3 days ’til Spring

Spring is three days away, and this is what we woke to:

In disguise

and this:

3 days 'til Spring

and this:

A dusting of confectionery sugar

It is a pretty sight, I must admit, but it is noon and 2 Celsius (36F). Brrrr. We were warned. We’d been told that February teases with bouts of warm weather, like we had last week when it hit the teens (54F), and then digresses into wintry weather once again. On days of warm, sunny weather I ran outside without gloves and a hat, and I got hot! Imagine!

Today is the digression. It is still novel enough to inspire me to take photographs, but I imagine that if I had to drive to work today – like Ben did – on slippery roads, the novelty would wear thin pretty quickly.

Oh, yes, and I am mindful that I am beginning to think of 13 Celsius as ‘warm’.


As I have discovered, the Americans do not consider the 1st of the month to mark the first day of the season.  Apparently, March 20th is the first day of Spring here.  I stand corrected.  These little differences are getting curiouser and curiouser.

4 degrees of separation

Yesterday morning, Ben and I got up and went to the gym. This is not that unusual – he goes most mornings, and I often join him rather than going later in the day. Yesterday, however, it was 0 degrees Celcius when we left the house at 6:30, AND there was snow on the ground. It is a four block walk. We both kept our heads down and our shoulders hunched as the icy wind whipped around us.

“This is not the right jacket for this weather,” Ben said through chattering teeth. I was trying to ignore how the cold bit through my sweatshirt – or ‘windcheater’ as they are called in Australia. It was neither warming me enough to induce sweat OR cheating the wind.

There is a traffic light where we cross a busy intersection, and the wait can be minutes. We were lucky that it changed just as we approached, and we crossed for the final block of our journey. The beacon of the gym lights glowed ahead of us, and we quickened our pace. As we stepped through the double doors into the brightly lit entry, the heat washed over us and we both sighed, relieved.

I headed to the cardio equipment, and climbed on ready to take my body temperature from one extreme to the other. The long bay of windows overlooks Puget Sound, and interestingly, the path that runs alongside the water. I watched incredulous as runners, covered neck to ankle, made their way along the path in the 0 degree weather. “Crazy buggers,” I thought to myself smugly from the warmth of the gym.

Later in the day the sun broke through the dense cloud. I had walked up to the supermarket, as much to relieve the effects of cabin fever as to shop, and the fresh air combined with the milky sunlight seduced me into going for a run. When I got home I suited up – neck to ankle – with running pants, gloves, hat, and fleece, and headed out to the path alongside the Sound.
View of Sound

It was chilly, but it felt good to breathe the crisp air, and to watch the sun slip below the mountains in a fiery haze.
Last Glimpses
Sunset over Puget Sound

I did a 3 mile (5 km) circuit and returned home, feeling energized. After a quick restorative shower, I sat down to write some emails. I looked at my desktop, where a widget proclaims the temperature in Celcius. 4 degrees. 4! Four little degrees are what separate me from the ‘crazy buggers’ on their morning run.

I feel that I MAY just be acclimating to the cold. Just a bit.

This morning when we left the house, it was -1C and snowing. Although we dressed better for it than yesterday, and I am getting somewhat used to the cold, I still say, “Roll on summer!”

Settling in Seattle

I am a little hesitant to use the word ‘settling’, because of its connotations about settling down and settling for less – neither of which describes my move here. I am however, settling in.

After a fruitful trip to IKEA, I now have drawers, and having lived out of a suitcase for two months, drawers are more exciting to this girl than a sale on shoes AND bags. I could have kissed Ben when he put my bedside table together – in fact I did. I won’t say what he got for putting together my dresser.

Maui and Tahoe get settled
Tahoe and Maui get settled in Seattle

My boxes – all four of them – arrived bang on schedule. We actually picked them up after Ben picked me up from the airport. Over the subsequent days they exploded all over the living room as I pulled things out and exclaimed, “Oh cool, I forgot I packed this.” Then the contents made their way into drawers, closets and various nooks and crannies. I have had to nudge my way into some of the nooks – and the crannies – as I sweetly ask, “Honey? Do you think we can find somewhere to put this?” Once or twice I have suggested that something of his could be, um, ‘recycled’ (removed from our universe).

To Go
Piles of recycling and rubbish post unpacking

Ben, through all of this, has shown incredible patience. I think perhaps because we are making a home together here, which is a joy to us both.

