Posts Tagged ‘florida’

So near yet so far

18th November 2010 by Helen

Tuesday 15th November: After waking in the National State Park campsite we realised we couldn’t pay the site fee as it’s cash or check (US spelling of course now we are in the US) only and we only have a couple of dollars in cash, so we slipped out of the park nice and early and headed on our way.  Does this make us criminals?!

It’s not far into Seattle and we soon find ourselves on a highway driving past the port from where we can see Landy’s ship (CMA-CMG Ravine) in port and almost completely unloaded with all the containers on the quay.  We wave and say hello to Landy as we pass.  So near and yet so far.

After hopping around the coffee shops trying to access internet without breaching parking regulations while we keep up communications with our agent about what happens next, we are relieved to be able to meet up with Carl & Marilyn, our expedition hosts for the next few days while we continue to negotiate the vagaries of the US temporary car import system!!  More on that in a later blog.

Our Seattle stop enabled the Jeep’s transmission to be fixed.  This gave us time to have a quick explore of Seattle and we have seen the enormous Microsoft ‘city’.  At a glance it almost looks like an entire housing estate but it’s not housing, it’s all offices.  Some 80,000 people work for Microsoft here.  They have their own gym, shops, eateries, etc.  The grounds are landscaped and the whole is a very pleasant environment.  Apart from that we’ve seen the Google offices and driven over the floating concrete bridge that crosses the huge lake in the middle of Seattle.  We’ve also shopped at Costco, in effect a warehouse outlet for the individual shopper moving bulk storage from the shop to the garage.

But still we needed to move on and quickly.  With the Jeep fixed, and feeling utterly helpless, on Friday 18th we took a deep breath, handed Landy’s precious keys over to our US agent to ensure he is able to be moved around the port to meet the various US port/import procedures.  And so it was we headed out on to Interstate 90 heading south east to Florida.

Wells Fargo really does exist!!

31st October 2010 by Helen

It’s been a fairly uneventful few days.  We’ve learned a bit more about Alaska, where to go, what to see.  The road system is fairly straightforward: three key roads form a triangle joining Anchorage, Fairbanks and Glenallen, with about another five roads linking these to other key places.  There’s only a couple of train lines that run down the west coast and they don’t seem to run out of season (ie, now) and the buses out of town run ‘as and when’.  Our packs are too heavy and cars too few and far between to make hitch-hiking an attractive option (at our age).  So we have concluded driving is the only way to go.

I said I’d give an update when I knew what we were doing.  So here it is.  We have been told that Landy is due to land in Seattle earlier than we expected, late November, which we are pleased about.  In the meantime we have been in discussion with a lady in Florida to drive her car from Anchorage to Florida before taking an internal flight back to Seattle.  Yes, we know that’s not what you expected!!  Neither did we, but we’re looking forward to the new opportunity to see some of the other States we had not otherwise planned to visit.  The family obviously want their car delivered but, within reason, we will have the opportunity to take in some of the sights we had not otherwise expected to see.  And we still need to be back in Seattle in plenty of time to meet Landy off the ship.

In the meantime we have been enjoying a relaxing time at the hostel.  Out of season things are pretty relaxed.  There are four other people living here: apart from the owner who is in residence for the winter there are three men who are all around our age, mostly employed in the fishing industry in some way.

Temperatures outside are mostly below freezing.  We’ve walked around this part of the city a couple of times, finding the shops and getting any supplies we need.  At one point we asked a cyclist and asked directions.  It turned out our destination was probably some distance away.  The man himself was amazed at the fact we were ‘walking’, which he kept repeating while shaking his head.  When I said ‘brilliant’ in thanks at the end of our conversation, he said no-one had ever said brilliant to him before!!  And rode off still shaking his head!  We still get thrown by some of the words and phrases but American English is a lot easier to follow than Russian or Mongolian was.

Loads of shops have had Halloween decorations.  Pumpkins have been on sale everywhere.  The front garden of the small wooden house next to the hostel has been full of pumpkin and other Halloween decorations.  On Sunday (31st), lots of older children, teenagers and young adults were out and about in Halloween costumes during the day.  However, there were no ‘trick or treat’ calls during the evening – don’t think I’d want to out in fancy dress costumes when it’s below freezing outside either.

Wandering around one supermarket we were surprised to see hanging above us a canoe for sale.  As our eyes lowered we were even more bemused to see racks of shooting rifles and then right in front of us glass cabinets full of handguns.  You don’t get those in Tesco’s in England!!  We were less surprised to see the latest issue of ‘Mushing’ on sale, and of course there are plenty of books in the supermarkets reflecting local scenery and stories.  We’ve seen for real the stores that are just ‘names’ in England, such as JCPenny and Sears.  And Wells Fargo really does exist as a bank here – to me it’s always been a bit like Timbucto and Outer Mongolia, a myth shrouded in the mysteries of cartoons and Westerns, fables and time.