Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Fun + Games in Portland

What can I say about Portland that hasn’t been said before? It’s hip. Like, grow-your-own-rhubarb hip. Make-your-own-moleskin-journal hip. Pig’s-head-in-a-trucker hat hip.

I normally don’t go in for hip. I hate hip. But in Portland, people are friendly, t-shirts are in, and the donut scene is certainly superior. I liked it more than I thought I would.

I drank Spanish cocktails in a floor-to-ceiling booth at Huber’s. I went to Powell’s and almost cried, not because the immensity of the bookstore, but because people were milling about happily inside. People still love books.

I did Portland things and have Portland pictures.

 

 


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Now Filming in Seattle: Speed, the Prequel

Movie-Seattle

We have to keep this bus above 30 miles an hour! 

Yesterday was a bad bus day. You know, the kind that involves standing next to someone with B.O. or a full rotisserie chicken that’s rolling around, smearing grease everywhere (both have happened to me).

I hopped the wrong transfer on the way home because I drown out vital information with my headphones. Like where I was/the century we’re in/my name. In my post-work stupor, I got on the wrong route. When the driver called last stop I just sat there, failing to realize I was the only passenger. “This is the ‘E’ line, not the ‘C’ line,” he said, irritated. I got off the bus and called a cab.

Sigh.

While waiting for the cab, I stumbled onto a movie filming at Seattle’s Union Station. Not just any old movie, an OLD movie. With vintage buses, Vespas and motorcycles, men in fedoras caring boxy suitcases, women in pillbox hats, lips painted ruby red. I heard the director say, “That’s a wrap.”  Stumbling into a filming that involves an old bus after getting on the wrong bus was surreal. Is the universe trying to tell me not to complain about my commute by sending me a vision of the past?

Look at that bus. You could have to travel like that. They probably wish they had rotisserie chickens. 

Seattle Travel Movie Filming

Or maybe the universe is telling me to dress better.

I would have asked what the heck was going on, but I was agitated from my commute and didn’t want a high-powered Hollywood type to scream at me.

I think it’s safe to assume they’re filming  Speed, The Prequel.


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Just Another Manic Memoir

Just Pretty

There is beauty in the everyday.

Everyone’s doing it. Entire sections of the bookstore are dedicated to it. Blonde-woman-leaves-routine-life-for-abroad-or-the-wood memoirs. Think: Cheryl Strayed. Elizabeth Gilbert.* To stand out from other travel memoirs, you need to set sail all by yourself to Antarctica, Ernest Shackleton-style and survive something horrific like eating your own dogs or do some peyote in the desert and be able to clearly WRITE about that experience. Pen name: Huntess S. Thompson.

For the reasons above, I’m starting a new genre: the stay-put memoir. Lists of dull things we do everyday, written with a certain flair.

Consider the untold story in the soggy French fries curled on the bottom of my CRV, in the struggle of trying to get to my dry cleaner before it closes, in bagel dust between my keyboard letters. That’s real stuff. Bonus: I don’t have to do anything difficult to write it. I just keep on keepin on. It would be relatable, that’s for sure. Low-risk. Yes. Dull? No way.

Future memoir titles: 

  • Is It Weird To Smell Your Own Hair On The Bus? And Other Concerns
  • Skeptical Of Your Gluten Allergy, So Totally Sure Of Mine
  • Copywriter’s Dilemma: Having A Nervous Breakdown One Exclamation Point At A Time!!
  • Checking The Door Twice: Confessions Of A Public-Bathroom Phobic
  • Fear And Loathing On A Train. Mother + Daughter Ride The Rails Cross Country. (Read the sneak preview here).
  • Tears On My Mcdonald’s Cheeseburger. What Happens When You Get The Wrong Gender-Specific Toy.
  • Facebook Lies: That Time I Said I Had A Great Time Kayaking When It Was Actually Just Ok

Which one should I start on first?

*I like Elizabeth Gilbert.

**I’m actually headed to the desert next month (New Mexico + Texas). Where should I go? What should I do? Comment below.


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Kangaroo Kisses & Ethical Dilemmas

Seattle-travel-petting-zoo

Arthur. He reminds me of Splinter from TMNT.

I did something wrong. But cute. But wrong. No matter how I try to justify it.

