Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Suitcases and a New Adventure

We are off to Seattle, taking our eight year old grandson, no-longer-baby Q, and his almost-five sister, N, for a great adventure. We have been taking them on trips for several years now, but were waiting for N to reach the magic age of cooperation before we endeavored to make a trip of this length.

I’m excited. These are nice kids, and we have a lot of fun together.

“Will we have to be quiet in the hotel room?” asks N, who is very perceptive, and has a great memory. She remembers our hotel rooms in New Orleans, and we have to keep the volume of our wild rumpuses down, and we can’t be making lots of bumps on the floor or walls.

“Yep,” I respond and give her the eye. N is a lot of fun, and loves figures of speech, as we do. Her latest accomplishment is “shooting daggers.” We can pass a lot of time at lunch helping her to shoot daggers with her eyes, and she has come close to mastering that fine art.

We are concerned about baggage. We will each have a bag, and we want to carry them on. AdventureMan and I will have to be paying attention.

Like Goldilocks, I found myself in the position of having bags that were too small or too big, and nothing that was just right, especially now that TSA is so particular about the exact size of carry-on bags. I found one:

It is exactly the right dimensions, and I added the “M” in silver nail polish to distinguish it from all the other black carry-on bags, in case I am required, after all, to check it. Another friend told me to add ribbons, so I will.

It sent me back in memory, however, years and years. Early years, traveling from Alaska, where the plane had a ladies lounge which even had seating, and cosmetics provided. We carried cosmetic cases with us on the planes. Contrast that with the 15″ ports-potties we are forced to use now, even in business class.

As we began our treks back and forth overseas, there was a baggage “limit” of two bags, and I believe there was – technically – a limit of 77 pounds. My sister and I, en route back and forth across the Atlantic to university had HUGE bags, and the kind people at the check-in never batted an eye, just told us other people were under the limit and it would all average out.

Hauling supplies to our overseas posts – things like chocolate chips, shoes for growing children, levis, all the things we couldn’t get in countries like Tunisia and Jordan in the ’70’s and ’80’s, we used huge Land’s End or LL Bean duffels, packed to bursting and strapped with luggage straps. Some held books; books are really heavy.

It wasn’t until we had retired from the military and began government contracts overseas that things changed. Maybe it was 9-11. Partly, for sure, it was an issue with human rights, and bags that were causing disabilities among baggage workers. Partly, too, I believe it was a matter of greed for additional profits among the airlines. More people squeezed in, less room for baggage.

Thus, my modest little carry-on, and the new adventure of rationing space and clothing to last the whole trip.

Each time we travel, AdventureMan and I try to spot the Arabs. It used to be easy. So many people would come to visit the USA, and we could usually spot them based on facial features and body language as well as clothing. Now, we believe there are fewer visitors, and fewer students, and they have learned to fly way under the radar. They look like us. And then again, We Americans came from someplace else, unless we are First Nation, so why shouldn’t our visitors look a lot like us?

At the YMCA there is a new cleaning lady, who says she is from Hungary, but I think maybe Bulgaria or Albania. She doesn’t speak a lot of English, but told me “the Jews took all her money” so she came to the United States. I don’t even know what to say when someone says something like that to me. What if I were Jewish? I’m still pondering how to react. I was friendly to her at the start, but something inside me turned cold when she said that. I don’t want to be anywhere near her, now. I wanted to say “this is America, we don’t say things like that,” but America has changed, has taken a very divisive turn, and we have a leader who does say things like that.

I think it has to do with the political climate, where we are quick to turn on one another, to call names, to point fingers, to assign blame – whether it is true or not. I find it disheartening. I like the safety of building networks, introducing ourselves, knowing we can count on one another for help when needed. Individually, we are all so vulnerable, but when we unite and care for one another, we are strong.

 

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August 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Seattle, Social Issues, Stranger in a Strange Land, Travel, Values | Leave a comment

Lost My Way :-)

Aren’t vacations great? I had such great plans; travel to all these fun spots AND read two books I have to have read by the time I get home AND do Trip Advisor reviews AND tell you about my trip on this blog.

Hahahahahahahhahahahahahahahaha.

I managed to read one New Yorker on my flight from Atlanta to Portland.

I managed to blog in Portland.

I even managed an entry or two in Seattle, where we were spending time with my Mom, who had been hospitalized the previous month with a particularly nasty bout of influenza, suffered two subsequent rounds of pneumonia and a couple small strokes. She was in rehab, re-gaining her strength, and shortly after I left, she returned to her home. My Mama has some amazing resiliency. She is 94, and she still has all her marbles. I am learning a lot about what having great genes and living a long life can mean – it takes courage. Mom has that in spades.

