Archive for the ‘Alcatraz’ Category

It’s our eleventh day in San Francisco and here I am just starting to post about it!  We have been treated like royalty by my cousins Maria and Clare and my aunt Josie.  Maria has given us her lovely studio apartment to stay in for the time we are here, perfectly situated in the Hayes Valley.  It came stocked with all our favourite foods and Florence – proofed!  What amazing generosity!  Maria was worried it might be a bit small, but after 6 months of sleeping in the same room, including many weeks in a teeny campervan, this place is like a mansion.

Kids adoring Maria, San Fran Sept 2010

Conked out at Maria's, San Fran Sept 2010

Happy cousins

Maria and Clare were our welcoming committee at the airport and we headed straight off for dinner at Josie, Clare and Michael’s place.  Over the ten days since Maria has introduced us to all her favourite spots to eat and shop in San Francisco.  Our family is no longer all wearing the same quick dry pants and tops we’ve lived in for months.  Just in time too as everything started to disintegrate just before we arrived here.  Everything that is except the indestructible Kathmandu quick dry pants the boys and I both have.  Emmett is known for destroying all clothes within weeks, but he’s been wearing the same zip-off pants for our entire trip and they are all intact!  These things are amazing.  Having handwashed for almost the whole trip I can tell you that dirt rinses off instantly and they are dry twenty minutes later as well as remaining in one piece while on Emmett.

We are now the proud owners of two new suitcases and enough clothes to fill them, no more a back-packing round the world family, we are down to only a five day stop-over in Los Angeles before we return to NZ so we’ve been able to buy more than two pairs of pants and three tops each.  And what a fun place to shop!  Leah has been in heaven, and I’ve managed to find playgrounds or food near the shops to entertain the small people (and myself – my shopping limit is about 22mins on a good day).  Given that as a general rule most of our clothes come from thrift shops this has been a fun indulgence for us, it is obvious shopping is a major pastime here in the states in a much bigger way than it has yet become in NZ.

A real highlight of the week was our trip to Alcatraz with Josie, Maria and Clare.  Bede was completely fascinated and listened to every word of the audioguide, long after the rest of our group had headed for chocolate at the snack bar.  The tiny cells were overwhelming – it would not be pleasant to be resident in one of those for long.  Florence, who has taken great delight in always being able to track down a toilet on this trip, was astounded!  “Mum, lots of toilets in this place” – there was – one in each cell!

Off to Alcatraz

Emmett and Clare, Alcatraz Sept 2010

Convict cousins Sept 2010

Audioguide Boy

We also met up with several members of the moms list (an email list for LBTQ mothers that I’ve been subscribed to for 11 years) and have another meet up in the park planned for tomorrow.  It has been fantastic meeting up with women I feel I know well but have only ever “met” online and their lovely families.  Sue and Sarah even indulged Leah’s IKEA love last weekend which was awesome (not to mention ferrying us all to the BART station to avoid multiple taxis or waiting hours for the bus).

Leah’s brother Jeremy and his wife Anita met up with us here in San Francisco for dinner one night and then hosted us at their place in Santa Rosa later in the week – we discovered the 10 degree temperature difference – their place is tropical compared with San Francisco.  Leah braved a left hand drive rental car and right side driving to head out there, worth it for the Osh Kosh outlet store on the way though… not to mention the family hospitality!

Off to Santa Rosa Sept 2010

Wrong side of the car, wrong side of the road!

Lasting impressions of America so far:  The food is BIG, huge portion sizes and then heaps of side dishes that I can’t conceive of anyone actually finishing (and we’re big eaters).  Many homeless people (who eat the leftovers).  San Francisco is a diverse, tolerant place from what we’ve seen of it.  More people equals more demand for products often hard to access in rural NZ or Australia.  There’s a little organic neighbourhood grocer just down the road with fantastic vegetarian and vegan food that I’ve only heard of before – don’t think I could give up the space we have where we live for that though long term.

Cousin Maria has bought Bede and Emmett heelies and Emmett has spent the week showing his persistence – he is off now heelying like a pro, when just days ago he fell every time he tried to move.  He’s moved on to tackling hills the last couple of days and had a couple of falls from leaping onto the heels on his non-wheeled shoes and expecting to slide!

Heelies, San Francisco Sept 2010

Heelies day 1

Next stop Los Angeles and this time next week we’ll be on our last long haul flight for some time!


Read Full Post »


On Alcatraz the only place we went to was the prisoners cells.  There was a mass breakout but it failed there are holes in the floor from grenades.  2 bars on the guard walk are stretched so a person could slip through this was in the 1970’s.  One person escaped to Angel island his name was John Giles.  I got his dog tag I mean the original dog tag.

Read Full Post »