Day 8 | San Francisco

Had a slow start today after yesterdays exciting trip on the BART and the subsequent late night.

We were planning to go to out and about so, off to the Servo/ Petrol Station/ Gas Station. You have to pay in advance to get the pump working.  We will have it all sorted by the time we leave! The other thing is that they only have the one hose per pump and you choose the grade of fuel before you pump. They also still have those pump locks so you don’t need to clench the handle shut during the pumping.

Our trip was to the Mall in Concord, which is east of Walnut Creek and about a 45 min drive. It was interesting looking about the major stores. The malls don’t seem to be built around the supermarkets as the Australian model has it. They are usually separate elsewhere. There are good and bad in both ideas.The Sears in this mall is one of the major branches and has everything from shoelaces to lawnmowers, everything but food. It was interesting to see all the different types of equipment that is available here (this is a more suburban area so there was quite a bit of doing it yourself going on) and a little odd to see the tools in the same store as the clothing, shoes, etc. In addition to the Sears there was a JC Penny and Maceys. I assume they keep each other honest.

In the mall there was a bit of a flap as there were photos with the ‘Easter Bunny’ which has been on since April 1 (like Santa photos but for Easter). While Rosie was in the shops Angus and the boys were entertained by the attempts of the photo people to stop the kids crying and look at the camera for a short moment. They were really good at it but they did have a hard crowd to work, and the long queue was not helping the mood.

On the way back we saw an accident and the subsequent traffic jam was horrendous (not on our side of the freeway). This much traffic backs up really quickly.

We stopped at Oakland on our way back in at the Bay Area shops which are quite smart and particularly the Barnes and Noble bookshop. It was a cold afternoon and it appears that there were a lot of people reading the book in the store. It was quite welcoming like that. There were the usual suspects of Pottery Barn, Abercombie’s, GAP, Old Navy etc and a few local things. O’Regan wanted to get some chocolate strawberries from a chocolatier (said choc-lay-tier) and he was told in the shop they were only $42 for 6, but they did come in a nice box, and no we didn’t get them, he was very disappointed. There was also a rock band playing enthusiastically as it was like 15 degrees, and drizzling.

One of the funny things we have noticed here (and in LA) is that people takes their dogs with them wherever they go, including the shops. Today we saw dogs in the mall, a book shop, Old Navy and also in the Walgreens (pharmacy, where they also sell food). Big and little dogs - at first we thought they were assistance dogs (some were) but soon realised they weren't, they were just pets, well behaved though.

We decided to stay here for dinner and had some fantastic rare steak burgers from this place called Buckhorn. It was really good but part of that was the fact that is was so cold.

We wanted to get some paracetamol from a chemist and so we let the GPS navigate us to a Walgreens which is a drugstore/ pharmacy over here. It lead us into the old Oakland and it was interesting seeing the difference between the renovated parts of the neighbourhoods and the older neighbourhoods. Across from the drugstore was ‘Phat Max’s BBQ’ which was advertised on a hand-painted sign on the front window of what looked like a house. Tourist caution prevented us from going in but this was a few metres from a major shopping mall.

Off to Six Flags tomorrow – theme park full of roller coasters.

Highlights of the day:

O’Regan – buying new shoes and buying a new game; 
McKay – dinner at the Buckhorn Grill; 
Rosie – driving through the suburbs and visiting a big Drug Store called Walgreens, kinda thrilling; 
Angus – that we found a really cool shopping centre just around the corner from our hotel – Bay Area.

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