Tuesday, September 25, 2007

October 24th Racing Up at an Alarming Pace

29 days to go. I can't quite believe it to be honest, it's racing up so fast. One measly month! I looked at the calendar the other day and realised that I only have three weeks at work before I am on my 13 weeks leave. And so much planned for that 3 weeks... aye caramba!

Today I booked my hotel room for NYC. More of a guest house really. Second Home on Second Avenue. It came highly recommended to me by a friend in Sydney (who has stayed there this month) and I checked it on Trip Advisor and it has an excellent rating with plenty of rave reviews, and Carlos, the owner replied promptly and professionally when I emailed my enquiry. So I bit the bullet and did it!

Another thing I'd really like to do in NYC is have a Big Apple Greeter. It's a fantastic volunteer organisation that hooks visitors to NYC up with volunteers to show them around the city. It's a fantastic initiative to counteract the stereotypes that NYC sometimes gets, for being aggressive and scary and having a high crime rate. I think it's a wonderful idea and I hope I get the opportunity to use the service.

In other news, St Louis is off the itinerary for now, as it's not working out possible logistically. So instead Aly and I are planning to fly direct to Chicago to stay with Missy. Oh what trouble we three can get up to!

I have however added San Francisco to the itinerary as a stopover. On my way from Seattle to Florida (a very roundabout way) I plan to head down the West coast and then across the South, and I am very keen to see San Francisco and catch up with Isen while I'm there. She has promised to show me Chinatown while I'm there, amongst other things. San Francisco looks like an amazing city, I can't wait to add it to my list of "been there's"!

I bought myself a new digital camera a couple of weeks ago. The Canon Powershot A550. I did have a Powershot A75, but at almost four years old, it was getting a little tired and I didn't want the risk of it dying on me mid-trip. So a new camera was on the list. $199 for the camera (7.1 megapixel, 4 x zoom), $20 for a 1Gb memory card. Amazing since the A75 was $599 plus $85 for a 256Mb chip... and it was only 3.2 megapixel with 2 x zoom!

Otherwise, everything else is pretty much organised. Which is good because I'll be packing my bags and getting on that plane before I know it!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

50 Sleeps and Counting

Ten days since the last blog? It's passing so quickly at the moment!

Well everything is progressing just nicely. I've got all the "official" stuff sorted, so I'm all set to go. The boss has approved my leave (13 weeks at half pay, sweet!), the passport has been picked up (ugly, ugly photo, but that is normal isn't it?), the finances have been arranged, we're all groovy.

I'm starting to get REALLY excited about it all now. I mean there has always been a level of excitement, but I can feel it building and growing now. I don't feel as nervous as I did, I just want to get over there and be seeing and doing all the stuff I keep talking about.

Constantly I am amazed at the enthusiasm, encouragement, generosity and goodwill of all of the lovely people who are so keen for me to visit them while I am on this trip. The cysterhood have been AMAZING, their excitement has carried me through the times where I've been cranky about something not happening as easily as I think it should, the boring bits, and the scaredy moments where I think of the magnitude of what I'm doing. Other friends have been fabulous too, from being keen to plan things with me, or just telling me they can't wait to see me. It's warmed this old girl's heart.

I'm currently trying to decide what two books to take with me at the beginning. I am only taking two novels (I already have my Lonely Planet USA guide and the Frommers Seattle that my manager gave me allocated, so two more is enough!) and I will buy any more I need over there in second hand shops or bargain tables. I think my first choice will be Bill Bryson's "I'm A Stranger Here Myself", as I always enjoy Bryson's work, and it's about him returning to the USA.

I've bought a very cute backpack for day use too. It's chocolate brown leather, weather proof, cute and not at all touristy/sporty, good pockets to carry stuff, a few secret compartments, and not too big, not too small. I really wanted something that was kind of nice looking but also practical. I lucked it in finding this one.

Mostly now it's just the wait until I leave. The agonising bit!!