Final Route Map

So when we finished our 2010-2011 trip, we posted our final route map and total miles/hours traveled almost immediately after returning home. How lazy we have gotten in three years… Though we finished our most recent trip three months ago (has it really been that long?), we Mike took it upon himself to start wrapping up the blog.

Enlarge the map to see all of our stops along the way:

Before embarking on this trip, we posted our route. We pretty much had everything booked/planned except our itinerary for the South Island. Whoa, living on the edge in New Zealand… While we have absolutely loved the two big trips we have embarked upon, we still do not feel that we have seen a majority of the world. Wait until we are old, retired, and rich; then we will see the world in style.

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Step Three, Part A: Jobs

After two months in Seattle, some exciting news can be shared. The fairer one of us is gainfully employed. Following the path set after our 2010-2011 trip, Hanna was the first to find a job this time around as well. She couldn’t be more excited to spend her days with people other than Mike.

A grocery store cake (Hanna’s favorite kind) was bought to celebrate this momentous occasion:

Cake (Not the Hit Saturday Morning TV Show).

Cake (But Not the Hit Saturday Morning TV Show).

As Hanna enters the working world again, Mike will continue his job search while crossing off household chores on a list Hanna leaves for him every single workday.

It’s Always Rainy in Seattle

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The rumors are completely true. All it does in Seattle is rain. The above picture is obvious evidence. The raindrops are so big that you can’t ever see Mount Rainier…ever. We have had absolutely no days of sun, and we still cannot believe that we moved to a city surrounded by such ugly scenery.

(This view is about a five-minute drive from our apartment. And now back to another month-long stint of not writing any new blog posts…)

The First Week

After months of traveling, we are finally in Seattle. The actual move really was not that bad. Hanna’s dad kindly helped us haul our crap over here, and the load-in/load-out process only took about thirty minutes each. The only big items we took with us were our mattress, box-spring, and TV, so boxes took up our living room for the good part of a day:

Only a Fraction of the Loot.

Only a Fraction of the Loot.

We cannot believe that a full week has passed since we moved into our new apartment, but we really like our new place. Since we are currently unemployed (but not homeless), here’s what we have done during our first week in our new city:

  • Made the requisite IKEA/Walmart/Fred Meyer trips. We’ve bought all the absolutely necessary household items based on the following criteria: “Is this something we NEED or something we WANT?” Clearly Tillamook Oregon Hazelnut & Salted Caramel ice cream that was on sale is a need. Having a car has made shopping so much easier.
  • Set up internet and cable. Let it be said: we hate Comcast already. Hanna is sick of Mike telling the whole story, but here’s the short version: we are using our own modem and picked up the cable box from the service center, but The Man already tried to charge us installation/activation fees and a monthly service protection fee. Needless to say, Mike got all of these waived.
  • Tiptoed through the tulips with Hanna’s sister Greta. The Skagit Valley is about an hour north of Seattle, and April brings out the multi-colored flowers:
    Rows and Rows.

    Rows and Rows.

    Mike and Flowers (with Cameos from Greta and Hanna).

    Mike and Flowers (with Cameos from Greta and Hanna).

    Pink, Red, Yellow.

    Pink, Red, Yellow.

  • Hung out with some of Hanna’s high school friends and explored our new neighborhood. One of our most favorite places nearby is Golden Gardens. This beach park was absolutely packed on a Sunday night…which may annoy us when the weather is nice. That being said, we are in love with the sunset views:
    No, Not Us. Look at Those Mountains Though.

    No, Not Us. Look at Those Mountains Though.

    Beach Party.

    Beach Party.

    Unreal Sky.

    Unreal Sky.

So far, so good, huh? After living in New York for almost thirteen years, we are in awe of the natural scenery here. Not a day goes by that one of us says, “Wow, look at that!” or “Geez, the mountains look fake!”. Adding to our love of the city so far is the weather. People who say that it rains in Seattle every day lie. We’ve been here a week, and it has been perfectly gorgeous and hasn’t rained at all. (We are pretending that the all-rain forecast for the next week does not exist.)

We will continue to post on here sporadically when the mood strikes. Final posts about total miles traveled and trip wrap-ups should have been written already. Whoops. In time, friends. Don’t worry…we will write the all-important Step Three: Jobs post whenever that happens.

Step Two: Apartment

About thirty-six hours passed between signing the papers on our new car to hitting the road. We don’t waste any time. Mike was in the driver’s seat for the trip from Spokane to Seattle, and Hanna played DJ (which means she listens to about thirty seconds of a song and then skips to the next). We had a nice introduction to the weather we will be expecting in Seattle; it pretty much drizzled during the whole five-hour trip. The drive turned slightly scary in Snoqualmie Pass (think mountains and lots of wind) when it started snowing. Please keep in mind that a) we just bought a new car, and b) we rarely drive in snow. As we were able to write this, we obviously persevered. Sure was a pretty view once the snow ended:

Washington or New Zealand?

Washington or New Zealand?

