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Friday, February 26, 2010

Back from the US of A

We're back in Taiwan after a much-needed visit home to the United States (Bremerton, Washington, to be exact. It isn't exactly my hometown, but it's where my parents have been living since my father retired). It's always great, of course, to be able to see my family again, but I was especially happy to see the positive effect this trip had on my daughter. Not only was she able to reconnect with her other grandparents again after a year apart, but I was pleased to see how well she quickly adapted to an all-English environment, both inside and outside the home. As for me, the simple pleasures of rediscovering favorite foods and catching up on sorely-missed TV programs and community radio were icing on the cake of an all-too-short 15-day visit. Now it's back to the daily grind of ugly environments and imbecilic motorists, but until the next opportunity to go back to the USA, here are a few photos from our visit:

One of the Izu Islands 伊豆諸島 as our plane approached Narita International Airport 成田国際空港 from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport 台湾桃園国際空港. Just after snapping this pic, we experienced some of the worst turbulence I've ever felt.

We didn't make any lengthy trips while in Washington, but we did go out a lot. There's a network of walking trails not far from my parent's house that starts at Puget Sound, and continues for several miles:

Amber naturally enjoyed visiting the fudge shop in Port Orchard. If there was one drawback to being in America (other than having to come back to Taiwan!), it was that my daughter discovered she had a sweet tooth (the fact that she was exposed to her first Valentine's Day didn't help)!:

One rainy afternoon was spent looking around the main street on Bainbridge Island, followed by a visit to Chief Seattle's grave. Being in Washington, we had to visit Seattle at least once, taking the ferry from Bremerton. Amber got a kick out of the water jets at the Bremerton waterfront, which are supposed to represent salmon swimming upstream:

The ferry makes for a stress-free commute to and from Seattle:

Once in Seattle, getting to the International District/Chinatown was easy, thanks to the free underground bus:

Yes, it's somewhat ironic that while back in the U.S. we visited Uwajimaya supermarket 宇和島屋  and Kinokuniya bookstore 紀伊国屋, but both are great places to spend time in, and much better than anything we have here in Fengyuan 豐原. Should we ever move to Seattle, I'd like to live in or around the International District.

In addition to Seattle, we also paid a visit to downtown Tacoma. There really wasn't much to see and do there (the admission fees for the Museum of Glass and Washington History Museum were too high, especially considering that Amber wouldn't have gotten much out of going to them), but getting around was easy, especially as the Tacoma Link light rail train was free (and the weather was gorgeous)!:

The weather was overcast and rainy for the first half of our stay, but things really cleared up towards the end, resulting in some nice sunsets. Unlike the rest of the country, this winter has been relatively mild in the Pacific Northwest. Flying from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, the view out the window of the plane was an unbroken vista of whiteness until reaching Washington state.

Amber and her Nana and Granddad thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure of each others' company!:

I enjoyed the pleasures of some of Washington's craft beers (in addition to Samuel Adams). I don't even want to look at a can of Taiwan Beer ever again!:

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, so it was with much regret we had to leave family and country behind. I know Amber is looking forward to the next trip back!

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