Wednesday, 20 May 2015

San Francisco (and a robbery!) - 29th March

Breakfast was included with our stay at Days Hotel, and I don't know why but for for some reason no food ever tasted so good to me! I just had porridge, raisin bread toast, eggs and juice, and totally relished it (so had exactly the same again!)
Anyway, we then drove back over Bay Bridge and into San Francisco, and found a car park not far away.

We walked down to the Piers (Lucy and I went into one building to find toilets, and it was a beautiful market kind of area, with all lovely little specialist food shops.) We caught a tram down to Pier 39, but didn't spend much time there - just walked along to Pier 33 where we were booked onto the 11am boat to Alcatraz Island.

It was lovely weather, and we just hung around the area, sitting on a bench and avoiding the queue for our boat until it started boarding. It turned out that it was the hottest day for that day in San Francisco - broke some record!

It's not a long boat ride, and we stood out at the front of the boat, looking at Alcatraz.

We were all excited to see Alcatraz, and did the audio tour. The tour is great - just about right for the kids, and not boring. It's such an interesting place.

The kids walking through the exercise yard.

I just love this view back to San Francisco, and Bay Bridge.

Finishing off the tour in the prison Dining Room.

When we finished, we rushed back down to the dock just in time to walk onto a boat back to Pier 33.

We then went back to Pier 39, shared a Churro to keep us going, and had a better look around. Went into a couple of shops where the kids bought souvenirs and Lucy and Jack bought T-shirts. I was excited to find a little shell/star fish shop which I had been to when I was 20, and still have a sea urchin shell which I bought there.

We weren't quite sure what to do then, Harry was really tired, and we needed to get food. We ended up getting a tram to nearer the centre of San Francisco, and it was nice to rest our feet! Not long after getting off we found a Subway, and sat in the seats outside eating sandwiches and cookies, enjoying the neat, clean skyscrapers around us.

From there we found the Chinese Quarter, and walked down the main street, before walking back a few blocks to our car.

We happened to walk back past the Transamerica Pyramid!

When we got back to the car, we saw that two of the windows had been smashed in, and all our rucksacks were gone!!! We got our heads round it pretty quickly, and Scott rang the Police, cancelled the credit card (I'd had my card in my stolen bag), and rang the car hire place. He also talked with a guy who was directing some road works across the road, to see if he had seen anything. (He hadn't.) Scott had to use a couple of different passers-by's phones because we couldn't call the Police on ours for some reason. They just told us to file a report. Everyone passing by was lovely, including a guy who stayed with us for quite a while who just lived a block away. He was surprised it had happened, and said that sort of stuff didn't usually happen round here.

During that time I sat with the kids, and reassured them. Tom was the most upset, and a bit tearful - it was just the shock of it I think. Lucy was wonderful, and while I was talking with Scott at the beginning, had gathered the kids round and said a prayer asking for comfort.

We just had to take on board what was missing, and the implications of that. The kids and I each had a rucksack stolen. Mine was my large camera rucksack, which had my laptop (with all my passwords saved for everything!), two of my camera lenses, my Kindle, camera book, purse, chargers etc. Lucy had all her A Level work and text books, make-up, pencil case, some electrics and some diabetes stuff. Jack had lots of GCSE work, loads of electrical bits and all sorts of other stuff. Tom had a camera, camcorder, books, $40 and other bits, and Harry had some books, activity books, my pencil case and other bits. His first reaction (bless him!) was 'Thank goodness they didn't take Jewel!' (his soft toy baby owl!) In total I think we lost about £2000 worth of stuff.

I'm pretty impressed really with how calm we were, and how un-angry we felt to whoever did it. Jack was the most fed-up, because he'd spent a long time on some assignments which he would have to do again from scratch. I took the kids on a walk around a couple of blocks, just to see if the bags had been dumped anywhere. I wasn't exactly hopeful - it was more likely a car had pulled up next to ours, smashed the windows quickly and grabbed whatever they could then driven off. There'd be too much stuff to carry it all. They'd missed Lucy's and my iPhones in our car door pockets. The ironic thing was that I'd put my rucksack in the back of the car, with the kids stuff, so it wouldn't be visible! You couldn't see any of our stuff because of the blacked out windows!
I did feel a bit sad about the waste of it - that some of our lovely things (like Lucy's and my handmade pencil cases) and all the kids' work would probably end up lying in a bin somewhere.

I just told the kids that it was sad that some people have had lives that mean they feel they need to do stuff like that. They obviously must not have very happy lives. We talked about how replaceable most the stuff is, and that we are what matters most, and we are all fine. Plus we had our passports with us, and our Debit card, my camera, and they hadn't touched our suitcases with our clothes in.

The car company (SIXT) said we should head to San Francisco airport - their nearest office. We set about smashing the rest of the glass out the broken windows, and I used my Minion Duck tape from Target to tape up the broken edges, so no loose bits could fly out when we were driving. I used a travel pillow to brush all the broken glass off the seats and floor as best as I could.

On the drive to the airport (nice that it was such a hot day, seeing as we were missing windows!), I made a list of everything stolen. Every few minutes or so someone would remember something else they'd had in their bag - it almost became a joke... ''Oh no! My ear plugs are gone!'', ''Oh no! My camera charger was in there!''
I really felt the spirit though - I think we all did. I felt like it could be a good thing in many ways - to keep us humble, and remind us of what's really important, and also to teach us a bit of resilience and realisation of what life's really like. Also, we knew that if we want to do cool things like road trips, we can't take everything valuable around with us each day, so it's a risk we run. Part and parcel of adventures!

At the airport, the car company didn't have any spare people carriers for us, so we said we'd keep our car till we got to another of their car hire places (probably Las Vegas in a couple of days). The people were really nice though. One guy vacuumed out all the glass for us, and a girl got some plastic bags and cardboard for us which I taped over the windows. (We didn't keep the cardboard though - too floppy.)

We then drove a couple of hours to our next hotel, in Madera, and just left the empty car near the hotel doors, taking everything in with us. The hotel was really nice - quite posh, plus we were able to have extra beds again. We got there at about 9pm, and Scott went over the road to a petrol station to get some bits to eat. We all sat in one of our rooms chatting about the day and what we learnt. I think everyone felt peaceful enough, and very unified.
I had to change all my passwords for everything, using Scott's iPad and had a taster of some of the stress this robbery would yet be causing us. I put a status about it on Facebook, and then we all went to bed.

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