Tag Archives: Trip

Is it that time already?

I have to be up in a few hours. Strange to think I’m heading to New Zealand tomorrow. The time has passed so quickly and I can’t quite it’s already time.

It’s going to be strange – this whole traveling with other people. Gee, that makes it sound like I travel all the time but it’s only been two trips overseas. It will be different though. I haven’t put anywhere near the energy into this as I have for my other trips. I haven’t really done anything at all. It feels more like I’m just going along for the ride.

It has been nice to hand over all the organising and to not have to think that much. All I really wanted was a nice place to stay on the first night when we’re still in Christchurch and I got that. Still, I feel detached from it. There’s not the sense of excitement and anticipation that I have when I’ve done all the planning myself. It just doesn’t feel real and it’s happening tomorrow.

Still, New Zealand!! I’m going to see yet another part of the world and do things I’ve never done before like skiing.

Things seem to be progressing with the car. It’s at the repairers now and hopefully a quote has been prepared and sent off along with photos of the damage. It’s not something I want to have to try to follow up on when I’m in another country. Optimistically, it could be fixed by the end of the next week. Whether or not that’s realistic is another story. Dad thinks maybe the week after. That’s still really quick considering I thought it’d take at least a month to jump through all the hoops. I’m expecting my premium to go up after this. Hopefully I’ll get to keep my rating one.

That’s all folks

So, this is it. The last few photos from my trip. There are no more after this. I’ve been through all of them and have found the ones I thought were good enough to be made public. There are many that will never see the light of day and that’s a good thing – trust me.

I swear this is going to be my avatar on the forum at some point. Tim channelling his inner “blue steel”.

I had some time on my last morning in Seattle to sit on the window sill in my hotel room and take few photos. It seemed like a great way to spend fifteen minutes before I gathered up the last of my belongings and left the hotel to head to the airport.

One of the waterfalls in Freeway Park.

One of the views from out my hotel window.

The American flag on top of a building directly across from me. It was rolling in the breeze and it looked like it was moving in slow motion. Quite lovely and almost hypnotic in its motion.

I’m sure there are things I meant to write about but didn’t. It feels very strange to think I’ve been back for a week already. Sometimes it feels like it didn’t really happen and that I made it all up. But I was really there. I did see all these things and hang out with some of my favourite people in the world.

I have to keep telling myself it was real, it did happen, I was in America and I had a brilliant time. I’ll be back next year 😀

And I’m home

It was an eventful trip home in some respects. It started off in an interesting fashion. We were bussed to our plane. The driver was a little scary, braking really suddenly and taking corners too quickly. Everyone boarded and we proceeded to sit and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. We waited on the runway for at least half an hour before being allowed to depart. Very annoying.

The flight itself was very uneventful but that’s what you want when you’re in a jumbo jet crossing the pacific ocean. Took to me about six hours to watch The Dark Knight because I kept falling asleep. I also watched Twilight and was left thinking Stephanie Myers has some serious issues. There’s something about that movie that makes me feel deeply uncomfortable but I’m not sure what it is. I think it’s got to do with Bella’s attitude towards, well, everything. Anyhoo… there were some dips and bumps but on the whole it was a turbulence-free flight.

I managed to get off the plane pretty quickly and cruised through the first customs point. After this it all went a bit pear-shaped. My bag took ages to be unloaded so I ended up waiting for it for a good twenty minutes. Then the queue to get our bags scanned was enormous. My bag finally got scanned and something in it pinged the machine. I had to open my suitcase and a strange man proceeded to rummage through my belongings. Oh joy!

I got into a cab pretty quickly and started searching through my backpack for my house keys but only to not find them. I emptied my laptop bag as well, thinking maybe I’d put them in there. But I came up empty-handed. They definitely weren’t in my suitcase. At this point I’m thinking I’d left them somewhere in America. The taxi arrived at my house and the taxi driver popped the boot but didn’t get out of the cab to get my suitcase out. I struggled to get it out and, of course, dropped a 25 kilo bag on my left foot.

At the front door I rang the doorbell, hoping beyond hope that someone was home. Nope. So, what’s a girl to do? I burst into tears. Jetlagged out of my mind, my foot throbbing with pain and locked out of my house – I think that’s a reasonable reaction. I called my brother, who unfortunately is in Sydney but did his best to calm me down. He made the reasonable suggestion of going to see if our neighbours (and owners of our house) were in their garage, even though they didn’t answer when I knocked on their front door. I pulled myself together and trundled around to the back to find them in their garage. I have never been so glad to see my garage door rise and discover that the back door was unlocked.

