Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's a wrap.

Hello, Brooklyn...

While Kate is getting ready for some job interviews today, I figured it would be a great time to write up one last post.

It's official, we have met some of New York's finest; and we're not talking about the police. During the last whirlwind of a week while looking at at least 30 rentals to call home, we have met some greaseballs, slimeballs, flakes, dirtbags, and sleazeballs, all who think they can manage properties. There are 2, however, which have made their own categories: "Hi, I'm a Chihuahua on crack from Staten Island", and "Hi, I'm high on Pain Meds from knee replacement surgery." Obviously, the latter made the most of an impression on us:
The Chihuahua was about 5 feet tall, thin as a stick, and spoke about 400 miles per hour. She also admitted that she smoked too much pot over the weekend and that was why she couldn't find the rest of her listings. Instead of viewing in person, we drove around for an hour so that we could "learn about our neighborhood." And if there is a three bedroom for $1600 per month, then it's probably too good to be true.
Ms. Pain Meds said, "I have been doing this for twenty-two years, and I'm going to find you the best place to live. We'll be signing a lease in a week." Well, I don't know what she's been doing for that long, but it probably wasn't listening to what her clients are asking. Instead of looking in the correct neighborhoods and price ranges, she kept confusing herself by trying to hit the search button. It could have very well been her first time using a computer. That, or they replaced more than her knee. It was a ridiculous week.

That being said, we found a place to live...two doors down from my sister. In all of Brooklyn, we end up two doors down!!! It couldn't have even been planned that way if we tried!

We still have managed to fit in some fun already in New York. Memorial Day Weekend was spectacular weather, so we spent a lot of time outside. Meeting up on the rooftop on Memorial Day with some friends, which has a spectacular view of the skyline, for some fried chicken and growlers (of beer) from Whole Foods was a great way to end the weekend. That Whole Foods has one of the best beer stores around.

As for the last weeks of our trip before heading to New York, we had an amazing time in Seattle and relaxed in Anchorage while getting to know our nephew. If you haven't been to Seattle, get there! What a wonderful city. It's full of life, and we are convinced it doesn't rain there as much as they say.

Our good friend Nelson (hence the corn in the cup picture from Malay), and camp counselor for the weekend, planned a lot of activity into our one full day. Fortunately, the Mariners were in town, so the baseball game was the highlight. If it's our country's pastime, why not get a game in? Mike and Joy, some more friends from Colorado, joined us for the day. It was great to be around familiar faces again!

While the game was awesome - comeback win for the M's - there is a mini-rollercoaster at the bottom of the space needle which is quite mind numbing. It's loud, fast, and packs a punch, and left all three of us a little woozy when it was all over. Kate and I rode it years ago after a meal of sushi and some beers, so we had to go back!

This post seems to be going backwards, chronologically, and visiting Alaska feels like a long time ago. Kate and I were finally able to meet our nephew, Owen. He's a good looking kid, and I am sure he'll be able to haul in those King Salmon and Halibut in no time at all. We were also eager to test out our cooking skills while there, so we offered to help out the new parents by cooking them dinner almost every night. Cooking is way more gratifying after going out to eat every night for months on end.

And now, for the reflection part.
We are full of mixed emotions about the trip abroad coming to an end: living out of our bags, missing our friends and family and other normal "comforts"; but of course now that we are back to the "normal" life, we are wishing we have nothing but a small bag. Like many things, it's a catch-22. The one thing that we do realize is that we have been so very fortunate to be able to leave the country for so long. We hope that everyone reading this will be able to find the opportunity to experience the world in person, rather than view our "credible" news channels. There are tremendous cultures abroad who are happy no matter what the living situation. We have met so many people who were excited to share their thoughts and life experiences, good and bad, and who are anxiously awaiting the results of our election (aren't we all?)

Cheers for now, we hope that everyone enjoyed being a part of our travels.
And.....Whatever you do take care of your shoes.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The home stretch

It's 9:15 pm, and it's light out!

We have arrived in Anchorage after a 30 hour travel day. And it truly was A day. May 8th lasted more than 24 hours with the date line being crossed. Starting from the island of Nanuya in Fiji, we had a 5 hour boat ride to the mainland in a minimonsoon - it put the swells from the Barrier Reef to shame - thank goodness for motion sickness pills. From the boat to the LAX arrival, it took 15 hours, followed by another 10 hours of flights and waiting on standby to get to Anchorage.

Fiji is as beautiful and exotic as all of our preconceived notions made it out to be. Water with every shade of blue, deserted beaches, small islands; we can truly call it paradise. It's only a 3-6 hour flight to get there from New Zealand or Australia, so it's almost like going to Mexico for them...LUCKY! We decided to bump up to the "Captains Lounge" on the boat to the Yasawa Island chain, and Kate decided to make sure we got our money's worth of complimentary beverages. Arriving 5 hours later at Nanuya Island Resort, she was cheersing the group of couples we got to shore with...and just think, they all thought she was being friendly. The weather wasn't completely cooperative with us the entire stay, but we were fortunate to have a clear first night. The stars were so bright and plentiful, it almost looked fake.

The following day, we started to a hang out with some of the people staying with us and rehashing Kate's exit from the boat. It always made for a good laugh. The "resort" was only 12 bures, so it was kind of like summer camp for adults. A few of us went on a snorkel outing for a couple of hours and when we returned I realized "this is the first activity I have done apart from Kate in over 3 months." The resort was super relaxing with daily highlights being: watching the new people arrive on the boat and waiting for the dinner menu which was updated daily. The food was beyond incredible!

Shortly into our stay, a couple arrived to the resort who were going to be getting married a few days later. After hanging out with them for a day, we got invited to the wedding and reception! The wedding was a nifty little ceremony with about 10 other people, a local minister, local church choir, and local music. It was great to get some of the local vibe that night and we sat and drank kava with the band and spoke about their way of life. It was a lot of fun!

Another activity was a cave exploration trip that requires you to swim underwater to get into the cave. We loaded the boat up with the 6 people we had become friends with and headed out. Thinking it would just be our boat would have made too much sense, and when we got there, it turned out to be about 30 people! At first the inner cave was a dark quiet place, but then all the backpackers came in and it became a dark, loud cave with everyone kicking each other while treading water. Not a comfortable feeling...claustrophobia definitely comes to mind. However, swimming underwater from the dark cave out into the light was a neat sensation.

Fiji was the perfect ending to our time abroad and left us ready to get back to the States. We are thrilled to be in Alaska and to meet our new nephew, Owen. Our plan for the next couple of days is to reintroduce ourselves into American culture, get in some great hikes, and to eat as much mexican food as we can handle. First steps today were a trip to Costco, activation of our cell phones and a huge burrito!