United States
Denny Regrade

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11 travelers at this place:

  • Day34

    Seattle, and the needle as old as I

    September 4, 2017 in the United States

    Today we explored Seattle, Washington. It was a public holiday (Labour Day) here, and people were everywhere!

    We went up the Space Needle, erected in less than a year for the 1962 World's Fair. Good views, but again, due to smoke haze, we could not see Mount Ranier , and the next volcano likely to erupt, the snow-capped Mount Baker was hard to see.

    We caught the monorail down town, another remnant of the World's Fair, and did some browsing. We went to Pike Place Markets, an old time public market of food, and all sorts of things going from Street level and underground. Lots of interesting things to see.

    Seattle has a huge fleet of ferries, and the biggest suburb of permanent house boats around.

    In the afternoon, it was time to move on as we had to return to Vancouver to prepare for our journey home.

    Tonight we stayed in Bellingham, Washington, and went to an awesome Italian restaurant, where everything was handmade...we had some great local wine, got tipsy, ate ourselves silly and finished with home made spumoni icecream. Divine!
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  • Day27

    Sleepy in Seattle

    September 18 in the United States

    We were up at 4.30 this morning to get ready for a day of travel. That means there are no new pictures today and apart from lugging bags around airports, waiting and then cramming ourselves into full planes we achieved very little, except relocation. We arrived in Seattle 12 hours after we got up. We had had two flights, one to Anchorage and then on to Seattle, completely flying over the nation of Canada in one go, only to fly across a channel tomorrow to touch base with Canada again when we fly into Vancouver for a stop over, before the long flight back to Melbourne via Brisbane.

    So although Ross is now napping I have decided that some of the things that didn't make it into the daily blog can provide some rich comments for today.

    1. American news.
    We have been following what has been happening in the world on American television. Now there is something that is quite bizarre. On one station we were watching, there was a feisty woman who didn't seem to hold her punches. She was clearly out to uncover the misdemeanours (great and small) of the Trump administration. She interviewed people and added such vitriolic commentary that, even though I tended to agree with her position, I didn't feel I was getting the full story. We swapped channels. Then, on Fox, we had a feisty woman who also didn't seem to hold her punches. She was a proud and vibrant supporter of Trump and was loud in her defence of him and vigorous in her attacks on his opponents. Neither channel could be regarded as reliable or credible. I can understand how politicians could quite easily question the reliability of American news broadcasting. By comparison, all Australian news broadcasts (perhaps with some few shock jocks as exceptions) provide a fairly balanced view of the news. I will have to speak up in defence of our media a little more in the future. If our politicians start to attack the media, some of the media might end up becoming more like the Americans and then we would all lose balance. We do not want to go there.

    2. The strangeness of the American traveller: a study in the more precocious American.
    It is completely wrong to lump all Americans in this category because most Americans are not these people. However, the ones who came to our notice most frequently, fit the description of "odd".

    Time and again we would come into a room with the most spectacular scenery just outside, whether it was on board the ship or sitting in the lounge area of the lodge in Denali, with Mt Denali sparkling outside and a crackling fire inside, and the people had their eyes down and their heads focused on playing cards. I don't know what games they were, but one couple were playing cards with great intensity using a small block of wood with holes and little sticks in them. I assume the wood and sticks are keeping record of the score. Apart from the drinks at their elbows I didn't see them lift their heads Other groups of four would sit together for several hours at a time playing some other game. They would chat between hands but usually about the game and then the language was so ripe and proudly loud it would make Rodney Rude blush.

    Another troubling characteristic was with vocal style. Is there some class that some students take in Primary School that removes any melifluous quality to the voice and replaces it with a shrill harshness that penetrates the brain like a sharp object? They don't seem to understand how loud they are and even when told by a nature guide to be very quiet because a nervous animal is nearby and we might get to see it if we don't spook it, this particular character will always speak about something quite unrelated, at a volume that might break glass, then laugh a hearty chortle in complete oblivion of the impact of his or her behaviour. At dinner one night we sat next to two women who essentially screeched the story of their lives to everyone. Their stories were not illuminating, showed no real personal reflection on their lives and exposed their limited understanding to everyone. I desperately wanted them to stop but they were chatty and cheerful and having a great time. I wish them well, but I did find them very wearing.

    For all the raucous travellers, there were many thoroughly charming, polite and interesting Americans from all parts of the country so I feel very keenly my own bigotry in writing these observations, but they are real and commonly remarked upon by others, so I am not alone. I wonder what Americans think of Australians and their backhanded humour and teasing. We must quite frighten them. Certainly the occasional joke left them either bewildered or shocked.

    3. A joke along the way.
    On board one of the train trips, this time between Talkeetna and Denali we had a young bar tender in our carriage who was given the job of telling a joke to those on board by her host boss. She got very excited and then started giggling. She would get two more words out and start giggling again. She had a rather infectious giggle and we were all well fed and watered and so we joined her. I couldn't tell you what her joke was now, except that it was rather lame, but it didn't matter. We had seen her in action earlier and were not surprised by her giggles. The host had asked us the riddle "Where does the polar bear keep his money?" to which the answer was supposed to be "in a snow bank" but, quick as a flash, Murray called out "In his icehole!" She gasped, giggled and then became uncontrollable with laughter. Tears were running down her face and she was gasping for breath. We had all laughed at the quickness and the humour but she was completely overcome by it all. She tried to repeat it to the host who had missed the remark and she just couldn't say it. It is that naivete again, this time a charming version of it. We all enjoyed a hearty laugh.

