDowell. China Cove is known for immigration between 1910 and 1940, and a detention center where Asian immigrants crossing the Pacific waited to have their entry papers processed and medical exams cleared.

Visiting the historic barrack is a heartfelt experience as one imagines how the detainees grew frantic with months of boredom, frustration, despair and loneliness. Some of their poems and ideograms carved in the walls are still eligible.

In 1941, the army took over the center was soon using the barracks for a World War II Japanese internment camp. The army decommissioned the island in 1946, but returned in the 1950s when a a Nike missile base was constructed. Finally, it was decommissioned as obsolete in 1962.

Today, it is a national historic landmark working to facilitate the preservation, restoration and interpretation of historical resources on the island.

President Barack Obama signed a proclamation marking May as Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month, and recognized the 100th anniversary of Angel Island’s Immigration Station.

Angel Island is a terrific destination for picnic, stroll, hike, ride bikes or, simply, get away from traffic, the phone and TV. The sailboats, yachts and cargo ships passing near the island make it picture perfect.

Readers who submit snapshots published in the Lodi Living section receive a free Lodi News-Sentinel tote bag. Entries should include a quick description of your vacation, a snapshot, your name, address and phone number. Snapshots run in the order they are received.

Snapshots may be dropped off at the Lodi News-Sentinel during regular business hours or sent to Lodi Living, Snapshots, 125 N. Church St., Lodi, CA 95240.

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