Posts Tagged ‘Journey


Home work

Who likes homework? Really, I do. Its what I look forward to for months before I get to do it.

Almost home, flying over the Cascades

Yup, my home work is not an assignment put onto me by anybody else. It literally mean going home and working on my property 🙂 … ya, some kind of vacation… Doug and I could have gone on a cruise, but Port Townsend WA is really where we want to be and improving the property is what we want to do.

Redid our fireplace

Time is short 2 weeks for me… have to back at my desk in NY after that, but Doug gets to stay on and indulge in life back home. Lucky him. Well, so we are zipping across in a plane this time… not train, not driving, not cruising… seeing the Cascades from up above. The Cascades is like the great East West divide to me.

Is that straight?

At the airport, we collected our 2 large checked in bags and 4 carry ons, walked over to the parking garage and took Lyft to a off airport rental car facility. Cost $35 for the ride, but I got a mini van from Hertz for a amazing price of $300 for 2 weeks, tax included. Getting it from the airport would have been $500 at least.

Made it to the cabin just before it got too dark. What a relief that everything is just fine, no break in, no fallen tree on the cabin… our 2 greatest fear for leaving the cabin to fend for itself… Its always good to know that this is a good neighborhood and I have great neighbors.

Not a moment to waste

Not a moment to lose, we head out to Poulsbro the very next day and ordered up my largest Home Depot purchase till date. Lots of 12ft timbers and metal roofing sheets, no way we can load those into the minivan… Since I am paying $79 for delivery, I went overboard and ordered lots of materials for future projects as well.

Garden perimeter

While waiting for the delivery, which unfortunately is 4 days away because that’s when they deliver to PT, we sort out this and that around the property, storage and checked on Calliste at the marina.

And I found this amazing fireplace online and felt that I absolutely need to drive out to Lowes at Port Orchard to get it right away. Finally the minivan paid off, the boxed up package just barely made it into the back. At 250lbs, the guys loaded it with a forklift… now its a challenge for us to get it out and shift into the cabin. Long story how we did it, but the picture tells it all… we did it!

The log condo!

This trip, my 3 projects are to build the garden perimeter, planter boxes and log condo. It is impossible to complete all 3 projects, but we got the perimeter ready for gravel and 1 log condo. Doug can build another 2 log condos in his free time later, all he needed was the sample 🙂 . Started on 1 corner of the planter box… sigh… not enuf for Doug to go on and finish, so it will be something that we have to complete in my next trip home… hopefully in time for the growing season.

Sadly I have to go back to my other life… sigh… I had a awesome vacation being home and working on these projects! Money better spent then my other plan of cruising the Carribean onboard Carnival Cruises.



Snowed in and super cold Christmas

Preparing to go out.

Deep freeze winter arrive early this year and hung around for the whole time between Christmas and New Years… and still here. To go out in these -ve ‘F temperature, we gotta dress for it…

Standing by the snowbank, ready for the walk.

Long thermal underwear, pull thick woolen socks over the top of them and then fully lined fleeced pants. For the top, I needed a fleece zip up jacket over long sleeve T and my heaviest wind and water proof jacket. Dont forgot fully lined waterproof mittens.

So here I am, fully wind chill and water proof, except for the face, going to walk 1/4 mile to the supermarket. Should have gotten the scarf, but I thought it would be okay for such a short walk. And yeah, I didnt miss it…

What else is there to do? Build a couple of snowman in the patio

1 thing tho, there are a lot of frozen walkway thats really slippery. Doug’s heavy boots worked well for him, my crocs dont quite have the bite… I had a few skids along the way and only once fell hard onto my butt and elbow. I was doing so well until the last 3 steps back to the apartment. Drats!

How does that look?

Okay, so its a long Christmas weekend and I am bored… so I went out to build a snowman. It was so cold that it was hard work to pack the fluffy snow. I had to push, press and blow on it a lot. It takes pressure and some heat to melt a few snow flakes and just enuf for it to fuse and freeze again into the shape.

… Finally I got the right shape for 1 snowman, I was so tired that I abandoned the 2nd one that was started. Went inside to warm up for a while….

Then I decided to really go at it, while inside the warm apartment… to make sunglasses and vest for the little guy… But it dont seem complete without a hat. And I found a key cover that I was crochetting, seems like the perfect size… 🙂

Well, I guess this little fella is gonna stay around for a long time … with the kind of cold that we have…


We’ve moved. Again.

Pre move in cleaning.

