Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

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.

00SpringhillSuitesAnchorage

00SpringhillSuitesAnch2

00SpringhillSuites3

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

00SpringhillSuitesBus

00SpringhillSuitesBusCloseUp

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.)

Advertisements

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

Oimage

 

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

Seattle_Skyline_Referral_Postcard

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.

960x540

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 3.51.11 PM

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

American Shedding Reliance on Cars

. . . in bigger cities where good public transportation is available, at least. But across the board, Americans are driving less. When I was a young woman living in Seattle, I took the bus to work. It was fast, reliable and I got to read going to and fro. A generation later, my son would park his car at the park and ride lot and take the bus into downtown. When you have GOOD public transportation, it makes a lot of sense. Found this article on AOL Auto News:

Commuters are shedding their reliance on cars.

They’re not driving to work in their own vehicles as often as they once did. They’re not carpooling with other workers as often. They’re increasingly using public transportation or simply working from home.

Those are the conclusions of a study released this week by U.S. PIRG, which reviewed data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Census figures.

It says the proportion of workers commuting in private vehicles, either alone or in a car pool, declined in 99 of the 100 largest urban areas in America between since 2000.

Newark, New Jersey saw the greatest percentage of workers put down their keys, with a 4.8 percent drop, followed by Washington D.C., down 4.7 percent and Austin, Texas, down 4.5 percent.

In recent years, there have been numerous indications that Americans overall are shifting away from driving. The number of per capita vehicle miles traveled reached its peak in 2004. This study claims to be the first to specifically look at the decline in American cities.

“Many existing transportation plans continue to reflect outdated assumptions that the number of miles driven will continue to rise steadily over time,” wrote Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at U.S. PIRG and the study’s author. “Officials at all levels should revisit transportation plans to ensure they reflect recent declines in driving and new understandings of the future demand for travel.”

The U.S. PIRG study details changes that on a market-by-market basis. Among its other findings:

– The proportion of residents working form home has increased in every one of the 100 largest urban areas since 2000

– The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 of the 100 largest markets between 2006 and 2011

– The proportion of households with two cars or more decreased in 86 of the 100 largest markets between 2006 and 2011

One of the more notable trends appears to be the death of carpooling as a commuting option. Between 2000 and 2011, carpooling declined 17.8 percent, according to the U.S. PIRG study. Only 9.7 percent of workers now report they share rides to work.

The results are not entirely surprising: The number of Americans who work from home increased 45 percent between 1997 and 2010, according to an earlier study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Curiously, the decline in driving hasn’t dampened demand for cars. Automakers expect to sell approximately 16.4 million vehicles this year, according to the latest projections released earlier this week. It’s the best year for auto sales since 2007, when more than 17 million cars were sold.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.

December 7, 2013 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Safety, Seattle | Leave a comment

The SeaTac Food Court

“Terminal T? Is that new? I don’t remember arriving at Terminal T before!”

Not even two weeks have passed, and we are going through SeaTac again, this time en route to Alaska. As we enter “Terminal T” we discover terminal T is like saying “Shrimp scampi” you are saying the same thing. T is the Terminal, it used to be the only terminal. It’s what used to be the original airport before all the South Terminals and North Terminals and others I don’t even know. Oh yeh, A, B, and C.

But the Main Terminal is a delight. Seattle loves public art, as do I, and arriving in Seattle at the main terminal, you find schools of little brass fish swirling under your footsteps, if you think to look. These little touches delight me.

We are flying out of Seattle to Alaska, and Alaska Airlines flies out of terminals C or N, and as it turns out, our flight flies out of N, or the North Concourse. On our way there, we are wondering if we will find something healthy to pick up for our dinner, when we come to the Food Court.

We’ve eaten here before, breakfast. They have an Anthony’s-in-the-Airport, and my best friend recommended their breakfast egg dishes. I hate oatmeal, but discovered that the oatmeal at Anthony’s is delicious! It must not be good for me; how can oatmeal that is good for me taste so good?

And, as it turns out, Anthony’s has a take-out section! Woo Hooo!

20130818-155209.jpg

20130818-155235.jpg

20130818-155249.jpg

Well, hmmmm, not quite. They don’t have the Ceasar Salad with a piece of grilled salmon or halibut on the top, but isn’t salmon and chips almost as healthy? Although in intend to wait to eat on the plane, the odor of delicious deep fried salmon calls to me, along with a cup of freshly brewed mocha, and I go ahead and eat my dinner in the Seattle airport.

I love it that there are so many options. Anthony’s has a great restaurant, right in the old main terminal, with floor to ceiling glass, it is a glorious situation. There are other eating establishments where you can order and then sit in the same area at tables and chairs – Ivars, some Mexican, some others which are good, it’s just I love the take out from Anthony’s. Normally airport food can be a total drag, unless you go through Memphis and have some BBQ – or Seattle. Seattle does airport food right.

August 18, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Civility, Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Public Art, Seattle, Travel | , | 2 Comments

ARCO Gas Station: Something Doesn’t Feel Right

00ArcoReceipts

Just before leaving Seattle for the airport, I filled my gas tank. I went to an ARCO station, opened my tank lid and went to swipe my card when I saw a sign saying everyone must pay inside.

