Welcome to my blog.

My blog expresses my views and thoughts and in no way intends to offend however that does not guarantee it wont.

I write in a stream of consciousness and sometimes the odd typo or bad grammar may appear - please excuse these.

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Ride The Duck, A Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers Part 2

On Friday 6th we Rode the Duck!!!

K had organised tickets for us and on a drizzly Friday morning we all boarded the Duck ready for adventure. Our Duck Captain's name was Owen Money (LOL) and he was fantastic fun (I am sure all the other Captains are great too, there seems to be around 6 Ducks in the fleet).  You travel through the streets of Seattle, laughing, singing and dancing while some pedestrians join in and cheer you on - while others stare at you in bewilderment.  All good fun, but the best part for me personally was when we putted around on Lake Union.  We floated past some amazing house boats of all shapes and sizes including the famous one from the movie Sleepless in Seattle, we saw boats and ships of every kind and size, and even some other Ducks.

After the jaunt on the lake it was back on the road as we made our way back to the start point.  Hubby and our daughter K took some time to visit the Experience the Music Project which is right over the road from where the Ducks leave while K, her Mom and I went shopping.

If you are ever in Seattle (or one of the other places Ride the Duck occur in the USA) I recommend you hop on board, you will not be disappointed, I can assure you of that.

Thanks Owen for being our Captain.

Captain Owen Money, a man of many hats (I think there were at least 5 changes on the trip) with a huge personality and a great singing voice.

The famous Pink Elephant Car Wash
Street scenes

Space needle and antenna covered in cloud  
Two other Ducks out on the lake with us

The Old Gasworks Park with lots of geese on the lawn
Larger houseboats
Smaller houseboats
Driving past Safeco Field
Hubby drumming at Experience Music Project

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers Part 1

When we decided to make the long haul trip to visit our daughter in Alaska, it was with some trepidation.  The only time I had flown overseas was to Singapore, no more than a 6 hour flight (so not much further than flying to Brisbane).  The only time hubby and I had traveled overseas was on a cruise back in 2001.

So the thought of flying for 4 hours to Melbourne, then over 14 hours (to get to LAX) and then another 2.5 hours to Seattle and a further 2 or so hours up to Sitka was nothing if not daunting!!

We decided to beak up the trip by flying to Melbourne on the 4th, the day before the long haul trans-Pacific flight (rather than taking the red-eye midnight horror) and staying at the Park Royal at the Melbourne airport before leaving at around 9.15 am on the 5th.  As an aside, if you are very doing this, the Park Royal is nice and close (we could walk over to the airport) but it is really in need of some revamping.  The rooms are tired (the worn out frayed carpet especially) and not particularly large, the foyer cafe/bar has very stained fabric chairs (and I mean yuk worthy), the food we had for breakfast was at best mediocre and I'm being generous there.  On a positive note, our evening room service meal was not too bad, the bed was okay, the hotel quiet and as mentioned earlier very close to the international terminal. But in hindsight, we wouldn't stay there again.

When we originally were talking about heading off, there was no mention of a wedding, that came a little later, but also allowed us to further break up the trip by only travelling as far as Seattle and spending a few days there. On the way back we travelled all the way from Sitka to Melbourne with only short stops at SeaTac and LAX, around 27 hours worth of travelling and I must say I wouldn't do it that way again.  The more relaxed broken up travel on the way over meant we suffered no jet lag at all, while it has taken nearly a week for both of us to get back into the routine once we got home and that was with us having a 2 night stay in Melbourne at the fantastic Quay West Suites in Southbank.

I struggled to sleep on both long flights, in fact I got none on the flight over and no more than 3 hours broken sleep on the flight back, next time drugs may be the order of the day.  Hubby fared a little better with his dozing, but the sooner the 'Beam Me Up Scotty' technology becomes a reality the better.

When we reached Seattle rather than stay in hotel accommodation we shared a rental house with the girls and K's family, a lovely roomy 2 storey home in West Seattle, in easy reach of everything we needed including the fantastic Easy Street Records/Cafe where we had breakfast every morning (if you are ever there I can recommend the Easy Rider Breakfast Sandwich on egg bread - yummmm).  There were 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a gym-office upstairs and downstairs a lounge room, a great room-kitchen area, a downstairs powder room and a deck out the back.  We got to see (but not photograph) our first squirrel, while not a big deal for our American family it was a squeal worthy event for me!!

The Great Room-Kitchen area were we spent most of our time

Looking back up to the front door, beautiful wooden floors throughout.

There was some shopping for moi at Lane Bryant at one of the hugest shopping malls I have ever seen!  A wedding to attend and only a couple of days before we headed off to Sitka, so not a lot of sightseeing happened, but we did Ride the Duck (an awesome and recommended experience) and took in a Seattle Mariners baseball game at Safeco Field (I wanted to see an America baseball game on this trip).  Hubby and my daughter B also visited the Seattle Experience the Music Project but we missed out on the Space Needle, something for us to do next time we are travelling through.

While we both loved all the parts of America we visited, we both struggled with the way tax is added rather than included like our GST, the individual states set the tax rather than the Federal Govt and it is different in each place we visited and in Sitka is changes seasonally (higher when the visitors are there, and lower on off-peak times).  So when you saw a price it was not what you paid, but that didn't stop me from spending in the least!!  The other thing we struggled with was how much to tip, something we rarely do here in Aus, and it seems I was a little over-generous sometimes, but when I found out how much the hospitality staff are paid I felt bad if I tipped any less.  Hubby really found the 'over the top' personalities of some of our wait-staff difficult to deal with, but it would seem to me that they are just trying to do a good job and hopefully be rewarded with a good tip at the end of the service.

