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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 son Aurick.

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 Christmas.

   

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 in Seattle.

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

   

   

Opening Presents

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 fireworks.

View of Sydney Harbour with the gathering boats waiting for sunset and the fireworks show

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 shower

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