Thunderstorms featured briefly in one weather forecast but they never materialised. In fact, it was a nice day. We spent it indoors, mostly. One of us had a long lie-in while the other watched a couple of TV shows on her phone.
I read my book for a while and spent too long trying to fix a problem on my own phone: one in which email headers are displayed but not the body of the message. Yes, I emptied the cache, yes I turned it off and on again and no, the bug wasn’t fixed.
I did a few hours typing, we went shopping just up the road. Liesel concocted a delicious leek and potato soup.
I went for a quick walk myself, not too far, just downstairs, three doors along into the barbershop. It was great to get my hair cut, finally, after failing to do so in Anchorage. Neither the barber nor his wife spoke English, I spoke no Japanese. I think my sign language conveyed the right message: at least, I came away with a decent trim. I wasn’t seriously worried about the cutthroat razor, nor being turned into a pie, since there are no pie shops nearby. I got a free shoulder and neck massage too which I wasn’t expecting but that may be the normal service here.
We listened to radio programmes, mostly music, from BBC 6 Music, Radio 2 and Classic FM. I’m so glad we acquired the bluetooth speaker, it’s so much more pleasant to listen to than the tinny speakers in our phones.
I’m sure there are interesting Japanese radio shows being broadcast too, and I’m sure I’ll investigate them at some point. But for today, we just wanted something familiar from home.
Today’s afternoon walk only took me as far as KBC. The initial plan was to walk to the nearest barbershop, but it proved to be too far. If I could walk in a straight line across the international airport, it would have been a 20-minute walk. Going the long way round would take well over an hour and half. So my hair is still uncut, unkempt and certainly not making growing fast enough to give me a ponytail any time soon.
In the evening, we went to watch Kiran playing a couple of games of basketball. As we left the house, Liesel pointed out the moose. What moose, I asked, looking into the distance. That moose, said Liesel. Right by the car!
Phil was coaching Kiran’s team and we watched from the gallery, with Una. Basketball is a very fast game, a lot more scoring than soccer, of course, and all the players were very skilful with the ball. Between the two games, Una took us to a nearby coffeeshop that shall remain nameless. No, it wasn’t the Voldemort Coffee shop.
The venue was BHS. Not the now defunct UK chainstore, but Bartlett High School, way over on the other side of town.
To round the evening off, Una took us to the Anchorage Ale House to watch and listen to an ’80s music covers band, I Like Robots. Really, ‘I Like Robots’ is the name of the band. (The copyrighted name for the Alaskan-based tribute band that we’re putting together is AnchoRage Against the Machine.)
We had a good old-fashioned singalong and had the pleasure of meeting a couple of Una’s friends, Lesley and Tina.
The place was heaving, really crowded, the music was loud, the hubbub was louder but man, was it a relief when we finally got seats! I think this is the latest we’ve been out, getting back home just before midnight. The Moon was peeping through the clouds accusingly.
Meanwhile, we’d missed the People’s Vote march in London. An estimated 700,000 people made it the second largest march ever in the UK. More people even than the total population of Alaska! No trouble, no violence, no arrests. A few weeks ago, 7,000 people attended the Leave Means Leave march and caused plenty of trouble. I hope I’m able to participate if there is a second referendum, especially if the option to remain in the EU is included.
We seem to have settled into a routine of going for a walk or a hike and going out to eat or drink. That’s OK, that’s what holidays are for.
An early walk with Jyoti in Kincaid Park was interesting because we had to make a detour to avoid getting too close to a moose, not once, but twice.
And then, in the bushes, we saw a group of three mooses all together. Photos? Nah: I’m pretty blasé about seeing them in the wild, now. Yes, it’s still a thrill (for me, at least) to see them, but they all look the same in photos (no offence, mooses)!
Liesel and I had a late breakfast (early lunch) with another long-lost friend at Organic Oasis. We all chose the same item from the menu, but whereas the two ladies went for small, I chose big. We all agreed that none of us know what we want to do when we grow up, having had a succession of jobs, in offices and elsewhere, that in retrospect, were just a stop-gap until the real thing comes along.
The musical accompaniment here was songs by Paul McCartney, then by George Harrison and a bit later, by John Lennon. No solo Ringo Starr, unfortunately, but we did hear the Beatles’ Hello Goodbye just before we left!
