North By Southwest

Sydney is insane. Crazy, crazy busy. But that’s for later.

I wrapped up my time in Melbourne by getting absurdly drunk in the hostel bar with my new friends Katie (the bartender), Rubin (her boyfriend) and eventually Jones who might have been called something different, but I couldn’t tell through his accent.

The bar the hostel was completely dead, but I had decided I needed to meet some people and have some drinks, so I saddled up to the bar and ordered a pint of Tooheys. After I asked how to order, of course. The various sizes in Melbourne are a pot, which is about a half pint, a pint which is a pint and a jug which is a small pitcher. About two pints. I eventually started chatting with the above mentioned crew and ended up having a great time. We capped the night with a few games of pool, all of which I won, but I think my opponent Jones let me. Anyway, it was a good night.

Before going off to the bar to get hammered I booked a day tour for Phillip Island to see the fairy penguins make their daily attack on the beach. Every day, before the sun rises the smallest penguins in the world go out to sea to eat and eat and eat, and then all at once, as soon as the sun sets they come floating ashore and storm the beach to head back to their little homes and feed their young. It is without a doubt the cutest thing anywhere, ever.

On the way to see the penguins we stopped at a winery for a quick wine tasting. It was terrible. The wine just sucked to my taste. Sorry. Then we went to a wildlife park where we got to have our picture taken with a koala, feel up some wombats, romp around with some kangaroos and just generally bath in wildlife. The roos were of course the highlight, since we were allowed in their area to feed and play with them. All in all they were super cool but those fuckers have some giant claws on them and the bigger ones can get pretty aggressive when they want some chow.

We also saw a tassie (tasmanian) devil and learned about him. They are all dying from a disease that is passed via saliva and unfortunately the devils tend to swap a lot of saliva. They don’t really spin around in circles like Taz does but they really tear into their chow and are constantly biting it, each other and themselves. We also learned they can’t see for shit but can smell and hear really well. They move up to 30 kilometers a night in hunting and only eat already dead chow. The one we saw was in a pretty large cage, but certainly not 30km large so he ran in circles the entire time sniffing up a storm. I took a video of him, which I’ll post soon.

After the wildlife park we had a quick lunch and then were taken to an airport to have the option of a helicopter ride for an extra $60. It sounded cool, but I had already paid $99 for the tour and didn’t want to spend any more. Plus at least two people had to go and no one else was interested. So we headed off to a surf beach on Phillip Island to… waste time. It was a really gorgeous beach though, as you can see from the pictures.

Then it was off to Seal Rocks, where I saw no seals, and The Nobbies which were beautiful and then to the main attraction!

I won’t write pages about the penguins, but man they are cool. After they got up on the beach to their little huts they stood outside singing, trying to attract a mate. It was really pretty incredible and even though it’s a massive, massive tourist trap I totally recommend it. Skip the tour if you’ve got access to a car. It’s only $16 or something to watch the penguins. Oh, and there’s no taking pictures at all, so sorry about that.
So that was pretty much it for me in Melbourne. The morning before the penguins I wandered into a travel agency and picked up a ticket to Sydney. I was getting a little bored of Melbourne, and I figured if I am gonna suffer in a big city it might as well be THE big city.

And big it is! I grabbed a hostel in King Cross, which is east of the city center and had a free shuttle take me there. After settling in for a bit I found the entrance to the underground (subway, trains, whatever) and bought a return ticket for Town Hall, which is the main train interchange for the city lines. When I got there and walked out into the city I basically turned around and fled in terror. Probably not a good idea to have popped out right during the rush. It was completely crazy, and dark and I just wasn’t ready to face it just yet. So I wandered back to my hostel, got my laptop and here I sit, down the street catching up.

Tomorrow I’ll get down to Sydney proper and see what there is to see. I know I am definitely planning to go out of town in the next few days to the Blue Mountains and maybe go do some caving too. And I hear there’s some kind of opera thing on the harbor I should look at.