Once AdventureMan and I got on the road, however, I just don’t know where the time went. Certainly, I didn’t MAKE room to keep up with the blogging. We usually landed where we were headed mid-afternoon, and would explore. Then I would take a look at the next day, and AdventureMan would take a look at the map and we would plot our course. Then . . . sometimes we would take a nap before dinner. Sometimes we might take a walk. And then, by the time we finished dinner, had figured our what we might need for the next day (for example, we each had a medium sized bag, but some places we stayed didn’t have elevators, so we would repack what we needed for that night in a smaller bag and tote that in, rather than tote everything.

In the Fred Meyer’s in Lynnwood, we had found a noodle, so if a hotel had a pool, we toted the noodle in, too. It’s cheap, and it really makes for good exercise, and at the end, you can put it in the recycle and maybe someone else can use it.

So sometimes we would also tote in the noodle.

We also had emergency supplies: a bag of Halo’s (small seedless tangerines), dark chocolate, rice crackers, a bag of peanut M&Ms for AdventureMan (even the smell of them makes me gag), ginger candy for me. Mostly that stayed in the back seat unless we were staying two days or there was no breakfast included.

We quickly discovered our rental car, a Nissan Altima, had no pick up at all. Going up the twisty turny roads on Highway 1 and California 1, the car would go slower and slower. It was like navigating an ocean going vessel. We love our agile little Rav 4’s. We joke that we are a Rav 16 family; between the four adults in Pensacola, we have four Rav 4s. It is agile and fuel efficient, and comfortable for long drives. The Altima . . . is not any of those things.

Please pardon the two week interruption while we voyaged. I will start to catch you up now, I promise.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Blogging, Circle of Life and Death, Family Issues, Health Issues, Road Trips, Seattle, Travel | Leave a comment

The Mockingjay

 

I saw a set of movies a couple years ago, about a post apocalyptic America, where there is a capitol full of fabulously rich, fabulously well-dressed, ornately made-up rulers who entertained themselves with a yearly survival ordeal, the Hunger Games, fueled by “tributes” who were chosen from each of 12 districts to compete to the death, to the last one standing. One woman and one man were chosen from each district to compete.

Upon the inauguration of our current regime, I had to find ways to fight my despair and outrage; I had to find ways to join with others of similar feelings and counter moves which I consider to be against the best interest of my country, and who I have always believed us to be – people who believe in liberty, equality and brotherhood, people who have all arrived here from elsewhere (Immigrated), and people who believe in giving others a fair chance at the American Dream.

My best friend forever (we met in college) and I challenged one another; she added Planned Parenthood to her charitable donations, and I added the ACLU.

I had always thought the ACLU a little nutty, but when the first immigration ban went into effect, and the ACLU had the skill, imagination and resources to mobilize and to man tables offering legal help – FREE – at the airports to stunned arrivals being turned back, Β I was proud I had supported their efforts.

I live in a conservative area, and because I don’t want my car damaged, or any sort of ugly confrontations in parking lots, I don’t put bumper stickers on my car. There is one I have seen that I love:

I would never dare put this on my car, living where I live.

I did, however, buy a mockingjay Β pin which I found on Amazon, amazing Amazon. I can safely wear it, knowing it signifies rebellion, and no one here has a clue.

Wear it in Seattle, I learned, and everything changes. My best friend forever and I went to dinner, and I was wearing that pin. The waitress peered, and peered again, and asked “Is that what I think it is?”

I said it was a mockinjay, and a metaphor. She took our order, left, and within seconds another waitress appeared, and then a waiter. Each treated me like royalty, giving salutes, blessing me with “may the odds be ever in your favor.” They asked me questions I couldn’t answer; I kept explaining that it was my metaphor for finding ways to counter a corrupt regime, and I particularly loved it because it connects us all, young and old.

I had seen the movies, but now I am deep into reading the Hunger Games trilogy, so that I can wear the pin again, with deeper knowledge when I run into the people who really know all the lore.

May the odds be ever in your favor πŸ™‚

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Birds, Blogging, Books, Civility, Communication, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Generational, Humor, Interconnected, Leadership, Pensacola, Political Issues, Seattle | , | Leave a comment

Leaving Sidney on the Anacortes Ferry, Return to Pensacola

Life isn’t fair. Ferry lines are just one of those things. First there are not necessarily first boarded or first unloaded, or first through the lengthy customs lines coming back into the United States. We have a saying “Every monkey gets his turn in the barrel.” This ferry ride was our turn. It wasn’t bad, it’s just after all the thrills of this vacation, this was an unwelcome hit of reality. We had a special vacation, but that doesn’t mean we are special, LOL.