Seems not too long ago that we moved into a rented apartment in Malta, NY. Actually its been a year, and now that the lease is up, I chose not to renew.

Might have been a lot more convenient and cheaper to just stay put, but I had a run in with property management regarding maintenance and communication with new staff. Will not and dont have to put up with it. Thats me, and it will happen again in my next rental. I can see it coming… oh no… so what I am to do?

Me and the van at our new digs. Nope its not going to fit in the garage.

Hope for the best….

This time, I found a take over lease situation in Wilton, NY. This lease is until end April 18, then I can have the option of looking for a new place, or quit my job and move back to PT. Its my plan to leave my job in summer anyway, cos I miss my life in PT so much. So anyway, whatever, this short term rental arrangement suits me just fine.

Have enough setup to resume apartment living within 48hrs.

Well, but for takeover lease, the  apartment is in the state as the guy left it. Dirty and with some marks on the walls. We have to do a lot of cleaning, which we did a full Saturday worth.

Moving H/P Yeli and remaining stuff.

Sunday was a better day for renting a Uhual van anyway. I guess too many people try to move on Saturday too, and vans were not available for enough time to run 2 trips. So Sunday it is, and a Uhaul dealer that operates on Sunday is only 1 mile from our new apartment!

Snow season started as we moved the last load.

Its a good thing that our IKEA furniture is very easily portable in 2 Uhual van loads. Actually we could do just the long and bulky items in 1 van load and run 10 car loads with Scootz slowly over the next 3 weeks, if we really wanted to. Yes, we had a luxurious 3 weeks overlap. 🙂 Cost us a unfair bit, but it is what it is. I am not going to break the lease agreement and get into another spat.

Yay. Place for H/P Yelli in the garage.

We needed 2 weekends after moving to clean up the old digs nicely anyway. We didnt have to rush, so cleaning was actually quite therapeutic. Who would have thot.

The last thing we moved is the 12ft kayak. It was just too long for the van, and too difficult to lift it over the roof of a tall van, so Scootz it is. And Scootz will be the one to carry that H/P Yeli all of 3000miles back to PT in summer … We will have to tie down better in that trip… Things we learn… shouldnt have shipped Yeli over here to begin with…

Well, we made it and we are done before the bad pre Christmas snow storm. Phew!


Taking a bite out of the the apple

I have been so busy with work, finally having some time this Thanksgiving Weekend to fill in my blog. That’s something to be thankful for.

Subway selfie.

Not going to talk about the nail biting things that I do for a living, but more of my usual travel adventures, a recent trip to NYC… partly as a favor to a friend and neighbor, also that I had been wanting to go visit but nobody around me is interested in that trip. Friends and family back home will never understand if I work in NY state and never visited the Big Apple. I just needed to say been there done that and move on to things that interest me more.

Stepping out of the subway, into the 911 Memorial

Ok, so visiting NYC was never big on my mind, but I don’t mind going if the opportunity presents itself. Chai needs help driving a rental minivan to deliver her soon to be abandoned furniture to her siblings who are in NYC. So, I being the person who can drive anything, not many of my types among her circle 🙂 , was roped in for this job. My reward will be a 2 night stay in Queens and guided tour NYC. I like that deal.

I am trying to understand the architect…. no luck tho.

1st, get the van from Alamo at Albany airport. Chai drove me there and we returned in separate vehicles. She then begins the loading while I am stuck in 2 meetings. Good thing meetings don’t have to be in the office… so its just so convenient for me to pop out run a errand, back to join in a meeting call, then out to help Chai, then back to pack my bags.

We hit the roads 1645hrs on a Friday afternoon, hoping we wont have too much traffic going into the city at about 2100hrs. Driving this sluggish 2017 Dodge minivan is ….. boring. The fuel economy is surprisingly good, maybe that’s why the pick up is terribly slow. Interestingly, the sun was beating down on the windscreen and it was not hot. The glass felt cool to touch, and even the black lined fabric ceiling in a black van was cool to touch. Quite amazed at the insulation and technology… Impressive. I like the very black interior afterall.

My picture with Liberty says it all

2000hrs, we made it to the outskirts of the City and traffic is a little bad. 2100hrs we are parked at a H-mart close to her sis’s place and waited to meet her bro. Had dinner in Flushing. A Chinese foodcourt, almost like Singapore…. Not quite the same food, but close enough. Then we drove the van and parked at her bro’s and left it to him to unload the next day. He drove us back to the sis’s place. Sis is on vacation so it was just us. Watched a lot of TV before hitting the sack.

