Holiday Visit to the States
Written by Cathy Siegismund
December 2003 - January 2004
We spent a little over a month enjoying Mooloolaba. We caught up with our
friends, enjoyed a cruiser's Thanksgiving at the Yacht Club, and prepared the
boat to be left for our one month trip back to the States. In addition to
buying a car, we also made a decision to move ashore for the first time in over
three years. We decided to look for an apartment to rent because of some work we
wanted to do on the boat, the number of visitors we had planned, and the
anticipated hot summer on the Queensland coast. We found a nice 2 bedroom
townhouse five minutes from the marina and 1 1/2 blocks from the beach in
Alexandra Headlands. The owners are a retired couple, who wanted to spend the
summer in Melbourne with family. As they were willing to rent the place for 6
months, fully furnished -- linens, dishes and all, it seemed like a great choice
for us. We did all the paperwork, and would take possession of the place in
early January soon after we returned from our trip home.
Also during our month in Mooloolaba, we had started to discuss the
possibility of ending our cruising adventure in Australia. Several factors
contributed to these discussions. We had originally thought our vague plans for
a circumnavigation would take somewhere between five and seven years. What we
have learned about our cruising style is that we're not fast cruisers; we enjoy
a very slow pace to really experience the places we visit. We have been out for nearly four years, and have
only reached Australia, not nearly half way around the world! To continue our
circumnavigation, at a "fast" pace (for us), and discovered to
complete the trip we would be out for
another five or six years. We feel this is a little too long of a break, as we
do need to return to work. Australia also seems like a bit of turning point. It
is relatively easy to get Felicity home from here. If we continued cruising,
heading to Darwin and Southeast Asia, we begin to commit ourselves to a
circumnavigation. Ken also has an excellent work opportunity back in Seattle,
that would likely not be around in another five years. With all of this said, we
are not finished with the cruising dream, but were starting to feel we need to
return to civilization for a while, return to work, and perhaps plan to take off
again in the future -- on a bigger boat.
With all of these thoughts in our heads, we flew home on December 1. We had a
very busy trip planned for our 30 days at home. It included seeing friends in
Seattle, a work colleague of Ken's in Atlanta, my mother and brother
in Florida, and Ken's dad in eastern Washington. We also had decided to work in
some time to talk to a realtor and look at some condos and houses in the Seattle
area. We had purchased two business class tickets on miles to Seattle, so we had
a comfortable and uneventful though long trip home. We arrived to cold winter
weather in Seattle, BRRRR. We met a realtor we had corresponded with via email, and
then drove up a friend's house in Snohomish where we were to stay for our first
couple of days in Seattle. The next two days were largely spent getting a
variety of check-up appointments with doctors and dentists and seeing friends. On
December 5, we flew to Atlanta where we were going to do some horseback riding with
a work colleague of Ken's. Instead, we came down with an awful flu that was going
around in the States and we ended up staying in bed drinking Nyquil most of the
time. A few days later, feeling a bit better we flew to Orlando and drove out to
Indialantic to my mom's house for an early Christmas celebration with my mother
and David, my brother. It had been a number of years since I'd been back to Florida for a
visit. It was nice to catch up and celebrate an early Christmas.
David and Ken at my mom's condo in Florida as all seated
around the Christmas ficus
Our whirlwind trip continued and after a short three day visit, we were back to
the airport and flying to Seattle. The next week we spent catching up with
friends. We enjoyed spending several days with our friends Jan and Signe from
Raven, who were home in
Tacoma for the holidays. We also go to catch up with Jason and Tam and their new
Jason, Tam and Aurick
They had shipped their boat, Rainsong, home from Australia 8 months earlier. It
was great to see them after close to a year.
We also got to catch up with some of our Onyx friends. We
enjoyed some time with our four-peat visitor John Hawk as well as some other
work friends. We also caught up with John and Liz and their new
daughter Katie. We had a great dinner at Todd and Andrea Fasullo's house
where we also caught up with our friends Ken and Renee.