Leaving Sidney:

LeavingSidney

 

FromFerry

 

The weather has changed. It is heavy overcast. We don’t see any whales, not a single sea otter. It is a great morning for catching up on our reading.

We arrive in Anacortes and the customs line crawls.

We need to stop at the Marina motel and pick up the skirt and shirt and scarf I left hanging in the closet which they have bagged and tagged “customer will pick up”. I had packed lightly, and it didn’t take me long to figure out where I left my clothes; we had been in a hurry to be on time for the ferry to Sidney. But this is a great stop, next door is Bob’s Chowder House and Salmon BBQ and we are starving.

 

BobsAnacortes

 

BobsInterior

Bob’s Salmon Chowder is out of this world. SO good.

BobsSalmonChowder

 

Bob’s BBQ Salmon burger is also fabulous. AdventureMan ate every bite and said the salmon was perfect. It had a lemon sauce that was a surprise and a delight.

BobsSalmonBurger

My halibut tacos were the special dish of the day. My bad; I like lettuce in my tacos, not cabbage. I only ate the halibut, but I had also had the chowder, so I was OK. Oh, yes, they also have great big home baked chocolate chip cookies, maybe that is also why I was filled up πŸ™‚ but I split it with AdventureMan.

BobsHalibutTacos

AdventureMan spotted this sign, and took this photo. Whoda thunk that we would find a sign to Pensacola in the parking lot?

BobsMilesPensacola

This is the rest of the vacation. Really the “vacation” part is over, and this is all business. Driving through Seattle on I-5, thank God it’s Sunday, no big trucks but heavy traffic. It’s always heavy, unless maybe it’s 0430. Checking in to our hotel where there are a huge bunch of people about to debark on a cruise. Dropping our bags and heading to the Car Rental place to return our car. Taking the shuttle to the airport, calling the hotel shuttle to come pick us up. Back at the hotel, packing our bags in a hurry so we will be able to watch Game of Thrones. Actually, to our surprise, a good night’s sleep. Up way too early to catch the shuttle to the airport, a surprisingly easy time through security, and the long flight to Atlanta and the shorter flight to Pensacola. The taxi home. Sigh. The unpacking. The laundry. Every day demands. . . .

But God is good. My first night back a good friend greeted me and said “are you depressed?” I was so taken by surprise that I said “Yes!” and she said she always is too, coming home after a great vacation. It just felt good, my guilt at feeling depressed was taken away.

Our grandson has a cold and has been with us the last two days, to our total delight. His mother and sister came by last night to visit and to celebrate another stoke of good fortune which has struck our family. God is good. Thanks be to God.

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Food, Living Conditions, Parenting, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Road Trips, Seattle, Survival, Travel | Leave a comment

Farewell, Edmonds

We had a big mid-day meal, celebrating my Mother, celebrating just being able to be in the same room together for a meal, my Mother and my two sisters and some of their families. As sunset neared, we weren’t big hungry, so we just picked up some takeout from a nearby grocery deli and picnicked on the Edmonds beach.

I saw a wonderful photo opportunity; I was going to capture the Edmonds Ferry as it was heading into the sunset. Just as the ferry began its departure, a man stood in the exact place I had designated for the ferry to enter the sunset, on his phone, waving madly, waving farewell. Waving and waving. And not leaving.

So. When you can’t get the photo you want, grab the photo you have.

FarewellEdmondsFerry

 

Farewell, Edmonds!

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Humor, Photos, Road Trips, Seattle, Sunsets, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Busy Edmonds Saturday (and Mukilteo, too)

It’s a short trip, and we’ve stayed on Pensacola time, so we are up early on a Saturday morning; we know the Edmonds Pancake Haus will be open. I’ve been going there for about 20 years and it always looks the same. It’s an institution. When I lived in Edmonds, a large group of “8-o-clockers”, i.e. those who attended the 8 a.m. service at Saint Albans on Sundays would head down to the Edmonds Pancake Haus afterwards, hoping we could beat the Lutherans (or Baptists or Methodists or Presbyterians) to the coveted larger tables in the back room. There are a lot of Edmonds people up early.