That’s it for now. I’m kinda beat for no good reason at all and am gonna call it an early night.  I imagine I’ll be doing plenty of walking tomorrow, and maybe some bridge climbing. There is a tour that lets you scale the Harbor Bridge and it looks pretty awesome scary. Make sure you check out the latest batch of pictures. There are some good ones in there, if I can say so myself.

Melbourne and The Dandenongs

It takes a little while to get used to this lifestyle, but I’m getting there. You have to get used to wearing the same shirt a few times and maybe not always smelling your best. You get used to being a little grossed out by the bathrooms you have to use, and then being a little less grossed out and then eventually accepting it. I’m getting there, with much thanks to the place I am staying, which is pretty bad 🙂

Anyway! It’s been a fun few days. I guess it was Saturday that I moved up to Melbourne, and I didn’t do a whole lot that day. Wandered around town, and checked out some of the sights. Ended up in bed pretty early. I did find an Internet cafe where I could hook up my laptop, so that was great. It’s nice to be able to check my email and do downloads with my laptop and such.

Sunday morning I got up fairly early and did a little shopping. I had to get some decent shoes that would last me this trip. I had been wearing my trusty Converse All Stars, which while stylish, are not great for putting down the miles. Err, kilometers. I finally ended up paying way too much for a pair of Merrell Chameleons, which are good for city walking and some light hiking. They were expensive but my feet have been worshiping me since, so that’s great.

With good shoes I was ready to get out of the city a bit. I caught a train to Upper Ferntree Gully, which is about an hour east of the city. It’s at the base of the Dandenong Mountains and I had read about some excellent hiking. I’m not exactly Mr. Hiking but I intend to be before I come home.

I found a visitors center that gave me a map and an idea and before long I was making my way up the mountain. There was a pretty steep grade on the path I chose and I was quickly out of breath; and then I got to the steps.

There is a feature called the 1000 steps memorial walk that is basically just that. 1000 concrete steps running up the side of the mountain to commemorate what the Aussie troops had to go through to defend something or the other from someone. It was grueling, for me at least. Plenty of other people were cruising right up, but I wasn’t the only one taking breaks every 50 steps or so. Along the way I saw some beautiful fern trees and some really cool red and blue parrot looking birds munching away on them. I eventually made it to the top, and it was a really good feeling, but man I was hurting.

The path back down might have been even worse. I didn’t have to stop to take breather breaks but there were no flat spots and my thighs were killing me by the end.

When I got back to my hostel I had intended to go to the free BBQ in the bar (Roo meat!) but instead I laid down for a few minutes and just slept and slept and slept. Completely worn out. I’ll have to eat a joey some other time.

Today I’ve been taking it slow and getting some errands done. I did laundry, which was much needed, mailed some stuff back home that I didn’t want to carry any more, am updating pictures and this blog and catching up on email. I had planned to try to get out to Phillip Island on my own, instead of with a tour, but mailing the package off and all this has taken longer than expected so I might do that tomorrow. I’m in no hurry.

And that’s all for now. I’m settling into a pace of life where I can just fuck off for a day and not worry about it. It’s hard. I feel like if I don’t go somewhere or see something every day I’m wasting time, but I’ve got months and months ahead of me and I can’t be a tourist for all of it. Somewhere in there I’ve got to just sit back and live. So that’s what I am doing.

I expect I’ll be moving on in a few days. Melbourne wasn’t all that interesting to me to begin with. I was only coming here to meet a friend who ended up not being available, but I’m having a nice time and I’m not bored yet. Next up, I am not sure. I may go down to Tasmania or up to Sydney. I missed a chance at a shared ride to Sydney this morning cause I forgot to check the bulletin board when I moved into Bakpak, so that was a bummer. Someone with a car was looking to share fuel costs up to Sydney and maybe beyond. I’d like to do something like that eventually. Sounds like a fun way to travel and get to know some new people.

Bye for now!

Seattle, Los Angeles and Melbourne

Wow, it’s been a hell of a few days. I’ve finally found a place to settle in and do some typing so I’ll catch you up!

