Our Epic Stateside Trip, Part 5: San Francisco/Pleasanton

We were exhausted and travel-weary when we left New York and flew west. We landed at SFO and were met by our old friend, Joe, and his daughter. Joe started out as Sean’s friend from their days with Tucson Magpie Rugby club. (Of course, now he’s “our” friend.) He lives in a suburb of SF with his family and we were thrilled to get to spend about 30 hours with them during the final leg of our Pocock Family Summer Tour 2013.

We started with a little hanging out in San Francisco. Here’s Auric and Logan at a playground, burning off some of that air-travel energy.

08 We then met an old colleague of Sean’s from his NYC days, Megan, and her husband, Nick, and their adorable baby, Oliver. It was great catching up with them, but I managed to get ZERO photos of our visit. (I think, by this point–our last night on U.S. soil– I was officially over-whelmed by this trip.) And they’re an unbelievably photogenic family to boot! Anyway, we had a nice catch-up over yummy food.

Of course, what I do have photos of is the outside antics of three bored kids after they’d reached their limit of good restaurant behavior. Here’s Auric launching the paper airplane he’d made, wearing the newest addition to his collection of MTA t-shirts. (I know the “A” looks photoshopped on; however, I promise that this photo has not been doctored.)

02After a great catch-up, we said goodbye to Megan, Nick, and Oliver. Joe then drove us to their home in Pleasanton, where we were met with open arms and a bottle of wine by his wife Lori. After sorting out the kids and putting them to bed, we stayed up and chatted with Joe and Lori. It’s been ages since we’d seen them. It was fun to re-connect after so long.

The next day started for me with a short run around their neighborhood, after which, we walked into town for the big Fireman’s Muster. And what a Muster it was. I’d never seen such a mustery Muster!

03Ever since his trip to England when he was just two and seeing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, Auric has had a fascination with marching bands, Marching Guards, he calls them. So this was his look of fierce concentration as he watched the marching band prepare for their performance.

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07He caught me looking at him, so then I got this photo of a VERY happy boy. Firetrucks and Marching Guards, what could be better?!

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05One of the activities at the Muster was getting a chance to spray a real firefighter’s hose. Auric took the Michael Jordan, tongue-out approach to fire-fighting.

02It took a little while to wear off.

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04And of course there was face-painting. At this point, he’d never seen an Iron Man movie. Instead, in Auric’s mind, this was Iron Giant. If you haven’t seen it, rent it. It’s great!

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On our way out of downtown Pleasanton, we admired the antique fire vehicles.

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Back at Joe and Lori’s place, we had lunch. And then I spent some time on the phone with the airport and airlines once I realized that my wallet had fallen out of my purse underneath the seat in front of me during our flight the day before. After many calls, we reached a lost and found office that did indeed have my wallet! That called for celebration. The kids and the dads played outside and Lori and I had a delicious (and wallet-finding victory) glass of wine. It was a beautiful, relaxing couple of hours. The afternoon was warm. The summer light was long and generous through the full canopy of trees. It was the perfect way to cap our trip that was so full of great visits with the people we love. The bottom half of this picture captures how we spent a lot of the afternoon, fetching toys out of trees, fetching the balls we threw into the tree to retrieve the other toy, and so on. It was ridiculous and funny.

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We got an early table at a Mexican restaurant back in ever-charming downtown Pleasanton, our request since good Mexican food is hard to come by in New Zealand. We had a great meal before packing our suitcases into their van and heading for the airport where we would catch an overnight flight to Auckland.

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The day after we arrived home, I got an email from Joe. It had the subject line, “Miss me?” and a photo of Toothless, the toy that had been Auric’s souvenir from the Toys R Us in Times Square. After all of the drama surrounding Auric’s choice of Toothless (the very public meltdown), and his subsequent bonding with Toothless, I couldn’t believe we’d left him in San Francisco.

12But the story has a happy ending. Amidst all the activity that comes with trans-hemispheric travel, Auric failed to notice that Toothless was gone. (We’re were careful never to say anything to jar his memory.) However, a few weeks later, a package arrived for Auric from California. What could be in there?

09 Toothless! The forgotten lovey was returned! The boy and his dragon were reunited! All was right in the world!

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What a trip! I can’t believe how much we crammed in to 3 1/2 weeks! It was a trip full of great experiences with wonderful people. Thank you to all our friends and family who helped us have such an amazing trip. We look forward to the next time…

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