    4. The art of speech making.
    The day she was with us was the last day of work for our bar tender, as it has been with so many of our guides and servers. The host took his time to thank her for her service and wish her well. Nice! But then he did something that had become a mantra in all preparation for farewells. Someone would wish to point out what a good job this other person had done and how much he or she was valued by the company and colleagues, and that if we wished to show our appreciation, the box for gratuities was by the door. A few minutes later, the other person would get on the mike and give a thanks in reply speech, during which he or she would be quick to remind you of all the things the other one had done for you and that gratuities would be graciously accepted. It was a pattern that was repeated time and again.

    The other thing about the speeches, which seems to me part of the training, is that, whenever possible, make a philosophical remark: "the survival of people in the frontier was all about taking care of each other so we hope you will go back home to your loved ones and take care of them" and so on. Sometimes it felt a little tortured. Is it not enough to admire or feel saddened by a heroic or tragic story without being told how and what we should feel about it?

    5. The place of the military.
    I have great respect for people who have gone to fight against tyranny and liberate an oppressed people, but the Americans have taken it to an art form. People in the military get preference when queueing up in line for seating on a plane. They have special lines in some cases. When a presenter gets up to welcome everyone to a talk or thank them for coming, they would often make a point of thanking any members of the audience who might be our military, for their service to country. This often brings spontaneous applause from the audience and murmurs of praise, gratitude and pride accompany the response. It is good that the people are grateful, but I wonder if they realise how empty those comments might be for some. I find myself reflecting on the work Erich Maria Remarque , "All Quiet on theWestern Front", who had his protagonist Peter Baumer go back to his village on furlough, to find the old men reflecting and commenting on the progress of the war. They saw it as a glorious and gallant and patriotic service to the fatherland. As much as Peter tried to explain that it was about survival and death, injury and pain, dirt and mud and lies, the people at home could not understand. When the soldiers got home the families tried to pick up where they left off with their sons. Even though Peter, and I, expect a great many young men and women in the military love their families, these same families often do not fit in their lives any more. They have been replaced by those fighting comrades who understood the agony of loss and fear and deprivation, the horror and the relief of combat.

    I don't have an answer for how we might address this. Saying thanks may be a good start, but it seems it needs something much more knowledgeable and honest from all of us. Just let it not be a cliche.

    6. Plant identification: The missed bits from Denali and much needed change of tone!!
    Much of the red on the hillsides in Denali National Park comes from two plants. One I don't think I recognised, but the most prolific was the autumnal leaf of the blueberry plants. They covered the ground for kilometres. The bears eat them by the hundreds of thousands a day and while the plants are very low to the ground and not as bushy as we have them at home, they are certainly a vital part of the environment. This is the original home of the blueberry anyway, so I ought not be surprised.

    Also growing in vast swathes, showing up as the shorter yellow plant in the pictures, are willow trees. I think I would have struggled to identify them as willows because they are short, don't have the drooping branches or hang over watercourses here. This particular willow is the white willow and is the one that brought us aspirin from its bark. I have included a rather mangled specimen in the photos today. Its state is not surprising because it is a favourite food of moose and elk. No wonder the moose is so laid back. He suffers no pain!

    I should admit now that much of this blog entry was written the next day. I had made a list of things to write about but just conked out. Ross' continued insistence on telling the story of Seattle being a place where everyone is Sleepless, had worn terribly thin after the first telling and was likely to cause a major rift if he tried it again (for the fiftieth time). We both needed to sleep to recover our equanimity.

    We both slept well and for a long time, but that will be for the next blog entry. I will add photos when we are not in an airport. It is a technical challenge.
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  • Day0

    Day 1

    April 14, 2015 in the United States

    Hotel 5. Arrived at a beautiful modern, central hotel. Very friendly staff who pointed me to a lovely restaurant called Palace Kitchen for a quick bite to eat before bed. The clams in green goddess (?) sauce were stunning but the star was a riesling from Washington State that blew me away.

  • Day2

    Ankomst til Seattle

    May 26, 2016 in the United States

    Efter en lang flyvetur er vi vel ankommet til Seattle.
    En 40 minutters tog-tur samt en lille gå tur bragte os til det mest luksuriøse hotel på vores tur - Hilton Garden Inn i Seattle Downtown. Efter indlogering brugte vi det meste af dagen på at udforske byen, bl.a. fik vi set noget af midtbyen, Pike Market og Seattles havnefront. Den første Starbucks i Verden har hjemsted netop her, men vi fandt den desværre ikke - senere blev vi bekendt med at vi skulle have kigget efter en meget lang kø. Det er et skønt hotel. Der er ikke meget "Sleepless in Seattle" over det, for disse senge skal nok få os på toppen igen efter jetlag, rejsefeber og lange og spændende dage med sightseeing. Opsparingen skulle dog have været lidt større hvis hotel-standarden skulle være af denne kaliber på hele turen.
    Spændende by, lang rejsedag. Dagen får 2,5 ud af 5 stjerner.
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  • Day103

    Seattle part two

    November 14, 2015 in the United States

    By the afternoon I was just completely tired of the rain. My shoes and pants were soaked. I kept on trekking, but decided since things were worth skipping since I was cold and wet. I saw the tallest building in Seattle, but skipped the Amazon campus. I had to see the Frye museum, but also decided to skip the underground tour. I'm still deciding on whether I want to check out the Fremont troll. If I come back out here, I would rather check out the island and whale watch.Read more

  • Day15

    Seattle, day 2

    July 15, 2016 in the United States

    We took the ferry from Ryan's house back downtown this morning to the Seattle Aquarium. It was ok, but nothing great. After that, we had lunch back in Pike Place at Copacabana. Then we checked out the Chihuly Garden and Glass at the base of the Space Needle, which was very cool! Finally, we stopped by Kerry Park for some pics of the Seattle skyline. Now we're headed back to Corey's house to repack/clean out our car before we fly back to Austin tonight!Read more

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