24 October 2013

Asking the Right Questions

I was rushing to get ready for a meeting the other night, and in my rush my phone clattered out of my hand and bounced around on the kitchen floor. What happened next is why The Historian should really get major kudos for putting up with me.

(Via text)
Me: Dropped my phone.  Can I get a new one? 

Historian:  Uh, sure. Did it break??

Me: Not that its RELEVANT, but no, it did not break.

Historian: Hehe.

Now I'm wondering, was the breakage a prerequisite for buying new?  I mean really, the phone I have is two generations removed from the current version. Two!  I've never had a relationship with a phone last this long! 

Lesson Learned: Next time I'm sending him an email, because the whole texting thing was probably a clue that the phone was functional.  

08 September 2013


We have just returned from a Grand Scandinavian Adventure and I'm in that place where I'm happy to be home with my own bed, ability to laundry whenever I want, and my kitties.  The bummer is facing a Monday back to work, because it seems so much more painful after a vacation, no?

Somehow while we were away everyone also took a giant leap into Autumn.  Ads for school supplies are no longer on the air, and now the only thing people can talk about is football, and Fall party ideas. I was rather shocked when we went to Target yesterday and they didn't have Halloween candy for sale - clearly someone is slacking off in the ordering department!

And as I think about my dreaded first day back to work, I'm reminded of one of the things that I love about travel in Europe.  That is, the European breakfast.

Can there really be any comparison to the mad scrabble most of us do each morning for a meal? A muffin, bowl of soggy flakes of something or other, coffee. If someone is really ambitious they might microwave oatmeal once they get to the office.  

Would that I instead could look forward to selections of cheeses, fresh heavy breads, marmalade and honey, bacon and other assorted meats, fresh fruit, muesli and yogurt.  Eggs are less predictable for quality, alas, but sometimes you get lucky.

Unfortunately European breakfasts and endless summers are not practical to replicate in daily life, which is why I take a deep breath once in a while, and try to savour the moment.

02 July 2013

Professionalism at the Workplace

I work in Corporate America.  This was a deliberate choice, after years as a self-employed political and public relations consultant.  My income was dependant on relationships and victorious elections. And after a while, I'd had enough of the uncertainty.

So I bet on Corporate America, and its fine, though not my ultimate goal in life. Office culture is quite different than being one's own boss, and I've made a few observations along the way that I thought I'd share.  All of the examples are true.  And its a bit long, fair warning!

22 May 2013

Global Village

It is nice, once in a while, to be reminded that I am a member of the "global village."  

I have friends who zip around the world for work, whether they be diplomats, employed by the military, or corporate scions.  Another friend quit his job, bought an around-the-world plane ticket and left today for Tokyo, the first leg of his journey.  A friend who is rather a genius at making several possible variables and impossibilities do is bidding and is now in Denmark, the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to study nursing in Greenland.  

Which makes my life at a job where I do little other than stare at Excel spreadsheets all day, and field calls from people who wouldn't have to call me if they'd just read their damn emails (ahem), feel a tad boring.  

I admit it, I get restless.  I like change. I like to be challenged and to be made uncomfortable and to meet new things and make new connections.

Today on Facebook, I asked for recommendations for what parts of Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki we should aim to stay in on our upcoming trip to visit the aforementioned Genius Fulbright Student. I was hoping some of my actually Scandinavian friends would chime in with the kind of valuable, cost-saving advice that only locals would know.

Instead?  I had an experience that brought a smile to my face, and reminded me that yes, despite feeling a bit envious of my traveling friends, I am a member of the global village after all.

A friend who is an executive with a US-based travel agency chided me for not asking him for help, and forbade me from using AirBnB.  This is the same fellow who managed to pull a few strings and secure us a private tour of the Strahov Monastery in Prague.  I said "Thank you!" and am crossing my fingers his proposals fit our comparatively small budget.

Perhaps most remarkably, I was offered assistance from a friend in Egypt.  The man who was our tour guide in Cairo and Alexandria, offered to hook me up with friends of his in Helsinki.  Because that makes total sense, right? That my Egyptian tour guide could help my visit to Finland?  It was a nice reminder of the paths The Historian and I have traveled.

And this folks is why, even though the "frigid" people in Seattle think I'm a little weird for being so friendly sometimes, I always offer to help.  A kind word, a remembered event, an introduction or an invitation is what I appreciate and I know that others do too - I feel deeply grateful that people I've only met a few times will go out of their way to help me, so why wouldn't I do the same?

I like to think I paid it forward a little today by encouraging a coworker to think about going snorkeling if she ever gets the chance.  It had never occurred to her to do so, but it came up in conversation. She was hesitant at first, but warmed up to the idea. Making something exotic seem accessible, familiar, and possible is one of the great joys of travel, and I hope I made her feel that way today.