Having slipped on the muddy trail a couple of times in the morning, Liesel decided it was time to buy some new trainers, from REI.
We had a coffee, of course, and by coincidence, Una was having lunch in the nearby Yak and Yeti and she joined us for a moment.
While Liesel was having more treatment from the physio, I went for a walk down towards the railway line and the inlet. Despite being close to the city centre, there was still plenty of Autumnal colour.
At 10:18 on Wednesday 3rd, Liesel’s phone made horrible noise. “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Well, the klaxon certainly stirred me from my near slumber. But where was my message? I had to wait until 10:28 for mine. And then I received a second message six minutes later. Was the test successful? On Twitter, I saw that someone had received the alert three times. Another person complained that soon afterwards, they’d been sent a message inviting them to a rally being held by the President, and was this related? And of course, there was some fun to be had:
Liesel wanted to go out to have some quality girl time, sans moi. At one point, her plans included having two lunches! In the end, she only had a light first lunch, anticipating a second, which then didn’t happen. Oops.
Meanwhile I went for a long walk to Carrs to buy a mirror to replace the one that broke a few days ago.
A man walking towards me said, conspiratorially, “And so, the sky’s walking today.” I thought, he thinks I’m a fellow Russian spy, or something, and I don’t even know the secret reponse. Then my brain kicked in and I realised that he’d really said, “It’s all us guys walking today.”
What a long walk, just to buy a hand mirror. Yes, maybe, but I rewarded myself with another massage while I was there.
As it was two days after International Coffee Day, on the way home, I felt obligated to stop at Kaladi Bros on Jewel Lake for one of their delicious lattes. With a breakfast burrito, this time, for a late lunch. Which was just enough fuel to get me home again. Except…
As I was walking home, Liesel drove by and picked me up. We delivered the chalk to the local elementary school. Chalk that was left over from the garage sale and has been in the boot of the car ever since. The staff at the school were grateful, so I hope the children have some fun with it.
At last, we decided on and bought a wireless speaker. It’s not too bulky, nor too heavy, and it means we can listen to music from both our phones anywhere in pretty good quality. And as I type, I can confirm: my phone can talk to two devices via Bluetooth at the same time!
Asa was supposed to take part in a cross-country run in the afternoon but as he wasn’t feeling well, we didn’t have to go and show support nor did we have to risk sending the runners the wrong way in our rôle as marshals! Instead, Liesel suggested to her parents that we go out for dinner.
We went to Siam Cuisine where I had a bowl of curry noodles with tofu and vegetables. When I say bowl, I mean it was nearly the size of a washing-up bowl. No way could I finish it, and I took the rest home in a carton. Klaus had oxtail soup and I recalled my favourite ever oxtail soup: from a vending machine at Waterloo Station, forty years ago or so!
Cafés and restaurants often (usually?) play music from the Beatles. Well, Siam Cuisine didn’t, they were playing Siamese music, I think. But they did have this blackboard as a nod to the fab four:
Jyoti’s car is now just like me: re-tired. Yes, Jyoti took her car in to have the snow tyres fitted in anticipation of it being snowy and icy when she returns home from her forthcoming trip to Indianapolis and the east coast.
She drove us to Hilltop for a hike through the woods. It was quite chilly and I was very nearly tempted to put on my jacket. But I managed to stay warm enough, the trail was undulating and we had the place to ourselves. Apart from the lady near the beginning who walked by hurriedly with her dog close behind. Hurriedly, and we soon found out why: her big dog had left a big steaming pile on the trail. Very unusual for local dog owners.
The only other person came by on his mountain bike at about 90 mph. Twice. We saw a moose in the distance, thinking about having a go on the ski-jump. Other than that, and a spruce-head bird, nothing. Although Liesel was heard to say “There’s too much wildlife in Anchorage”.
When Liesel and Jyoti are walking, they are also talking. I can’t talk that much. Don’t know what they’re talking about as I listen out for the sound of animals in the bushes!
And I think I’ve found out why they call Autumn ‘Fall’ in America: it’s because that’s when the trees start falling over like drunken teenagers or Judge Kavanaugh.
Yes, I know we used to call it Fall in England too until a couple of hundred years ago, when we started to use the French word Automne!
