Salt Lake City in pictures

We thought we’d share a few pictures from our overnight stop in Salt Lake City:

The view from our hotel
The view from our hotel room. We got a great deal on Hotwire.

Salt Lake Tabernacle
The Salt Lake Tabernacle

Salt Lake City
A reflection pool near the church. Note the man proposing to his girlfriend on the left.

Salt Lake City
Downtown

Storm in the distance
A storm in the distance

View from I-80
A view point on I-80 near Park City on our drive out of town

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On the road again…

After a couple of months back in Seattle, Dan and I are once again on the road. We set out this morning in the Civic on a road trip to Chicago, where we will spend a few days with Dan’s family. On the way, we are making a few brief stops to visit friends and some members of the Beller clan. Instead of four months, this trip will be limited to about two weeks and will not require the use of passports. We have also left the backpacks at home and are traveling with our roller suitcases instead. It was a funny feeling to check into our hotel this evening in Boise. This marks our first night in a hotel since the big trip and it’s hard not to fall back into the immediate room assessment of noise level, cleanliness, and safety. I’m happy to report that Boise’s lovely Shilo Inn meets our requirements on all fronts.

Our trip commenced at about 8:00a.m. and after stops in Yakima, Wash., and Pendleton, Ore., we pulled into Boise around 5:30p.m. It was a very scenic drive and showcased the differences between mountainous/green Western Washington and low-lying/dry Eastern Washington. The weather posed no problems for us and we’re hoping it continues to cooperate for the rest of our drive. To top off our evening, Dan had secretly researched Boise restaurants prior to our departure, so we easily located and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Le Cafe de Paris in downtown Boise.

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Abby taking photos at a viewpoint on I-82 north of Yakima

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Another shot from the viewpoint on I-82 north of Yakima

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Abby posing in front of the diner where we ate lunch in Pendleton, Oregon

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I-84, East of Pendleton

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I-84, driving out of a mountain range

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I-84 rest stop

Home Sweet (and Snowy) Home

We landed at Sea-Tac early on the morning of December 18 after an overnight flight from Tokyo. We had heard rumors of some impending snowstorms, but were not quite prepared for the sight that greeted us. For those of you not from the Northwest, Seattle doesn’t really get a lot of snow, but when it does the city becomes pretty much immobilized. Our city has a lot of hills and not a lot of snow-removal equipment, which is not the best combination. So, our planned ride home from the airport wisely stayed home on top of Capitol Hill and we found ourselves at baggage claim with yet another transportation challenge: how to get home in the snow with all of our stuff. And this was how we found ourselves crammed onto a standing-room-only #194 Metrobus heading into Seattle with our packs at our feet. We ended up standing right next to a couple that had just spent three months in SE Asia, so we had a great time trading stories and barely noticed the one-hour-plus ride along random side streets (because I-5 was a no-go) into downtown Seattle.

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Once we were dropped off at Fourth & University, the new challenge became finding a bus up Capitol Hill. Typically this is an easy task, but the buses were not running on a typical schedule and we were carrying more than our typical load. Eventually we caught a #10 up to Broadway and then walked the remaining six blocks up the hill to our apartment. It was quite the adventure, but worked out just fine and we both felt it was a fitting conclusion to our four-month adventure. If we weren’t ready to be contestants on the Amazing Race before that leg of our journey, we certainly are now!

It was wonderful to finally walk into our cozy apartment that had been well tended by Allison while we were away and decorated beautifully for Christmas by Dan’s parents just before our arrival. As I write this, my backpack still sits in my bedroom untouched since we got home. It will take some time before I am ready to even look at its contents again. While the snow in Seattle has created some roadblocks to seeing friends and family, we were successful in driving down to Portland with Dan’s parents to celebrate an early Christmas at his sister Karen’s house. After three nights in Portland, we caught a window of good weather yesterday, headed back north on I-5, and are now safely back in our apartment in Seattle.

