Did I mention the traffic on I-5 in Seattle? Seattle has beautiful highways, a gorgeous freeway build back decades ago when Seattle traffic was a lot lighter, and mostly law abiding. The nature of the Seattle people is noticeably civil, but the traffic has doubled, and doubled again, and the roads are no longer adequate.
They have plans, great plans for better public transportation, more bike friendly routes, more adequate secondary routes, and in the meanwhile – traffic can be gridlocked.
We haven’t experienced any of it. We’ve been so lucky, arriving at a relatively low traffic time, arriving in great weather so there are fewer weather-related slow-downs and accidents. We never had a problem our whole time in Seattle, including this morning, as we arose a little early on a Sunday morning to make the trek from Edmonds to Anacortes. We are on the 0830 ferry going to Sidney, on Vancouver Island. We made our reservation months ago, as advised. We have received texts reminding us of our reservation and the need to be there 90 minutes before departure, so we booked an overnight in Anacortes to be sure to be there.
Early Sunday morning, there was light traffic, and we zoomed up the interstate, arriving with plenty of time to explore before lunch.
There is so much to love in Anacortes, but one of the things in the old part of Anacortes is something called the Anacortes Mural Project 1993.
The intent of the Anacortes Renaissance and Revival Confederation, which Bill Mitchell helped organize, is where the idea of murals first surfaced. Intrigued, he brought several images to the group’s second meeting, got a thumbs-up, and by the third meeting, took charge. “I had the time and the background, education, and experience to be able to head up a mural project and I had a work space.” Equally important was “enough talented friends that I felt I could put together a crew.”
The Anacortes Women’s Club sponsored the first mural – Fred White and his 1891 safety bike – for a scant $50. Mounted May 3, 1984, the mural was christened with a bottle of Miller Hi-Life. In a shower of beer and broken glass, the Anacortes Mural Project was launched.
Murals are sponsored by families, friends, businesses, the City, Chamber, and local service clubs. Mitchell owns the murals, to insure they can’t be moved to someone’s private residence. “This keeps the project together but it also makes me responsible for the maintenance.”
One of the original goals of the project was to inspire the town’s merchants to spruce up their buildings. It gratifies him that a decade into the AMP, the downtown had a new spirit. “People had been painting their buildings and there was a new feeling of optimism downtown that I would like to think we helped to create.”
Mitchell meant to end the mural project years ago but can’t seem to let go. There are still too many characters and scenes he’d like to capture. And if along the way he can inspire other towns to give it a go and recover their mojo, that would be just fine with him.
This is a joyful project, as you can see, each mural sponsored by the building on which it is posted. It gave us joy, too, discovering as many as we could. They are everywhere!
“Setrocana” mystified us, until we learned it is the name of a made-up mermaid, and is the spelling of Anacortes, backwards 🙂
Anacortes is on a peninsula/island surrounded by Puget Sound water traffic lanes. If you lived here, you could have a view that changes with the minute, weather, water traffic, aquatic life.
“We had a phone call from the IRS,” I told AdventureMan as he headed upstairs for reading time with the Grandson.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you, I got one too, this morning,” he replied. “Is this about the lawsuit?”
“Yep.” I said calmly, continuing with my Honey Cake.
We’ve had a long relationship with the Internal Revenue Service. As with any long relationships, sometimes there are misunderstandings, miscommunications, even face-to-face meetings with questions, answers and resolutions. Our taxes are complicated by investments and a variety of retirement vehicles, and years and years of overseas living and earnings. It’s complicated. It’s a very normal long-term relationship.
I am posting this because this phone call is a SCAM. The phone call sounds very threatening:
THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING. THE IRS WILL FILE A LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU IMMEDIATELY! YOU NEED TO CALL 302-766-2673 IMMEDIATELY!
This is not the way the IRS communicates with taxpayers.
Please warn those vulnerable to deception about this scam.
Most people come back from cruises groaning about weight gain. We had no such problem I wore my FitBit and every day, we did over 10,000 steps without even trying. All these guided tours take you up, down and around; one day somehow I climbed 23 sets of stairs!
When we reached the dock in Seville to board our ship, we were delighted at how easy the process was. We showed some paper, they gave us a card, and as you enter, you are asked to use an antibacterial hand lotion. You are shown to your cabin; your luggage is already inside. Oh, we like this!
We have closets, cupboards and shelves, we have a refrigerator stocked with soft drinks and a big bottle of champagne to welcome us (we never did drink it.) As we entered, there was a notice that the spa had a special on foot massages, and I quickly called down and reserved for two foot massages in half an hour. We unpacked, and went to the spa to have our feet soaked and rubbed – sheer heaven!
Our steward, Sam, came by to introduce himself and ask if he could do anything. I asked if he could have the trash bin removed. I was joking, but by the time we came back from our foot massages, the bin was gone. I think that’s just a co-incidence 🙂
We had a large walk-in shower, which we loved, and here is another feature I always love – a pull out drying cord! You can rinse out a spill, wash socks, you can do a million things with a drying cord, and best of all, it hung high above the actual shower area, so you didn’t have to worry about competing with things that were drying. I know, I know, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.