Tuesday was my last day in Seattle, and it was great. After catching an early ferry from Friday Harbor to Anacortes I drove back to Seattle and met up with my friend J to see what was going on. He was busy for a while do I decided to take some time and finally wander around Seattle. I headed over to the Pike Place Market, which is where they throw fish around when you buy them and sampled the mini donut shop on the advice of J. Yummy, greasy little donuts. So good. I didn’t get to see any flying fish but I did see a bewildering array of really, really fresh seafood. Neat place.

After that I just started walking northish and eventually decided to go to the Space Needle since it was visible. I walked quite a ways but eventually got there. It was… high. I’m so bad at tourist attractions, but there are some things you have to do if you are in a certain place. But really, it was a really high building and you could see all of Seattle form it. Check out the pictures.

J talked to his wife and she suggested BBQing for my last day in town, so after getting a call while at the top of the Space Needle I took a cab back to the office and we set out to Bainbridge for dinner. As we went over he regaled me with stories of how he was going to cook the best steak ever. This is the Santa Maria style Tri-Tip and it more than lived up to all the hype. With a dry rub and then grilling for around an hour it turned into one of the tastiest steak sandwiches I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something.

After a little American Idol with J’s family I hit the sack early for my very early start in the morning.

Wednesday brought a early morning crossing back to Seattle, a short drive to Sea-Tac and a (longer than I expected) flight to Los Angeles. I was there to meet S, from the same company that I talked about before, and to spend the day with him touring the city. We had a great time. We visited Venice Beach and while walking past muscle beach saw Lou Ferrigno working out a bit in front of some cameras. Not sure what he was filming. S took it all in stride, but I was pretty surprised 🙂

We then had lunch at an English pub up the street and headed towards Beverly Hills and all that goes with it. We took a quick tour of some of the stars houses and then headed to Hollywood. Since I was only in town for about 7 hours before I had to fly off to Australia it was a whirl wind tour, but we saw a lot in only a few hours. In Hollywood we saw some of the big studios, and thanks to a back road that S remembered I got some pictures of the back lots of Universal. We saw Gate 2 of Warner Brothers which I immediately recognized from a million different movies and the arches at Paramount. All fun stuff. We wrapped it up with a cruise up Mulholland Drive  to the Los Angeles overlook which was very cool.

S dropped me off at LAX and it was time to check in for the longest flight of my life! Security was a total nightmare due to some idiocy on the part of the screeners. I had gotten all the way to the front of the line and then they opened up a new line and asked me to move to it. When I get in they found that the X-Ray machine wasn’t working so they moved us to a different new line. The guy that was moving us around then disappeared and we waited. After a few minutes a girl walked up, looked at us and said “This line isn’t open.” I said “We were just told to move here” and she said “Well I don’t know why” and walked away. Eventually I just pushed my way into the line I had originally started in and got through. So lame.

Anyway, the flight was about 13 hours and I managed to sleep for most of it. I had an aisle seat and the whole thing wasn’t too bad at all. I landed in Auckland, NZ and then immediately got on the second leg of the flight taking me to Melbourne, and it felt like it took forever. Beforehand, though, I met Sam and Hannah who told me loads of great places to check out in Australia, so that was nice.

And finally… I was in Australia! So far, to be honest, Melbourne could be Any City, USA with accents. This is why I hate visiting cities. They are all the same, really. Except for some differently shaped buildings it’s hard to tell you’ve gone anywhere.

When I landed I booked a room at the Base Backpackers in St. Kilda which seemed like an easy choice. I basically just wanted a place to lay down, spread out my gear and figure out a plan. Base worked for that, but it was too expensive and too trendy. I spent some time just laying around, then had dinner and then came back and completely passed out till 5am this morning. I really needed the sleep, even though I slept on the plane.

So my goal for today was to move up to downtown Melbourne, learn the transportation system, find a new place to live and try to get rid of some extra gear I don’t want to carry any more. All a success, so far. It sounds like boring little stuff, but if you’ve never been homeless in a completely foreign city you’d be surprised at how nice it is just to get the basics figured out. For me, at least.