Over the past week and a bit we have traipsed around furniture stores and sat on dozens of couches and dining chairs. Finally we have narrowed our selections and have ordered something to sit on and eat at. These items arrive in three weeks or less. Meanwhile we are making do with the recliner rocker, the Love Sack – a giant cube of a beanbag – and Ben’s desk. (I have to say that Ben’s desk set up is a little more than ‘making do’, as it is quite impressive. It just doesn’t make the greatest dining table.)

What a set up!

So, as I caught the bus to Social Security today and then walked home in the rain via the bank, the grocery store and the post office, I felt happy. Seattle is home now – for us both. But we won’t be settling down in the traditional sense. No, no. This weekend I am off to Las Vegas to see family and catch a show, and while I am away Ben is going skiing with friends. We will still be us – only with furniture.

So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

I have just had another brilliant Christmas.  I truly love Christmas.  I love the cookies,the music, and being with family and friends. Oh, and I LOVE presents.  Having spent the last two Christmases in colder climes, I was thrilled to be able to have a true blue dinky di Aussie Christmas – well, our version of it anyway.

The abridged day is:

Christmas Stockings, big presents, champagne brekkie of prawns, smoked salmon and fruit salad, Christmas ham for a late lunch, and much wine.  We also fit in a game of backyard Boules, Trivial Pursuit and some more wine.

And Linda
Aunty Linda’s first stocking

Stocking stuffers
My stocking stuffers

Dad and Gail opening presents

Christmas Brekkie

Who is the bigger ham?

Christmas Lunch
More food

Backyard Boules
Backyard Boules

That was all a couple of days ago, and we haven’t slowed down – oh no!  How much fun, laughter, food  and drink can one person handle?  It was lovely, and made even moreso by phone calls to loved ones, and the arrival of more loved ones on Boxing Day.  It was a brilliant Christmas, and it also was a wonderful send off.

My aunty

My next grand adventure FINALLY begins in a couple of days.  I said a sad goodbye to my family today, and drove the four and a half hours north to Perth, where I sit and write this.  Tomorrow I fly to Sydney for a last night with my Sydney family, and then on Monday I fly to the U.S.

These past months have been a rollercoaster ride, with every little triumph and setback seeming monumental.  I have cried – with sadness and joy – and laughed often – once so hard I made no sound.  I have used up my quota of swear words for 2009 and probably 2010.  I have packed, unpacked, and re-packed bags, boxes, and more bags.  I have lugged heavy things up and down stairs, and have given away or sold half of my ‘stuff’.  I have traversed the continent and the cities.  I have been on the go for what seems like forever. 

When I was on the south coast of Western Australia for Christmas, I got a glimpse of what ‘at peace’ feels like.  I was able to be still for many consecutive days, and to just ‘be’.  It felt amazing.  I am now looking forward to more of that feeling.  I know that it will come when I unpack my bags and boxes, and when I settle into a lovely apartment with the man I love, and embrace my future.  I feel nothing but awe and excitement when I think of the possibilities.  Now that the visa is approved, the flight is booked, and the boxes are in Seattle…Now that the car is sold, and I have said my good byes, I can look ahead and feel ‘at peace’.

I will miss my family and friends – you all know that.  But I will be back.  Ben promises, and so do I.

Me and Dad

On the home(less) stretch

I have spent more time on hold listening to Muzac in the past days, than in the past months combined. This is because I am having to inform everyone official – from my dentist to the phone company – that I am of ‘no fixed address’. I now have something more in common with the homeless many of Seattle than a love of coffee. Not only do I not have an address, I too am relying on the kindness of others in the following weeks.

Currently I am living with friends, Shaz and Aido (the Aussie forms of their Irish monikers Sharon and Aidan), who recently bought a big house with room enough for a wayward friend. At first it was a little surreal waking up in one of their spare rooms, as it is filled with my furniture, given to them on permanent loan while I am in the U.S.  So, my room, but not my room.

The furniture situation, thankfully, suits Shaz and Aido, because they are frequently descended upon by travelling Irish folk – friends and family alike. It suits me, as I love the blanket box my Dad made me when I was 21(although as a side note, he referred to it as my ‘hope chest’ – or rather, my ‘hope I get married chest’ – remember when girls had those?), and I will get to have it back when / if Ben and I move back to Sydney. I haven’t really thought beyond that, but I suppose if plans develop and we stay stateside or move to Europe, I could send for it, packed tightly with my priceless memorabilia and photos.

