US and Canada 2018 – Missing the flight to San Francisco

A quick flight to Melbourne followed by a L-O-N-G but reasonably uneventful flight to LA – approx 14 hours.  The only problem was we left late and then took a while before we could land and then taxi in which meant our flight was an hour late.

Due to the fact that the San Francisco part of the trip came after the original booking of the flights to LA, we didn’t have a connecting flight to LA, just a separate flight, with a two hour window, which meant we had to clear customs, collect luggage and board the next flight – all within two hours.  Bad planning.

So, being an hour late and then customs taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R and us missing the valuable orange ticket that got you fast tracked if you had a connecting flight  (Jay did suggest we should have asked about them, which I did but WAY too late) meant that we collected our luggage at about the time we should have been boarding the flight.

Then there was the monumental walk between terminals with a 14kg backpack on our backs after a 18 hours in travel and transit time.  We tried, we really did, but by the time we made it to Virgin Amercia, we had missed the flight.  Here we are thinking “at least it is still Virgin, so they will be able to arrange a quick flight to San Francisco easily – right”?  Wrong.  For starters, Virgin Australia and Virgin America are not associated.  Silly us to think otherwise.  Second of all, it is Saturday and nearly all flights are completely booked (and they overbook flights here).

So after our very long walk to Virgin America, they tell us there are two options, we can go on a standby flight at 2pm, but there is no assurance we will get a seat, or we can get a ticketed flight at 11pm, which will mean we will miss the basketball – the whole reason we were going to Oakland .- remember, Oakland accommodation and basketball are two of the only four things booked at this stage….

So, we get tickets for the 11pm flight, with the plan that we will head BACK to the terminal we just tracked from to demand that they get us on another flight.  Back we trek and the VERY inexperienced assistant clacks away on her keyboard and tells us she can’t find our booking, even though I had given her the Virgin America flight details I had printed before we left home.  She keeps clacking on her keyboard and still nothing.  More clacking, more nothing.  The very little patience we started with is quickly evaporating…  Finally, the more experienced assistant comes to help and says instantly – Virgin America?  We’re not associated with them, that’s why we can’t find your booking.  We go on to say, yes, but it was your flight being late that was the reason we missed our flight and they can only get us on an 11pm flight which will mean we will miss the game we have paid hundreds of dollars to see.  Sorry, there is nothing we can do if we don’t have access to your flight information we can’t transfer you to another flight.  We explained we had already been down that path and they had checked all the flights that they were associated with and the only option was the 11pm flight.  We then asked which flights they weren’t associated with and something kept telling me we needed to go to Southwest.  Southwest had been recommended on Trip Advisor as a great airline for internal US travel.  Lots of affordable flights and the first two checked bags were free.  By this time we were thinking that we would do anything to make it to the game, even pay for new tickets.  I asked if Virgin America were associated with Southwest and she said No.

We were all pretty despondent.  Jay said “it looks like we aren’t going to make the game, so let’s just go with the 11pm flight because at least we know we have seats on that”.  We were flying in to San Francisco and our accommodation was in Oakland.  That was easily workable during the day, but arriving at the airport after midnight and then trying to get to Oakland to get to our accommodation after missing the game?  That sounded horrendous.  Maybe we could fly straight to Oakland, which is really close to where our accommodation was….??

Southwest kept coming to mind.  So I said, let’s just get to the Southwest counter and see what they can do and if that doesn’t work then, yes, we take the 11pm flight and give up on the idea of making the basketball..  The terminal is the next one over, so not too far to walk.  The boys sit down with our bags and I go to the counter.  An Angel in Los Angeles – a big, black man with a friendly face and a big smile listens to my story and says, “lets see what we can do”.  He then starts talking about delayed flights and transfers and San Francisco and Oakland and gets increasingly urgent in his tone.  He has to repeat it a few times, but I finally get it and I signal to the boys to bring the bags as I’m handing over the credit card.

Turns out Southwest Airlines have a policy that if any flight is delayed more than 15 minutes, they will transfer you to any other flight at no cost.  So, what this clever man had worked out is that there was a flight to San Francisco that was delayed.  If he quickly booked us seats on that flight, that we had to pay US$133 each for, he could then transfer us to the flight direct to Oakland, which had three spare seats on it, at no extra cost.  That’s what he did.  So, all of a sudden, the basketball was back on!  AND we were flying direct to Oakland, which meant we didn’t have to then get from San Francisco to Oakland, which would have probably cost us another $50 or so, plus all the time and energy.  Yeah Baby!  Problem solving Master points to Southwest Airlines, and trusting instinct Master points to me!!

A quick flight with a pleasant chat to Austin on one side of me (who didn’t believe that Eucalyptus trees were Australian and a lovely lady (who’s name I didn’t get) that was from Texas on the other side of me and we were in Oakland.  We collected our baggage (something I took for granted until I arrived in Hawaii four weeks later) took a cab with a grumpy cab driver, where Bruce tried to sit in the drivers seat first and then went to the passenger seat and he grumbled “no” and so we all squeezed in the back.  A 10 minute cab ride, check in, change of clothes and we were off walking to the stadium like everything had gone completely according to plan!

A selfie in front of the stadium:

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We go to “at call” and pick up our tickets (I remembered to bring the credit card I used and then they didn’t ask for it).  Tickets in hand and we’re in!

Free Golden State Warriors t-shirts on our seats a very welcome surprise.  We confirm that Steph Curry is still injured and sitting on the sidelines – insert sad face.  I took a photo of him still, at least he was in the building (circled below).