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Rocking out to Rock Band with Karen and John in Portland

Thank you to everyone who followed our blog and for all of your good wishes and greetings. We loved hearing from all of you while we were away and can’t wait to see many of you in person very soon. We wish you the happiest and warmest of holidays!

Getting Close…

We have made tons of progress over the last few days, but still have much to do tomorrow. Our trip officially commences on Wednesday at 6:20pm with a flight to Copenhagen. We have both managed to pack our bags with all of the clothing and gear that we will need for the next four months. Hard to believe that it all fits into this bag (for me). Without the daypack (and assorted guidebooks) attached, my pack is currently weighing in at 19 pounds. I learned this afternoon that my jeans weigh 1 pound, 4 ounces. And yes, I’m taking them. My pack contains a healthy mix of my normal, trusted clothes, plus some travel-focused, quick-dry stuff for good measure. SmartWool socks, anyone? These (along with Ex Officio underwear) are all the rage on the various travel blogs/sites out there.

In other news, we would like to thank the inimitable Amy Finkel for adding a bit of flair to our blog. She crafted our header graphic last Friday evening — while still on the mend from a not insignificant bit of surgery. We consider ourselves in good company, as Amy’s recent production credits include this video that she directed for Takka Takka.

Tomorrow and Wednesday we will be focused on last-minute errands and saying some final goodbyes, but we’ll be sure to post again before our departure.

Test Driving the Backpacks

We are in Friday Harbor right now at my dad and Peggy’s place. We’ve got the laptops fired up and are making some final arrangements and decisions about our route and places to stay. It’s quickly becoming apparent that our first stop – Copenhagen – is going to be one of our most expensive hotel stays. We waited a bit too long and basically have a choice between a 12-bed room in a party hostel or a very nice, but expensive, hotel room. We are leaning toward starting the trip with style at the swanky place.

We decided to use this trip up to Friday Harbor as an opportunity to test drive our backpacks, so we loaded them up with a bit more than what is needed for a two-night stay and gave it a go. The ferry from Anacortes was really crowded with a group of kids going to camp and other summer sojourners, so it was a good test case. It was pretty easy to navigate through the crowded waiting room and off of the ferry. Then we walked from the ferry landing to dad’s place and the pack was really quite comfortable. I even used the packing cubes and they seem pretty useful. (These things are highly recommended on all of the travel blogs we ran across while researching this trip.)

It’s hard to believe that we leave one week from today. We still have a lot to do, but are slowly checking things off of our various spreadsheets and lists. All of the essentials have been taken care of (tickets, shots, etc.), so now we’re focused on the fun details (safari in South Africa, where to stay in Bali, etc.). We will definitely be winging it on some legs of this trip, but that’s part of the fun. I have decided not to let myself get stressed out by the various blogs out there with stories of people planning things months in advance that we are just now discussing one week from our departure.

Our Itinerary

It’s two and a half weeks out, and we’re finalizing our two Star Alliance “Round the World” tickets, consisting of 12 flights and several “overland segments” painstakingly assembled by our travel agent. Here’s our current plan:

  • Aug 20: Fly from Seattle to Copenhagen
  • Aug 24: Fly from Copenhagen to Vienna
  • Aug 24 – Sept 28: Travel overland through Budapest, Croatia, Italy, France, and Spain
  • Sept 28: Fly from Madrid to Istanbul
  • Oct 1: Fly from Istanbul to Windhoek, Namibia via Johannesburg
  • Oct 2 – Oct 22: Travel through Namibia, South Africa, and possibly Botswana
  • Oct 22: Fly from Cape Town to Singapore
  • Oct 24: Fly from Singapore to Bali
  • Oct 24 – Oct 29: Relax in Bali
  • Oct 29: Fly from Bali to Bangkok
  • Oct 29 – Dec 3: Travel overland through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam
  • Dec 3: Fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong
  • Dec 7: Fly from Hong Kong to Osaka
  • Dec 7 – Dec 18: Visit Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo
  • Dec 18: Fly from Tokyo to Seattle
  • Dec 18 – ???: ???

More details to come!!