There was no escape to Alcatraz. The "closed" sign was hung out at Yosemite National Park. Furloughed workers dimmed office lights.

The impact of the partial federal government shutdown was felt throughout Northern California on Tuesday, leaving people confused, frustrated and concerned about how long this national budget drama will continue.

Linda Scruggs was among the first to feel the sting when she arrived early at Fisherman's Wharf.

"We bought these tickets six months ago," said the 62-year-old Arizona resident whose excursion to Alcatraz Island was canceled. "This was supposed to be the highlight of our trip. We are so disappointed."

It was possible for many, if not most, Bay Area residents to spend Tuesday unaffected by the shutdown because basic services -- like mail delivery -- weren't interrupted. Still, as the ripples from the budget stalemate began to spread from Washington, D.C., there was a palpable anger targeted at bickering politicians for park closures, idled workers and the possibility of other inconveniences that could be felt in the coming days.

Donna Garrison, a real-estate agent from Pleasanton, planned to fly to Arizona on Wednesday to meet up with about a dozen friends for a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The group, many of whom attended Irvington High School in Fremont, spent a year training for a trip now in jeopardy.


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She called the shutdown the "tantrum of all tantrums" and added, "It's about politics, not about problem-solving."

Many people Tuesday were simply trying to figure out what was open. You could, for instance, still apply for a passport. But while Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder Gina Alcomendras said her office was accepting applications, she was unsure if the government would process them.

"My sense is that even federal workers are a little confused about how this is all going to play out," she said.

Across the country, the shutdown affected 800,000 government employees, some 150,000 of them in California. Of the 450 U.S. Geological Survey employees in Menlo Park, only three were on the job Tuesday.

At the Ronald Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Francine Roby watered plants and put up a sign warning that the San Francisco Bay Area Federal Executive Board, which coordinates all federal agencies locally, was closed. She wondered what would happen if an earthquake occurred while their office is on furlough.

Lawmakers, she added, have demoralized federal employees.

"How can I serve these people and these laws when I'm not even considered by Congress important enough to go to work?" Roby asked. "It's kind of layer on layer of messages to federal employees that the work you're doing is not valued at the highest levels of government."

But it felt like business as usual at the federal building in San Jose and the Social Security Administration office in Walnut Creek. Signs told visitors that most regular Social Security services were unaffected.

Danville resident Mike Rivera was in line at Walnut Creek for an appointment that he said took him more than a month to make. He was relieved to get a recorded message Monday telling him that it was still on.

Enkhtur Badamsaikhan, of Martinez, was not so lucky. He discovered that the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in Walnut Creek was shuttered, so he could not get a college financial aid application.

"I didn't know," he said. "Instead of going to class, I came here."

While the focus Tuesday was on California's 26 national parks and federal workers, H.D. Palmer, a state finance department spokesman, said there will be wider effects. Programs to help low-income residents, such as free school lunches and food stamps, have funding only through the end of October.

"If this is limited to a short-term shutdown, the impacts to state programs should be minimal," he said. "But the issue is how long does this go?"

Leaders among both Democrats and Republicans were suggesting Tuesday that the shutdown might last weeks.

The impasse even is being felt on Mars. NASA's $2.5 billion Curiosity rover will skip some of its scientific measurements and photography, said space scientist David Blake, who created a key tool aboard the rover and is one of few people still working at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field.

"We won't miss much early on, but if it goes on for a long time, we will be less and less able to do stuff," Blake said.

Much closer to home, small businesses are feeling the pinch, too. Roger Springall, owner of Caffe Frascati near the federal building in San Jose, said he was seeing a 20 percent drop in business on Tuesday. The entire downtown scene "is definitely quieter," added Leyla Naderjah, owner of the Rosies & Posies floral shop.

"I'm upset," Naderjah said. "I was assuming our government should be able to come up with a solution."

Sacramento-based nonprofit Visit California estimates that tourists spend $292 million each day in California. But Alcatraz Cruises, the company that runs the tours to the island, was issuing refunds Tuesday for their sold-out allotment of 5,000 tickets.

"I'm appalled that a country of this stature would play a game such as we have in kindergarten," added Rajas Govender, an Australian who planned to visit the island with her husband. "My question is, where is the concern for your people who have elected you into government? It's shameful."

At Yosemite, the park service still was allowing people in Tuesday who had reservations. But everyone must be out by 3 p.m. Thursday. Among the disappointed was a motorcycle-riding group of Germans who had planned their trip for six months.

"We came all the way from Germany to see Yosemite," said Juergen Welle, "and now this.".

Staff writers Gary Peterson, Dan Nakaso, Denis Cuff, Kristin J. Bender, Paul Rogers, Matt O'Brien and Lisa Krieger contributed to this report. Contact Mark Emmons at memmons@mercurynews.com.