Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

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:

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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.

 

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

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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.

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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 🙂 but I split it with AdventureMan.

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

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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.

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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 🙂

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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?

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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.

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.”

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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:

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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:

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Mama ordered the soup and sandwich combination, so she had Seafood Bisque and an open face Seafood Melt, which she said was also delicious:
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AdventureMan had the Seafood Grill, and was almost out of his mind with happiness, it was SO good:
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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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The Edmonds Bakery has a limited number of booths and tables where you can sit and enjoy your pastry 🙂 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

Springhill Suites University Lake in Anchorage, AK

Who knows why we book a hotel we do? Most of the time, I go to TripAdvisor, and see what other people like. Normally, we eliminate larger hotels and look for something smaller and more private. If we are going to stay in a chain we usually go to a Marriott Residence Inn. This Springhill Suites was one of the top rated, and while it was not near the airport, we knew it was an easy drive to the airport, so we booked.

When we arrived, we found we really like Anchorage. AdventureMan said it reminds him a lot of Seattle; it still has a lot of buildings that look about a hundred years old, and then a lot of sprawling growth, with mountains in the distance and a great shoreline and harbor.

The hotel room they had given us was on the first floor, so we asked for something higher. The room they gave us was lovely, but right by the elevator, so we went in to give it a try before we accepted. It was silent. The rooms are SO well insulated we didn’t even hear other doors opening and closing. It was QUIET.

It was also uncluttered, beautiful and serene. We had wifi and we had a working area and a small kitchen area with a fridge, microwave and even paper plates and utensils supplied, along with, thank God, a coffee maker.

The toilet had its own separate compartment, and the washbasin and beautiful huge shower were in another separate room. We overlooked a small lake where people were walking around, running around and walking their dogs. It was lovely. Off in the near distance, we had mountains. We really liked the room.

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As we were leaving for dinner that night, I noticed that the bus had an interesting marking:

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We don’t know if the bus was owned by the Inupiat people, or they own this Marriott hotel franchise, which is very near the Alaska Native Hospital, but many of the workers were Alaska Natives. (There is a difference; I am a Native Alaskan, i.e. I was born there, but I am not an Alaska Native, who are the original inhabitants. Sometimes, on government forms, I am tempted to check the block for Alaska Native, but . . . I resist. I overcome that little mischevous demon who leads me into temptation.)

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Exercise, Hotels, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Seattle, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Waji’s in Seattle Airport

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Airports are so much more interesting and varied than they used to be (except the Pensacola ‘International’ Airport that went in the opposite direction, with chains instead of local specialties . . . )

 

If you are familiar with Seattle, you wii know Uwajumaya, a wonderful supermarket in the International district. Now, you can get your favorite to-go from Waji’s, wooooo hoooooo.

June 17, 2014 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Leaving Civil Seattle

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No, I didn’t take that photo, but it was exactly that kind of day. It was beautiful when I got to Seattle, it rained buckets one of the days I took my Mom shopping; she was such a good sport as we raced across the parking lot to the restaurant, both getting soaked, and then it was beautiful again for Mother’s Day and departure day.

Had juicy, laughing, crying visits with two very long time friends, feasted my eyes on all the rhododendrons growing so luxuriously, dancing with their intense colors in the Seattle gardens, watched the ferries coming in and out of little Edmonds. It was heaven.

Chihuly This is really a Chihuly rhododendron 🙂

On the way to the airport KUOW, the local National Public Radio station, mentioned, very politely, that there was a huge accident on I-5 going South, blocking all lanes of the freeway, and would I please consider taking an alternate route south, and gave a couple of suggestions.

So so Seattle. So civil.

Rarely do I hear a car beep in Seattle. People actually do the “after you” gesture – all the time. It takes some getting used to. 🙂

As soon as I got there, I opened the window where I was staying and just breathed the fresh sweet air. It always smells like fresh mown grass when I drive into Edmonds, and then the salt air. It is cool and refreshing. When the birds settle in for the night, there are the sounds of a thousand bird voices, loudest of all the seagulls, squawking at one another while the others are all doing sorter nestling sorts of sounds.

There are trains that go through in the middle of the night, but you learn to just wake up a little and say “oh, the train” and you go right back to sleep.

I took highway 99, which at one time was the major north south road, and while it was a little crowded, due to cars like me taking the alternate routes, it was peaceful and steady, with no delays. I haven’t taken the route for a long time, and got to see an old truck-stop my youngest sister mentioned, and I got to see all the things that are no longer there – the teepee pancake house, the elephant car wash sign. Things change. Taking 99 South took me a little longer than normal, but sometimes it can take a long time on the interstate, too, even without a major accident. Seattle, like Kuwait, has outgrown its infrastructure.

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It seems to be the story around the United States. Who is paying attention to the decaying bridges, the once smooth and now potholed highways? Who is checking the buildings in the abandoned city centers and malls?

When I turned in my rental car, the little girl checking me in was in hijab and looked Sudanese. She asked me where I was from, and I told her, and I asked where she was from and she told me Cleveland. LOL.

The Seattle Airport is a gem, full of art works, you just have to take the time to look. Off in corners, they also have free wi-fi, free power plugs, Chinese take away and quiet areas where people can read or use the internet. For some reason, I am TSA PreCheck. Someone said it is age related, but AdventureMan looked it up online and there doesn’t seem to be a connection. I love the shorter line, and not taking off my shoes.

I have plane karma. Just before the plane was loaded and ready to go, the two inside passengers for my row arrived – a basketball player and his also-tall Mom. Behind us arrived a Mom and her two babies – in two seats. The doors closed. There were only three empty seats in the plane, and they were across from me. The basketball player jumped into the window seat and the woman sitting in the aisle seat behind me jumped into the aisle seat across from me, and the Mom and her babies had all three seats to themselves, while the rest of us had room for knees and elbows and room to breathe . . . it makes all the difference.

I like Pensacola, and I like our life here. I am already missing the beauty and coolness of Pensacola winter, dreaming of the beauty and coolness of Seattle summer, LOL.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | Civility, Communication, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Road Trips, Safety, Seattle, Travel | | 4 Comments