27 April 2013

Still rummaging in the corner

Continuing the journey then after Cape Flattery, we stayed for a few nights in La Push, WA (yes, that La Push) and used it as our base for exploring more of the area.  I promise I took lots of photos of the whole Stephanie Meyer Twilight inspired cheesy goodness, which I'll cover in my next blog entry. 

For now though, lets talk beaches and the Hoh Rain Forest.

La Push is surrounded by water which you can see from this map view.  It really is just a small town that, like so many of the others in the region, you wouldn't visit unless you were very into fishing, hiking, or the beaches. There is a resort there which is probably the nicest you'll find in the area (including Forks) but if you are thinking of going, bring your own food as the few restaurants close early, if they open at all.

La Push is bordered to the north by the Quileute River, and on the other side is the Olympic National Park and Rialto Beach.  The beach has easy access from a parking lot, and there is no entrance fee.

The town, and aforementioned resort are on First Beach, followed to the south are Second and Third Beach.  Second and Third Beach will require a hike to reach, but the trail to Second Beach seemed well-maintained and are popular with the locals and hikers. You can purchase a permit from the resort to have a fire on the beach, and inquire about camping.

We also did a day trip to the Hoh Rain Forest within Olympic National Park. They have several short hikes as well as longer backpacking trips available.  And the usual National Park Services goodness - friendly rangers, critters that beg by the picnic areas, good ecological interpretation and elk that nonchalantly grazed by the road while we tourists snapped photos. It felt mysterious, old, and still even while teeming with life all around us and I highly recommend it. Most of my photos though are of the small details, as it is really hard to show in a picture just how enormous those trees really are.  

First Beach, Resort, looking north.

First Beach, looking south.

The boy clambering on this log looked to be about eight, 
if that gives you an idea of its size.

First Beach

Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach
Second Beach
Second Beach
The magical road through to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. 

Every National Park has a "Hall of..." something.

Life, from a fallen tree.

No fairy or hobbit sightings, darn it.

21 April 2013

Exploring the Corners of the United States

The Historian and I took a long weekend away in March, and wandered up to Cape Flattery, and down through Forks and La Push, and into the Hoh Rainforest.  

Traveling to this area from Seattle needs at least two nights to avoid very long days - as with most rural areas there is a lot of driving between sites and really couldn't be accomplished in a day.  

We started off going through Port Angeles, then along the north coast through Clallam Bay and Seiku and made it to the Cape in late afternoon.  Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost corner of the contiguous United States, and is contained within the lands of the Makah Reservation.  (In fact, we traveled through four reservations on the trip Makah, QuileuteJamestown S'Klallam and Elwha.)  
Doubtless Ms. Salmon frowns due to the indignity of having to wear clothes.

In the future I'd try to get there in the morning, as the late afternoon sun made for a lot of back-lit photos but it was still beautiful.  To travel to the Cape, visitors are required to purchase a $10 pass from the local store, and we found the Makah to be exceptionally warm, friendly, and chatty people.  When the restaurant we tried to go to was closed, one of the locals spotted us, asked if we were hungry, and suggested we join everyone at the community center to watch a basketball game.  Utterly charming.  

I also highly recommend the Makah Cultural and Research Center.  In less than two hours you can see a well-curated small museum whose focus is artifacts from the Ozette Archaeological Site.  Approximately 500 years ago, six longhouses were buried by a massive mudslide, and therefore preserved until 1970 when a massive storm uncovered the first artifacts.  The museum is well curated, and showcases the processes by which the people manufactured tools, etc.  America's own mini-Pompeii.

Views from Cape Flattery.

Tatoosh Island emerges from the fog, Cape Flattery.
There is a lighthouse there as well, and had been used by the Makah
as a launch point for whale hunts.

Hobuck Beach, Makah Reservation
A study in geology, Hobuck Beach.

10 February 2013

Glad to be on the same team as Kid President.

Something to think about the next time I'm utterly exhausted from all that I'm trying to do.  

01 January 2013

Happy New Year!

I've added this year's holiday card below.  It is a photo The Historian took in Belize - we had four amazing days of that view while there.  It was one of the few places I've been where I can definitely say I'd like to go back.  (It probably helps that Belize is surprisingly inexpensive to get to from Seattle.)

I feel a bit like a dinosaur still doing holiday cards - especially for people our age.  But I like the idea of doing this, to keep in touch with people I care about but perhaps don't talk to as often as I should.  

We also do New Year's cards because a) they're non-denominational b) they can justifiably be later than everyone's Christmas cards and c) we can totally cheat and just copy the return address of the cards we get and send ours right out.  Win.