Food discovered.

0800hrs, we walked 15 mins or so to the town of Flushing. A Malaysian coffeeshop breakfast, Nasi Lemak is served here. Pretty good, but I am spoilt by the luxury flavored Singapore style of Nasi Lemak …. :p .. Next, a subway ride to 911 Memorial.

This is not a attraction for me … but I don’t mind being there.

Street food served…. not in a cheapie container. Impressed.

I like the remainder of the day very much tho. We walked from the Memorial in the direction of the water. Found my bearings once I see water. I guess that’s a sign that I need to be close to the water… probably conned Chai into a very long walk that she wasn’t prepared for, on a rather windy chilly day.

The greatest library I have been to.

I got my picture with the Lady out on the rocks… then we walked a mile on the waterfront broadwalk, heading north where I hope to eat lunch at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant… but nope we couldn’t walk 5 miles on this day. After 2 miles, we cut inwards looking for a subway entrance and then food in midtown…. but I spotted activity in a fenced off area with blue tents and found food before we found the subway 🙂

My lunch was great! Yakisoba and grilled squid for $15! Cooked by real Japanese and taste real authentic. Perhaps its was a much better deal than $50 at Morimoto’s… I love the outdoor ambience too.

Guess where I am.

We made it to 5th Avenue by about 3pm, and I got to cross another item off my “if I made it to NYC” list… eating a NY cheesecake and drinking coffee. We found Junior’s famous NY cheesecake by Yelping and I ate a slice all by myself. Yummy… it was rich and very heavy, way I like it… but no, not another 1 for a while. It will take a month to digest it thru my system before I crave it again…

Next on the list, Times Sq and 5th Ave. Ok, did that. And we were attracted to visit the grand NY library. I enjoyed that history and display very much. Its so fascinating to me that librarians are not just the people you see working in the library. There are those in the back working with records and filing away information for future generations. I never thought of it that way before. And at this library, I get to feel the work of generations of librarians, generosity of people who gave to education and the preservation of information, the history of it all.

Not really into tall great buildings, but this is a statement of where I have been.

By now, we’ve walked too many miles. More than 30,000 steps according to Chai. And I have my picture with the Empire State building, so I made my point, been there done that. Time to head back. Got a dinner at another Flushing foodcourt. Another foodcourt meal that I did not finish. Not my kind of taste….

Was past 9pm by the time we got back to her sis place. Another movie marathon and then conked.

9am Sunday morning breakfast with Bro and family at Tim Sum place. Classy restaurant. Much better food 🙂 11am got the van and drove out to unload remaining stuff at sister’s place. Follow by shopping at H-mart where I got $80 worth of frozen seafood. Brought my ice box just for that 🙂 . They have all the exotic seafood just like they have it in their Seattle stores.

Me and the Chirashi in Mitsuwa supermarket in New Jersey.

2pm, we made it to Mitsuwa on the NJ side of Hudson. Its a Japanese supermarket and food court that Norithito told me about. Chai doesn’t enjoy the Japanese culture as much as I do … so this one is all me 🙂 . My best Chirashi since Narita! But otherwise, they are not as well stocked in exotic frozen seafood as the H-mart.

Another 3 hrs of driving North on I87 and we got home before 7pm. Very pooped, as I did all that driving. It was intense in the city and just long on the highway in this sluggish van. But I got what I wanted. Was a fair trade…. I feel like I came out tops 🙂


A Singapore gathering in upstate NY

My Singapore day feast in upstate NY.

Well, I couldn’t be further away from home than being in NY, but I am not alone 🙂

A real paper and leaf wrapped Nasi Lemak! … but its missing my fav fish….

I know, I go back to SG every year, sometimes twice, I get my fill of real authentic hawker foods and carry with me lots of canned food and special ingredients, so I really don’t miss much, but still it is nice to meet people who share my heritage and love for native Singaporean foods half the world around.

This is the weekend before Singapore’s 52nd National Day, and I guess there is enough Singaporeans here in upstate NY to come together, organize this gathering and cook up a feast!

Most fresh ingredients are locally sourced, and some packaged foods came in by freight of course…. yes, the popiah skin isn’t as nice as those fresh in SG ones, and there is no “kunning” fish in my Nasi Lemak… but that pandan cake is phenomenal, so is that satay and peanut sauce!