Oh guess what I found in the email Spam folder? A message from the estate agent that sold our house, asking for a review. Here’s the link, it said, to make it easy for you. Except the link just took me to the page that I would see if I Googled the name of the estate agent. So, sorry, they won’t be getting a review.
In the evening, we joined chef Jyoti at her house for supper: aloo gobi, saag paneer and rice. Us two, Jyoti and Jyoti’s daughter’s boyfriend’s brother Calvin! It was cold and raining when we left, but we were well sated.
Sunday morning, Leslie and Liesel went to the shops. I declined the invitation to join them: instead, I caught up with emails and other administrative tasks. They brought me back some Japanese noodles for lunch, in an attempt to expand my Japanese palate.
We went for a quick walk in the afternoon before being joined for dinner by Aaron, Jodi, Asa and Gideon. Enchiladas, since you ask. And yes, plenty of leftovers.
Next day, Liesel went to the dentist very early. We then drove to Girdwood, just to see the colours of the trees changing. First stop was Kaladi Brothers for coffee. There are a couple of pictures on display here that we’d like to buy. The one I like is, of course, the more expensive. The one Liesel prefers will match our new curtains better!
The views were really gorgeous, especially when the Sun was out. We stopped for an early lunch at The Bake Shop in Girdwood but decided it was too misty and murky to take the lift up the mountain on this occasion, but I hope we do so before we leave Alaska.
After driving back to Anchorage, Liesel visited the physio again while I listened to a lovely hour of radio. On BBC 6 Music, Tom Robinson interviewing Eddi Reader and playing many of her songs. Catch it while you can!
After stopping at Carrs, a supermarket, Liesel drove home while I walked the three miles or so. It was windy but warm and very pleasant. And very colourful. The snow on the distant mountains is called ‘termination dust’, as it’s an indication of the end of Summer.
Liesel’s birthday was celebrated in style. Her Mom made her famous pull-aparts for breakfast! No birthday cake, though. One highlight was a video from lovely Martha wishing her Oma a happy birthday.
Gita took us to see Josh, who was working today in the nearby Nehalem Bay State Park, with plenty of food for his very late breakfast. His commute between here and Portland is quite a long one, so he sometimes kips in the car near the park. Staying in a house with us all for a few days was luxury.
I walked back to our accommodation, not sure whether I should be talking loudly to myself or singing: I didn’t think to ask if there were bears in the area.
But there are elks. I didn’t see one, but I did see the warning sign on our drive to Seaside later in the day.
Gita drove us: it rained a lot on the way. The main attraction for the ladies was the outlets. I didn’t need to see any shopping centres, I’ve seen the mall, as they say.
So after agreeing to meet up with them two hours later, I went for a walk. I was on the search for coffee. What a disaster that was. Number 1 didn’t look very nice. Number 2 looked interesting from a distance but was closed due to refurbishment. Number 3, despite calling itself a café, only sold wine and beer. And Number 4 was a drive-through coffee shop and I would have felt totally stupid queueing behind a huge 4×4. So, no coffee for me, at that time.
But I did enjoy the walk to the actual beach, infinitely more enjoyable than walking round shops when you know you shouldn’t be buying stuff!
It’s halfway through September so I suspect this little front garden cemetary has nothing to do with Hallowe’en:
On my return to the shops, I met Liesel, Gita and Jyoti. Liesel had bought me a couple of shirts (hooray!) and some other bits and pieces for the little people we know back home.
I described my lack-of-coffee experience so Jyoti used her nose and her phone to Google local coffee shops and found one a few blocks away. We drove there and had a great coffee. The barista was very cheerful, happy and smiley, jolly and full of fun and laughter, with red hair and tattoos. I asked for a latte with whatever drugs she was on. (No, of course I didn’t, but I thought about it.)
We’ve noticed that as well as playing Beatles and other British music, many coffee shops support local artists by displaying their works. Most of it is fantastic, some (to me) is nothing special but every now and then, we see a picture that we’d really like to own.
The weather had changed for the better, so on the drive back to Manzanita, we were able to see things. beautiful things, the sea, stacks, so we stopped at a few of the viewpoints and wandered down to a beach.
