I Should Be Grateful (and I am)

Our family went on an overnighter backpacking trip this weekend. The kids did amazing (we all did!) The trail was relatively flat, no elevation gains or losses to speak of compared to mountain hiking, so we trucked an amazing 18 miles in 2 days. 18 miles! With packs!

In the spirit of full disclosure and honesty Damien carried Brienne's pack for half of the second day. She burned her shoulders the day before and the rubbing of the backpack straps was painful for her. More disclosure: Damien has carried someone's pack (even mine) for a portion of the time on every backpacking trip we've done. That's just the kind of guy he is.

We didn't start out with the intention to hike 18 miles (29 kilometers). In fact, we had no distance goals in mind. Our only goals were to do what felt comfortable (not easy mind you, but doable), to be in nature together, and to have some fun. 

Over the course of two days we walked a lot (obviously), set up a sweet camp overlooking a lake (even if the tent site was lumpy with lichen, blueberry bushes, and other foliage) and went swimming several times (I even skinny dipped - eeee!).

At the end of yesterday as we were coming off the trail the kids were rightfully stoked about their accomplishment and we were all hungry as horses, looking forward to a post-hike supper and rootbeer floats all around.

And then we found our car. Broken into. The front passenger seat window smashed open and the valuables stolen.

Gone was our sweet little smartphone (oh I loved that phone) which of course we're not going to take hiking with us (duh). Where else were we supposed to leave it? Damien's wallet with license, credit cards - the whole works. Some cash - our money for supper in fact, and some of my stuff.

Thankfully, Damien's cousin lives close and we went there to regroup.

It could have been worse. A lot worse. I didn't take my wallet or keys on this trip (Thank you Jesus), so they were not in the car. The kids' ipods weren't found (more heaven sent thank you's). We've sometimes left cameras and computers in the car, if we've traveled a long ways to a hike. Oh my goodness, just thinking about that makes me nauseous. 

The funny thing is that though the thieves took my nice carry-all bag (a heavy duty LL Bean canvas bag embroidered with the Bates logo, where Damien used to work - definitely some sentimental attachment to that Maine bag) they took out my journals and left those.

That was kind of nice of them, don't ya' think?

There, left on the floor, in a pile of broken glass lay my gratitude journal (no I didn't snap a picture at the time, I was too busy swearing).

The irony.

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  • Natalia

    Natalia on Aug. 22, 2011, 12:08 p.m.

    So sorry to read about this - I imagine having your space violated was as bad as having things stolen.

    I hope you recover quickly, and the kids are okay.


  • Heather

    Heather on Aug. 22, 2011, 12:15 p.m.

    How interesting that they left your journal...i wonder what they were thinking about when they dropped it on the floor. And I wonder if they are thinking about the fact that they left that journal after breaking into your car. I'm sorry that you had to go through that though, never a fun thing to feel so violated.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 22, 2011, 12:51 p.m.

      I don't think they even looked into it but deemed it wasn't "worth anything". They also left my "catch all" notebook where I write anything and everything that comes to mind while out and about. That one is not so valuable to me.


  • Emily

    Emily on Aug. 22, 2011, 12:35 p.m.

    Oh, Renee. What an unfortunate way to end a joyful togetherness time. When things like this happen, there is a sense of violation. Two years ago, we came home late on Christmas Day to find that our house was broken into. Windows and back door bashed in. Glass all over. Our bedroom ransacked. The miracle was that NOTHING was taken. Laptops in plain sight. Christmas presents all over the place. Fudge and cookies left on the table, even! We felt like the Grinch paid a visit, we felt that violation, the fear. But we were left feeling so grateful for being spared and knew that our family was safe and that was really all that mattered in the end.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 22, 2011, 12:48 p.m.

      I remember you sharing that story with me. Violated yes. And that element of fear. But like you say, we are all safe and I am so grateful for that. This is the second time we've had possessions stolen from our car. The other time was at D's sister's wedding, in between the ceremony and reception while we were getting our photos taken. Both times in Canada, after years of living in the US, where supposed crime is more rampant. Another irony. What is it with theft and special occasions?


  • Nola

    Nola on Aug. 22, 2011, 1:32 p.m.

    I'm so sorry to read about your car being broken into. :( How sad. I am thankful though that like you said, it could have been worse. But still, that sort of thing is really hard to deal with. I haven't had anything major stolen from me but a few things here and there over the years and its always a sickening feeling since I can't imagine doing that myself. Once though I had my wallet in my hand and set it on the roof of the car, and drove off (not remembering) and then when I got home I realized what I had done. I couldn't find it when I went back. A few days later I got a call, someone had found it and dropped it off at my bank...everything was still in it and the lady at the bank said the person had found it at the side of the road near a ditch.

    How ironic though about your journal! Wow that must have been quite the thing to find.


  • se7en

    se7en on Aug. 22, 2011, 2:28 p.m.

    Oh I am sorry, and sorry that your kids had to go through that as well... there is an awful violation of some one going through your stuff and a fear associated with an event like this is hard to deal with by anyone. Really its awful and I hope you all feel a little less jolted in a couple of days...


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Aug. 22, 2011, 3:11 p.m.

    How frustrating! It's happened to us twice in the two years we have lived here in the pacific northwest....once in our driveway for crying out loud! It's actually expected here, and for that reason we don't leave anything in the car.

    So sorry this happened to you. I'm wondering if you have an entry in your gratitude journal that says something like, "the irony of swearing"...


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 22, 2011, 4:17 p.m.

      No, no such entry... I haven't updated my journal since the theft, haven't had time. Busy morning around here. In my defense, it was only one swear (smile).