Within hours of boarding, we had a big evacuation drill. It was truly hilarious, and I am glad they mandate these things. It is kind of annoying, but I like knowing my escape route.
Here is our view as the sun sets over Seville:
This is the Terrace restaurant, where we ate our first night on board:
And here is Seville, on a beautiful October night. I think that is the Golden Tower, where the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus stops. We are scheduled to leave on the high tide, early tomorrow morning, for Cadiz.
Did I tell you we’ve been stationed with two embassies, and at the second, I worked as a Foreign Service Officer? I know how busy and how harried the diplomats are, and I know how beleaguered the consular offices are with requests for visas and tourists who have lost their passports. They see it every day.
I lost my passport. My bad. Totally on me. I can’t expect anyone to feel obligated to help me out, but fortunately, there are mechanisms in place to expedite. You have to pay extra, but it’s worth it when you have a trip booked.
I told you about our run to New Orleans to submit paperwork and my delight to learn I would have a new passport soon.
I told you about the phone call telling me they needed a RECENT photo, not the same one that was on my last (never used, bright shiny new never used) passport.
I’ve been on edge all day. I’m away this weekend on a religious retreat, and I wasn’t feeling very religious. I was feeling nervous. I wonder if my passport reached New Orleans, or did it fall somewhere between the cracks? I wonder if Fridays are even work days at the passport center? What if it doesn’t get there and I don’t even know?
A short time ago, I got a phone call, from the same bureaucrat who called me about the photo. She was just calling to tell me that the passport is ready and will go out expedited this afternoon. She knew I would be concerned, and just wanted me not to worry.
I almost cried in gratitude. Who thinks of compassion when dealing with a bureaucracy? It was pure grace.
In the lifetime of our nation, we have elected some real doozies in high public office. Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors – some real characters. I don’t worry too much when lunatics run for high office, I thank God we have a solid bureaucracy, rarely corrupted; a bureaucracy that keeps plugging along when things get crazy. And thank God for this one particular officer who had a heart to reassure me that my passport is on the way. God bless her mightily.
It’s seven in the morning, I’ve fed the cat, made the coffee, fixed some cereal and taken care of first-thing-in-the-morning things so I can sit with my morning Lectionary readings, and as I start, the phone rings. It’s seven. In the morning. I figured it was an emergency grand-child babysit call, but the call is coming from New Orleans, an oh no. I know I need to answer it.
It’s the really nice lady who took care of me on Tuesday, and she says “We were putting together your new passport and we noticed you used the same photo you used on your last passport.”
“Why yes!” I said proudly, “when I had them taken, they gave me two, so I just used the second one.”
Big mistake. They needed a RECENT passport. My never-been-used-shiny-new passport was MONTHS ago and I need to get RECENT photos and send them immediately so they can compete the passport with the right photo.
I think about good old Donald Rumsfeld, with the things you know you know, the things you know you don’t know, the things you don’t know you know (love that one) and then – horrors – the things you don’t know you don’t know.
And then I head down first thing to UPS where the nice people took my photo and sent it off so that they will have it as soon as possible.
And . . . I am wondering what else is out there that I don’t know I don’t know.
On the road by six to make our appointment, every now and then things go just right and you can’t forget to be thankful. The process worked, and I should have my new passport . . . tomorrow! It is such good news I can hardly believe that things could go so smoothly.
And we have time for a really fun stroll through the nearby French Quarter, a drive through the Garden District and lunch at the Abyssinian Cafe; New Orleans has the nearest Ethiopian food to Pensacola.
The Cafe Abyssinia at 3511 Magazine, tucked back behind a shoe repair shop. It has a parking lot for outdoor parking, and outdoor seating for this most comfortable time of the year . . .
And back in Pensacola in time to make my late afternoon meeting! Life is sweet!
AdventureMan and I are planners. We are headed out on a great adventure, and the first thing I did was pull my shiny new passport out of it’s place, put it on my desk and work on other things. Actually, I was looking for something else when I pulled the passport out, and still had it in my hand as I searched for the wallet I couldn’t find, and as I was looking, I thought “this is stupid, I could put the passport down and lose it” so I took it back and put it back on the desk.
Then followed a morning of trying to figure out which bags would be the best combination for this trip, what to take as carry-ons, what to take for a handbag, what to use as baggage, what clothing, what needs washing, let’s go ahead and change the beds while we are doing laundry, and oh, my hair needs washing and at ten a.m. I realized I didn’t know where my passport was. It wasn’t on the desk. For six hours I hunted everyplace I had been, like, just how stupid to you have to be to lose your passport in your own home?