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I found lime vodka cocktails (yummo), Bruce accidentally puts chilli sauce on his hot dog (yowzer) and Jay and I share a nachos with nothing but corn chips and cheese sauce, very dull …

The Warriors lost, but what a great night.  Such a spectacle with drummers, contortionists and dancers in the breaks.  So glad we made it.  Shame that we aren’t going to be in the right place to go to a playoff game (although the wallet is thanking us).

We walked back to the Hotel after the game, Jay learnt all about what marijuana smells like because it was everywhere – including billowing out of cars.  We got back to the room and then we slept for 15 hours.

Once we finally surfaced the next day, we found a T-Mobile and bought SIM cards for the three of us for the month.  Jay was overjoyed with having unlimited data. We then discovered the Double Double at In and Out…. Uh Oh.

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Landing in Canada

I landed in Montreal airport after a very quick flight from Newark Airport in NYC and was struck with French instructions, French speaking people and I was hit with a moment of panic.  I’m here alone, so I have to figure this out on my own.  Where to go and what to do to get through customs, where to get my bags and then how to get to where June is going to pick me up.  How to contact June and even how to order and pay for a coffee.  I settled the panic and took it a step at a time and it worked just fine.

The only hiccup was that June was expecting I would take much longer to get through customs and get my bags (based on previous experience) so she was 15 minutes away when I got to speak to her first.  Great!  I said, time for me to get a coffee.

Off I toddle (thanks Mum) to the coffee shop, as for a flat white and you would think that I asked for an elephant in a cup.  He had no idea what I was saying.  Changing the instruction to a “latte, “o go” seemed to work.    The guy before me get a coffee and it was less than five dollars.  So, I go to the plastic bag filled with the Canadian cash of Mum’s from 1994 and pulled out three $2 notes – $6 will be plenty.  I handed him the $6 and he looked amazed and says “wow”.  “Oh, are they old?” I say?  “Yeah!  Are you sure you don’t want to keep them?”.  Nah, I say, I’ve got more.  I only found out later, that similar to Australia, $2 notes were replaced with coins many, many years ago.  He he he.  No wonder he was shocked.

So, coffee in hand I head out to where I told June I would be, and looked for a black Kia.

Not long and we were off, we stopped in a beautiful front patisserie and June got a coffee and something to eat and eight croissants to take with us.  Not really knowing where I was, or where I was going I happily listened to the family stories June told, I took notes, and we kept driving.

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Seven hours later we were at Roger and Jenn’s house.

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Roger is the grandson of Annie Ruby Crout.  Annie Ruby Crout is my Grandad Harry Scarborough Crout’s sister – same father – Harry Eden Crout and same mother – Marie Ogilvie.

This is Annie Ruby Crout, circa 1962 on a trip to Tijuana

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Back L-R Harry Crout, Alan Barry Crout Front L-R June Leslie Crout, Thelma Patricia Moore, Annie Ruby Crout, Doris Beatrice Longhurst, Bruce Milne

This is Annie Ruby Crout, circa 1980

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L-R Annie Ruby Crout, Thelma Patricia Moore, Doris Beatrice Longhurst

From left – Annie Ruby Crout, Thelma Patricia Moore, Doris Beatrice Longhurst

Roger had no idea my grandfather existed until a day or so before and yet, he warmly invited us to come and stay when June contacted him to see if we could meet up.  Because Roger is part of the line of Canadian Crouts that stem from Annie Ruby, he is a full blood relative, and it was very important, if at all possible for me to meet him while I was in Canada.  June knew this and so had worked very hard to get in contact with him to see if there was some way she could arrange it.

I met Roger and his wife Jenn and was handed a glass of wine.  June and I explained where I fitted in, which Roger admitted was still a bit overwhelming.  They were fascinated and so pleased that we had “reached out”.  They both have complicated histories and so didn’t really know their extended families growing up and Jenn said she has enjoyed meeting her cousins as adults more recently.

I heard about Jack, Roger’s father (Grandad’s nephew he never knew he had).  He was a character, by the sounds.  Roger told me how at 14 Jack took him on a road trip, and this is when Roger learnt to drive – across the country!  Roger then lived with Jack.  This is Jack, circa 1978

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Jack when he was older, circa 2002

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We sat by the fireplace, drinking wine and telling family stories and I met Frank, the big sook of a cat.

We enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal (something I was missing from my three weeks travelling) and more wine and we talked more before heading off to bed.  I was given Roger and Jenn Emily’s room who is an artist

 

The morning was cold – my first sight of snow

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We drank coffee, ate croissants and June shared some stories, documents and photos and Roger shared what he had.

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Original Marriage certificate Henry Edward Crout and Mary Cozens 1846

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Inscription on back by Henry Edward about the birth of his son Henry Eden and the death of his wife

 

L—R Henry Eden Crout (Harry Scarborough’s father) early in his military career when he was about 18 or 19, Harry Eden Crout, Emily Jacobs and Harry (June’s Dad), Harry Eden Crout (far left) as bandmaster in the 60th Battalian of the Canadian Army, 1915

Then Roger took June and I for a tour of their property on the “Polaris” – we rugged up – it was pretty cool and we assured it would be cold on the tour.

What an exciting (and a little hairy at times) way to see the spectacular property of Roger and Jenn’s.  We took photos in front of the fireplace, said our goodbyes and armed with a map, June and I were off to meet Jane – a Cozens cousin.

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