Annoying. It’s so convenient when you can just swipe your card at the point of service. I go inside and the Ethiopian woman at the counter asks me how many gallons I want.

I said “I need to fill the tank; I don’t know how many gallons. Swipe my card and then I will come in and sign the charge receipt when we know how much it is.”

She said that’s not how it works, they need to charge me and then they will give me back change. My bad. At that point I should have walked. I should have gone to the next gas station. I didn’t.

So I guessed 15 gallons, and she charged me $60. My car didn’t even take nine gallons. When I went inside, she gave me back $26.81 in cash, not refunded to my credit card. That is just such a strange way to do business.

It bothered me. What bothered me more was that when I got home and looked at my receipt, I had been charged $61.00. It’s only a dollar more, but the cost of my gas ($33.19) and my change back (26.81) add up to $60. Why was I charged $61?

Here is my dirty suspicion – she thought for $1. no one will bother complaining. If you read my previous entry, you can see why – my life is busy in its own way, but other people’s lives are busy in their ways. Who is going to made a big deal over $1.00 overcharge?

I don’t have time to deal with it right now and I will hold on to the receipts to see if I want to spend my precious time later trying to make it right. Or will I just figure my time is more precious than arguing over $1. in which case the scam works every time?

If this was a $1. charge for something, I don’t see it anywhere on the receipts. Do you? Why would they charge me for the inconvenience of buying gas in such a convoluted way?

I will NEVER go to that gas station again.

Second thought: Maybe I should just think of it as a charitable contribution?

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Customer Service, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Rants, Scams, Seattle, Travel | 4 Comments

Seattle: A Beautiful Farewell

“Oh! Look! The mountain is out!”

When someone says ‘the mountain,’ everyone knows what mountain you are talking about. It’s the granddaddy of all mountains, Mount Rainier:

00MtRainierReigns

Mount Rainier often shrouds itself in clouds and fog. A day when the mountain is out lifts everyones spirits. It was a beautiful last sight of Seattle.

August 11, 2013 Posted by | Beauty, Cultural, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Seattle, Sunsets, Travel | Leave a comment

ReVisit Mr. and Mrs. T’s in Edmonds, WA

You wouldn’t think such a good restaurant would be in a strip mall, but it’s a good thing we got there early. Within half an hour of our sitting and ordering, the place was packed. It’s a large place, but people just kept coming in. Friday night, and truly great Chinese food is also comfort food in Seattle. The clientele was probably 75% Chinese descent and 25% the rest of us.

“Let’s try something new,” I suggested. We eat at this restaurant almost every time I am in town. I miss GOOD Chinese food. “I read that we can forestall dementia by forging new neural connectors in our brains, and you do that by making yourself do something new. Let’s all try a dish we’ve never had before.”

My friends ordered. Actually, they laughed, they eat there more often than I do, and have tried almost everything on the menu. They said unless it were jellyfish or something of that ilk, it would be hard to find something they hadn’t tried, but they would find some things less ordered, but good.

This is what they came up with:

Fish Shanghai Style
00MrMrsTsShanghaiFish

Spicy Ginger Beef
00MrMrsTsGingerBeef

Clams and Black Bean Sauce (this was my favorite!)
00MrMrsTsClamsBlackBeanSauce

Delicious! Every bite! Or maybe that it is seasoned with a friendship that goes back thirty years or so 🙂

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Seattle, Travel | Leave a comment

Favorite Meal at Ivar’s

Ivar’s is a Seattle icon, with several different restaurants at different locations. The original Ivar’s Acres of Clams is still in downtown Seattle, on the waterfront. Another great favorite is in Mukilteo, right next to the Mukilteo Ferry, where they have both a beautiful restaurant and an outdoor quick-stop, so while waiting for the next ferry over to Whidbey Island, you can snack on fish and chips – or clams and chips, scallops and chips, salmon and chips, halibut and chips . . . you catch the drift. All hot and freshly made, there is no more wonderful fast food – to me – in the world.

During a break in my busy day, I had a crab-on-crab meal, Dungeness crab, it has it’s own sweet, intense flavor:

00DungenessCrabCocktailSalad

What you are looking at is a Dungeness Crab Cocktail on the left, and a Dungeness Crab Ceasar Salad on the right. Oh, yummmmm!

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Travel | Leave a comment

Seattle SeaFair Air Show

We were having a lazy Sunday when the buzzing started. At first I thought it was someone mowing the lawn, and then we looked outside – and discovered we had a world class view of the SeaFair Air Show. Oh, what fun! Single engine planes, bi-planes, and a military-appearing jet squad that I don’t think was our Pensacola home team, the Blue Angels:

00Airshow1

00AirshowTandem

00AirshowSingleEngine

00AirshowTouchAndGo

Boats tie up days in advance to have a key position for the hydroplane races; many of the people are scantily clad. This used to be more family oriented, but now the rescue teams are called upon frequently to rescue the drunks who fall into the water, or worse – hurt themselves while drunk doing stupid things:

00BoatsTiedUpForAirShowAndHeats

There is nothing so exciting as the sound of hydroplanes racing:

00HydroplaneHeats

00AirshowTouchandGo2

00AirshowAcrobatics

00AirshowRolls

00AirshowOverLakeW

00AirshowSeriousJets

Inverted!
00AirshowInverted

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Seattle | , | 4 Comments