I went to a kangaroo petting zoo. I’m a huge animal lover (meaning, I love animals, not that I love huge animals). I didn’t know it before I got there, but this kangaroo farm breeds and sells kangaroos. A mere $1,200-$3,000 gets you one of these babies (do.not.buy one). They sell about 6 a year to zoos and “other places” and were intentionally vague when I asked them what other places.

Only $9 gets you a whole day of kangaroo handling. I didn’t link to them because I don’t want to give them publicity, bad or good. I went. I didn’t see any signs of outward animal cruelty. But as the saying goes, “If you don’t love something enough to leave it alone, you don’t love it at all.”

Maybe I’m not an animal lover.

A kangaroo in a little baby sack was placed in my arms and the kangaroo keeper, a burly man with a bloody bandage on his forearm said, “his name is Forselly.” I didn’t get it then because I was holding a baby kangaroo and wondering to myself why I like holding animal babies more than human babies.

Then we walked around the property in groups, with sticky-handed children and their parents. One lady had the audacity of asking whether she could take a baby kangaroo out of a SEALED pouch, basically like asking to hold a baby while it’s in a woman’s stomach.

The first kangaroo I fed was Arthur, he had a muzzle of gray whiskers and squinty eyes. They all had squinty eyes.

He moved slowly and methodically, crouched like he had a walker. I fed him a piece of bread then touched his head, almost tempted to scratch behind his ears.

What the hell am I doing? It dawned on me that maybe this is wrong. Animals don’t belong to us, they belong to the world and this place didn’t seem to be doing much for conservation or education. I guess meeting Arthur and “Forselly” makes me feel closer to kangaroos, but really, it makes me more certain that animals aren’t amusement parks.

Lemur sun themselves

So cute. But are they “happy?”

Do kangaroos like being handled? Can they really eat bread?

Other than kangaroos, the farm has lemurs (not for petting, not for kissing), wallabies, peacocks, mini donkeys, pheasants, ostriches, emus and Alpacas. Fun fact: lemurs sit like old men. The animals seemed well taken care of and the lemurs even had their own red rocking chair. And they were purportedly acquired second-hand before owning a primate became illegal.

In light of the recent TBEX controversy, I’ve been reading a lot about mistreatment of wildlife as a tourist attraction. Sometimes the animals are treated cruelly, sedated so we can get that I’m-holding-a-tiger-selfie or F*ck yeah, I’m on an elephant.

I don’t think that’s the case with this place. I think it was a simple case of people who love exotics.

The whole point of this post is know before you go. I don’t remember the one time I went to SeaWorld (before Blackfish) and I barely remember those dolphin shows at the aquarium as a kid. But I’ll always remember the two times I saw orcas whales from the beach near my house. Or the time a bottlenose dolphin swam next to my raft tour off the Napali coast, so close I could have reached down and touched its back. Or the baby bison, on the prairie in South Dakota just kind of hanging out.

That’s the way to see animals. It’s unexpected, it’s magical, and when they leave, you feel like you’ve been kissed.

In October, I’m off to photograph wild horses in New Mexico. I’m excited to be an observer, to watch them thunder across the desert and to know without a doubt, it’s where they belong.

Ever see wildlife in the wild? Where, when, what? Comment below!


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Is That a Sunset Or An Oil Painting Made By Angels?

Another round-up of Tuesday Three Things That Happened Last Week.

I. THE NEW JOB

I don't know how to describe this

This is my sister’s chihuahau with a stuffed toy in it’s mouth & it makes me laugh so hard.

After a few months of freelancing, I have a new job. A dream job if you will. Freelance writing drove me a little too deep into my own head and working in pjs was fun until I woke up and realized I hadn’t worn actual clothes in a week.

Also, sporadic paychecks from writing gigs don’t really *work* anymore in Seattle, with our sky-high rents.

I’m a writer/editor for a cool company that helps bands and shows with ticketing and promotions.  The coolest thing about it that it embodies a Come As You Are mentality, so I could probably get a forehead tattoo and they wouldn’t blink an eye.

I’m working for the man in a creative capacity without actually working for The Man. Perfect. And this is a company that REALLY gives back to the community, so that makes me feel good, especially after my whole age-33-meaning-of-life crisis. I’m not bragging, I want other dream-followers to stick it out and find the job they really want.