Which brings me to my ‘Where the heck is my stuff?’ list. This is a list of the locations of items kind friends are storing for me. Some things are on permanent loan (that whole returning to live in Sydney thing), and I am happy for friends to use them. Some things are tucked away in attics, sheds, and garages, labelled ‘Sandy’s stuff’.

Stuff deemed ‘takeable’ is sitting on a dock in Sydney waiting to be loaded on a ship that leaves for Seattle via California in about a week. Packing these boxes was like constructing a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. I spent two weeks creating a giant pile of stuff in the middle of my living room, and there it sat tormenting me, until a friend came over and said, “C’mon, let’s pack this stuff.”  So we did.

I constructed my jigsaw puzzles, while Patrice wrote down what went into each box.  She didn’t even raise an eyebrow when I called out, “Box three, hiking boots with egg cups.”  She has moved internationally, you see, and like me she knows that the inside of a boot is a good place to put something small and breakable.

So, the stuff has pretty much dispersed: given away, sold, farmed out, and packed.  At the moment, I have two suitcases full of clothes, a stack of paperwork yet to deal with, and a few personal items.  Oh, and a car.  A big, red shiny car, that needs to be sold in the next four weeks.  I am keeping positive on that front, as it is in good nick and looks brilliant post detail and polish.

Next week I move again.  After the nuptials of Yasmin on Scott this coming weekend, they take off for 6 weeks in south-east Asia on their Honeymoon, and I begin my stint of house/cat sitting.  Storm is a Russian Blue and only likes three people – Yasmin and Scott of course, and me.  It will be nice to have a cat around, as I do still miss Jessie.

After four weeks with Storm, I jet off to WA (Western Australia) for Christmas with my family, and then on the 29th jet off to the other WA (Washington State) for New Year’s Eve with Ben.  As I tick things off my many ‘to do’ lists, it is all sinking in, and I am getting very excited.

Ben told me that the other night he went up on the roof – there is a deck and outdoor furniture up there – and looked at Puget Sound under the stars.  In about six weeks, I will be able to that with him.  Yes, not homeless for much longer.

Block head

My brain is starting to work in a whole new way; I think I am actually accessing brain cells that have been hibernating for the past 39 years. I am now calculating distances by blocks.

Formerly, I used minutes, as in “It’s about 10 to 12 minutes away,” or kilometres, “Oh, about 5 k’s from here.” But in Seattle it is all about the blocks, because Seattle is on a grid pattern. Ben’s apartment, soon to be my home too, is on West Republican (even though I am not one).

From here, it is 3 blocks to the supermarket, 4 blocks to the post office and a cinema, 4 blocks to the gym (other direction), and 6 blocks to our favourite Asian restaurant and the expensive supermarket with the great wine selection.

Blocks do convert to time and distance though, because 12 blocks is approximately one mile, but of course I work in kilometres, so as I walk these blocks I start doing the conversions in my head. “6 blocks is half a mile and a mile is 1.6 k’s, so 6 blocks is .8 k’s and subsequently, 8 to 10 minutes away – at a steady walking pace.” Ben’s work is about 14 blocks away, so 2 k’s and a good 20 minute walk. Got that?

Last night after work, Ben walked further into the city to buy something, and because he is not well, I offered to pick him up (granted, in his car). This is where the whole block thing gets really useful. Driving in Seattle is easy. Downtown is rampant with one-way streets, but unlike Sydney and Perth and even Vancouver, every other street goes the opposite way. In Sydney, if you need to get to somewhere, you may need to drive 8 or 10 blocks out of your way and then cut back. I call that ‘being stuck in one-way hell’. Here, the most you have to overshoot is one block. Max. Now, that’s thinking.

I use blocks for running too. 6 blocks from here, on Queen Anne Avenue, is the steepest hill I have seen since San Francisco. And it is 14 blocks from the flat to the top. 2 kilometres! Oh, yes, that is a punishing hill. I walked it the other day – then ran it – in chunks – a few blocks at a time. Doubtful if I will ever run the whole thing all at once. I am not THAT much of a blockhead.

Third Date

I have been very candid about my month-long love affair with Seattle dating back to January of this year. We had a rocky start, though. It was a Seattle rain storm that took from me a favourite hat and an umbrella, but we soon made up and I embarked on a whirlwind romance with the city. I loved its restaurants and vistas, its culture and its people. I was smitten.

We had a brief fling in April – 6 days of five-star luxury while Ben attended a conference. We flirted, Seattle and I. I dressed pretty, I let the sunny days kiss my nose, and we drank each other in. Brief, yet passionate.