After making it to Seattle, we began our apartment search. Apartment-huntin’ is a bit different in Seattle. In New York we would typically go to a broker, ask to see no-fee apartments, and then view a bunch of apartments in a single day. This ease doesn’t seem to exist in Seattle. Most rentals are found on Craigslist, and you sit…and wait…and wait for someone to call or email you back. We sent countless emails and left a billion messages for people. Good times.

Over the course of three days, we saw about ten apartments. We got super excited about one in particular. We had a 1:45pm appointment to view it, and the woman called us at 1:28pm to say that we could come early because no one showed up to the previous appointment. By the time we arrived (literally like three minutes later), the stupid dummies who were late had just arrived. The apartment was in a great Queen Anne location (walkable to a grocery store and many shops), had two bedrooms, and was a decent size. We knew we wanted this place…but so did the couple who showed up before us. Since they did get there first, the apartment was theirs. We hate them. We left there in a mopey mood.

The owners of the last apartment we were going to see were holding an open house from 2-3pm, and we got there around 2:45pm. Upon walking into this place, we (Mike especially) knew that we wanted it. Two bedrooms! Patio where we could put a barbeque! Dishwasher! Washer and dryer IN the apartment! Full bath upstairs and half bath downstairs (yes, it has an upstairs and a downstairs)! Free parking space! Storage closet in the basement! While these amenities may seem standard to some, these things are gold to New Yorkers. This just felt like a grown-up apartment to us.

Another couple was finishing up their tour, and we assumed they would get this place. The woman was pregnant, and this two-bedroom apartment seemed perfect for them. We patiently waited for them to say goodbye to the owners, but to our utter surprise, this couple DIDN’T fill out an application. They said that they would email it. We ran over, chatted with the kind owners, and filled out an application on the spot. We were the last ones to see the apartment, and we left there feeling pessimistic. Even though we explained our jobless situation, we thought that this apartment would definitely go to someone else.

As we were driving back to Hanna’s sister’s apartment, the phone rang. It was the owners of the last apartment. They were pleased to tell us that the place was ours. You don’t even know how excited we were. We zoomed over to the owners’ house where a “WELCOME, MIKE AND HANNA!” greeted us on their front door. We chatted and filled out the paperwork, and the apartment was ours. Officially ours.

Wanna know what we are doing today? Moving in. We are bringing all of our stuff from Spokane to Seattle today, and we are proud to say that we really do have a place to live.

We Don't Have Any Pictures of Our Apartment. Enjoy This Sunny Day in Seattle Instead.

We Don’t Have Any Pictures of Our Apartment Yet. Enjoy This Picture of a Seattle Park on a Sunny Day Instead.

Step One: Car

Now that our trip is over, it’s time to face real life again. We are hesitant to accept this fact, but it’s been a bit easier this time around. When we returned from our last yearlong trip in the summer of 2011, we visited our families and then went back to the same apartment in New York. As we didn’t have jobs, we left the air conditioners off during the day and pretty much sat in the sweltering dark while job-searching. We had a bit of a hard time adjusting back: we spent a year having wonderful experiences, but once it was over, sometimes it felt as if the trip never happened.

Since our trip that just ended was only a few months, it hasn’t been as hard. Moving to a new place makes it feel like a new adventure is starting. Though we do miss our friends in New York, we are excited about our new lives in Seattle. Shiny optimists we are…

Upon returning to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, we knew we had three steps: car, apartment, job. Some might say that the third step should have been our first priority, but in order to get from Hanna’s parents’ house in Spokane over to Seattle, we needed transportation. We will not bore you with the details of car-shopping as no one really LIKES car-shopping, do they? If you are one of the few, we will let you pick out our car next time.

Since neither of us are car aficionados by any means (and have not driven on a regular basis in over ten years), Hanna’s dad kindly tagged along. We had absolutely no preferences: color, type of car, new vs. used, etc. All we wanted was a reliable car that had a decent amount of sitting room. Picky, aren’t we? We looked at about five dealerships and discovered that a new car is not that much more expensive than a used car. We would rather rely on a warranty than worry about having to put time and money into an older car.

Since we are such massive Psy fans, we knew which car we wanted to buy:

Yup, that’s right. We bought a hamster car–a Kia Soul. This guy even sold it to us:

Hamster, James Hamster.

Hamster, James Hamster.

We have owned it for a little over a week and have been super happy with it so far. It’s weird to own a car. We still feel like it’s a rental. Guess we’re growing up…

We Don't Live in New York Anymore. We Own a Car. Who Are We?

We Don’t Live in New York Anymore, And We Own a Car. Who Are We?

End of Trip Haiku

The trip is over.
Hard for us to accept this.
Can’t we travel more?

Car, apartment, job…
Three steps needed for real life.
Will write more posts soon.

Hong Kong. January 9, 2014: The Beginning of Our Trip Feels Like Forever Ago.

Hong Kong. January 9, 2014: The Beginning of Our Trip Feels Like Forever Ago.