Another thing that was vastly different to us was the difference between the information the flight staff give you prior to disembarking the plane, when flying with Qantas you get all sorts of useful information and that is not the case with the American airlines we travelled with.  In fact if it hadn't been for a fellow Australian traveller who took pity on us in LAX on the way home I think we would have missed our flight connection.  I was also a little concerned that you use your bottom seat cushion as a floatation device on American airlines, no life jacket is provided, just another little quirky difference I suppose.

So as not to do one huge post, the trip will be broken up and I will continue with a Ride A Duck and a Take Me Out To The Ballpark post in the next couple of days, before covering the amazing time we had in Sitka.  So the fun stuff is still to come, along with the pictures, lots and lots of pictures and the odd video if I can get it to work.

Thanks for popping by xxxx

Friday, September 27, 2013

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, True Love Blooms

On the 7th September (USA time) my hubby and I were privileged to witness our youngest daughter B marry the love of her life.

We had never personally met her bride K until the 5th, but I already loved her as I knew that she must be perfect as she made my daughter so happy.  She is even more beautiful in the flesh than she was on Skype, it was like I had known her for years, another daughter to add to my family.

We got to share a house with B and K and K's Mom and brother for a couple of days before the wedding, in lovely West Seattle, and it was like we had known them all for years.  The blend between the two families is wonderful and I feel so happy to know that B has in-laws that cherish her as much as I do.  They have seen how happy she makes their daughter, just as I can see the fit from the reverse so to speak.

I was lucky to go with the girls to the salon as they got their hair and makeup done, to share in that slightly stressful but fun time was fantastic.

B having her make up done by the amazing Lindsay at The Pinup Salon in West Seattle
 and B is sure to hate my posting this photo!!

Then there was the quick dash back to the house for me to get dressed, pick up my hubby and the wedding dress and B's suit, then off on the road to Tacoma to the Ruston Chapel for the wedding.  The girls got dressed in the dressing room before we made out way out the front to walk up the steps and into the chapel.  In a personal twist, the two Mums got to walk our daughter's down the aisle and to give them away and to be the witnesses on their wedding certificate.  I was overwhelmed with pride at being asked to do so.

Waiting to walk my daughter down the aisle
(photo copyright Visual Life Photography)

Their wedding ceremony was as quirky and personal as could be, with their vows bringing a tear, a laugh and joy to everyone in the chapel.  Each one had taken the time to share with us their love and feelings, good and bad as they pledged to love one another for ever.  Even the owner of the chapel commented after the ceremony that they bought a tear to her eye, something she is normally immune to given the number of ceremonies she has witnessed over the years.

Genuine love, so Tony Abbot and all those against same sex marriage, should we really deny this here in Australia?
B as she watched K walk down the aisle.
Photo courtesy of K's cousin.
Pure and utter joy following the ceremony.
Photo courtesy of one of K's friends
Yay, we did it, pure joy - my Mum commented she has never seen B so happy.
(copyright Visual Life Photography)

The quirkiness and personal touches did not finish there, there were the rainbow socks and pink converse shoes - each with a personal message, there was the 'no ugly crying' hanky personally given to me at the start of the ceremony by my daughter (she has witnessed my crying at her sister's weddings) a gesture that bought a smile to my face (and I had to lend it back to her when she got overwhelmed herself).  At the wedding reception there were pink and orange M&Ms with personal messages (pink and orange was the colour theme), there were little glass votive candles holders with Eat, Drink and Lets Be Married, their names and wedding date.  The wedding cake was topped by 3 penguins (the theme of their wedding invitations and keep the date cards) a blue eyed one for my daughter, a brown eyed one for K and a little brown eyed hand flapping one for K's daughter and my newest grandchild (Little K has autism and so the hand flapping is a common gesture and was beautifully interpreted by the lady who made the toppers in Holland no less).

(photo copyright Visual Life Photography)
The traditional cutting the cake

A blue eyed B and brown eyed K with little K hand flapping at the front.

The reception was held on a property overlooking Pugent Sound with magnificent gardens and a quaint little cottage, it was low key and happy, just like the girls, with a buffet spread and an 'adult' pinata (in the shape of a penguin) filled with adult 'toys' that the father of the Broom (our daughter) just happened to smash open on his second attempt.

The girls danced their bridal dance in a beautiful little wooden gazebo and then we all wrote messages of love and our wishes for them on Chinese lanterns before setting them afloat in the sky as the sun set.  Each message was sent with love to the heavens for the girls as they started their married life together.

Throughout this post are a few photos taken by friends and family and the low res proofs I have copied from the Visual Life Photography website, I would personally like to thank Courtney and Jason who were brilliant at what they do on the day and a delightful couple who truly loved being there for the girls.  A CD of high res photos should arrive here soon and I can't wait to get them printed and on the wall as a reminder of a very special day.

Welcome to the family K, we love you so much xxxx 
We wish B and K every happiness, may your lives be filled with love, laughter and happiness each and every day.  May the powers that be allow you to be together always both here in Australia and in K's homeland of America.
Following the wedding we spent another couple of days in Seattle before heading to Sitka with K's family.  Watch out for blog posts on those amazing times.

Thanks for popping by  xxxx


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