3 Weeks in September
This has been over a month in the making; new jobs and things don’t lend themselves to free time for blog writing! Anyway, September was quite a month I secured a new job, which is awesome, but the family and I spent three weeks in the USA visiting San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo & New York. The highlight of our stay, and the reason we went in the first place, was a wedding in Buffalo but there were a fair few others that came close. I’ll apologise now if this post turns in to prose overload but we crammed a fair amount into the time we were there.
Our first destination was San Francisco. A long time friend of mine had recently moved there from Ponca City and the city itself was one I’d wanted to visit for a long time. After a straight forward flight from Sydney (via Los Angeles) we touched down early afternoon. This felt a little odd as we arrived barely a couple of hours after we’d left Sydney; yay for the International date line! Unfortunately we were held up a fair bit by an exceedingly long wait to get our hire car. Still we were offered a free upgrade and we ended up in what was the nicest car of our entire trip. We didn’t really do much other than catch up and just enjoy not being on a plane and it was great to see Craig again having not seen him in about 8 years. However, it didn’t feel like it, picking up as if we’d only just seen each other the previous week. Come morning, however, and we were up and at ’em as it was Father’s Day in Australia and my present was a trip to “The Rock.” It was such an interesting place to visit and even though we missed the boat we were booked on to, it meant we arrived in time for a Ranger guided tour about the history of the island. After this Cat left me to wander the jail and it surrounds, soaking up the intrigued and history contained within. Before we headed back we visited the pier and the resident sea lions and even spotted a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant which was pretty cool. We then venture back home and enjoyed a lovely evening with Craig & Meredith.
The following day started down at the foot of the Golden Gate bridge. It’s impressive to get up close to and presented me with some lovely photo opportunities. Our actual destination was Muir Woods where you can find the giant Redwoods which are, well, giant! I couldn’t quite get over how huge these trees are but it was a beautiful place to walk around. We made our way back via a pit stop for ice-cream and we split up allow Craig and I to tackle Lombard Street (the rather steep twisty road) as well as taking a trolley ride. San Francisco was a blast and I’d very much love to go back again for longer to really explore the city as something tells me it’s a city that I’d very much like to live in.
Our next destination was Seattle, well, I say Seattle we were very much in the rural outskirts of the city. It’d been a few years since I’d last been there but it was still nice to visit again and with us being out in the sticks we got see a few things and places we didn’t last time around when we were staying in the city itself. One such place was a restaurant with 160 beers on tap which was a lovely night out with good friends and an opportunity to sample some interesting beers and ales. Myself and one of the friends we were staying with also went to watch the Seattle Sounders play MLS against Real Salt Lake. It was a fantastic game with a last gasp winner for Seattle. The atmosphere was very impressive and very much enjoyed the level of football on display. The other was going to Mt. Rainier, we were blessed with beautiful blue skies which made our walk quite lovely.
The rest of our time in Seattle was spending time with our friends and their 4 kids on their farm. Having not spent any time on a farm since I was a child it was quite interesting hearing geese, chickens and what have you at various times of the day and night. We did what we could to help out and Chloë, I think, enjoyed the different environment and all the different animals. We then packed everything up and headed to our next destination; Buffalo!
Buffalo was the starting point of where this holiday came from as we were to attend the wedding of one of Cat’s closest friends. Cat had been before but I hadn’t and whilst some people queried why, exactly, I was off to Buffalo and listed a few reasons why I shouldn’t by the end of our time there I’d say Buffalo is awesome! We spent our first night with our friends in their lovely home but the rest of our start there was at a local hotel one which, as it turned out was to be used by the San Diego Chargers ahead of their game with the Bills (a game I was fortunate enough to attend). Ahead of the wedding we did what we could to help out and prepare for the big day which included a brief trip in to Canada to pick up my attire for the day which was a kilt. I’m not sure what the border patrol person thought when we advised what I business was in Canada but they let us in anyway. Some of the questions did strike me as odd such as asking if the child in the back was ours and so forth but I suppose it’s protocol.
For me there were three highlights of a stay in Buffalo, first and foremost was the wedding. It was a glorious day with a very touching and personal ceremony with two of the most sweetest and heartfelt wedding vows I’m ever likely to hear between two people very much in love. I can’t convey how awesome these two people are but I know they’re perfect together and I hope we’ll be able to visit them many more times in the future. The evening reception was great fun too and I felt really honoured that we could be part of their special day.
Second was visiting Niagara Falls. Pictures of the falls and the surround just cannot get across how much water goes over those falls and how epic they are to witness in person. I came across a list of sights that disappoint tourists and inexplicably Niagara Falls was on it! I was mesmerized by them and would say if you can go, do so and to hell with silly lists!
Finally the pre-game/game between San Diego and Buffalo. I was kindly invited to a pre-game tailgate party with some friends of the now married couple who’d kindly given me one of their tickets and I was well looked after. I played beer pong for the first time and even won a game which was awesome, tried my first beer bong which was interesting and well, just generally had an awesome time with some very awesome people. Even though Buffalo went on to lose the game the day was just epic and made some new friends who I hope to keep in touch with.
After a fun-filled stay in Buffalo we then headed to the train station this time rather than the airport for our next destination which was meant to be Philadelphia. However things didn’t really go to plan as the train was initially 3 hours, I think, late getting to Buffalo and by the time we got to New York where we needed to change any and all trains had ceased and we were stuck in New York. Whilst this was up as our next destination we were a day earlier and no accommodation till the following day. Thankfully we were in the city that doesn’t sleep and it was daytime in Australia. Some quick phone calls and a walk of a few blocks we managed to secure a room for the night with a cot and rested our tired and weary heads after a quick Maccas (as the buffet car on the train was closed for the last few hours of our journey). The next day Cat and Chloë headed of to Philadelphia anyway to visit one of Cat’s friends and I went and got the keys to the flat we were to stay in for the next couple of days as well as our luggage. Once this was all done I had a day to myself in New York to do some of the touristy things that Cat could take or leave such as getting a hot-dog from a street vendor.
We packed a lot in to the few days we had in New York. In no particular order we visited Times Square, the M&Ms store, 5th Avenue Apple Store, Empire State Building (the top), Statue of Liberty (including the crown), Ground Zero memorial, Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island, Grand Central Station as well as just soaking up the vibe and the feel of the city that is New York. Whilst were there the UN was in town so that was rather interesting with police officers on almost every corner of Manhattan. I even had my walk home delayed significantly when I couldn’t cross a particular street because Barack Obama’s motorcade was about to arrive. We also caught up with a couple of friends too who were in town including the rainy morning of our departure back to Australia. If I was to pick a highlight of our brief time in New York it would be Chloë charming everyone who was at the Statue of Liberty that day as she waved to everyone who came up the stairs.
So after a whirlwind three weeks it was finally time to go home. I really wished we could have spent more time in the US and I hope we can come back soon to check out some of the things we didn’t have time to do and spend more time with our friends over there. The flight back was straight forward with Chloë being her awesome self and really not complaining too much. We got back to Sydney and then, after a bit of a drive, Canberra and whilst we were glad to be home we knew there was only a few days before my new job started and I was off flying again to Europe.
I’ll look back very fondly on this trip as was just such an awesome three weeks.