Now I am back, and this visit is a little like a third date. Now I know I am moving here, Seattle is starting to let its guard down, and I am seeing sides of it I haven’t seen before. Some are delicious, like the nooks and crannies of the Pike Place markets, where Ben and I bought aromatic oils and spices the other day, and some a little too revealing this early into our relationship.

I went for a run yesterday, and waited patiently for the pedestrian signal to change from red to green. The roads are wide thoroughfares – 6 lanes – so this took a while. I didn’t mind. It was a sunny day and I was in Seattle, working out new running routes for when I move here. I eventually crossed and started running at a warm-up pace. I got about two blocks before signs indicated that the ‘sidewalk’ (I read American) was closed and I would have to cross to the other side. SIGH. I hit the signal button, then waited, and waited, and waited. The light did inevitably turn green, and a couple dozen cars waited impatiently – or patiently – I couldn’t really tell as I jogged across the street. Of course, now I was back on the wrong side. And I was in ‘Butt-crack America’.

This is my affectionate term for those parts of the states – here in Seattle, or anywhere – that do not exactly show the country off at its best. That stretch of road, just three blocks from home, with its cracked pavements and warehouses, its homeless wanderers and youthful loiterers, is almost certainly the butt-crack of Seattle. I kept looking ahead to see where the pedestrian bridge Ben had promised was.

Like a beacon in the distance it stood proud and beautifully constructed, unaware that it was in the midst of decay and mess. I hit my third little round button of the day, and waited, and waited, and waited. “Oh, come the F@*k on!” I was losing patience. So far my run had consisted of two sprints and a lot of waiting. FINALLY the light turned. I headed up and over the bridge which traverses the railroad tracks, and started my ‘run proper’.

It is hard to marry the waterfront parkland with the street parallel, because they couldn’t be more different. On the other side of the bridge are tracks for pedestrians and cyclists, lush green grass, and park benches. On clear days you can see across Puget Sound to the Olympic mountain range in the west. The frightfully large seagulls of the northwest, duck and weave along the shoreline, and fishermen lazily dangle their lines in the water.

Once I actually started running along the waterfront, my tetchiness eased and I hit my rhythm. The air was salty and clean, and the sun hot on my shoulders. I glanced at the scattered few who were lying on the grass and soaking up the late-season sun. They had the distinctive look of ‘locals’ – comfortable enough in their environs to casually lounge around in public. I wondered when I will start to feel like that, but this being only my third date with Seattle, that is a little way off yet.

I hit a natural ‘turn-around’ point, and started running back towards the footbridge. I had already decided to overshoot it and find another way home. I knew that if I kept running and passed the apartment, I would get to another crossover closer to downtown.

Running back towards the city lends a spectacular view. The skyline has its distinctive icons, but there is so much I have yet to explore I wandered with my eyes, taking in as much as possible. I am starting to place myself within this city. I am learning street names, shortcuts and landmarks.

Just before the crossover to the other side of the tracks, there is an outdoor sculpture gallery. It is a favourite spot in Seattle, because it is a junction of sorts. The waterfront, downtown and our neighbourhood converge there. It is 5 minutes from the apartment, 5 minutes from Ben’s work, and right on the waterfront, where cafes and storefronts jut out over the water. Oh, and the sculptures are kind of cool too.

Not long afterwards, I made it back to the apartment with the sense of satisfaction I have after a long run, but also with something else. I am getting to know this city, much in the same way I got to know Sydney when I first moved there and discovered its many delights and frustrations.

At the moment I straddle two cities. I curse the Sydney traffic as I crawl along each afternoon, and think about living in a city where traffic is much lighter, and ostensibly we will likely live without a car. However, I know I will miss the coastal walk between Coogee and Bondi beaches, because there are few views in the world more beautiful. I will enjoy living in a city where there are literally 100 restaurants serving the cuisines of the world, but am mindful that the minor frustrations will reveal themselves soon enough.

No place is perfect to live in, but there is always more to learn about, more to appreciate and more to love. I think I am ready to ‘go all the way’ with Seattle.

P.S. Check out Ben’s FLICKR page for some more recent shots, including views from our roof.

Do what you love

I have a few mantras that I bandy about, depending on my mood, the situation, or how I am being affected by the constellations. One mantra, which forewarns everyone to ‘get out of my way’, is ‘People Suck’. I do not indulge in this mantra too often, because it is a little negative, and tends to alienate even my most loyal friends.

