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Adventures Archive



August 2018



Lisbon is Amazing (Ryanair is Not)

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Part of the appeal of moving from Seattle to London is the ability to travel all over Europe fairly easily. Our first attempt to actually do this was thwarted by a snowstorm in March (we promise we’ll get to you some day, Belgium), so we decided that our five-year wedding anniversary would be the moment. We picked Lisbon as the spot, as it was a country that neither of us had been to before, and booked five nights away.

Lisbon has something I appreciate whenever I travel: an easy way to use public transportation to get to and from the airport. Upon exiting baggage claim at the Lisbon airport, you’re literally facing the entrance to the subway. Tickets were easy enough to procure, and the one transfer we needed was simple to follow (the train lines are color-coded). It was then just a short walk to our hotel.

After we were settled, we decided to walk around, and realized that we were in town on a religious holiday. Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday, and in Lisbon they close of streets for a processional, and they also pump the mass audio out into the streets. We were beyond confused at first because we didn’t realize what was happening — we were just hearing choir music all around. A little Googling helped us determine we hadn’t wandered onto a movie set.



Because this was an anniversary trip, we went a bit overboard in hotel selection, picking Hotel Corpo Santo which is currently #2 in Lisbon. It was amazing. It’s a new hotel, and not overdone or absurdly fancy — it’s just a lovely place to be, in an excellent location. The staff were delightful, our room was comfy, the shower had lighting and music displays that you could choose to accompany your time in there), and the windows blocked out all the noise. We were only a couple of floors above the main street, and we could hear nothing. Glorious.

It might be a questionable choice, but the first place we got food in Lisbon was at a Mexican restaurant called Mez Cais, which was just across from our hotel. I enjoy eating local food, but I also think it’s kind of fun to try food from other countries while traveling, to see if it similar to what I expect of such cuisine in my own neighborhood. This was delightful — the margaritas were excellent.

In fact, throughout our time in Lisbon, we had some very good meals, and some fine ones. On the day we visited the castle (more below), we were hot and exhausted and ended up at an Italian restaurant. Their A/C made it one of the best meals I’d had in awhile.

(Side note: has anyone figured out how to do lunch when traveling? I’m always exhausted from site-seeing, cranky from waiting too long, and overwhelmed by options.)

We sampled from the Confeitaria Nacional, which had some tasty (and some odd) baked goods.

We went to the beer museum where I got green wine and accidentally ordered cod cakes.

But honestly, our best meal was probably our last night, which was at the hotel! I know, hotel restaurants aren’t usually the stuff of memories (well, good memories), but this was great. The food was delightful, the waitstaff were so so nice, and the suggested wine pairings were spot on.


On our third night in Lisbon, there was a friendly football match that we wanted to catch. We initially were in a place called the American Bar. We left at the half because folks were smoking inside. And I’m so glad we did, because next door was Crafty Corner Beer. They serve local beers, have one giant bottle of cider if beer isn’t your thing, and a small bites menu that comes from next door. It’s a relaxed environment that we returned to each night because we could grab a drink, settle into a chair or stool, and just read or relax.

We also got drinks at one of the outdoor cafes along the Tagus. It was beyond relaxing to sit at a shaded table on a sunny day, just sipping something cold and reading a good book.

June is when the Festivities of Lisbon take place, so there were little pop up markets in many of the city parks. The one across from our hotel featured some traditional Portuguese singing one night – everyone in the area was singing along and having a blast. It was delightful.

There is a ton to do and see in Lisbon — here is a sampling of what we did.

We visited the old palace, which is now open to the public as a museum. They did not fuck around with their dinner parties.

We enjoyed walking around that neighborhood because it wasn’t as tourist-focused as some others, at least not on the walk from the palace to the river. It felt more like just a normal place where people live.

Also, there were peacocks.

So. Many. Peacocks.

By chance an M. C. Escher exhibition was in town, and we stumbled upon it as we were exploring the Alges area.

We also looked at the monastery from the outside, but the line to get in was a bit long.

Instead, we went down to the river and spent a little bit of time puzzling over this giant monument. The focus on exploration as a very Portuguese thing is understandable, but there wasn’t a lot of acknowledgment of the whole colonizer thing…

We walked up to the Castelo de Sao Jorge, which gives you an amazing view of the city.