The menu has undergone some renovations; prices up, a few things gone, a few added, but they always have Swedish pancakes with lingonberry sauce (sigh, yes, it is a Scandinavian thing). I think lingonberries also grow in Alaska; I can almost remember going out on a boat somewhere to pick them, but I was a kid and memory is fuzzy.

My memory of Swedish pancakes, however, is sharp, as is my appetite πŸ™‚

00SwedishPancakes

AdventureMan has his favorites, biscuit and gravy, and hash browns, and bacon, LOL. Now that we are all grown up and childless, we can do what we want. Sometimes, we even order dessert first, no, I am not kidding. Why waste calories on something healthy when you can have dessert?

00GaryBreakfast

From the Pancake Haus, we head for the Edmonds Market. “It’s not a full market yet, not until June,” Mama warned, but it was actually a fairly large market, with bakeries, pizzas, many flower vendors, a few vegetable vendors, and a lot of assorted vendors – soaps, jewelry, knit goods, pictures, plants and fresh fish and frozen meats. Lots to see, lots to buy; we found a bouquet of flowers just right for Mama, to replace the Mother’s Day bouquets which have bit the dust.

00EdmondsMarket

00BakedGoods

00FreshProduce

We visit for a while with Mama, then head out for a drive to Mukilteo, where we almost bought a house once. I still go visit that house from time to time, knowing it wasn’t right for me, I am glad someone bought it and is enjoying the view.

AdventureMan loves me, he suggests we eat at Ivar’s in Mukilteo. I LOVE eating at Ivar’s in Mukilteo, and by one of life’s amazing and wonderful coincidences, we are seated at my favorite table.

This is the view:

00ViewFromIvarsMukilteo

Choosing something from all the great options at Ivar’s is hard, and just this very day, Copper River Salmon has come in.

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 5.44.02 PM

I’ve been yearning for something else, however, something we can’t get in Pensacola. I would call it a Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse, and I think that is what they used to call it, but now they call it something else. AdventureMan ordered the same thing, and because it is messy (Alaska crab legs; you have to pull them apart and crack them to get the sweet crab meat out of legs and claws) they bring a large plastic bib, which I am not to proud to wear because cleaning crab is truly a messy job.

We got so into it, I didn’t take a photo, LOL, but here is the description:

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 5.45.43 PM

Actually, it was something a lot like that, something on the fresh menu last Saturday but not today. It was sort of like a ciopinno, something made specially for that day, I guess. It was so good, so good, we savored every morsel.

Outside the restaurant, fishermen are trying their luck at catching something as the ferry comes in and out, bringing waves of fish:

00FisherpeopleMukilteo

This is what the ferry boat riders see as they arrive, a view of Ivar’s from the water side:

00IvarsFromOverlook

And this isn’t even a holiday weekend; there are always lines for the ferries, but on weekends, especially during summer, those lines can take hours. Some people keep cars on both sides of the ferry, because you can always walk on; it is cheaper and you don’t have to wait in line.

00WeekendLinesForFerry

The sign telling you what matters at Ivar’s in Mukilteo:
00CopperRiverSalmonSign

As we are leaving Mukilteo, we have a stream of historic planes coming towards us; it is part of the historic flight air show out of the Mukilteo flilght museum:

00HistoricFlightAirshow

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Shopping | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Small Glimpses of North Seattle

“As Sallam wa alaikum!” I smiled at the Sudanese women coming in to their jobs in our hotel.

They stopped still in their tracks.

“You speak Arabic!” they said, astonishment clear on their faces.

“Only a little!” I smiled back.

I had a whole squad of new friends.

Now that financial times are easing, many hotels we have visited over the last few months are renovating and getting new mattresses. This was a real bonus for our Sudanese friends, and all of their friends.

00MattressTransport

00MoreMattressTransport

Have you ever tied a mattress on the top of your car and tried to drive? It is a wild and dangerous adventure; the wind lifts and pushes the mattress toward the back as you drive. Unless the mattress if firmly and thoroughly tied down, you are in for a wild ride.

And then again, if you are new in a country, and in need of a mattress, a wild ride is a small price to pay.

On our way back to the hotel, we see protestors in red shirts at every corner. This is not protestors Ferguson style, these are Seattle style protestors, making a big demonstration for fully funding public education, and all the signs are grammatical πŸ™‚

00ProtestorsFundEducation

We are so full from lunch that we just want a small dinner. We find a good Ethiopian restaurant listed near our hotel, and head there, but when we arrive, there is plywood over two windows and a sign saying “Sorry, dear customers, but due to car accident our restaurant is closed until it is fixed.”

