Several years ago, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson starred in a delightfully entertaining movie called The Bucket List, whose premise was that each man had a list of activities to be accomplished before he “kicked the bucket.” Celebrating the recent engagement of our son Rob to Katie, a lovely young California woman, provided the opportunity for a side-trip visit that involved completing an item on my own bucket list.
The former Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, was the site of the first U.S. Navy facility on the West Coast. The island is separated by the Napa River from the city of Vallejo, named in honor of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who was a strong proponent of transforming California from a Mexican district into a U.S. state. One legend has it that the general was moving livestock across Carquinez Strait when one of his horses was washed to sea. The plucky mare swam ashore to save herself, landing on what was known as Isla Plana, or Flat Island, and thus gave a new name to the site.