  • heather

    heather on Aug. 22, 2011, 7:39 p.m.

    well that just rots. glad you are all safe, but yuck. not a good feeling i'm sure. hope damien was able to get all his personal things missing from his wallet dealt with in time.

    (how dare they interfere with the post hike meal!!)


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 22, 2011, 7:55 p.m.

      Tell me about it. That well deserved sub sandwich just didn't taste the same. And the root beer floats never did happen, we had to get home to get on the phone to start canceling all the cards. We gave the kids an IOU for the floats (smile). Most everything is taken care of now except the cost of replacing the phone, window, getting a new license etc.. No fun but like I said, it could have been worse. I am really counting my blessings of all the "what ifs" of the situation. 


  • Beth Wagenius

    Beth Wagenius on Aug. 22, 2011, 8:34 p.m.

    That really is too bad. Looks like you had a nice trip though, sorry to hear how it ended. I've been enjoying your blog, having just found it. I'm curious about your gratitude journal...is this where you record all you are grateful for? What a wonderful idea.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 22, 2011, 11:13 p.m.

      Yeah, pretty much. I was inspired by the idea put forth by Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are . I only read the first couple chapters before I had to return it to the library but figured it wouldn't hurt to start my gratitude journal right now, whether I've read the whole book or not. My journal (not sure how she suggests doing one exactly) is a list of all the things I'm grateful for, as they come to me. I'm numbering them, as I've seen Ann and others do. I also like to say a little blurb about the day, maybe the weather or what we're doing. I've noticed journaling this way really helps me on days when I need to focus on the positive. I did spend some time today adding to that list and I am so grateful the situation wasn't worse than it was. The journal I'm using to record this list was handmade by Amy. She gave it to me on our visit to Utah when we stayed at her house. I love it. 


  • Karen

    Karen on Aug. 23, 2011, 12:20 a.m.

    Oh, that's just rotten news. Brought back memories of the last time your car was broken into. Soooo glad your computers weren't in there. I am going to be more cautious in the future about leaving stuff in a locked, parked car. xo, Mom


  • Beth Wagenius

    Beth Wagenius on Aug. 23, 2011, 1:41 a.m.

    Well, I'm glad for you that your journal was left behind! Sounds pretty special. The book sounds interesting and I may see if our library happens to have a copy. Or I my just start my own gratitude journal. :)


  • Bethany

    Bethany on Aug. 23, 2011, 1:56 a.m.

    So sorry, what a nasty end to a great weekend! Beautiful journal, so glad it was left ... may the replacing of the other things be speedy and not too painful. Hope you don't feel too violated, it's a really yucky thing. Cheers to you.


  • Cindy

    Cindy on Aug. 23, 2011, 2:28 a.m.

    Didn't your car get broken into once before, Renee? So sorry to hear that it happened again!


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 23, 2011, 10:08 a.m.

      Yep, in Alberta years ago at D's sister's wedding. Cindy, I am sad that the black wallet with the stitched flowers (I think you said it was stitched by a ministry in China or something like that) was taken. I've used that gift you gave me for years.


  • Hikingmama

    Hikingmama on Aug. 23, 2011, 11:38 a.m.

    Renee, I am so sorry to read this. What a terrible thing to come back to after a great day in the outdoors. Take care, friend.


  • simon leblanc

    simon leblanc on Aug. 23, 2011, 2:31 p.m.

    Sorry about theft! Love the skinny dip; I've been advocating the beauty of the naked body for years; ain't we all beautiful!!!!! Whatever the shape or our body!

    Continue having F U N


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 23, 2011, 2:53 p.m.

      That skinny dip was very fun but guaranteed I will not be posting photos of it. I had Damien snap a couple of my bare backside while in the water for proof for future generations - oh yes, your grandma did go swimming naked while backpacking. Probably too much information...


  • Kika

    Kika on Aug. 23, 2011, 3:07 p.m.

    Sorry about your experience, Renee. Got back home and read this last night after several days away during which I had some anxious moments hoping we'd not have a theft. We'd stopped in one city for my son to buy some hockey equipement and clothes and had to leave that in the vehicle the rest of our time away. Acts like this are always so disappointing.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 23, 2011, 4:08 p.m.

      I know. It's not like we won't ever leave valuables in our car again. We go places, we travel and sometimes the car is the only place to store stuff. Getting over the "will this happen again" fear I think will be harder than the recovery of the goods (canceling credit cards, getting new ones etc).


  • Dawna

    Dawna on Aug. 23, 2011, 6:17 p.m.

    Oh, Renee. I'm so sorry to hear this happened to you guys. But, so excited to hear about the irony of it all. You seemed to have 'regrouped' very fast on this one. Way to go, sis.

    On another note, all I kept thinking about throughout this story was, 'how on EARTH do they find their way BACK after hiking that distance?' ...and, if all Damien had to do was carry a big ol' backpack -only on the SECOND day, mind you- well... no need for any disclosure in my opinion... you guys are a force to be reckoned with. ;-D


  • Penny

    Penny on Aug. 24, 2011, 12:45 p.m.

    Oh Renee, that's awful - sending you wishes for peace and re-balancing - something like this can really throw you off!

    Glad the hike was spectacular, and I'm sure in the long run that's what will be remembered by your young adventurers. :)


  • Naomi

    Naomi on Aug. 25, 2011, 9:42 p.m.

    Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! It's hard to imagine how some people can be so desperate or downright mean to steal from others. Hopefully someday soon those folks learn a good lesson in decency!


  • Nicola @ Which Nicola?

    Nicola @ Which Nicola? on Sept. 3, 2011, 5:34 a.m.

    I am so sorry for the downer end to a nice trip! We never leave valuables in car because break ins are just too common. If something has to be left, we bury it and make it as unnoticeable as possible! I am so glad they left your journal.


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