00IvarsFastFood

We end up at Ivar’s Seafood Bar, which is quick food, but not cheap food, and very very good food. We are greeted by an older man as we enter, he says “Welcome to Ivars! I hope you have a great meal.” We thought he might be an official greeter, but no, he was a customer like us. We ended up sitting in a booth next to his, so he stopped on his way out to see what we had ordered (halibut and chips, smoked salmon chowder, Dungeness crab cocktail) and just to chat. It’s an Edmonds kind of thing, neighborliness and civility.

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Hotels, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Renovations, Seattle, Social Issues, Values | , , , , | Leave a comment

Arnies Restaurant in Edmonds, Washington

Mama loves Arnies restaurant, and specifically, she loves the bar in Arnies. It’s not that my Mama is a big drinker, but that the bar in Arnie’s has the best 180 degree view of Puget Sound and the ferries coming and going. Arnies it is.

We had actually talked about going to a really good Chinese restaurant not too far away, but all the reviews stressed that you don’t get good service unless you are Chinese. I’ve been there many times – but always with my Chinese friend. She did all the ordering. We think today might be a more positive experience if we stick with Arnies.

And a positive experience it is. This is the view from Arnies:

00ViewFromArnies

The food was awesome. Everything was delicious. Even AdventureMan was raving, and he can be a hard sell. I had the Pacific Northwest Seafood Louis, with salmon as well as shrimp and crab, and a cup of Seafood Bisque, which is always reliably delicious. I love Louis salads; and I can’t get them in the South:

00ArniesSeafoodLouisAndBisque

Mama ordered the soup and sandwich combination, so she had Seafood Bisque and an open face Seafood Melt, which she said was also delicious:
00ArniesBisqueOpenFaceSeafoodMelt

AdventureMan had the Seafood Grill, and was almost out of his mind with happiness, it was SO good:
00ArniesSeafoodGrill

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Marina Beach Park

Marina Beach Park has a wonderful rocky beach, tidewater flats and a few sandy places. There is a great playground with equipment for children (in addition to all the huge logs and driftwood and adventures you can have on the beach, upturning rocks and seeing what is crawling there!) There are walking paths, paved, so you can push a wheelchair. There are benches where you can sit and watch the ferries, or have a little lunch. There are picnic tables and a large grassy area for running and playing.

We finish our walk, and there is a wonderful kite flyer, using two controls, and he has a kite that spins and twirls and reminds us of The Kite Runner. A man in a nearby car tells us he wins kite competitions with his maneuvers:

00AlternateKite

00MarinaBeachSign

School groups are on field trips, examining the beach and its aquatic inhabitants, having a wonderful time. Lunch on the beach is a special treat.

00SchoolClass

Can you see all the loops the kite tail has made?

00KiteFlyerThere is a separate enclosure for dogs, where they can be unleashed and let to run free.

Edmonds is very strict about dogs being on leashes. Who wants to be walking on a beach and step in dog poop? Not me! But what I love about Edmonds is that they have created a very large space just for the dogs, and the dogs can play together, run together and have a great time. Everyone is happy.

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Quality of Life Issues, Seattle, Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Edmonds Bakery

There is more than one Edmonds, in fact there are several layers of Edmonds experience, but the biggest distinction is between the day-trippers and the locals.

There is a great Starbucks, and it is usually packed. There is another cafe, on Walnut, and it has wonderful pastries and a loyal clientele. And then, there is the Edmonds Bakery, where the locals go.

We go the first time because we are killing time before my Mom’s hair appointment is over and we can take her to lunch. We are also two hours past our normal lunch time, so we tell ourselves we can have some tea and a cookie just to tide us over until lunch.

00EdmondsBakeryOrdering

The Edmonds Bakery has the best pies, wonderful pies with a home-made taste, especially when berry season comes in. They also have maple bars, which we stop and buy for my Mom the next day, as she has always loved maple bars.

The Edmonds bakery also has a notable collection of cookie jars. Everywhere you look, a different cookie jar. I imagine a few of them are probably very valuable on the collectables market, but most of them are just so much fun.

Of course, I wouldn’t want to be the one to dust them all!

00EBCookieJar

00EBCookieJar2

The Edmonds Bakery has a limited number of booths and tables where you can sit and enjoy your pastry πŸ™‚ This is where the locals gather, and find out what’s going on in Edmonds.

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, ExPat Life, Food, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Quality of Life Issues, Seattle, Travel | , , | Leave a comment