Life Unparalleled

Loving Life as a Foreign Service Family – Current Parallel 41° 23' N – Barcelona, Spain

Saratoga, Seattle, and Whidbey Island- 17th Wedding Anniversary

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We were excited to continue our R and R (Rest and Relaxation) trip onward to the US. We started in Saratoga California where we visited with Ben’s grandparents. It was so great to see them. It had been a couple of years for the kids and I and the kids had grown so much. I adore his grandparents. Really good people all around and I try to live my life by his grandmothers philosophy. ” Every person on the earth is either a plus or a negative. Just be a plus.”

The most simple and concise life goal I know. They have lived in this house for over 50 years and just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Relationship goals right there. The kids played with old toys, and we watched old movies of Ben as a baby. His grandmother looks exactly the same with the same hair and even the same clothes. A special moment was watching Dannica play piano with her great grandfather. He used to play and teach piano lessons. The kids got to listen to stories shared by their great grandmother of their grandfather and great aunts and uncles growing up in Chicago, great grandpa talking about working as an engineer for NASA, and Aunt Joanna sharing the work she did on her recently completed phd. It was a special couple of days for us and I relished in the fact that the kids managed to get along the whole time we were all together so they think we are awesome parents. Ben’s sister and dad were also there and I somehow managed to get zero pictures. Oh well.

Bens mom and step dad came and picked up the kids to take them back to Carmel Valley. Ben and I needed to travel to Washington State to establish our residency and have a mini anniversary trip. The trip started with dinner out at a restaurant. The food was ok but the art outside was out of this world. Nothing like a man in a trench coat holding a zucchini.

We had a bit of an issue with our flight out of San Jose. After loading us on the plane they said there was too many low lying clouds in Seattle so they were not letting us take off. They had us all deboard and wait. 30 minutes later they announced they were still waiting and that they would let us know if the flight was officially being canceled in 45 minutes. Ben and I went and found the lounge(Gold Star Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card for win for including lounge access)to get some coffee. When we returned to the gate 25 minutes later the plane had reboarded and LEFT! Yeah, we were not happy at all. They were able to get us on a much later flight but that meant an entire day of our trip was spent in the airport rather than getting our drivers licenses as we had planned. However, we arrived and ate delicious sea food before heading to stay with Ben’s Aunt Kelly who lives on Whidbey Island.



The West coast is so beautiful!

Ben’s cousin Lucas was visiting from Vassar. His older brother was the ring bearer at our wedding. Lucas was so angry he didn’t have a important role that they rented him a little tux. He went around announcing to everyone that he was “our gusher(usher)”. Ben was the ring bearer at his parents’ wedding. He looked in the mirror wearing his white tux and replied” My goodness I look splendid.” Cute 4 year old Benjamin.


So why Washington? We sold our house in Utah and needed to choose a new state for residency. Utah will always have some of our heart and is one of the most beautiful places in the world but I am excited to be able to vote in a state that more closely represents my political beliefs. We have multiple family members there. Also no state income tax means Washington for the win.

We were able to spend the day with Ben’s dad on his great sail boat. No actual sailing this time due to very low tide and wind but we had a nice lunch, some good conversation, and a beautiful walk around the new town we call home. Oak Harbor.



We surprised Billie by stopping by her house. I thought she was going to pass out when we stepped out of the car. Billie I lovingly call my ex evil wicked step mother in-law. EWSMIL! Billie was married to Ben’s dad for over 20 years and is an important person in our lives. She treated us to more amazing seafood and good conversation!

The next morning we woke bright and early to drive to Seattle to try to get our drivers licenses. Our original plan was to get it on Saturday when many of the DVM’s were open but with our missed flight that did not happen. Unfortunately only one DMV was open in all of Seattle Monday morning. The downtown one. After driving for 90 minutes we arrived a few minutes after it opened to a huge line that wrapped around the block. We proceeded to wait in line for another 3 1/2 hours. At one point we had to leave and go to the library to print off proof of employment that they would not accept in digital format either by looking at our phone or by emailing it to the employee. After looking at the printed paper we had so laboriously printed per her request, she put it in the shredder. We try not to feel bitter. We were so late we had to move our flight to one later that day. Very annoyed but we managed to not even snap at each other. A year of international travel and living in a developing country has made us much more patient regarding things like delays and lines.

Oh I love this man! 17 years married and 20 years together. With the short period of time we had in Seattle we decided to ride the large enclosed ferris wheel that looked over the city.

Seattle has a lovely skyline and boardwalk.

While wandering around trying to decide where to eat lunch after our very long DMV experience I wandered into this gum alley. The entire alley was nothing but discarded gum. It was actually quite disgusting. But there was a huge tourist crowd. The smell. Yuck!

We ultimately ended up at Pikes Street Brewery for lunch. Poutine with bacon and a mustard gravy was to die for. Really is there any bad poutine? Gravy, cheese curds, and french fries. It is hard to screw that up. Thanks Canada!

Our flight back to San Fransisco was uneventful. We had a rather nauseating ride was spent on the shuttle van to Montery. Those shuttle vans are just such close quarters with no shocks. I was lucky enough to insist I sit up front with the driver where I got to hear entertaining stories about his childhood growing up in Louisiana as the youngest of 15 children. At 17 he was voluntold to go join the army or jail and he spent the next several years in the military traveling the world. Not a common practice I don’t think anymore. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.What a lovely whirlwind trip.



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