SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2007 activities 2008 activities 2009 activities


September 2006

Well, we've been here a little while now, and here's what we've been up to in the past few weeks:
Some less mundane activities include:
Other things we haven't done yet (but are on our list):
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October 2006


October in Seattle has been a beautiful month. With all the leaves on the trees changing colour, there's been a wonderful splash of bright reds, oranges and yellows everywhere. Of course we've seen this sort of thing in the Melbourne Autumn, but here the colours seem to be more vibrant, or maybe there's just so many more trees that the impact is greater. We seem to have been fortunate to have had a fairly fine and sunny October here, it has become cooler but didn't get too cold until the very end of the month. Read on for some of the things we've been up to...

DAY HIKES: Early in the month we joined a outdoor activities club called The Mountaineers. They run all sorts of activities, including hiking, walking, kayaking, camping, rock climing, something called "scrambling" (which from what we gather is pretty much what it sounds), and in winter skiing, snow-boarding and snow-shoeing.

So far we've been on a couple of day hikes with this group. Both day trips have involved a walk up to an alpine lake in the nearby mountains. We've been very fortunate with the weather (wonderful sunny days), and the scenery is lovely with so many of the trees in the midst of changing colour. Both times we've been rewarded at the top by the view of a simply stunning crystal clear lake (as shown in the photo to the right). It's also been great to go with a group and meet other people who enjoy the walking and scenery too. See our October photos for more pictures



HALLOWEEN: As was to be expected, Halloween is big here - but we didn't quite appreciate really how BIG until we got here.People wear costumes to work and have parties, haunted trail activities are run for kids, there are pumpkins galore in the shops, alongside a lot of (mostly tacky) paraphenalia, people decorate their houses (as at right) and wish each other "Happy Halloween". We celebrated at a party hosted by some Aussie friends.



MOVING HOUSE: We recently found a place to live and moved into our own apartment. After 7 months on the move, it felt unexpectedly and oddly exciting to be completely unpacking all of our toiletries and sleeping in our own bed again. It was great to get reacquainted with all our belongings, and also to unpack and use many of our wedding gifts for the first time. We trotted off to Ikea for a few bits of furniture and had fun putting it all together. And of course, we've had to acquire almost all of our electronic goods here, although fortunately rental places generally come provided with whitegoods. All in all, we're settling into our new home pretty comfortably - see Where are we living? for more details and pictures.



SAN FRANCISCO: Taking advantage of our new-found proximity, we flew down to San Francisco for a weekend to spend some time with some of our family. We surprised Michael's parents who were in town for a fleetng visit, and had fun catching up with our brothers, sisters-in-law and the kids.




LOCAL WILDLIFE: The squirrels are still very cute (albeit also rabid, so we've been told), but a more recent highlight was seeing a deer in our street, yes a real live deer! By the time Michael chased it down (or rather, approached it cautiously) with a camera, it had moved to the front of someone's house (see left). We told you it's a very green, woody city, especially around Redmond, and apparently it's not all that uncommon.


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November 2006


November has been wet wet wet! It basically bucketed down rain for days non-stop, which apparently even for Seattle is unusual (it usually just drizzles non-stop). But we still managed to enjoy some lovely Fall/Autumn colours, especially earlier in the month. And these last few days we've enjoyed the experience of our first Seattle snow. It doesn't snow all that much in Seattle and it only lasted a couple of days, so it's still somewhat a novelty for us. It's very beautiful of course, although it plays havoc with the roads, and it's been very c-c-c-old!




SOCIAL TIMES: Despite the rain, November has been a rather busy month for us - in fact it's been quite a social time as we've been getting to know more people here. There's a bunch of Aussies who are all here thanks to Microsoft, and so it's been fun getting to know them and hang out together, going to each other's parties and events etc. But in case you're worried that we're cocooning ourselves away, don't worry, we've also met some pretty groovy and fun Americans the last couple of months as well (OK some are Microsofties too, but not all!).

We recently held a Housewarming/Michael's PhD/Michelle's 30th birthday celebration with our new found friends. And since Michael will probably miss his graduation in Melbourne, we held a little ceremony of our own - luckily one of our friends is also an RMIT PhD alumni and he had the appropriate robe for the occasion!


THANKSGIVING AND MICHELLE'S BIRTHDAY: We continued our commemoration of American festivals at Thanksgiving with a reunion of the Chow siblings in Seattle. We celebrated with a fine quasi-traditional Thanksgiving feast, Michael did a grand job of carving the Tofurkey (turkey substitute for vegetarians, it's shaped like a meatloaf). Happily for us the Thanksgiving holiday (last Thursday of November, and many people take/get the Friday off) also coincided with the weekend of Michelle's birthday, so we had a great 4-day celebration all together. We had a lot of fun just hanging out, as well as seeing various sights around town, including the Pike Place Market, the Fremont troll, going up the Space Needle and visiting the Boeing factory.






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December 2006


Christmas countdown
The day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas season in the US. As in Australia, streets and some houses are decorated and all sorts of community events take place. Unfortunately we don't have many photos - in essence much of it is the same as what we've seen in Melbourne but in greater quantity, especially in the local public areas. We did notice that real fir trees were a lot more commonly available (including at the local supermarkets)

With her choir, Michelle participated in a Seattle tradition known as the "Christmas Ship", where a cruise ship is decked out in lights and goes sailing around one of the lakes, accompanied by a number of similarly decked out boats. Some people put a lot of effort into their boats and it's quite a sight with a flotilla of brightly lit boats streaming along the lake. The ship docks at a couple of public areas, and the choir singing on board is broadcast over loud speakers to all the surrounding boats and people on the shore. At the end of the carols bracket, people on the surrounding boats toot their horns in appreciation and the ship departs, with a very funky gospel-style version of the Hallelujah Chorus being played.



'Twas a dark and stormy night...
Actually, 'twas a stormy night and then came the darkness... In mid-December western Washington was hit a big storm with huge winds (69 mph = 110kph). Trees everywhere came crashing down or were uprooted, bringing down power lines, which caused havoc for days. Over half the local transmission lines in the area were taken out, and we and over 700000 other people in the Seattle region lost electrical power. We were amongst the lucky ones who got our power after 24 hours, some people didn't regain power until a week later, just in time for Christmas. The effects of such a widespread blackout were almost surreal. Among other things:

A couple of days after the storm we went out and saw some of the damage in our local area - more pictures on our December photos page.


Home for Christmas
As most of you will know by now, we were lucky enough to have our green cards (ie.permanant residence) applications approved just before Christmas, and so we were able to return back to Melbourne for the festive season. It seems that we brought some of rain with us for a cooler Christmas, but nevertheless we had lot of fun celebrating with our families and catching up with everyone. And while we're certainly not complaining about the rain in Melbourne, we did enjoy the Australian warmth when it started to heat up - we hadn't exactly packed for wintery conditions!


Great Ocean Walk, Part 1
While we were in Australia, Michael and a group of eleven others (Rod, Jo, Denny, Bianca, Ash, Gary, Spud, Emma, Mark, Debbie and Gareth) managed to squeeze in a hike between Christmas and New Year. They walked the first half of the Great Ocean Walk, a recently created hike between Apollo Bay and the 12 Apostles. The five-day hike went smoothly and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Michael enjoyed this as a great opportunity to catch up with friends and experience the oh-so-missed Aussie bush and beaches, and is hoping complete the second half next Christmas. Check out our Great Ocean Walk page for photos.




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