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Day 106–123, 25 Oct–12 Nov 2008: Hikes, Halloween & Hope in Seattle

First of all: did you know that if you click on the images in the posts, that a larger version will appear on top of the page, all automagically? try it, it is quite cool (pictures need some time to load as they are now 1000pixels wide!).

We had planned to stay maybe a week in Seattle, but it turned out we would stay for 2.5 weeks… Seattle is mostly known for Grunge, Microsoft, Boeing & coffee and it generally considered a nice place to live. I hade been working for a small company in Bothell, close to Seattle, about 8 years ago and had been in the area a few times. The great thing is that the city is huge, but spread out over several peninsulas and islands and that the mountains and nature are never far away…

It was great to see Andy again, after meeting in Uganda and Amsterdam before. He was very busy filming a documentary, connected to the upcoming elections, but still he took us out to see some live music and we went for a great hike up Mt Pilchuk. Not a difficult climb -though it was quite icy & slippery near the top-, but very rewarding, with nice views over the  Cascade mountains. It is wonderful to live so close to the nature and especially snow-capped mountains, something I miss in Amsterdam.

On our way out we stopped for a beer in a typical loggers bar. Neither the beer, nor the people and especially the decoration wasn’t very tasteful 🙂

Time flies when you’re having pain..

The days went passed quickly. We had a lot of rain, but also some nicer days. We walked around the neighbourhoods and went for some short rides. Only once we went out for a real ride; even though there are some biketrails, you really have to look for them and most are not so scenic, mostly just designated parts of the road.

We had been travelling in fall colours since the Yukon, 3000km north, and Seattle was no different. The shots that make up this image were shot in just one street, close to Andy’s place.

My back was starting to hurt again and as my diclophenac pills were finished and I could not get more without a prescription, I switched to an Ibuprofen-rich diet…

It was a bit depressing to see how quickly the days shortened and as we also lost an hour in daylight savings time, we had effectively lost 2 hours of usable daylight in the weeks we were in Seattle, which would make the next parts much harder as we had not much flexibility, time wise.

Ghosts and pumpkins: Halloween time…

We felt at home and overstayed with Andy, who had many other things on his mind. We had temporarily moved out to stay with Nancy, a nice friend we had just met, but after returning we got stuck in ‘daily life’: work, writing, computer/software issues. We spent a lot of time in nearby coffee shops: relaxed places, where you can get a hot chocolate and work on your laptop all day without anybody bothering you..

We had noticed the pumpkins on Vancouver Island and realized that we would be in Seattle in time for Halloween! Though Andy did only get a handful of kids ‘trick-or-treat’-ing at his door, it was nice to see how the neighbourhoods had been slowly taken over by ghosts, carved pumpkins, grim reapers and other ghouly stuff and creatures.

Yes, we can. Hope for a new USA?

As time flew by so quickly, we realized that we would still be in Seattle for the upcoming elections. Of course daily life had been influenced a lot due to the billion dollars spent on the politician’s campaigns: everywhere were signs, stickers, concerts, parties, telephone calls. As Seattle is more progressive than average, Obama was clearly the favorite.

Ivana once remarked that she wondered if we would meet any McCain supporters, so we could get a balanced overview of the political views of the US citizens. The reply was that people not supporting Obama, are probably less likely to host strangers’/travellers like us, so we would likely not meet many republicans face to face..

The days were getting darker and darker and we felt we had to get ready to head South. Winter was till very close, and we have a lot of ground to cover before we would hit the warm lands of Baja/California. Slowly but surely, we were getting lured in a daily job of work and eating, sticking to one spot. We had to switch the delicate balance back to our journey and start travelling again.

Voting day!

The vibe was special, even more than the weeks leading up to the actual elections. As you can see on this poll, nobody outside the US (apparently except Albania & Venezuala?!) would ever think of voting for McCain. Especially with the real risk of him getting a heart attack which would put hockeymum/huntress Ms Palin in charge, but mostly because everybody in the world feels the mess Bush made of the world, in economics, safety and ecologically.

Still, due to the polarisation politics in the US, the difference would not so big, so it was still very exciting to see who would win.

The neighbourhood’s pastry shop was almost sold out, the Obama cupcakes were flying out the door. We visited a voting hall and talked to some volunteers and some voters, though we were not allowed to make any photos or videos inside, it was very nice to see the actual ballots and especially to see democracy at work.

Whatever you think of the candidates or the USA in general, many countries can learn a lot from the way the power would switch without the need of military or religious coups. Let’s just hope that this time all votes would actually be counted…

The coffee shop next door had a ‘freedom day’, meaning you were free to pay whatever you felt appropriate for whatever you ordered! The atmosphere was great, positive but nervous.

We saw the outcome live on TV and felt the big ‘sigh’, nut just from our house, but from the neighbourhood, town, city, state and the world. Congratulations Mr President Barack Obama, for defeating the odds.

Maybe the US can once again become leader of positive change, let’s hope it works out well and that the 300million US citizens realize that one man alone cannot change the world, he will need a mentality change of all citizens if he wants to succeed: No more buying stuff they do not need with money they do not have, no more fear for strangers inside and outside their country and realisation that we only have one world, we need to conserve and protect it and get along with our fellow earthlings…

Goodbye to Seattle

We had received a nice email from a man in Bellevue, 25km east of Seattle. He had found out on that we were in the area and after looking at our profiles, decided we were interesting and had invited us to stay with him and his family. As usual, we let ourselves and our plans be guided by chance encounters like these and so we accepted. We loaded up our bikes, did a short video interview with Andy and headed off under dark skies and in the rain, off to a new part in our journey South through these continents we call America…

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