We didn’t see elk or any other wildlife larger than a seagull and a squirrel. The most unusual creature was a hairy, yellow caterpillar just over an inch long.
It was too cloudy that night to try for more photos of the stars. And the next day, we had to leave this little paradise and return to Anchorage.
Liesel drove along The Pacific Highway, 101, most of the way back to Seattle International Airport.
The music played by my phone was different today. We heard songs from people we hadn’t heard before on this trip. Tom Hingley, Terra Naomi, Bic Runga, Tom Robinson, Pink Floyd, Björk all made a welcome appearance or two. Mary Hopkin’s new recording of Those Were the Days is stunning.
We stopped to have a look at and climb up Astoria Column for a terrific view all round.
I counted 164 steps up the spiral staircase only to find that at the top, every one of those steps was numbered and sponsored by an individual.
We’re planning our 2044 holiday already. We want to be here for the opening of this time capsule:
One surprise was when I looked down at the GPS display and it told us we were at Lake Tahoe. I thought we were driving north to Seattle, not south to California and Nevada. How do you explain this? No prizes, just for fun.
We drove over a really long bridge into Washington state: another fantastic feat of engineering.
Autumn really is coming on, here, the leaves are turning yellow and are just waiting to be blown off the trees.
Our GPS had a couple of hiccups. After we joined the I-5, it tried to take us off on and drive an extra loop before rejoining the highway. Not once, but twice. And as we drove through the Lewis-McChord military base. the GPS displayed no features other than the road itself. Everything else was greyed out.
We dropped the car off, and entered the airport. Good news: the rocking chairs were good fun. Bad news: we sat to eat at a table that was located right by the toilets.
It was nice to see facilities provided for breast-feeding mothers. Or: it was very disappointing to see that breast-feeding mothers are supposed to hide in a cupboard in case somebody takes offence at the sight of a baby with a boob. The hard plastic seat inside didn’t look very comfortable, either.
Well, the flight was OK, I played a couple of games, thrashed the aeroplane at backgammon, I listened to the new album by Florence + the Machine, the one that Felix had played for us the other day. And I read a lot.
Liesel’s long time friend Amy was kind enough to come out at nearly midnight to pick us up from Anchorage airport. Liesel and I are spending a couple of nights at Jyoti’s house as our room at Liesel’s parents is currently occupied by two young German visitors.
I incurred the first serious injury of the trip when the car boot door tried to break my nose. Fortunately, my glasses were not affected.
We’ve had a couple of relatively quiet days based at Jyoti’s. Reading, listening to radio programmes, binge-watching old series of Scandal. I walked up to the bluff for the scenic view, and into the woods a bit.
I would have gone further but I kept hearing animal noises. Scary.
We set out to walk back to the folks’ house, a couple of miles away, but Klaus drove by on his way back from the supermarket and gave us a lift home. On the path, though, I did manage to get a couple of photos of dragonflies. Not the pretty blue ones we’d seen close to water. And not on a nice, green, leafy background either. But it was good to see that they can sit down and have a little rest for me.
After a sandwich at home, Liesel drove to the physio again for more dry needling. I walked to a coffee shop and met Liesel at Carrs for more food shopping. I was pleased to see the full and correct name of a popular time traveller:
Today, we went out for a walk with Una at noon along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. We passed many other walkers, runners and cyclists. In fact, at one point there is a display showing how many cyclists have passed by today, this month, last month and the yearly total.
The photo doesn’t show the display correctly, but there were over 700 today and 58,000 this month. Quite impressive.
Una returned to work at the courthouse and Liesel and I went for a brunch / lunch at The Beartooth.
At Kaladi Brothers Coffee over the road, I confirmed why the world is in such a mess, Bexit, Trump, everything. Someone summed it up in one succinct scrawl:
Liesel dropped me off to buy some apples and I walked the last mile back to Jyoti’s
Jewel Lake is a very pretty lake and there were a few people fishing from the jetty. Close to Jewel Lake, we find Emerald Drive, Jade Street and Topaz Avenue. There’s a theme here, I thought. But I was walking along a big spelling mistake: W Dimond Boulevard. Oops, no. It’s named after Anthony Dimond, a local politician from way back.
