Mountains outside Taos, New Mexico
Oh blog, and blog readers, I’ve ignored you for so long. My apologies for the long break between posts. The last couple of months have gone by in a flash, a nearly-hallucinatory slideshow of people, places, goodbyes, hellos, endings, beginnings and movement, always movement. Until finally I stopped.
I’ve been in San Francisco for three weeks and feel myself slowly settling in. K and I have been enjoying a really simple life these last few weeks: pottering around the house, working from home, shopping for bulk goods and cooking every healthy meals at home, barely eating out. We really needed this slower time after a fun but relentless and at-times spectacularly stressful previous three months which involved 3 countries, ten states, six flights and one epic drive.
The last couple of months we spent in DC were a constant countdown to departure and we pushed ourselves to be endlessly social as we strove to pack in time with all the people we loved. Finishing a job and packing up a house made work and home time equally busy. Taking a break to Costa Rica, where we originally planned to renew our visas, sounded like a good idea when we booked the ticket, and was certainly very beautiful, but became just another thing that needed organizing and nowhere near enough time to really relax. (And we weren’t even able to get our visas, requiring another trip overseas, this time to good ‘ol Australia.)
Then a final week in DC, party party party pack pack pack, and we were on the road, driving South through Virginia at first and spending our first night in the George Washington National Forest, part of the ancient Appalachian Mountains that run down the East coast. Staring up at the stars that night I felt the thrill of freedom that everyone must feel when they set out on a cross-country adventure.
We took eleven days to cross the continent, enough time to do things other than drive. Twice we took days off, first in the bohemian Taos in New Mexico and then in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas in California. We spent two days driving due West across Tennessee, arriving at all our chosen attractions just after closing time or on their day off, then spend across Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In Little Rock we picked up a traveling companion, our friend James, and in Clinton, OK. we spent the night in the perfect old-school roadside dive motel. We were in awe of the Taos gorge and then had our minds blown by the Grand Canyon over which we saw the sun rise after three hours of sleep. In Death Valley we experienced 119 Fahrenheit (38.5 Celsius). (That was particularly amazing, the hottest temperature I’ve encountered, a genuinely new feeling.) We plunged into a freezing-cold stream of ice-melt pouring down off the Sierra Nevadas and saw the highest and lowest points in mainland USA within 2 hours drive of each other. I saw five animals I had never seen in the wild before: a hummingbird, coyote, elk, praire dogs and beavers.
America is a spectacularly large and diverse country. Mainland USA is as spread out as Australia but with a staggering degree of geographic diversity. Ancient mountain ranges (the Appalachians) and much more recent upheavals (the Rockies), huge plains and vast canyons cut into plateaus four thousand feet high. America is a relatively new continent, the land subject to the repeated trauma of tectonic collisions, volcanic instability, ice-age glaciers and resulting floods. It was thrilling to see the land morph so dramatically around us, often in the space of a few hours.
All in all, an amazing drive. We arrived in San Francisco around 2pm, had time to visit a friends house and have a shower and then left the car in long-term parking and caught a flight back to Australia, whereupon landing we dashed immediately to the US Consulate for our visa interview, arriving with seven minutes to spare. Stressful. But new visas we did receive, allowing us to work in the US for another two years, and we were both deeply relieved despite our outward (and well-deserved) confidence. The rest of the week was spent focused on family and some very special friends. Then back to San Fran, landing at 10am and seeing our first apartment at 12pm, the first of ten we would see over the weekend before I flew out on an overnight flight back to DC to start my work for Small Act at the Virginia HQ.
Naturally it was the eleventh house K saw, the morning after I left, that she fell in love with and so when I returned that Friday night it was to our new place in the Mission, which was pretty cool. And the house was every bit as great as described, cozy, large and filled with character, not to mention exactly where we wanted to live, in the Mission near SOMA (where I’ll be working).
And that brings us roughly back to now, thanks for sticking with me. Having got you up-to-date I’m going to return to the irregular-but-somewhat-frequent-updates-on-whatever-I’m-thinking-about that constitute the usual programming around here.