We walked back down, and saw some shops (include bookshops!)

We strolled through back streets and visited church ruins.

We also visited the museum celebrating the works of Jose Saramago, who wrote my favorite book – Blindness. (That’s his Nobel Prize!)

Lisbon was a lovely place to visit, and I think the five nights we spent there were enough to get a small taste of the full city. We’d like to come back, but this time rent a car and travel out to some of the nearby cities and parks to see more of Portugal beyond the city limits.

Air Travel
Only read this if you have a strong stomach…

We made the rookie mistake of booking Ryanair for our travel. It was the cheapest, and had some good travel times. But we failed to factor in the fact that you have to FLY RYANAIR. Which is really never what anyone wants.

Our flight to Lisbon was slightly delayed, but that was fine. It was the return that was awful. It was pretty toasty in the airport (we were in the ‘budget’ terminal, which includes some chairs, some gates, and a McDonalds), and once we were scanned through to board the plane, there were no screens, so we had no idea what was going on. At one point we were close to our departure time and still smushed into this little unventilated part of the airport. So I called Ryanair.

Me: “Hi, we’re boarding for the flight to Heathrow but we have no idea what is going on. We’re through the gate but not to the plane and there’s no information. Is our flight delayed?”

Them: “You should talk to the gate agent.”

Me: “I would, but you see, we can’t get to them, because we’re already through the gate.”

Them: “Oh, well I see that there are some thunderstorms in the area, so maybe you’re delayed by like an hour?”

Me: “Maybe? Or is that actually what is happening?”

Them: “I don’t know, I’m just saying the weather might cause a delay.”

Me: “Okay … I’m calling though for actual information, not guesses. Can I speak to your supervisor please?”

Them: “Ha ha. No.” Click

Yup, Ryanair hung up on me. I was flabbergasted. But then we were released to board the plane. When Austin went to put his seatbelt on, we discovered … vomit. Vomit on the seatbelt. Vomit on the seat back that had been sort of wiped off. Little bits on the floor. You see, Ryanair is so fucking cheap that they don’t even have seat back pockets, which means they don’t have barf bags, so if someone lets loose, it’s going everywhere.

We told a flight attendant who came back with some cleaning supplies but then said “nope” and told us to “find other seats.” Um, what? Austin was able to find one, I was not, so I sat next to vomit for the two hour flight.

I complained to Ryanair. They basically told me to go fuck myself. So yeah, I don’t care if they are paying me, I’m never boarding one of their planes again.



July 2018



“Bring the Noise”

Written by , Posted in Adventures, Politics

Since moving to London in January I’ve felt a bit disconnected from the US political nightmare that is President* Trump. I do listen to podcasts of the three MSNBC evening shows (Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell) daily to at least stay informed, but especially since I’ve left Facebook and Twitter, it hasn’t been as in my face as it was during the first year of his presidency*. Plus, I’m living in a country that has its own absurd nightmare unfolding (*cough* BREXIT *cough*), so sometimes its too much to process all of it and I end up watching reruns of Game of Thrones just to experience some lighter fare.

It’s also been a bit challenging to get acclimated to our new community. I want to support folks fighting against oppression, but I also just got here six months ago and so am not entirely sure of all the different issues, nor do I know who the trustworthy players are. I’m working at learning, but it’s definitely taking time.

That said, a few months ago (while still a member of Facebook), I started following the Women’s March London. When it was announced that President* Trump would be visiting the UK sometime in July, they scheduled a “Bring the Noise” protest. Once the date was finalized, I responded to a call for volunteers and ultimately agreed to serve as a march steward.

At a little after 10 on 13 July, we gathered near the BBC headquarters near Oxford Circus and received instructions, along with some gorgeous high-visibility vests and wristbands identifying us as part of this march. That ultimately proved handy as many, many individuals had high-visibility vests and shirts on that day. Myself and a handful of other women volunteered to serve at the back of the march, basically ensuring the group stayed together and allowing for the street sweeper (as well as an ambulance and a police vehicle) to follow behind.

In anticipation of crowds not being sure where to go, we were dispatched to tube station exits nearby. We did a lot of shouting at folks with placards to direct them to our meeting point. However, there was a second march scheduled for around 2 PM the same day (and following a similar route), so we did get some confused folks.