Oh: Lake Tahoe. No, we weren’t there, obviously. The screen also displays the name of the song being played at the time and Lake Tahoe is by the fabulous Kate Bush.
Wednesday was a sad day. We said goodbye to Holly and her family. We hope to see them all again soon, sometime, somewhere and of course they’ll always be welcome to visit us in Manchester when we’re back home!
As soon as Liesel started the car today, the audio system started playing music from my phone. Without asking, the Bluetooth connected and turned on my music-playing app. I’ll never understand this technology. A few days ago, the car and my phone didn’t want to talk to each other at all. Today, they couldn’t wait to rush into each other’s arms.
Also, it started to rain again more or less straightaway. So again, we didn’t see much from the I-5. Cascades? Over there somewhere, through the murk.
Liesel requested shuffle mode on the music, so we had quite a variety. Neil Diamond was the first artiste to give us two tracks while Seth Lakeman was the first to 3 and to 4. Not that I was counting. But the view from the car was disappointing. We’d not seen anything on the drive north the other night because it was dark. Today, it was raining. Raining so hard that Liesel was being hypnotised by the windscreen wipers.
We stopped at the first Panera Bread we found for coffee and a loaf of cheesey bread. The assistant apologised for cutting it thin instead of thick, but we didn’t mind, it wouldn’t last long! Like a good novel, it was unputdownable.
What a strange juxtaposition: Elbow followed by Slim Dusty.
I was quite happy that there were no duplicates played and no MP3 radio programmes being played. At least, not for a very long time. Much later, I had to hastily turn off episode 9 of the latest series of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
I commented on the absense of songs by Björk but of course, Liesel was quite happy about that. She said at one point, pretty soon you’re gonna have to start taking notes! I told her I already was. Liesel rolled her eyes.
Before Seattle, we were able to use the HOV lane. That’s for buses and cars with 2 or more occupants. We found out that HOV just means Heavily Occupied Vehicle. As we passed dozens, scores, hundreds of almost stationary cars in the other lanes, I said “so long, suckers”. Well, karma came up and bit us on the ass: we turned off the road by mistake, towards the Park & Ride car park, and lost a lot of time trying to rejoin the interstate.
Jyoti sent a message to say that she was already in Portland, it was sunny and she was cooking. It was hard to believe the weather would change that much during the next 80-odd miles. All we could see was black clouds and rain.
I wondered why the Highway numbers on the GPS and on road signs had a mushroom cloud as a background image. But on close inspection, I realised it’s a profile of George Washington!
I chuckled at an Ian Dury song that came on: Razzle in my Pocket. I thought I should create a playlist from our music collection consisting of funny songs: that would certainly lift the mood on a long drive like this.
Because I’m a wimp, I’d decided I wouldn’t drive this car on (to me) the wrong side of the road, but I did feel a little bit bad that Liesel was doing all the hard work, especially in such conditions.
Just as I was thinking how well the roads were constructed and how good they were at dealing with all this water falling from the sky, the spray from the other carriageway swept over the central reservation: we had our own little Niagara Falls.
It was a long drive and the music was varied, but even so, we were now hearing several songs from the same artistes and I realised that I should have copied over an even more extensive subset of our music collection. The other problem was, some tracks were a lot quieter than others, and not just because some are downloaded MP3 while others are copied from CDs. Plus, I do miss hearing new (to me) music from time to time such as you’d get from Cerys Matthews on 6 Music.
And as I was thinking that, along came Ruarri Joseph. Yes, we have the CD, but we’re not that familiar with it, yet. Good stuff!
As I was looking out of the right side of the car, Liesel told me Mount St Helens, the volcano, was on the left side. Somewhere. Through the murk! We’ll just add it to our list of places to go back to sometime.
Lo and behold! The Sun came out just as we heard sunshine from the car’s speakers: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole singing Panini Pua Kea in Hawaiian!
We passed close by Vancouver but this was a different, smaller one, in Washington. In fact, it’s a suburb of Portland, Oregon. One city divided across two states by the Columbia river. When we drove over the bridge, we felt we were nearly there.
At one place, two lines of traffic merge. The lights quickly flip from green to red to green, letting just one car at a time from each lane move forward. That’s strange, but it seems to work and you’re not relying on other drivers being courteous.