It turned out I hadn’t picked up my house keys when I ran out the door to go to the airport, I’d left them behind on the bench. D’oh!

So yeah, it wasn’t exactly a smooth homecoming for me. The rest of the trip had been just brilliant so something had to go wrong at the end because that’s just the way it is.

I had so many great experiences and there are so many people who made sure I had great time. I wish my life could be more like it was when I was away but it’s just not realistic. It’s not “real” life, it’s a wonderful step away from all the responsibilities. Still, it’s great to know it’s something I can experience again and that it’ll be different each time. It’s a huge reminder to why I stay at my job, why I save money and why I dream of doing more with my life. This is the more I want.

Anyhoo… I should push off. I’m trying to find a storage folio that’ll fit my pages as well as a place where I can get them scanned. It’s proving to be more difficult then I thought it would.

Seattle, Washington

To sound terribly ignorant, I didn’t realise Washington was a state until planing this trip. Guess what? It’s a state and I’m in it right now.

I was totally unprepared for how cold it is. Today it was in the mid 40s which translates to 9 degrees!! I’m so not ready for that sort of temperature. When I left Melbourne, the days were still in the mid 20s with the nights not dropping below the mid teens.

Weather aside, Seattle is a lovely city. The downtown part is built right onto the bay and you can look down a street to see shimmering water. Very pretty. Unlike Baltimore, Seattle feels like a much more sophisticated place. I’ve been fortunate on this trip to not be confronted with the levels of homelessness like I did the last time around. Seattle looks like a more affluent place and it’s snobby to say but I do feel more comfortable here then I did in Baltimore.

If only it wasn’t so cold!

After getting three hugs from Steve at the security gate, I had an uneventful flight from San Francisco and can recommend Virgin America. Their planes are brand new A320s. They’re kitted out with mood lighting (!!) so my plane’s interior was set to blue down the aisle and pink near the windows. Made me chuckle.

I meet up with Jared and Rich at the airport and we decided to take the bus into the city. When our appointed departure time came, we dutifully went outside to get on the bus only to discover the one that was there wouldn’t start. What can you do but be grateful it was only a bus that wouldn’t start and not a plane.

We finally made it into the city centre and to our hotel. It’s a nice place and it turns out nearly everyone else is staying here too. It was brilliant to see John, Jen and Bill before dinner and to then see Trina and Kelly in the foyer. I really have missed this guys and I didn’t realise how much until I saw them. The irony of the situation is that the Tim Sale forum is currently down. The thing that brought us all together doesn’t have server space at the moment and it’s very strange to know it’s not there. I know I haven’t been checking it in the last few days but I fully expected it to be there when I got home.

The other thing that amazes me about these people is how well we all get along. I feel so comfortable with them all and I’m usually not a social person at all. I love the fact that Trina and Jen come along. It’s just great to be in the company of people I admire and like so much. I suppose it’s also because they’re all happy to see me and it’s really nice to feel that.

Dinner was a hoot. Kelly, Trina and Jared were in cracking form and in the end my face hurt from smiling so much which is the best reason ever.

The “official” forum get together was after dinner and I got to meet the Arizona crew for the first time. It was also a fund raiser for the Hero Initiative as Christina has started working for them. We all got given a ticket and the first twenty people would pay $30 to get a three minute ink wash of a character from The Long Halloween or Dark Victory which were inked onto a large piece of paper to make up a communal piece before being cut up. I managed to sneak in at number ten and secured Commissioner Gordon as my character. (I wanted Poison Ivy but I missed out by a few people.)

Right now I’m tucked up in bed and charging the battery of my camera which is why there are no photos. Must get to sleep. Big day tomorrow 🙂

San Francisco, California

Thursday I was at a bit of a lose as to what to do as Steve had classes and really needed to do his homework. I asked him what he thought I should do and he said I should go into San Francisco and have an explore on my own. But then Lisa called 🙂

So instead of spending the day on my own, I got my own personal tour of San Francisco.

After touring around with Lisa, I’ve decided that I’m definitely more a San Francisco girl than an L.A. girl. It’s hard to explain why though. Maybe because the weather reminds me so much more of Melbourne and there’s actually a public transport system. I don’t know. San Francisco just seemed more friendly than L.A. I also ended up thinking the people in San Francisco are (there’s no way to say this without sounding harsh) much less superficial then those in L.A. Anyhoo… that’s enough critiquing of the two cities.