I’ve moved into The Hotel Bakpak in Melbourne, which is right in the thick of it and it’s very nice. Smaller than last night, but cheaper (75 AUD/night for a private room) and much more to my liking. It’s still a little trendy, but it’s much more accessible. Plus I found an Internet shop around the corner that I can use my laptop at to finally upload some pictures.

So, that’s it so far. A boring start to an exciting adventure, I admit, but you have to walk before you go to Port Phillip and see dozens of fairy penguins and die from cuteness. Or something.

For the rest of today I will probably just wander around the city and get my bearings. Not sure what the plan is tomorrow, but I’d like to get out to the Dandenong Mountains and maybe do some hiking or go to Port Phillips to see the aforementioned  penguins.

Touchdown!

Briefly —

Tuesday: I spent Tuesday exploring Seattle more in depth.

Wednesday: I flew to LA and got a whirlwind tour of the city from my friend Steve and then hopped on my flight to Australia.

Thursday: I left Thursday somewhere in the Pacific.

Friday: It’s Friday afternoon and I’m in the Internet cafe of Base Backpackers in Melbourne, AU just catching up. I have pictures and stories to post but no time at the moment.

So, I’m officially on my trip 🙂

San Juan Islands

Well, before I went to bed last night I had pretty much decided to spare myself the cost of more ferry rides and to go to the Cascade Mountain Highway instead of the San Juans today. That all changed while I slept, I guess. When I woke up I decided I really wanted to see San Juan so I got the hell out of the shit hole that was the Mark II Motel and headed back to Anacortes. This time I had a ferry schedule and I arrived just in time for a quick breakfast and then the ferry ride. The earliest ferry straight to Friday Harbor was not till 2:45pm, so I took the 12:05pm one to Orcas instead. I’m glad I did!

Orcas turned out to be absolutely, stunningly beautiful. I had the most wonderful time. When I was buying my ferry ticket the ticket seller lady told me I should go to Mount Constitution cause on a day like today the view would be great; so that’s what I did. It was about a 30 minute drive to the top, but you can see from the pictures that it was all completely worth it. It’s only about 2800 feet high, but when you have a summit that looks out on islands and tons of natural beauty it doesn’t take a lot of height to do the job.

On the way back down the mountain I stopped at one of the trail heads for Cold Springs, which sounded good to me. I get a thrill from drinking from mountain streams, so that sounded like a good place to do it. Unfortunately, there was a sign at the trail head saying no potable water from here on, so I didn’t have any. It was very pretty though.

I headed back to town and got back on the ferry to go to Friday Harbor. The ride was very nice. It reminded me of something, but I can’t think of what. I feel like every time I ride one of these boats it’s taking me back to something I miss, but I don’t think I ever spent a lot of time on a boat anywhere in my life. My Dad was in the Coast Guard, and he really enjoyed it and felt a great attachment to the sea, so maybe I am channeling him. I know that the smell of salt water, and the shriek of sea gulls and seeing a lighthouse on a rocky point just pulls right at my soul and I love it.

Anyway, I didn’t have a plan for Friday Harbor, and by driving through the town I could see it was going to be pretty dead. It’s a Monday evening in the off season. Not a lot going on.

I took a drive out to Lime Kiln State Park which was supposed to be the best place for seeing whales from the coast (instead of on a boat) and I hiked out to the viewing area. I didn’t see any whales but I did see a sea lion right up close! He was maybe 20 or 30 feet away just chilling on a rock! So cool! I tried to get a picture, but when he heard me he just flopped right into the water. So beautiful.

It was starting to get darkish so I checked the little brochure that came with my ferry ride for places to stay. Under the “really cheap” section I found Juniper Lane Guesthouse which was described as “New, hip, gorgeous, wi-fi” which sounded like just the place for me. The prices were also supposed to be from $30-$165 which sounded great.

I kinda blew past the place at first cause I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. I thought about heading into town to see if there was something closer to the action (heh!) but after seeing it was only 1.3 miles away I headed back.