Ken, Renee, Todd, and Andrea
We also got to meet the new addition to the Fasullo family
I really enjoyed catching up with my friends Ellie and Keli. I
got to see Ellie's new filly and spend some time enjoying Keli's horse farm. I
even got to do a little riding.
Keli with her horse Brat
Keli and her trainer, Helga, at the barn Christmas party
Hanging out at Kel's house with Ellie and Richard
During our time home, we had decided to make the move and buy a house. We had
looked at many condos and houses and finally settled on a new construction house
in Redmond (a suburb of Seattle). I was very excited about the location, with it only a few miles from
where I grew up and near several of our good friends. It also of course is close to
Microsoft and many of the high tech companies in the Seattle area.
Cath amazed at the size of a kitchen, about three times the
size of our entire boat!
Having made the decision to buy a house very early in the construction phase,
we were then overwhelmed by the number of decisions we had to make about colors,
finishes, appliances, and a thousand others all in about one week around
Our new house when we looked at it and then again a
week later, the last time we saw it in person
We really appreciated all the long hours our realtor,
Daniel Jeung, put in over the holidays to help us find a house so quickly.
He even took a break from Christmas shopping to help us select appliances!
Daniel, posing by our refrigerator selection
Burnstead Construction, the builders, also went out of their way over the
holidays to cram all of the needed meetings into our few available days we were
Cath and Wendy, the Burnstead designer, working through the
seemingly endless decisions about the new house
After a frantic week of making house decisions by day and visiting friends by
night, we drove to eastern Washington to spend Christmas with Ken's dad.
We were treated to a warm welcome and a white Christmas, as we caught up with
Ken Sr, Gigi, Pete, Gina, and Molly.
Our white Christmas 2003 -- It's hard to believe our 2002 Christmas was spent on
the beach in Ohope, NZ
Ken relaxing on Christmas morning
On December 27, we drove back across the mountains to Seattle pack up our things
and prepare for our trip back to Australia. We made a few more trips out to the
building site of our new house and continued to work with the builder and
suppliers to make decisions about the house.
The evening of December 29, we left Seattle for Australia. As we were flying
through Sydney, we decided to spend a few extra days there and enjoy New Years
Eve in that beautiful city before we returned to Mooloolaba.
We arrived in Sydney the morning of December 31. We had arranged for an early
check-in at the Harbourview Hotel in North Sydney. This was the place I had
always stayed for work when I had visited Sydney. It is conveniently located
near a subway stop and offers a terrific view of the Sydney Harbour and the
Harbour Bridge. We relaxed and caught up on some sleep during the day. We had
planned to meet up with some friends, but we were unable to reach them. We
decided to just settle in to a quiet night in our hotel and enjoy the view and
View of Sydney Harbour with the gathering boats waiting for sunset and the
As it got dark, we could see the many tourist boats decorated with lights
cruising around the harbor. At 9pm, the first fireworks were set off. Things
then quieted down until around midnight. Then three synchronized fireworks shows
began at three spots along the harbor. From our hotel room, we were able to
watch all three simultaneous shows. It was amazing that they could time the
shows so perfectly. The show culminated with a spectacular show of fireworks
that were shot off from the Harbour Bridge.
The next day, we met up with Paul and Suzette from Altair. The previous cruising
season, they had left New Zealand very late, so we had missed them in Fiji and
Vanuatu. They had stayed in the tropics into December, and the, made landfall in
Australia in Sydney. We were delighted to catch up with them and enjoyed a sunny
afternoon in Sydney followed by a nice dinner at a pub near The Rocks.
Paul and Suzette at Circular Quay in Sydney
On January 3, we flew back to Brisbane and were met by Nik and Jenn who picked
us up. They had kindly agreed to keep an eye on Felicity and our car while we
were away. They welcomed us home with a nice surprise
dinner aboard Green Ghost and a night at the Mooloolaba bull riding rodeo.
The rodeo seemed a little out of place in the surf community of Mooloolaba.
However, even despite a little rain, we had a great night and were looking
forward to a little relaxing time after our hectic trip home.
Rodeo in Mooloolaba
Nik, Ken, Cath, Lucy, and Jenn watching the rodeo after a bit of a tropical