In fact, the sole negative interaction I had came from someone who was looking for the steward meeting point for that parade. He asked where the stewards were meeting, and I asked “for which march?” I think that must have deeply offended him, as his next statement was “the main one.” I sort of tilted my head at him because I was genuinely confused. Again, I’m no longer really on any social media, so while I knew there was another march, I had no real idea who was involved (other than the Socialist party, as they had signs already out at 9 AM), and I certainly didn’t know if that one was meant to be the larger, or if the Women’s March was. “Which is the main one?” He got quite huffy and said “No disrespect, but you know what I mean.” Unfortunately for both of us, I really didn’t, so I said so, to which he responded “I’m just trying to do a good thing. God!” And then stormed off.

People can be so odd.

The start of the march itself was lovely. There were opera singers who sang a couple of songs and then led the crowd in “We Are Family” before the march stepped off. The back of the march finally crossed the start line about 20 minutes later, and ultimately spent about 90 minutes marching through central London to Parliament Square. It was loud. It was fun (at times). It was depressing to think about how this was so necessary. There were some fantastic signs, some great costumes and make-up, and a lot of people with children. It was inspiring, and also at times frustrating.

Because of the other march, some folks saw us marching and thought they’d missed it, so they jumped in with us. Which, the more the merrier! But we always made sure to let them know what this march was, and where the other was starting just in case it wasn’t where they wanted to be.

It was also a warm (though not oppressively hot) day, and some folks were a bit slow, so we’d have to encourage them to speed it up a little because there were rather large cars following quite close behind us and they were encouraging us to keep the gaps as small as possible. There were community liaison officers from the police department there as well, and they were nice and helpful, but I’ve got some feelings about policing in general, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to interact with the men. It is a bit of a different dynamic here as they don’t carry guns so there isn’t the immediate fear that a wrong word will lead to a POC getting shot, but still.

Once we passed Trafalgar Square it got a bit harder to contain folks as the streets there are wide and the road was closed the entire way. By the time we reached Parliament Square (and the Trump Baby Balloon – which you can sort of see in this blurred shot), I was completely drained.

I didn’t stay for the rally, but walked across the bridge to catch a bus home and finally eat something other than grapes (my planning was poor – though I did have plenty of water!).

I feel that what I did was necessary and helped make the march experience a better one for people, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d have the energy to do on a regular basis. At the same time, I know these protests are important, and while there are folks taking the lead to organize them, they also need volunteers to do some of the grunt. I think a good ratio might be 1:3 or 1:4 — for every three or four similar events I go to, I need to volunteer to help with one. If we all did that, we certainly would have plenty of folks helping out.

In the end, these protests were meant to show President* Trump that he is not welcome in the UK, and that people here do not support him. I doubt he got that message. He’s not very intelligent, and he’s willfully ignorant on many topics. I can’t imagine his aids allowing him to see coverage of the protests, and I doubt Fox News framed them as anything other than gatherings of wounded snowflake liberals.

That’s not okay, but it’s reality these days, so instead I think we should focus on the fact that we all took some time on a Friday to show each other and the rest of the world that we do not support President* Trump — not his policies, not his racism, not his misogyny.

And that’s something.

Some coverage of the event:

Women lead day of angry London protests against Donald Trump

Thousands of women storm London in #BringTheNoise march against Donald Trump

*Always an asterisk, because he didn’t actually win the popular vote, and at least some of the votes he did earn were likely influence by a foreign government





August 2016



New Adventure

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Tomorrow is Friday, and I don’t have to go to work. If you know me, then you know that isn’t that odd; for the last few years I have worked a flex schedule. By working eight nine-hour days and one right hour day, I could have every other Friday off. Most of the time those Fridays involved chores, movies, and seeing friends.

A few months ago, Austin and I talked about how I didn’t really have enough time or energy to write. Not enough time to work on my book proposal, and not enough time to put together other essays, or pitch articles. So we agreed I would ask my boss for a reduced schedule.

My boss knows I write. She is supportive, which is awesome. She hesitated at my proposal of an 80% schedule, but gave the go ahead to 90%. So starting this week, I work 36 hours, and get every Friday off. It’s only an extra four hours, but coupled with evenings on occasion, this will give me the chance to get even more into my writing. To really try to make a go out of it.