I peeked in the door of what seemed like the office but it was dark and no one was around. When I peeked back out a girl was walking up towards me. She introduced herself as Juniper, the owner of the guest house and told me all about it. The place is absolutely beautiful and every bit as cool as the description made it sound.

She has a nice web site with a ton of pictures, so just check that out. If you are every in Friday Harbor you *have* to stay here.

And that’s it for my San Juan Islands adventure. Today was great. I had a really nice time all day and I found a perfect room to sleep in, which is a welcome change from yesterday.

You can click the birdy at the top for today’s pictures.

A Day of Dissapointments

Before you read about my crappy day today, you may want to go back to yesterday’s post and re-read it. I finished it up and it’s much more interesting than this one 🙂

Today didn’t turn out quite how I wanted it to. My morning started with a jolt when my alarm went off at 8am and I didn’t remember falling asleep. I guess I was so tired that I slept right through the night without a single wake up and when I got up at 8am it felt like I had just dozed off a moment before.

Anyway… I decided to drive down to Victoria to see what that was all about and then come back to Sidney later on to catch a ferry to San Juan. I set out to Victoria, which wasn’t very far away. I caught a quick breakfast and then wandered around downtown for a while. I decided I wasn’t much in the mood for a city but I did see on the map that the cruise ship port wasn’t far off, so I rolled over there to check it out. That turned out to be a lot of fun.

At Port Victoria, where the cruise ships come in, there is a giant water break that I guess keeps the waves away from the port. You could walk out on it so I did, and it was a really nice walk. On the way back I climbed down the side to walk on the big granite stones that made it up and enjoyed myself completely.

After that I headed back towards Sidney to try to get to San Juan and found out the only ferry for the day left at 11:30am. That’s what you get for not planning anything. I tried to come up with other options, but eventually ended up just completely backtracking the way I came. Unfortunately, so was everyone else and I ended up waiting in line for the ferry for around 3 hours. Then I had a 45 minute wait in line at US Customs to get back into the States and now I am settled into the nastiest motel I’ve ever been in at the junction of WA-20 and I-5. The walls are peeling, there is water on the floor of the bathroom, I can hear things in the walls and the highway traffic is deafening.

I couldn’t decide if tomorrow I will go to San Juan (I finally got a ferry schedule, and there are plenty of options) or if I will go east to the Northern Cascades Highway, so I got a room right in the middle of the two to decide tomorrow. I should have gone back to Anacortes and stayed where I stayed Friday night. Only 5 miles away and light years nicer. Oh well.

And that’s it for Sunday. Pretty much a big waste of a day, although the walk in Victoria and the ferry ride back were both very nice. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun, whichever way I decide to go.

Click the water break at the top to see today’s pictures.

Vancouver And More…

I’m too tired to do a full post tonight, but I uploaded lots of pictures from today. In brief: I woke up in Anacortes, drove to Vancouver, walked across the most expensive toll bridge in the universe, saw some timber wolves, checked out downtown Vancouver and Chinatown and then took a long, awesome ferry to Sidney, BC so that I can cross to Friday Harbor, San Juan tomorrow. And now it’s time for sleep!

Click the big bridge to see today’s pictures.

And now, to finish that up! I woke up early(ish) in Anacortes and did some laundry, which was badly needed. I had had no time to get any done before I left for the trip and things were starting to get pretty bad. After all that excitement I headed to the port to try to catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands; destination Friday Harbor. On arrival it turned out the next ferry was not until 2:45pm and it was only around 11am. After a little though I decided I’d take the long way around, drive to Vancouver, check it out, then go to Victoria and eventually take the ferry to Friday Harbor from the west instead of the east.

Some of that actually happened.

I did make it to Vancouver, and it was gorgeous. On approach you see skyscrapers with a snow topped mountain backing. It’s really, really beautiful. When I crossed the border to Canada one of the first things I saw was a billboard for a walk across suspension bridge, and it looked really neat so I decided to check it out. I plugged in the address in my GPS (which has been the most awesome thing ever) and headed straight there. Along the way I saw a really tall mountain that I decided I wanted to see the top of before I left. File that for later.