Another mantra, one I have mentioned here, is ‘Traveler, traveler, traveler’ which reminds me to have a positive mindset and to see people, places and situations with untainted eyes. It is, I suppose, the anti-thesis of ‘People Suck’ because it elicits empathy and patience.

But the one mantra that guides my current path with a firm hand, is ‘Do what you love’. I mentioned this here a little while back, when I was talking to a group of students about their choices for the future, and I had another taste of it the other night.

My senior students were showcasing the work they did for their external exams in Drama. We collated their monologues and short plays into a showcase for family and friends, and they performed under lights and on the stage, the way theatre is meant to be. At the end of the night, they offered some thank yous to staff and students who had helped them this year, and then my seniors acknowledged me. I walked up to accept their gift of flowers, and I started to say a few words, but some of those words caught in my throat. “These are your girls, and I know you must be proud of them, but they’re my girls too, and I love them and will miss them…” and it about here that my voice broke and I finished my thoughts through tears.

As many times as I say, “I have to get out of teaching,” I am really only ever referring to the mountainous piles of paperwork, politics and pandering that comes along with it. The stuff that happens in the actual room, the interaction with these young minds and spirits, I love that. It is just a shame that the profession comes with so much negative accoutrement, because the JOB, well that is something special. I do love to teach, and maybe I will be a teacher when I move to Seattle. Maybe I will find some other way of ‘teaching’, and working with young people. They are, after all, extraordinary. It has been my great pleasure and privilege to teach many of the students who graced my classroom in the past 14 years.

As I pack for my next trip to the city I will soon call ‘home’, I am more mindful than ever of this mantra. I will need to find work there in January, and I am starting the ground work for that next week. I know that it is a big move, and I am not sure what sort of work will be available, but the move is about ‘doing what I love’. And right now, that is being in the same city as Ben. A great job will follow…

Spring has sprung

Today is the first day of spring. And in Sydney, spring is my favourite time of the year.
Wisps of white
Dark mornings of drizzle give way to pink and orange sunrises, and the midday sky turns a vibrant blue. The air smells fresh, like grandma’s house when she throws open the windows and gives it a good airing. And in spring, I forget about all those winter afternoons I arrived home after dark to a cold house.

I fell in love with Sydney in spring. I had come here for the Olympics. I was a volunteer, so spent several weeks dressed in daggy chinos and a hideous, over-sized polo shirt with bright yellow sleeves. Nevertheless, it was easy to forget how ridiculous I looked in my white straw hat and bright blue bum bag, because the city of Sydney put on a bloody good show.

Each day was perfect. 28 (82) degrees, a light breeze and the aforementioned blue skies. Every day! It was as though the organisers had placed their order for optimum weather, and nature had delivered.

I was utterly seduced by Sydney in the spring of 2000.

I flew back to Perth post-Olympics and announced to anyone who cared (and some who didn’t) that I was moving to Sydney. Three months later, I lived here. I arrived on the 30th of December, because I liked the symbolism of seeing in the new year in my new city.

But here in my new city, in the middle of summer, reality bit – hard! Gone were the blue skies, and the gentle breezes. Gone were days of 28 perfect degrees, and in their place were the brooding, heavy skies of the Sydney summer. I had been duped.

You see in my hometown, Perth, summers are my favourite time of the year. The days are hot, yes, but the skies are clear, and the heat is dry. I love summer in Perth, but when I tasted spring in Sydney, and expected more of the same only hotter, I was being naive.

No, the summers in Sydney are grey-skied and humid. Sticky, hot days are threatened by low-hanging thunder clouds. And just when the air gets so dense you can feel it pushing down on you, it pours: fat, hot drops of angry rain that make the streets steam and the air smell like grease.

And indulge me for a moment while I mention my hair. A Sydney summer is the natural enemy of naturally curly hair. Mine grows so big in a Sydney summer, it needs its own postcode. Honestly, if I had wanted to live in the tropics, I would have moved to Queensland.

So, how do I cope with this abomination of summer?

I leave.

Ever since that first summer, I have actively avoided being in Sydney from late December to the start of February, which is fortuitous, because that is when school breaks for summer holidays. I cannot really see my principal being sympathetic to tales of woe about my afro. “But I simply cannot stay. You see, it is summer, and I cannot deal with that many bad hair days in a row.”

Summer is no fun when you look like Donna Summer.