I’m lucky we can afford to cut about 5% on our income to let me try something different. I’m also proud if myself for trying to get my life to match more what I want it to be. I didn’t know working FL time but only four days a week was an option; I’m pretty stoked to make it work.

Of course it means i have to REALLY focus at work the days I am there, but knowing I have three days off coming up will make that pretty easy to do.

Fingers crossed this works out!



August 2016



I Used To Run Half Marathons?

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This morning I ran my first race – a 10K – in four years.

I used to run a lot. Starting in late 2008 I began training for half marathons with some friends. I wasn’t a runner, but my friends convinced me that with training, anyone could run 13.1 miles. I mean, I wasn’t going to WIN any half marathons, but I could train myself to finish one.

My first race was a 10K in the middle of training for that first half marathon. If I’m recalling correctly, it was in October, and I finished right around an hour. That was followed by a drizzly Long Island half, followed by one in Brooklyn that ended on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

I’ve run the NYC half (in damn near 80 degrees – never again), the Royal Parks half (about a week after moving to London), the Birmingham (England) half, the Vancouver half (where I set a personal best and finished under 2 hours!) and two in Seattle (the Seattle half the day after Thanksgiving, and the Rock and Roll half the day a good friend had her baby).

I also ran a half marathon in Paris, which was freaking amazing. Seriously, running past the Bastille, and ending in a gorgeous park? Amazing. But it also had it’s challenges, and that one toenail hasn’t really ever properly recovered.

The only time Austin and I have raced together was at what I think was my last half marathon, in Portland. Austin had some training issues due to injury, and switched to the 10K last minute. During the race his knee really acted up, and although he did manage to finish, it wasn’t what you’d call fun. Since then, injuries – and life – have kept me from pursuing another half.

Today we got up at 6, took the bus to Lake Union, and joined a couple thousand folks for a 10K run/walk. It’s a gorgeous route, circling the Lake and ending at the same start. I didn’t feel any pressure to do anything other than have fun – I’ve been training for three months, so I knew I could finish. And in the end, I did. At just over 1:05, Austin and I ended up crossing the finish together, which was pretty sweet. He’s got a cold though, so who knows if that will ever happen again.

But oof, was I tired. I mean, I know I have been training, but the longest run I’ve done in years is 7 miles. When I passed the 4 mile marker today, all I could think was “I used to run races with NINE MORE MILES at this point?!” That just seems absurd right now.

I don’t know if I’ll run another half marathon. Maybe. But I think these 10Ks are definitely fun ways to see different parts of the Sound.

Next up – Beat the Blerg, a 10K in Carnation that includes cake at each aid station. Yes, you read that right. Cake.



March 2016



Eyewitness Travel: Costa Rica by Christopher P. Baker

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Three Stars

My husband visited Costa Rica about a month after we started dating, and he’s wanted to go back ever since. He asked that instead of my regular planning, that I just get a guidebook and let us see what happens when we get there. So, I bought this one.

It’s fine. I don’t know how to review travel books – I think I should always wait until I get back, but by then I’ve moved on (I try to always review books within a day or two of finishing). This book seemed a little light though on what I think I need. Maybe it’s because it’s my first time going to a country I’m really unfamiliar with, so everything just bleeds together. I can’t tell any of the national parks apart, so I’m not really sure which ones I want to try to see.

But maybe that’s a good thing. We’ll pick a place on a map, find a bus that goes there, then open up the book and see what we’ll see.



January 2016



Unexpected Reminder

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Last night after I got home from my writing class, I saw a letter from our (home + car) insurance company. It had been forwarded from our old address, so the date on the letter inside was nearly a week old. The two-page letter informed us that we had been denied homeowners insurance.


In reading through and trying to sort out what was up, a couple of things caught my eye:

  • They hadn’t received some document they needed
  • We still had coverage for nearly two months


Instead of losing my shit (which, honestly, I probably would have done when I was younger), I calmly sent a nice but urgent e-mail to our insurance agent, explaining the letter I’d received and asking what steps we need to take to clear this up.

This afternoon we spoke, and it turns out it was a very simple error involving a file that was improperly attached to an email. That might bug some people, but it also turned out that it happened in part because my agent had been out on leave for a serious family emergency. The office was understaffed, and he wasn’t there to follow up because, you know, serious family emergency.