The suspension bridge was ultra-touristy but still worth it. The bridge itself was really cool, and very bouncy and then the little town in the trees made me think that the designers of Kelethin in EverQuest and of the tree section of Far Cry had definitely been to this place. It was very neat. Shame I don’t know much Japanese, or I would have been able to communicate with every single person there. Very touristy.

So then it was off to find that mountain. I saw a sign that said “Grouse Mountain – The Peak of Vancouver” and that sounded pretty promising. I drove to the top and they had a cable car that would take you the rest of the way but it was $36 and I had just paid $26 to walk across a bridge, so I decided to skip it. I did get to see some real wolves for free though. They were behind a three wire electric fence, but I could have easily patted them on the snout if I were so inclined. I was not so inclined. Close up a wolf does not look anything like a dog. It looks like a killer.

Next up I had to decide what to do with the rest of my day. I had considered sleeping in Vancouver, but I didn’t really have any good reason to. Just in case a reason presented itself, I decided to check out a hostel downtown and see what happened. My GPS took me right to it and I recognized the front of the building from the picture I had seen earlier. Mostly recognized. There was some new art on the front door in the form of black spraypaint exclaiming “Die Punks Die”. I decided to hit the road.

So, the plan was to take a ferry to Sidney, B.C. (British Columbia), spend the night and then try to get to Friday Harbor in the morning. The ferry ride was awesome. It snaked through a bunch of little islands and once again, I started thinking the designer for the Siren Isles in EverQuest had once sailed the same way.

I slept in a great Super 8 with speedy Internet access which would come in to play several times throughout the next day… but that’s tomorrow’s (today’s) post!

Anacortes, Washington, USA: Around The Sound

My buddy, the bird.It’s been a busy few days. Much to my dismay, I’ve found myself getting up around 6am, getting ready to go and being out the door by 7:30am. Much to my great pleasure, the company has been excellent and my hosts have been wonderful.

Now, to fill in some details! Over the past year and a bit I have been doing some side work for a company in Seattle. They have a great product and I have been doing some contract coding for them. We’ve been working closely for quite a while now and I thought it would be nice to finally put some faces to the names, and emails. That is part of the reason for my starting my trip in Seattle. Additionally, I’ve never been to Seattle or anywhere in the northwest of our great country and I figured that since my flight to Melbourne starts in L.A. this would be a great chance to do a little exploring in my own country before I go around exploring a bunch of other ones!

One of the people I’ve been working with has a lovely home on Bainbridge Island and he kindly offered to let me stay with him during my time in Seattle. That offer has been a great thing for several reasons. One, Bainbridge is absolutely beautiful. It reminds me very much of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Trees as thick as you can imagine and water available everywhere. The island is just a 30 minute ferry ride from Seattle across the sound but it instantly drops you into a wonderful small town feeling place and you quickly leave the bustle of Seattle behind. It’s great!

I’ll go back a bit now, since I was tired when I made my first post about Seattle. When I arrived at Sea-Tac Airport Wednesday afternoon my friend picked me up and we headed down to the city. I got to meet the people I’d been working with and then we headed out to dinner. This is where it gets scary!

All of you know that I am the pickiest eater in the world. It’s basically burgers and fries for me, which explains my Adonis like figure. In particular, I don’t eat seafood. Well, we started walking and eventually ended up at McCormick and Schmick, which is a very top end seafood restaurant! I swallowed hard and went in, fearing the worst.
A brief aside: One of my goals for this trip is to break out of my very confining walls and get rid of my hang ups. My food fears are at the top of the list and I have vowed (to myself) to at least try to eat everything I am served.

