Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our New Home

We just spent most of the weekend moving into our new apartment! We mentioned in our last post that we'd rented a really cute attic apartment in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston. Well, this weekend we moved in. The stuff we'd moved from Seattle we'd been storing at Jaimee's dad's house, so on Saturday we borrowed two pick-up trucks and we were able to transport it all from his garage into our little attic house in two trips. We also got some help from Jaimee's dad and step-mom. (Thanks!) Today we began the process of unpacking and organizing. It's a long and narrow space, with five skylights and lots of angled spaces. We'll post more pictures when it's all nice and organized, but here are a few shots of the inside:
We're super excited to have a place of our own again. I think we'll also enjoy getting to know Roslindale. It's a very quaint neighborhood with lots of large old homes, most of which are split into multi-family units like ours. And so far our neighbors are very friendly. While moving in a few of our neighbors walked by on their way to the farmer's market (another great plus!) and stopped to welcome us and say hello.

Also this week, I completed the first week at my new job. It went pretty well; we stayed at my sister's condo in Jamaica Plain while they were away on vacation and I was able to ride my bike to work three of the days and I loved the commute. From Roslindale, the bike ride will be a little longer but I think I will still be able to ride my bike often, at least while the weather holds out. I met some people at my office who bike commute all year around, so I'll probably be talking to them for pointers about cold-weather riding. As for the job itself, I think I'll like it. I'm part of a software team of about 10 other developers and in my first week I already got a few assignments so I'm helping out right away (or at least will be - I need to complete the tasks this week).

In addition to moving and starting a new job, we're still working on our wedding plans for next year. And for the purpose of scouting out a cake (or as I like to say, cakes, plural) we went to the New England Dessert Expo at Copley Place in downtown Boston. We bought our tickets through Groupon (an on-line deal-a-day website), and based on how many people were at the show, it appears that we weren't the only ones to take advantage of Groupon's half-price deal. The place was packed! In fact, way, way overpacked. (For a blog post that shows that writers can spin any experience into something positive, take a look at this post, but you'll notice from the comments that we weren't the only ones to complain about the crowds.) Here's a picture I took while trying to navigate through the exhibits.
Jaimee e-mailed Groupon complaining about our experience, and they quickly refunded our money AND gave us a $5 credit toward our next "deal of the day". And since we actually did get to see the exhibits and sample some yummy desserts (although I'm not sure if we found our cake baker yet) I'd say it worked out in the end.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Adirondack Adventure

Things really came together for us since our last post. For starters, I was offered a job at one of the places where I'd interviewed. Prior to our trip to Seattle, I'd given the company my list of references but because of the holiday (and because I knew some of my references were on vacation) I wasn't sure how quickly they'd be able to contact them and then make me offer. However, when we landed in Boston from Seattle I had a message from the recruiter with my verbal offer. We made it official via e-mail the next day. My start date is this coming Monday, September 20. I'm excited for the job. I'll be working for an Internet Marketing company doing some programming and data manipulation. I'm excited because their primary programming language is Python, a language I've never used before. I'm really glad they trusted that I'd be able to learn it quickly enough.

Second, we found an apartment! As we might have alluded to in this blog, apartment hunting in Boston was a real challenge. We looked at dozens of places, but apart from one place where someone else rented it between us seeing it and telling the landlord we wanted it, none of the other places grabbed us. Until we saw a really cute third-story attic apartment, advertised on craigslist as the "tree-house apartment". It's the top story of a three-unit building in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston. It's essentially a big studio apartment with five large sky-lights and plenty of closets. It's within our budget (although more than we were paying in Seattle, for less space too) and it's within walking distance of both Roslindale village, with numerous shops and restaurants, and the commuter rail station where I'll be just a 12 minute train ride to my new office (the office is on the 7th floor above the train station at Copley Place in Boston). We'll show some pictures after we move in on September 25.

So, with the job and apartment all squared away, we decided to take a mini-vacation during our last week of "freedom". We drove up to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York for what we thought might be a few nights of camping. Our main purpose in going up there was to climb Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York state. Unfortunately, we did very little planning with regard to the trip so it didn't work out quite how we would have liked.

For starters, it took a long time to get there, and we got kind of a late start so we didn't get to the area until after dark. Then, the campground we'd planned on going to was closed for the season. Since Mount Marcy is really close to Lake Placid, there were plenty of hotels, but none were very cheap. We found a little "cabin" in nearby Saranac Lake, which was habitable but full of mouse poop and if we turned on the gas heater we felt like we were going to get asphyxiated. We ended up sleeping on the bed in our sleeping bags, although we did use the little gas stove to cook our camping food.
From Mt Marcy
The next day we climbed Mount Marcy, which was a 15 mile round trip hike with about 4,000 feet of elevation gain. As mentioned, it's the highest point in New York (and therefore all the Adirondacks) at 5,344 feet. Despite the length, the hike was pretty easy, except for the summit push which was quite steep and the top was very windy and cold. We took a few quick pictures and headed back down.
From Mt Marcy
In addition to being a state highpoint, Mount Marcy has historical significance as well. In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was camping in the area when President McKinley was assassinated. He was summoned to take over and he then became the youngest President ever at 42 years old. (President Kennedy would later become the youngest elected President at 43 years old).