I get a week off to volunteer and am already fantasizing about volunteer opportunities.

Should I: 

-Rescue/name/bottle feed orphaned baby monkeys in Costa Rica? (I’ll call this one Danger and this one Milly…)
-Volunteer to find out what happened to Lindsey Lohan?
-Work the cafeteria of some fancy writer’s conference? (Hey, Toni Morrison, I slipped you a copy of my latest. Hope you like these mashed potatoes).

I’m already enjoying perks like conversations with actual humans in the middle of the day, office dogs, and air conditioning.

II. It’s Not Goodbye, It’s Bon Voyage 

Street in Quebec

Bon voyage! (These are strangers, not my actual friends).

This is a bummer: I had to say goodbye to some really good friends of mine because they left our glorious state for another.

I am super happy for them because I know that moving long distances (thrice!) has made me a better, happier person because it’s incredibly frustrating and also fun.

As much as I would like to, I can’t be like:  “no stay and we can stay like this forever and nothing will change and then you’ll wake up at 80 and regret that you missed an opportunity because your friend got all emo about you leaving.”

It takes a lot for me to make friends (I’m a giant weirdo), especially here where the social scene is a maze of passive-aggressive invitations to happy hours followed by passive-aggressive refusals.

Sigh. Here we go again.

III. I WAS HERE FIRST

THIS does not do justice to the amazing sunset last night.

THIS low-res iphone photo does not do justice to the amazing sunset on Sunday.

Everyone and their brother is moving to Seattle and judging by Saturday’s packed summer fest, my neighborhood is the quartier du jour. It both pisses me off (I WAS HERE FIRST!! SECOND) and amuses me.

When I moved to Seattle eight years ago, this was the reaction from most of my friends:

I’d never leave Chicago. You know it rains there, every day right? And they don’t even have a basketball team. And the suicide risk is high. You might as well move straight into a mental hospital because those clouds are gonna drive you nuts. 

[Drops bags off, looks out window] OMG this place is amazing! Is that a sunset or is that God’s hand coming down to personally bless this place because it is the most.beautiful. in the whole world?

The view from my roof

Proof it’s not a fluke: last year’s winning sunset starring a rainbow ribbon cloud. 

Even with my awesome new job, I cannot afford rent that’s much higher than its current $1,600 a month for 700 sq.ft and I’m terrified I’m living in the next San Francisco.

And with all the new condos/traffic/pedestrians darting into the street, my neighborhood feels a little less like MY neighborhood.

I’ve lived here on and off since I first moved to the city, when it was uncool amongst my hip writerly coworkers who (then) lived on The Hill and thought White Center was too dangerous and West Seattle too suburban.  I live on a peninsula and get to hang out at the beach pretty much every day so, I’ve been pretty happy.

Does wanting to join an anti-development coalition make me old?


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4 Funny Things That Happen When You Learn A Second Language

Language-learning-french

Am I fluent because I know all of these words ;) Am I?

1. You start to have really bizarre dreams, half in your language, half in the language you’re picking up. My last one involved explaining the rules of baseball in French to Chris Farley (R.I.P.) I like baseball, go to games, but it’s definitely not something I’d discuss with Chris Farley. Unless he liked the White Sox.

2. You become a pseudo-etymologist. Word origins used to lull me to sleep. Not anymore. Does “hommie” comes from the French word for man (homme)? I think it does. I think I might be a genius because of this fascinating discovery. Coupons, definitely from the French word couper for cut. And probably the most exciting moment of my life was when I learned that prom comes from se promenade, which in French means taking someone for a walk. Sure, that’s what those teenagers are doing.

3. You stalk other speakers of the language you’re learning. In Quebec, everyone speaks French all the time, so I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep it up here. Now if I hear someone speaking French, I follow them down the street and telepathically hope they’ll turn around, lost and ask for directions. Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Frank goes into the nail salon to spy on what they’re saying about Elaine? That’s kind-of happened to me on the train and it makes all of this time and dedication worth it.

