Seattle, Washington

The first thing you notice about Washington state is the abundance of green. Most of it is green, a contrast from Arizona, which is mostly dust. And whereas Arizona is dusty because it’s dry, Washington is green because it’s wet. Makes perfect sense.

In fact, while in Arizona L’s uncle had told me “Washington’s really nice… if you like green”.

For Australians (and others) reading, it’s probably worth mentioning that Washington state is completely different to Washington, DC. George Washington is obviously a very venerated person in the United States, because about half of everything is named “Washington” somethingorother. There’s cities called Washington, the state called Washington, streets, suburbs, schools, buildings — everything.

We’ve been doing a lot of the touristy-pop-culture things. We’ve eaten at the cafe in Twin Peaks and had a look around Snoqualmie Falls… had our pictures taken in Roslyn, where they filmed Northern Exposure… gone past the motel in An Officer And A Gentleman… seen the same view that Frasier has from his apartment window… had lunch at the restaurant from Sleepless in Seattle… checked out the bloodstains in Kurt Cobain’s garage. Whoops, just kidding…

I’m still getting used to the American money. Having now become accustomed to ATMs which ask me if I want my transaction in English or Spanish, once I get the money in my hand, or heaven forbid try to spend it, I have to check it all very carefully. Australian money is colour coded, for people like me who just can’t be bothered looking for the numbers. US money is all green. No shades, no different sizes no distinguishing features except for the different numbers and the startingly similar different pictures on each.

The other thing that sometimes still throws me is the idea of sales tax, which is added after the total is calculated. So you’re expecting a nice even $1.00, and you actually get $1.08, and have to scrabble around for some extra coins. And tipping. In Australia, nobody expects a tip, and few get one, but over here the waiters and so on seem to expect an extra few dollars. Oh well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

In the supermarkets here they have all that stuff which when imported into Australia we pay a small fortune for, if we’re foolish enough to decide we want it. You know, Cherry Coke and so on. But today I found an imported jar of Vegemite, normal size (whatever that may be) for no less than US$5.95! Ah – so there is justice in the world! (And shipping costs…)