Anyway, I scanned the menu and saw several things that didn’t sound too scary. I eventually decided on fresh grilled Albacore tuna with a peanut something sauce over it. I figured, “Hey, I like tuna from a can. I should like it from a grill.” Let me tell you, it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I devoured the tuna, the rice, some of the veggies and even the crunchy ricey thing that I was completely unable to identify. It was delicious. So, a thank you to my host for getting me to try something new, even if no one knew! 🙂

After dinner, I got set up in my room and hit the sack early. It had been a long day and that was the post you saw on Wednesday evening.

Thursday I spent the day in the office doing some debugging and such of some of the code I’ve written for the company. We also took a quick side trip downtown to find me something warm to wear. I packed for summer and it’s still what I would consider super early Spring weather here. Kinda rainy and cold and I was doing a lot of freezing. It was a relatively quiet day and we wrapped it up with a great Thai dinner right on the harbor of the island. Incredible views and excellent food.

Today I had big plans to strike out on my own and start my exploration. I found the location of a Budget rent a car place that was close to the ferry port and my friend walked me up to it first thing. A few minutes and dollars later and I was sportin’ a lovely white Pontiac G6, which, I hate to say, I really like driving. I set out with a plan to find an Apple store to either get a new battery or get mine fixed under warranty. The life on it has sucked recently. I picked the Apple Store in University Village which is near The University of Washington (U-Dub to the locals) and didn’t have much trouble getting there. I ended up getting a brand new battery under warranty, so that was awesome. I also picked up a nice fleece from North Face which I desperately love.

Next up I headed back to town to meet up with my friend and take care of some last minute mail business and then took the ferry back to Bainbridge to pick up my gear and head off on my own!

My friend and his wife had told me a million great things to see while I was here, so I decided to just hop on a road and head north and see as much as I could. I definitely wanted to visit Vancouver and the San Juan Islands. My friend also told me about a great mountain pass on the North Cascades Highway that sounded right up my alley!

So, I drove! I took a different ferry from the island this time, landing in Edmonds which is north of Seattle. So that saved me the downtown traffic. After a brief stop at REI (dissapointing) and then Best Buy to pick up a Garmin Nuvi 350 (Ouch!) I hit the serious road and eventually found myself in Anacortes, which is where I am typing right now! It was dark when I arrived and I had no plans or reservations so I just stopped at the first decent looking motel in town and settled in. Happily, it’s a nice, clean room with free Wifi and a good price. Score! I haven’t been able to see anything of the town or water or anything, but looking at Google Maps I should be in for a hell of a view when I wake up tomorrow 🙂

My plan tomorrow is to… dun, dun, DUN: Do some laundry! I didn’t have time before I left Kansas. After that I’m going to take the ferry to Friday Harbor and spend some time soaking up the island life. Eventually I’ll head into Victoria, B.C. and then up to Vancouver.

And that’s it for Wednesday through Friday! I’m having a wonderful time and I’m in love with this place. I can’t wait to see what the weekend brings.

There’s pictures from my Seattle adventures on Flickr (click the birdy at the top) if you’d like to see what I’ve been seeing.

Seattle, Washington, USA: The Adventure Begins!

Well, after a week of harried moving and packing and storing and just generally being completely busy and worn out, the trip has finally begun.

After a few last minute trips to the storage unit this morning,  and a bunch of other errands I finally boarded my first flight! Courtney took me to the airport around noon for my flight to Seattle. Four hours later and I finally got my first glimpse of the Pacific Northwest. It was overcast. Heh! 🙂

It’s been a pretty wild day. This morning I was piling trash in the carport of my home for 5 years and now after a short flight, meeting up with some friends, a great dinner and a ferry ride I’m homeless and settled into my friend’s guest house for a night of much needed rest. Tomorrow I’ll get to see more of the city, but I am already in love. The ride from the airport was all green and trees, and downtown Seattle is just gorgeous. Obviously I have not seen very much yet, but it has a small town feel that’s all grown up. There are beautiful, old brick buildings nestled in with the skyscrapers and everything just oozes excitement.

I have one week before I have to be in Los Angeles for my flight to Melbourne. Tomorrow I am going to try to rent a car and find an affordable place downtown to stay.

And that’s all for today. I’m beat, and have an early start in the morning. Bye for now!