Lisa took me on a cable car ride. We went from the city centre to Fisherman’s Wharf. I had been expecting something resembling a tram like I’d see every day in Melbourne and they did look a little like that but instead of drawing their power from overhead cables, they got it from the tracks. They were also a good deal noisier than Melbourne trams because they’re not really enclosed. You can hang off the sides. What’s also nifty is the way they turn the cable cars around. I had expected some elaborate system of doing it but nope, it’s a very simple wooden disk built into the road that pivots. The cable car is docked (for want of a better word) and the driver and the conductor turn the car around by hand.

Conductor and driver turning the car around so we could get on.

I can now say with complete honestly that San Francisco is one hilly city. Every time we climbed a hill, I’d slide into Lisa if I wasn’t hanging onto the rail. But it’s just as well we were crammed into the end of the car otherwise I probably would’ve had a conniption if I’d seen exactly how steep the hills were. We arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf and immediately went looking for the In-n-Out burger place. I had In-n-Out the last time I was in California and it’s delicious. It was one of the favourite things I ate last time and this time was no different. For a fast food burger, they’re pretty damn good. They actually remind me a lot of the sort of hamburger any Australian would get at their local fish’n’chips shop.

We wandered down towards the water’s edge and were overwhelmed by the smell of fish. San Francisco is known for its clam chowder but of course I didn’t have any as I’m really not a seafood person (fish yes, anything with a shell, no). All of the cafes and restaurants had mountains of crabs out the front, ready to be cooked for anyone passing by. Again, not willing to try it because it’s not my thing. Lisa asked if I wanted to go on a ferry but I decided against it as it was really windy and the bay looked quite choppy. But we did walk to the water’s edge and I got my photo of Alcatraz (after struggling to keep the camera steady because it was so windy).

In one of the pier sheds was this museum of sorts for old mechanical novelties and games. There were some very strange machines in there. We had a good giggle at the sheer amount of machines that would predict how sexually appealing you were and the state of your love life. There were ones that promised to shows what belly dancers did on their days off, urged us to look to find out what every married woman should avoid to ensure happiness and to check out the sultan’s harem. All these games worked and you could put in a quarter and see what they did. We didn’t but we did watch a bunch of guys trying to a ring a bell with a hammer. It took three of them to do it. But the weirdest thing we saw was towards the end.

I know, there are no words…

We were originally going to walk to Pier 39 but it was essentially the same as Fisherman’s Wharf so we opted to head towards Ghiradelli Place which has a very large chocolate shop (I cracked and bought some chocolate) and then to the cable car to go back into the city centre.

It’s not a trip to San Francisco if you don’t take a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge

Cable cars lined up to be turned around and one about to leave

We were right at the front of the line for a cable car and Lisa was insistent that she wanted to ride on the side. I was just as insistent that I didn’t want to. So she got to hang off the side and I spent the trip hugging my pack to my lap as there was no side and if I’d dropped it, it would’ve been gone. This time we managed to get right up the front of the cable car so I got an excellent view of how steep the streets in San Francisco really are. They’re a bit scary to be honest when you’re in a large wooden tram that doesn’t feel like it has the best brakes in the world. But you couldn’t get the smile off Lisa’s face.

Top of the hill

And then the rather sharp descent down. The photo really don’t do justice to just how sharp the drop was.

More downhill…

San Francisco is a beautiful city. I couldn’t stop looking at the apartment blocks and houses. We don’t really have anything like them in Melbourne so it was an experience to see them. Some are lovingly restored, others are incredibly run down but they all have character. The other thing I noticed about the city is that, like Melbourne, people walk. Melbourne is definitely a walking city so it was nice to be somewhere that had a similar feel to it. It didn’t feel strange to be walking around like it did in L.A. (I may have been naughty and walked right into a Virgin Megastore that was closing down and had 30% off all its dvds.)

In the end, we headed to the car because it was getting so cold. We headed towards the mission area and stopped in at a Mexican place where I had the best burrito I’ve had in a long time. So delicious.

I had a fabulous day with Lisa. I definitely enjoyed myself so much more than what I would’ve if I’d gone into San Francisco on my own. It was great to have someone to hang out with. I was so pleased when she called me because it meant I got to spend time with a person whose company I really enjoy. It kinda sucks I won’t get to see her again for so long but there’s nothing I can really do about that.