Oh yes, lots of Singapore National day music in the background and lots of Singlish all around… Actually I felt a little out of place … for not wearing red…. good thing nobody wanted a group photo …

And a bag of goodies… my favorite Kong Guan biscuits, Prima packaged noodles … not sure what to do with the flag and red/white longish floats …. Singapore shaped Singlish post its? … hmmm…..

So I am not a missing Singaporean anymore. I been logged…. by the Overseas Singaporean Unit. I guess this 1 reason for me to like being in NY…. for 2 years I lived in SG isolation in a little remote town Port Townsend…


Another 48hrs on the train

22 Apr 1400hrs: We had a 4hrs layover at Chicago Union station, that gave me the chance to do a walking cruise downtown Chicago and had lunch.

Bright and cheery gallery car.

Then we board the #7 Empire Builder. We are doing this ride from the originating station to the destination station… I think we are the only passengers that will be on it for the entire journey, not counting the crew of course. Even then, some crews get on/off at various points along the way too.

I would love to own acreage with flat grassy farming soil and a cliff on the back.

On the Empire Builder, cabins are exactly like our last train, but there is a gallery and lounge car that is such a treat. I guess it doesn’t make good sense to have a gallery car on a overnight train like the #49. Whereas the Empire Builder is going cross country and in daylight everyone would want to hang out and mingle. Again, I am happy that the ridership is about 30%, such that the gallery and dining car were never so full up.

Heading into the cascades.

I am a happy patron of the lounge, no queue, and my beer is nicely chilled. Its surely double what I pay for at the supermarket, but its about the same when I buy it from a pub. So nah, I dun have a problem with buying 2 bottles a day for 2 days. Poor attendant was not getting enuf customers nor tips to make his trip worthwhile, and train passengers are not really the generous tipping kind… sigh… guess why the grumpy lounge attendant was happy to see me? 🙂

Our view from the dining car. A moment of peace as we finish our last bites.

Oh yes, I must say that I am very happy that we have our own kettle, especially on this longer leg where we are stuck on board for 48hrs. We certainly saved money from not buying lousy coffee or cup noodles (chicken flavored only!) from the lounge car. We brought our own coffee mixes, tea bags, cocoa, instant cereal and “hot and spicy shrimp” cuppa noodles 🙂 … I have 1 each morning 🙂 Also on the Empire Builder, cabins have a drinking water spigot and small disposable cups that were very handy. So its less yucky to have to get water for the kettle than from u know where.

23 Apr: We spend all day on the train passing thru flat farming lands as far as the eyes can see, stopping at little towns with train stops where some passengers get on/off or just a cig break. I am happy that we had AT&T network connection most everywhere so I kept up with my little people games on my iPad 🙂

Was difficult to get a good picture in a moving train.

Altho the seats are not as comfortable as beds, it seems we slept quite well and frequently doze off during the day too. I think we are definitely getting 8hrs each day… if not 10 🙂 . The train does rock a fair bit, making it hard to write a diary or draw a house plan, but I manage to do a little work on the computer while at the lounge car. Reading is really quite popular…socializing otherwise, only few people are playing phone games.

Morning in the Cascades.

By 1700hrs, the terrain changed from rolling farming plains interlaced with lakes and rivers to one that is woody and rocky. Seeing the Cascades in the distance with the setting sun in the back is a treat.

Getting a 1800hrs dinner car reservation for us, having a great steak (for me) and salad (for Doug), as we enter the Cascades was the highlight of this ride. Our experience was only slightly marred by the mother and kid that we shared our table with, and other diners near us who ruined my expectation that dining passengers are well heeled high society types…. I guess not on this trip… Well, I was thankful that most diners ate their small meals and left quickly, leaving us (the last 2) to eat up our expensive bigger meal in peace.

Kings Street station in downtown Seattle.

24th April 0700hrs: By now, we have changed time zone for the 2nd time. Morning in the Cascades was beautiful and we are in good spirits nearing the end of our long journey. I mean we go on long journeys all the time, but we are always in the driver seat and its just us in Calliste, or us just in Fordie as we drove east last fall. Sure, we cant wait to step off the train and be in control of our immediate environment again.

My daisies! Planted last summer, survived winter without me.

I am more of the veteran passenger than Doug as I have had been on cruising, flying and train riding vacations in so many countries from childhood…. so I did learn to make the most out of each riding experience. In many ways those things that I pick up makes my next journey more comfortable and interesting, mostly with regard to timing when to do what kind of things when bound in a cabin with other people 🙂

1000hrs: We arrived almost an hour ahead of schedule, in downtown Seattle. Got our checked in bags, they arrived unscathed 🙂 . Leaving Doug to watch our bags at the station, I walked 1 mile, guided by my trusty phone and Google, to Budget car rental.