I spent another six hours the next day, and then last night made an appointment in New Orleans, the nearest passport agency, to get an emergency expedited replacement. I keep thinking that once we get the new passport, the old one is sure to show up, isn’t that the way things go? On the other hand, I can’t afford to count on finding it when I won’t be able to go on the trip if I don’t have a passport.
I’ve been beating myself up. I can’t believe this has happened to me, but every now and then, things like this happen to everyone. It’s not like death, or war, or famine, or those brave refugees just trying to find a safe place where no bullets are flying and no one is trying to tell them that the way they practice their religion is just not right. It’s a luxury, but one I need if we’re going to do this trip.
So instead of mocking me, or making me feel worse, AdventureMan reminds me that there is an Ethiopian restaurant in New Orleans, not too far from the passport agency, and we might as well laisser les bon temps rouler while we are in the fair city. We’ll get up really early, be on time for our appointment, have a nice lunch and a leisurely drive back to Pensacola. He always knows how to turn a negative into a positive.
And pretty cool that we can take a day trip to New Orleans, take care of business, have a nice lunch and be back home for dinner.
Not only did Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani rent this house before he fled the USA fearing arrest for reckless driving, but now Saudi Prince Majed Abdelaziz Al-Saud rents the same house and is arrested after forcing some young woman to have oral sex. She was seen escaping the house and crawling over the wall to get away. Sorry guys. You may get away with these things in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but not in the USA. And it’s just embarrassing to claim diplomatic immunity when it’s so easy to prove you have none. We have to play by your rules when we live in your country. It’s called being a good guest. Please pay us the same courtesy. It’s our country.
From today’s AOL News/Fox News:
A Saudi prince was arrested Wednesday at a compound near Beverly Hills in connection with an alleged sex crime after a bleeding woman was seen trying to flee the grounds.
Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud, 28, was arrested on suspicion of forced oral copulation of an adult, according to the Los Angeles Times. Police were called to the gated compound after a caretaker at the home reported the disturbance. The Times, citing jail records, reports Al-Saud was freed on $300,000 bail Thursday afternoon. LAPD officer Drake Madison told the newspaper the suspect was booked after 4 p.m.
Capt. Tina Nieto said the police department has a consul liaison that checks with foreign nations’ consulates regarding a certain person’s diplomatic immunity. Nieto said Al-Saud doesn’t have immunity in this case.
Tennyson Collins, a neighbor, told the Times he saw a bleeding woman trying to scale the property’s 8-foot wall on Wednesday. When Collins returned home from work, police followed his car through the gates and then onto the property. He said officers escorted about 20 people out of the compound, most of them staff members.
Police said Al-Saud was renting the home, which Zillow values at $37 million. Collins said different foreign nationals have been renting out the home for weeks at a time over the past year.
Earlier this month, a Qatari prince, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani, was videotaped racing a yellow Ferrari through Beverly Hills at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, blowing through stop signs and frightening residents. Al Thani later denied driving recklessly and claimed he had diplomatic immunity, Beverly Hills police said. Authorities consulted with the State Department and the Qatar consulate and determined he did not have diplomatic immunity, police Chief Dominick Rivetti said during a Sept. 17 news conference.
Al Thani reportedly flew back to Qatar before he could be arrested.
Sorry, Sheikh Khalid, you do not have diplomatic immunity and you are not above the law. This is from AOL AutoBlog:
A prominent Qatari national has reportedly fled the United States after a video ostensibly showing his Ferrari racing through the streets of Beverly Hills went viral. Although the exact identity of the driver remains unclear, it is believed that the yellow LaFerrari was owned by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani, a member of the ruling family of Qatar, the country’s former interior minister and a well-known racing enthusiast.
The video below, which has already attracted some 1.5 million views (but contains language that may not be safe for the workplace), shows the yellow hybrid hypercar racing with reckless abandon against a white Porsche 991 GT3 through the swanky Los Angeles neighborhood. The Ferrari is shown scraping its chin spoiler on the road before pulling back into the driveway (alongside a black Bugatti Veyron) with smoke billowing out its engine bay. Neither of the European exotics appear to show much regard for traffic laws, running stop signs as they speed through a residential area. The Ferrari appears to be wearing Qatari plates, while the Porsche does not appear to be carrying plates at all – just some racing decals on the doors and hood.
According to reports, the Ferrari belongs to Sheikh Khalid, but the identities of the drivers behind the wheel of either car has not been ascertained. The Al-Thanis are known for their supercar collection, which is shipped around the world for the enjoyment of royal family members. Their signature teal and black exotics are a regular site around London.
The Beverly Hills Police Department confirmed that, when approach by officials, the driver claimed diplomatic immunity – which the driver may not actually have. “It is against a federal law for someone to claim diplomatic immunity when they don’t have it,” said police chief Dominick Rivetti. The Ferrari was not, according to reports, registered with the State Department as belonging to a credentialed diplomat. Al-Thani has since reportedly fled the country, and taken his cars with him.