28 days and counting

It doesn’t feel quite real but this time next month, I’ll be in California. Right now, I’m having problems believing that I’m really going. I’ve bought all my flights and I’ve got American cash in my drawer at home but it doesn’t feel real yet.

The last few months have been a bit bumpy for me so maybe that’s affecting my attitude towards this trip. Part of me is so excited about going but another part isn’t so sure. It’s a strange way to feel. Unlike last time where it was all new and I had to find out how to do things, this time I’ve got a much better idea of what I’m doing. There’s still an element of the unknown (going to different cities) but it’s much less than last time where I had no clue at all. I also wonder if it’s because I know I really shouldn’t be going. I’m not going to have half the money I had last time, which is a little alarming. Hhhmm… does this mean I feel guilty about going? I don’t know.

Still, I’m really glad I’m going. It’s going to be a huge treat for me and I am so excited to be catching up with my American peeps. I know that I’d rather have the debt and the great memories than regret not going.

There’s a hill

There’s this hill near work. It’s the quickest way to work when I’m on my bike. It’s not a big hill and I’m sure the incline isn’t that great but I suffer every time I struggle up it, especially after I’ve been the gym the night before.

But every time I’m struggling up the hill, I tell myself this is the hardest thing I have to do today.

And most of the time, it’s true.

Anyhoo… my flights to and from Seattle are bought, I’ve filled in my ETSA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application and had it approved. They’re letting me in the country, which is nice. I’m pretty much set to go. Just have to work out how I’m getting from Los Angeles to San Francisco. 55 days to go.

I’ve turned into one of those people!

I went to see Burn After Reading with a friend and as the credits rolled I turned to him and said “That park that Linda meets her guys? I’ve been there! I’ve walked on that very path. It’s the one you walk through to get from the Washington Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial”. Heh. I’m one of those people, relating everything they see back to their travels.

But I was super-excited. It was the first time I’ve ever had that experience.

Post trip blues

I managed to scan two more of my pieces last night so they’re finally up in my CAF gallery.


Coming back to work hasn’t be a world of fun. I didn’t realise how badly I needed a break from it all. It’d been nearly two years since I’d taken a proper break that wasn’t just a few days. Of course now I’m left wondering what to do next as the thing I’ve been planning for and thinking about for the last fifteen months has happened. What do I do now? It kinda feels like I really don’t have anything to look forward to and be excited about. Plus I’m really missing all my peeps.

Perhaps it’s time to start planning for the next trip.

And the word is: GAH!!

I missed my flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles.


I ended up at the wrong desk and by the time I got to the right one it was too late, I’d missed the check-in. Guess who totally freaked out and had a mini meltdown? Right when my dad decided to call to see how I was going. A very nice man at another counter talked to me very calmly (I got the distinct impression he’d talked down quite a few passengers) and put me on the next available flight. Which included a two hour stop over at Denver Airport, which I must admit has a pretty spectacular main hall. I deliberately booked direct flights but now I think that was probably a bad idea. At least this way I got to walk around and wasn’t stuck on a plan for five solid hours.

Okay, so it was really my fault for not being more careful when booking my flights and really combing over the fine details but the majority of the people on the counters were so extraordinarily rude to me. I’ve been sick the last few days so my voice is totally screwed and they would’ve heard my accent which would’ve marked me out as an ill foreigner but not one person at the check-in desk helped me. I was really shocked at how rude they were after all the fantastic people I’ve met on my trip.

But then again I must remember what Shadow is told in American Gods: Don’t mess with the check-in staff.

Right now I’m in the relative safety of a hotel room at the Four Points by Sheraton right near LAX. The room rate was pleasantly cheap for a decent hotel and I’ve ordered room service for the first time in my life. I’m gonna lounge around in my jim-jams, eat something when it arrives and try to unwind after what was a fairly traumatic morning. I may even try to get some sleep – operating on about an hour and a half at the moment. However, it’s all part of my dastardly plan to get some sleep on the plane – wait until I’m so totally exhausted I can’t function and lapse into a coma when my butt hits the seat.

But I made it!

The con was brilliant and I have loads of goodies. I blew just about all my money, which was the point wasn’t it? I’ve been writing about my trip on my laptop’s text editor because I didn’t sort out the internet in the room in Baltimore until last night but I decided I’d rather spend my last few hours with my friends than hang out in a hotel room on my own.