Got the car that I prepaid for and got Doug and our bags before noon. Back on our home run route, stopped at Walmart to restock the cabin. We are home by 4pm, unloaded the car, and with still a good amount of daylight and energy left, we walked the grounds and smell the flowers 🙂 . Oh cabin, we’re home!



65hrs train ride (part 1)

Yup we must be going somewhere 🙂 … slowly

Just us and few others.

Its spring, time to head back to Port Townsend to check on my cabin… and to get summer projects rolling for Doug. Yeah sure we could choose to fly, but with all that luggage that Doug is bringing, taking the train is cheaper and less security hassles. Plus we get to see all that scenery and feel touristy for a change.

Flying feels rushed… there is a very business feel to it…

Arriving at Chicago. So many tracks.

Where taking the slow train seems kinda fun and relaxing to me …. maybe its the novelty, maybe its the wide seats and huge leg room and less than 25% ridership vs 100% on most flights…

Remember seeing this place on the big screen?

21 Apr 1800hrs: A great friend came to transfer us from our apartment in Malta to Schenectady. Car ride 40 mins. Its nice that there is no check in 2hrs early requirement :)… so in fact we were there way too early … yeah, but we didn’t want to be held up by rush hour traffic and miss the train, so it worked out.

Looks that maintenance is a daily chore around here

Me! At Union Station, Chicago, IL.

21 Apr 1930hrs: We start off with #49 Lake Shore Limited from Schenectady, NY bound Chicago, IL. 15hrs overnight train ride, not much to see, but we are just excited to be on our way home. Our mood was light and happy as we settle down into our seats and ate the dinner that we prepared back in the apartment. We brought a travel kettle and instant hot beverage packs so we could have a steaming hot beverage anytime and right at our seat … not to mention we save $2 for each cuppa that we don’t buy from the lounge car :). Yes, we got the water on board… from the bathroom…. yikes? Yep, that’s how I felt about it, but Doug was unfazed.

This almost could be Singapore River.

After hours of eating and talking, we laid our seats fully back and pulled out the foot rest to seat height. To be stuck for such a long journey in a seat, the chair must be a lot more comfy than a plane, otherwise who would put up with it?

I like that globe at the foot of that tower. Wonder what is the significance.

Then I notice the more veteran train riders brought their large swooshy pillows. The real thing, not the travel type. That and a travel fleece blanket made so much sense. I guess on our next trip, we’ll have a few tricks of our own…. nevertheless, I slept most of the night away and maybe was just a little sore in the morning. Doug did pretty well too.

River taxi going by.

Thru the night, the train made quite a few stops. Passengers came and went. Nobody, we learned, was going our distance …. 🙂

Chinese not open.

22 Apr 1015hrs: Arrived at Chicago on schedule. Our next train is 4 hours away…. its so nice to have unlimited mobile data and not lose network throughout this trip, maybe we did but I wasn’t constantly needing data, anyway pre arrival, I google mapped Chicago Union Station surroundings, wondering where can I go to get us some good bites for the next longer leg. Only then did I realize that the station is right downtown in Chicago! How convenient. Unlike airports which is always bus rides away.

Japanese not opened too!

Doug prefers to sit with the bags in the lounge while I go check out the city. We both like this arrangement 🙂 … except that he warns me about the gangs that are everywhere in Chicago, especially in Chinatown … well we just have to trust my guardian angel when I am out there walking myself 🙂

Robinsons it is!

So there I went, checking out the historic Union Station, then walking towards the riverfront, crossing the little bridge into downtown Chicago. Its a Saturday, not many people around… tall building line the river… a river taxi goes by… felt just like Singapore on a Saturday.

Surprisingly real and tasty food.

Oh NO! Just like Singapore, food places that I was so looking forward too were not opened, because its a weekend!

Drats, just have to get whats in Union Station. Well, there is a food court with the usual suspects… then I saw this Mom n Pop shoppe that I just must try because its not everywhere and everyday that I see honest real people behind the counter. And for $8 it was honest real food. Simple and yet very tasty!

1 hour walk, 1 hour to eat, 1 hour to find the boarding platform to #7 the Empire Builder. Time pass quickly, but it was enough time for me in Chicago on a Saturday…

Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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