Friday, April 17, 2009

Good books and a belated promise

Hi y'all.

I owe everyone a big apology! I promised a wicked post about my holiday at the end of my trip to Texas last year and I have failed to deliver. Yes, there were good books in the way.
Son of a Witch
The Magic Ship
The Lark and the Wren
umm.... I can't remember the rest.

Mum bought me both Don Quixote and Self Editing for Fiction Writers for my birthday - both at my request. I've not begun the Spanish saga yet but I'm looking forward to it.

But now! Photos and some textual dribble about my holiday in the states.


Geoff and I intended to take three weeks and travel out of Dallas to San Diego. We'd go to the zoo, see the city and take a day trip or an over-nighter to Mexico. From SD we'd fly to San Francisco, then up to Seattle. From Seattle we'd drive over the Northern Border to Fort Langley in Canada for a night or two, drive back to Seattle and fly to Pennsylvania. From there to New York, Washington DC, and then the train back to Dallas. When we found out we'd only have time for about ten days at the end of our deployment, we frantically re-shuffled. Pennsylvania was move to Thanksgiving and I've already posted about my stay there in the snow, and Geoff's ridiculous burger. We dropped San Diego, New York, Washington and the train.

First up - Seattle.

We were met at the airport by Geoff's Aunt and Uncle. They're kiwis but the family has moved to the states. Their three children also live in Seattle. As well as his family, there were two other attractions which provided a draw-card for us. The Museum of Flight and the Boeing Factory.


The Boeing Factory

Museum of Flight

I couldn't take pictures on our tour of the Boeing Factory, but since I work on planes it was all very fascinating. On the one side of the hangar is the 747 production line. We viewed them from a high balcony in the middle of the building, above the offices. It reduced the impact of their size but when I saw a man in the 'bucket' of a cherry picker, and how small he looked halfway up the vertical stabiliser (rudder/tail) I realised just how massive these birds are. Our tour guide was friendly, helpful and knew her stuff but it was obvious she wasn't an aircraft tradesperson. She did answer quite a few of my questions about employment there. It might be a great opportunity if I left NZ.
On the other side of the hangar there were plenty of other planes being constructed and at the head of them all the first Dreamliner. It had been all painted up for its presentation at a champagne unveiling, then returned to the 'shop as the work inside wasn't actually complete!

The Museum of Flight was pretty cool, and they had some great planes. They had the first Stealth Bomber and even a mock up of the Wright Brother's plane. (No Richard Pearce in sight however). It wasn't what I had expected though, and we didn't spend a great deal of time there.

Stearman C-3B

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15

Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II

The Royal New Zealand Air Force used to fly Douglas A-4K Skyhawks as our main Strike Fighter force. Before they disbanded the strike wing.

Anyway, from Seattle we drove North and once again crossed the border into Canada to visit my cousins. Viki and Maurice live east of Vancouver in a little place called Fort Langley. It took less than two hours for us drive up.

I know it ain't llamas, but it was the best I could find!

I recommend clicking on this one to make it larger. It was such a beautiful sight. I love the mountains so much and really missed them when I was in Texas. Seeing the sun leave his last golden rays on this peak made me think tenderly of home.

After favouring the snowy peaks, the sun decided to light up the whole sky.

After an hilarious kerfuffle with mistaken houses, lost phone numbers and a cup of tea with some pommy ex-pats who live next door, we finally made it inside for a family catch up and some dinner.

Ju's Little Sister and Cousin Vicki

While I talked the night away about family and Canada and New Zealand, Geoff was happily entertained by the Wii. With a little hand-held controller he could play tennis against a character on the TV, go ten pin bowling or a goodly number of other games. It started snowing that night and before breakfast the next morning I took a picture of the little kiwi sitting in the back lawn. Another little wave of homesickness settled about me, but I was with family and home wouldn't be too far away. Besides - there was still so much to see!

When everything but the head is covered they know they've had a decent snowfall!!

Vicki decided she would take us to the fort before she went to work so we wrapped up warm and jumped in the car. There was a thick layer of snow on the window and the town looked very picturesque. It also looked very cold and not much fun to be in! I'm glad our Christmases are full of sunshine and fun. I like being warm!

Before we made it to the fort, we took a quick detour to the river. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of it anymore but Vicki thought it would be worth seeing. We parked in the lot a little way away from the ferry terminal and had to walk along a jetty. There was no one else around. Vicki decided the ferry would not be running today. Something about a new snow which always makes me marvel is how quiet it is. Heavy flakes come softly down around but never make a sound. The birds and insects must have huddled away somewhere. Only humans are stupid enough to venture outdoors.

It was still snowing too

No ferry today

We didn't go right into the fort either but had a look in the foyer of an info centre at the bottom of the hill. It had a large map of the area on one wall with all the forts and old trader routes mapped on it along with some Indian tribal camps. Vicki explained it wasn't a military fort but a trading centre from which the town got its name. There were some flint arrows and a couple of other odds and ends in glass cases but nothing that caught my real interest.

After dropping my cuz off at her work Geoff and I made our way back to Seattle. In the blizzard.

One thing I noticed about Canada was the friendliness of the people. It just reminded me so much of home. Not two hours away were people who wouldn't meet your eye in the street, and here living next door to my cousins was a wonderful family who invited two strangers into their home, fed them and plied them with funny stories until the neighbours came home. I know they're originally from the UK but to me it just confirms my belief that the Commonwealth is cooler than the USA.

Anyway, back to Seattle. Geoff's uncle took us for a drive around the city. It was definitely a bonus having a local tour guide who also understood how and what we would be thinking. He was informative and intelligent and understood both the American & the Kiwi view on life. It helped me understand some of the prejudices I had been harbouring while in Texas and I found I appreciated Americans a little bit more.

He took us to see:




Some of his Cars:

Then we were off to visit even more of Geoff's family for a big reunion dinner. Thankfully everyone there was friendly and I never really felt out of place. The house was warm, the food delicious and the company just like home.


Coming up next: SAN FRANCISCO!!!


Viking Warrior said...

Bonny Lassy, forget yon States of yankyland that Vikings discovered.

Long boat cometh in South Atlantic, but foundered something dreadful in Tasmin Sea. Poor Viking Warrior swam to Tasmania only to be bitten by yon Tasmanian Devil.

At the moment my sugar pop, I struggleth to make new long boat out of gum trees. Too inflamable. Verily when I smoketh pipe, beard catches fire from wretched gum trees.

Fretteth not fair lass. Eventually thou shalt know some plundering and pillaging.

Viking Warrior said...

Ye hang on in bonny lassy. Keep on holding yon breath!

simon said...

fantastic post.. I have heard that about Canada too!