Last week I was in London. I know this because my cell phone is full of intriguing photos. I would show them to you but I don’t know how to retrieve them. Everyone says the weather is terrible, but it was sunny and warm the entire time. Travel guides warned it was expensive. I exchanged the money I had for the trip into pounds and only spent that. The only time I absolutely needed my credit card, and it didn’t work for some mysterious electronic reason, was to rent a Barclay’s bicycle to ride across the Tower Bridge. It wasn’t a huge deal, I just walked across, but it would have been fun to ride instead. The best advice I got, prior to leaving the States, was as follows:
Arrived Heathrow 7am Saturday, totally intending to navigate the tube to Fulham. After flying from Seattle to Houston, Houston to Heathrow, I was happy a friend had recommended a car service to my B&B.
*** Note: DO NOT overextend your resources, whether financial, physical or emotional! Just because it is possible to survive that much traveling, doesn’t mean it is a good idea.
My car ride was just what I needed to organize my adventure pack, which had been my footrest on the plane, and gave me a chance to look around and focus my energy on the task ahead. The B&B in Fulham was a gracious surprise. It was a lovely three story walk-up row house near the Thames. I had chosen a room on Vacation Rentals by Owner. This find of a website has provided amazing holidays stateside for years. This was the first international listing I had secured. The Lady of the House had emailed a Whistlestop Tour of suggestions and I could tell from her points of interest she was well- traveled and informed. Lucky me, with the exception of an incredulous Vicar at Westminster Abbey, (he refused to let me take the stairs to the top of the bell tower, insisting I take the “lift”), every suggestion on Roz’s Tour was Absolutely Fabulous. Also, key to a successful trip is having a clean, welcoming bathroom, calm, restful sleeping quarters and exceptional breakfasts.
A solid Home Base brings me to the list of suggestions for Being Brave:
Prior to my Solo Spice Tour 2012, I had never traveled outside my home state alone. Even then it was always within the reassuring confines of my well-stocked car. AAA, 3G and VISA were my travel companions. You take things for granted (Like clearly marked road signs and driving on the right hand side of the road). During my days in the UK, I had a compass, coins, and water. Somehow my personal fortitude (and clear zinc oxide) carried me through. Just Be Brave and Ignore the Gap!
You're lying in bed and you get "the call". No, not that call, but a call you dread. My oldest daughter called me after i'd gone to bed to ask me if I could track her iphone with the "where's my iphone" app on my phone.
This is where I should probably tell you that this isn't the first time my daughter has lost her phone. If you're a parent I probably don't have to tell you this. She calls me in tears to tell me that someone must have snatched her phone from the tabletop where she was having coffee with a friend. And since this is a reoccuring problem, and since she is a pretty smart kid she has installed the app on her phone. So I log onto the icloud, type in her account and password and... BOOM! There's is a GPS dot of my daughters stolen phone on the move about 4 blocks from her current location.
So, unsure of how to proceed, I advised my daughter to call the police and explain her situation. She called me back in 5 minutes and conveyed their inability to respond. (I understand their limited resources, and that a missing phone is more of an "emergency" to a 23 year old)
Now comes the decision. Do I let it go and teach the tough love lesson of being more responsible? Or do I act on the anger I feel as a father and victim of a crime, with the information to right the situation and go get the bad guy myself? Needless to say I acted with my heart and not my head and put on my leathers, stuck a 3 foot ice axe down the back of my jacket and mounted my Harley.
Picture this, rolling toward Capital hill, 11:30 at night to confront the thief. I pull up to the GPS location of my daughters missing phone, the grass lawn of a church. It's quiet and dark, there's no one around and I can see a tent pitched on the dimly lit lawn. I take out my Mag flashlight to look over the lawn, hoping the thief threw the phone when my daughter activated the ping effect on the app. No such luck.
So I sent another ping signal to my daughters phone. And then I hear it. The pinging sound is now coming from inside the tent. Whoever stole my daughters phone is 10 feet away and I have them!
At this moment, I muster all the testosterone I can manage and step into the dim light of the church window to cast as omminious a shadow as possible. Ice ax raised I shout "Hey! You have my phone and I want it!" No response. So I yell again, "I want my phone!" and i knock on the tent post with the ice axe. Nothing. At this point I notice that the tent has a mesh top. I summon up the courage to step forward to look INSIDE the tent, not knowing exactly what to expect. As I look inside, I see... nothing. No drug crazed homeless maniac like i'd created in my wild imagination. But there was a backpack. a medium sized black backpack. And it was pinging.
I couldn't believe my luck! I had found her phone and didn't have to knock on some strange door or confront anyone to "do the right thing".
But where was this guy? Quickly, I grabbed the backpack and carried it to the middle of the lawn. Looking around constantly, I started to carefull go thru it's contents. Opening various pockets until I found what I'd came for, my daughters stolen iphone. Leaving the backpack where it was, I briskly walked back to my bike, started the engine and roared off into the night!
What a feeling! I had won! I had beaten the bad guys and righted the wrong! Then it hit me. Did I just do the stupidest thing I had ever done in my life? Did I just put myself in an incredibly dangerous situation, potentially risking serious injury to retrieve a phone? Damn right I did! It may have been a stupid thing to do, but I felt like the King of the world! And you should have seen the look on my daughters face when I handed her her phone and told her my story.
But what was I supposed to do? What would you have done in my situation? Did I mention that I felt like the King of the world?
Maybe i'm completely wrong, (definitely wouldn't be a first) but to me it just feels wrong to see Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler working the drive thru window in a BurgerKing commercial. It was already hard enough to see him taking the mega payday to schlep thru American Idol week after week. But to see him yucking it up to push chicken strips, to me, should be beneath one of the most talented American singer songwriters of all time.
I know that makes me a total hypocrite, As I wake up from a great nights sleep on my Sleep Country mattress, down another 2 lbs thanks to Healthe Trim, but this is Steven Tyler! It would be like watching Captain James T. Kirk sell cheap travel deals or hearing the great Bob Seger try to sell me a truck.
Okay, you're right. It is just me. What do you think? Is it a sell out? Or a brilliant move that I would jump on in a second?