The first stop was Beaverton, the location of our Airbnb. It’s just along the road from Nike’s world headquarters and they’ve been in the news recently for using Colin Kaepernick in their adverts.
Tyler met us at the door, showed us round. There is a white noise machine in our room, in case we need help getting to sleep: some noisy neighbours, apparently! What we didn’t realise was that the only noise would come from our hosts, Tyler and David, doing their laundry late at night!
We set off for Gita’s place in the centre of town. Not far away, but really awkward to get to. In the end, Gita and Jyoti came out on to the street to jump about and wave so we could see where we were trying to get to!
In the apartment, Jyoti gave us donuts and a coffee that she’d bought for me earlier.
It was good to meet Gita again after all this time. We’d last seen her in Italy a couple of years ago.
Gita’s partner Josh returned from work: this is the first time Liesel and I had met him although we’d heard a lot about him from Jyoti!
Over the course of the evening, Jyoti’s brother-in-law Eric arrived with his wife Laurie as did some of Gita’s friends from Portland State University. I think there were 13 people in the apartment at one point, plus a dog. Again, Jyoti’s food was the main attraction and brilliant it was too. And so much of it…
Gita’s Uncle Eric was chatting and as he moved back, he stood on the dog’s squeaky toy. This made eveyone laugh, but outside, there was an immediate and very loud clap of thunder. Eric won’t be standing on any squeaky toys for a little while! It rains a lot here, but apparently it’s very rare to have a thunderstorm.
Liesel drove us home and I think we were both asleep very quickly. Liesel was obviously worn out from all the driving but I’d had limited exercise all day and somehow still felt exhausted. Sympathetic fatigue, probably.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked at the wall where the clock used to be. It’s a surprise every time. Then I remember, it’s been packed. All the pictures have been taken down too and bubble-wrapped. We have twelve boxes of books, seven of CDs and DVDs and several more boxes yet to fill.
Yes, we’ve caught the disease from Jenny and our house is sagging under the weight of filled and empty cardboard boxes. Aha, so we have a moving date in mind, you’ll assume. Well don’t assume anything, as they say, you’ll just make an ass of u and me.
We received an email from our solicitor this morning telling us that our vendors are still waiting for replies to their searches and enquiries. A process that we followed several weeks ago, and we assumed they had too. See what I mean about making assumptions? We thought the hold-up at their end was that their new-build house isn’t finished yet. But no, it’s admininstration that could and should have taken place weeks, if not months, ago.
The sellers’ agent waffled a bit while I was on the phone, I didn’t get a definitive moving date, so reluctantly, we threatened to pull out of the whole thing.
We want to get out of this house so that we can get on with our travels. There are reasons why we want to be in Alaska as soon as possible and not just because of its blink-and-you-miss-it Summer.
Plan B is to put all our stuff into storage for a year so that’s what we’ve arranged. A nice Big Yellow Storage room in (or somewhere close to) Cheadle. We’ll be homeless, yes, but the stuff will be as safe as possible, and we can look for a house when we get back. Scary, Mary. Ideally, we’d prefer Plan A, to move into the flat, which is still the best one we’ve found while searching online. And far better than any of the others that we actually went to look at.
This week, then, we’ll carry on with the packing up, dismantling the old stereo system and shelf units, disposing of items that we’re not keeping and that our buyer doesn’t want us to leave behind. We believe she’s keen to exchange soon and to complete maybe within a couple of weeks. And if we get the bulk of the packing done, we’ll celebrate by going into London and having some fun at the weekend.
I can’t remember the exact details but I suspect that this is the sort of nonsense that led Sarah and I to vow that we would never, ever again, move house when we first moved here, 33 years ago.
While we’re looking back: On this day in 2011, Liesel and I saw Alison Steadman in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit at London’s Apollo Theatre. We enjoyed her performance…
In 2007, we were having our new kitchen installed. This is the day on which Richard the plasterer plastered the kitchen. In the process, many water and gas pipes were hidden within the walls, giving us much more wallspace for storage.
In years to come, I hope we can look back at today’s conundrum and just laugh it off. We’re listening to some nice, relaxing songs. Moving house and all that is frightening but the music is soothing and we both started grooving, yeah, yeah, yeah…
Sorry if you were hoping to read something about Plan B, the musician!