There was a campground at the base of the mountain, but they charged $40 per site to camp! Plus, "room tax" of 10% and $10 a day to park! That would add up to $54 to camp for the night. Seriously? Even though that was cheaper than a hotel room (or cabin) nearby, we felt that was a ridiculous amount to pay for camping. So we left and got a hotel room in nearby Lake Placid. We probably violated all sort of regulations but we cooked up our camp food on our camping stove inside the hotel room.

We then came back to Massachusetts, stopping for one night to visit my lovely Aunt Lisa and Uncle Dick in Catskill, New York on the way. We had a quick visit, but we enjoyed catching up with them and having a nice dinner. We came back to some sad news regarding Jaimee's family though. Her grandfather spent the day after his 90th birthday in the intensive care unit of the hospital. He'd been having various health problems over the past few months, but he got a bladder infection that sent him to the hospital. We visited him at the ICU and he was not doing that well, barely aware of his surroundings. As of this writing he's still there and hanging on, and we're all hoping that he can pull out and survive the infection.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to Seattle

We just got back from a wonderful, albeit short trip to Seattle. It completed a full circle for us, returning to where we left last August. We stayed with our friends Greg and Laura, the same people who we stayed with our final two weeks in Seattle. It was a whirlwind tour, similar to the type of visit we used to do when visiting the East Coast; we visited many, but not all, of our friends spending a few hours with each group. We also went to two weddings, one of which was south of Portland, Oregon (about a four hour drive each way). In between the weddings and visiting we found time to go to many of our favorite Seattle places, including several yummy meals.

The trip started out on a good note leaving Boston when, on account of hurricane Earl, flights were rearranged. We originally had a flight to Seattle connecting through Houston, but instead they "bumped" us to a direct flight! This got us into Seattle two hours earlier than planned. However, because we'd prepaid for our rental car we couldn't pick it up early unless we paid for an extra day (which, according the helpful rental agent would be three times our online daily rate, plus taxes of course). We decided to wait. Then they "upgraded" us from a compact car to a Ford Flex! It's a nice car, but it seats seven and doesn't get the greatest gas mileage. We complained and tried to get a compact car like we'd requested, but in the end were saddled with the Flex. (It was actually very comfortable but ended up getting 20 mpg; it cost over $50 to fill up the tank!)

Then more travel-related snafus occurred with the first wedding we went to. We had to drive to Hillsboro, Oregon for the wedding on Saturday, but when we showed up at the wedding location it was empty with no cars or anybody around. We didn't have the invitation with us, nor did we have Irene's phone number so we had no idea what was going on. Eventually as we were walking around someone came up to us and asked if we were there for Irene and Chandler's wedding. We said we were, and he said the wedding had moved to a new location about 45 minutes away! Apparently she'd e-mailed/messaged me somehow but I never got the message. Anyway, we found the new place, but missed the wedding. We did enjoy the reception (along with the open bar) and excellent cake.
Then the next day it was back to Seattle to meet some friends for breakfast. This began the baby tour part of our visit, where we got to meet all the new babies from our many friends who had babies while we were gone on our trip. We met up with Lynn and her son Theo and Sadie and her son Angus (who was born February of 2009 so we'd met him before). Here's everyone in front of the big Lenin statue in Fremont:
We then had a nice barbeque dinner at Greg and Laura's house where we met more babies: Jeff and Rae's daughter Addy and Brendan and Sara Ann's son Jasper (who we'd met before in Boston). On Monday we went to our second wedding down in Gig Harbor, followed by the reception in Tacoma. It was a beautiful morning ceremony and yummy brunch reception. Here are Kate and Kyle walking off into wedding bliss after brunch:
The rest of our visit consisted of seeing more friends - Lane via a quick visit to his house, Chris and Cass and their daughter Caroline at lunch at a Thai restaurant, Greg and Erin and Betty at Elliot Bay Brewery in Burien, Corey at Bauhaus Coffee and Andy, Kendrah and their son Charlie along with Goldin and Kiyoshi at Agua Verde for dinner. But despite all this running around, in honor of our trip we found time to play a game of Scrabble over mochas as the glorious Caffe Fiore in Ballard, and in honor of many a past Seattle Sunday, we had Bloody Mary's at King's Hardware in Ballard.
I'll close this post with a few thoughts about what it was like returning to Seattle. I thought returning might make me miss Seattle, but although I love Seattle and always will, I don't really miss living there. It's a wonderful place, but now a place I can enjoy as a tourist and visitor instead of a resident. I'm not quite to the point where Massachusetts is my "home" but it's getting closer. (Does this mean I'm "homeless"? Maybe...) As I've said before, I think moving to a new location after our big trip has helped psychologically in that many things in our life are new and different, which eases the inevitable letdown of returning from our trip. Jaimee and I are both starting new jobs (more on that to come), we'll be moving into a new apartment (at some point when we find a nice place) and meeting new friends. The Seattle phase of our lives is over, and we're on to new things. I'll always cherish my time there, and plan on visiting as often as I can. Our next visit will be November of 2011 when the North American Bridge Championships will be held in Seattle. I guess I better start practicing now so that I can put on a good showing with all my old bridge friends next year.

One final note on the pictures. This trip was an experiment to only use the camera on my new phone. I love the phone, but the camera takes some getting used to. It's not very good in low light and because you have to press so hard to the take the picture, too many photos are blurry. I think I'll continue to bring a point and shoot for our travels as it's easier to use and takes better pictures. In any event, you can look at all the pictures online.
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