I have spent many of those summers back in Perth. Ahhh, Perth. Perth is where summer was born, raised, and will never die. The beaches are powdery white, and the surfers deeply tanned. The air is briny, and the sky is so brilliantly blue, it is almost iridescent.
Cosy Corner

So, why has a girl so in love with summer agreed to live in Seattle? Isn’t Seattle the home of, well, rain? And isn’t rain the opposite of summer? Ah, yes, these are all valid questions. But you see, Seattle hides a secret. I does not actually rain there nine months of the year as often reported. It is more like eight months, but those other four…sigh…are beautiful.
Seattle Waterfront

So, when I move there in late December (that whole ‘new year – new city’ thing), I will take my umbrellas (plural, ’cause you never know when one will be sucked into traffic by a gust of wind), and I will look forward to the Seattle summer of ’09. I am promised blue skies, gentle breezes, and about 28 degrees. Sound familiar?

Mexican Jumping Beans

I am not a huge Willie Nelson fan, but I do subscribe to his sentiment, because like Willie I can’t wait to get on the road again.  It is time.  I have ants in my pants, itchy feet and can’t sit still.  Were I six and were my mother here, she would wonder aloud if I had swallowed Mexican jumping beans.


This happens to me when I am close to travelling again.  It is eleven more sleeps, which means I am in final preparation mode.


The past couple of months have been about the planning.  Ben and I have been online and on the phone, swapping ideas, websites and our latest toy, customised Google maps.  We read up and revise, and discuss and decide.  It is a fun process, and one that lends itself to building anticipation. 


We will both fly into Los Angeles where I have friends, and where we will stay for a couple of nights (a short stay, but we will be back).  We then fly to San Francisco, where neither of us has been, and where both of us are excited to go for the first time.  I bought us a tiny guidebook, but really, we are governed by the ‘laws of first-timers’.  We are staying near Fisherman’s Wharf, where we will eat sourdough bread and seafood; we will ride a tram up an impossibly steep street; we will see the Golden Gate Bridge and visit Alcatraz. 


Importantly, Ben and I have promised each other that while we are following these obvious tourist tracks, we will be travellers.  We will find wonder and fresh perspectives in our touristy endeavours.  It will be our mantra: ‘travellers, travellers, travellers’.


From San Francisco, we hit the road.  We pick up a hire car and will continue north to Seattle where Ben is due for work, taking five days to get there.  We have some varied stops planned, the first of which is The Napa Valley.  Oh, Napa – the scenery, the wine, the Chintz!  


In seeking out a Bed and Breakfast close enough to several wineries, but somewhat off the main strip, we viewed more shots of Chintzy bedrooms that I ever care to again.  Some rooms are even named after the Chintz: The Pink Rose Blossom Room, The Room with Two Many Pillows (Ben: “Where do we sleep?”), and The “Oh my, Grandma’s Sewing Box Threw Up’ Room.  Resigned to the fact that Chintz is a given no matter what, we decided on the place with a spa tub and gourmet waffles.


After being spoiled in The Napa Valley, we will rough it in a Northern Californian coastal town, replete with Redwood Forest.  Yes, we go from wine tasting to woodland trekking, a challenge for even the most experienced packer.  From there, ever north into Oregon, a state I will get to add to my ‘I’ve been there’ list. 


I have friends from Oregon.  They all extol Oregon’s beauty as its greatest virtue.  To honour that, we will drive the coast for as long as possible, and then head inland up to Portland.  At this stage all I know about Portland is that I should shop there, as Oregon has no state sales tax (and Washington State has one of the highest in the U.S.).  I will be as true to my wallet as time allows, for we are due in Seattle the next day. 


Ben has work there Monday to Thursday and then we will be able to explore further a field for a couple of days.  For me, four days alone in a favourite city is a gift, and then of course, we can head out to the wonderful array of Seattle’s restaurants in the evenings. 


We fly out of Seattle on a Saturday, giving us that night in LA, where I have been promised we will Par-Tay.  My LA friends are in the know, which is important when in a city of that size.  LA visitors without a ‘local guide’ can suffer from ‘Disney-itis’.  This is a condition whereby they think they have been to LA, because they stayed in Anaheim and went to Disneyland.  Disneyland is not LA.  LA is a vast and energetic city with much to see and do that does not include a giant mouse and mass merchandising. 


So, eleven more sleeps.  At this stage I write lists: To do, To buy, To pack, To take on the plane.  I am a list-maker in everyday life, but when in travel mode, they are even more crucial.  They keep me sane, grounded.  And for a girl who swallowed a handful of Mexican jumping beans and can’t sit still, some kind of tether is necessary to keep my feet on the ground – for the next eleven days anyway.


“On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again…”