4. You hang around people you have nothing in common with just to practice. I like most of the French speakers I’ve met through MeetUp.com. But it’s not like me to wake up early on a Sunday, drive twenty miles to sit with a group of strangers, most of whom are either fresh-out-of-college francophile singles, probably looking for their l’amour or just about to retire and “summering” in Paris. It appears that all the thirty-somethings are hibernating.

There aren’t many people like me at these meetups or in the classes. I’m a person who learned French in Canada and whose highest intellectual feat is recalling specific episodes of 90210 at a pub trivia. These people went to Yale and studied mathematics (gulp), work at Microsoft, and picked up French as their fifth language just for funsies.

Summer side note:

You may wonder why I am not updating as frequently. Don’t worry. I don’t plan to go anywhere, especially not after investing $30 in a customized design. However, the truth is… I don’t have as much to say right now. Summer sunshine compels me to go outside.  I’ve also been freelancing full-time, not traveling enough, and suffering from internet-exhaustion.

Excuses, excuses.

I promise my next post will be soon and it won’t be as Buzz Feed-like. Happy Fourth of July!


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Circus Cats, Cowbells, & Cluck Norris, the Bowling Chicken

Last week, I went to a cat circus. Let’s put that on the list of things I never thought I’d say. I also never thought I would write about a cat who plays cowbell.

How much is that kitty who plays cowbell? 

acrocats-caturday-cat-cirus

That’s Tuna

Full disclosure: Acro-Cats gave me a ticket to review the show. I only write about experiences that I believe are worth the money and I only do honest reviews.

Let’s start with the cost.

$24 per ticket. What could one get in Seattle for $24?

  •  A decent manicure, maybe a brow wax too if you go to the place with the questionable cleanliness and the fungus risk.
  • About five lattes. So let’s just say a whole business-week of coffee.
  • A one-way bus ticket from Seattle to Vancouver. But you’d have to sit next to the smelly guy.
  • Tickets to see your coworker’s friend’s bad doo-wop/rap (doo-rap) ensemble
  • About two watered-down cocktails.

You will remember Acro-Cats, even if you hated it, you’ll remember. And you will meet the “stars” and you will see all kinds of people in kitty ears trying to get selfies with these celebrity cats and begging for their feline attention.

It definitely draws out the strange, but one can’t help but love Samantha Martin, the lady running the show. She makes fun of herself, she’s approachable, and she rolls around the country in a big cat bus. She’s a person of stories, a person doing her own thing, and I deeply admire that. I fantasized about running away to join the cat circus until I remembered that I have a dog and a husband at home and I’m prone to horrific stage fright. Still, I briefly fantasized about being their on-bus reporter, like in Almost Famous, except with less groupies and more cat hair.

You’ll laugh and you might really cry. All of the cats in the show are orphans or fosters.

Throughout the show, you get their Behind-the-Music-esque backstories:

“Nugget* here was found on a box in the side of the road after his mother was killed. Look at him now. He’s the backup guitarist in an all-tom rock band.” 

UnFuRgettable Moments:

cat-playing-piano-acrocats

-A semi-famous feline named Tuna plays cowbell. He also bowled against a chicken named Cluck Norris.  I kid you not.  I was on team Tuna, but Cluck Norris was a competitor for sure. (Psst… follow Tuna on Twitter.)

-An adult cat push the.cutest kitten ever around in a baby carriage.

-Rock Cats. They’re not the most musical felines, but they sure are cute. One cat did a stage dive and then they had to bring up the back-up guitar player. And yes, you can get a t-shirt.

-Multiple cats skittering around in the audience at all times. Watch your step!

-People way into nerdy cat culture. Not just in a wear-a-heavy-wool-sweater-with-a-cat on-it way, in a having-legit-conversations-with-the-kitties way. Nothing like a cat circus to bring out the strange.

-Cats walking tightropes and jumping through hoops.

 Final Thought 

One of the Rock Cats

If you’re going to see it in Seattle, it takes place in the Seattle Center in a tiny theater you have to hunt down. It’s really the perfect size for this event, so no complaints about the theater. But I’ve been living in this city on and off for seven years and couldn’t find it even using Google Maps. Leave early.

For $24, I laughed out loud more than seven times. I think that makes it worth it. They’re going to be in Seattle for about a week more. Tickets and more info can be found on their website at http://www.circuscats.com.

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