Here’s the thing – he sorted out what needs to be done, gave me a plan of action, and assured me that it would all be sorted out in time to ensure there would be no lapse in coverage. And I think he seemed genuinely appreciative that I didn’t lose my shit. Yes, things could have been handled better, but the outcome in the end is that we’ll have insurance and it will have cost me the time it took to send and email and make a five-minute follow-up phone call. That’s it.


And it was a good reminder of two things:

1. I really don’t ever know what other people are going through if they don’t tell me, and I don’t gain anything from assuming the worst. If I had gotten all rage-y, the outcome might have been the same, but my agent would have felt even worse than he does. To me, this was just a really good reminder that the starting point shouldn’t be anger. Sometimes it’ll get there (and rightfully so), but for me, it’s more productive to just assume the best in a situation and then go from there. I don’t always do that though.

2. Mistakes matter, but what you do to fix them is really what I’m interested in. No one likes fucking up, but man, if you are genuinely interested in making things right (and it isn’t, like the 50th time you’ve fucked up in the exact same way), that matters way more.




January 2016




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Tonight I started attending a nonfiction startup class. It’s eight weeks long, and there are only three students in the class. Thankfully, the other two students seem very cool. Interesting, different, and working on projects that I would want to read. We’re all in different places in our writing, but I think that will help us all get better. Plus the instructor is very relaxed but also has interesting exercises and readings to focus us and really push us to make progress on our projects.

Who knows, this book might actually get finished.



December 2015



Happy New Year!

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I could post a wrap up of all that was good and bad in the world this year, but there are writers who have done a far better job at that than I could at this moment. I could post about everything that happened personally, and what I’m hoping for in 2016, but Austin is cooking and we have friends coming over in a bit, so I’ll save that for my birthday post. For now, I will say that 2015 was challenging in ways I didn’t expect, and I have high hopes for a great 2016.

Most important, however, is the fact that today is our four-year anniversary of being caregivers to Jameson and Tigger, the two best orange tabbies a gal could dream of. They have their own personalities and they can be little assholes at times, but at the end of the day, when Jameson snuggles up next to me and Tigger either plops into his little bed or flops onto Austin’s feet, I’m extremely happy that we brought them home four years ago today.

12 31 Leaving Animal Rescue





October 2015



Hmmm. I *might* be getting old.

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This afternoon I went to the cafe in the building where I work. Every day they have a little trivia question; if you get it correct, they take 10 cents off of your bill. It’s usually something fairly obscure, like the tallest mountain on another continent, or the first person to do something cool. I know maybe 20% of the answers? What I’m saying is that they aren’t gimme questions.

The answer to today’s question was Wham! As in, the George Michael duo from the 80s. I have reached the point in my life where the folks most likely to be working as baristas and putting together tough trivia questions think that knowing what group George Michael used to sing with is not common knowledge.





September 2015



Things I Learned While Camping

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So much going on in the world, but I did a bad job curating this week. So instead of my weekly round-up, today you get this: Things I Learned While Camping

This weekend Austin and I went camping with a few friends. Some of them are seasoned campers; others had only camped during their youth (me) or had never camped at all. It was car camping at the Tower Rock Campground in Washington State, and here’s what I learned.

  • As much as a ‘camping pad’ might claim to help, what I really wanted was an air mattress.
  • After watching multiple people start campfires, I understand how to start them in theory, but don’t think I could yet start my own in practice.
  • I really don’t have a problem peeing in the woods when the vault toilet is just too far away.
  • I still unintentionally scare myself by conjuring up scenes from the Blair Witch Project when I am in a forest in the dark.
  • There is a lot of prep work that goes into having fresh food during a camping trip. I failed at that this go round, but am ready for next time.
  • I can definitely go three nights without showering. After that I probably need to figure something out.
  • I enjoyed car camping but am clearly not ready to upgrade (downgrade?) to backpacking any time soon.
  • It’s nice to not have any internet or phone access for a few days.
  • I can share a little two-person tent with Austin and not feel claustrophobic at all.
  • The friend who planned this little camping adventure is the best. Here’s a shot of her photobombing us at the lookout near Layser Cave