gone byÖ July 1999 Ė April 2000
Wow! An entire year has gone and what have we been up to? Well, my guess is that most of you know, but we are documenting what we remember to fill the hole in our Web Journal.
Our time in London came to an end in July 1999. Alanís company hired some local help and it was now time for him to return to the head office in Santa Clara, CA. We had a wonderful 2-Ĺ years and it was extremely difficult for us to leave the land of culture, beauty and travel. It is difficult to express how London and the wonderful friends we made touched our lives. We will miss all of them and hope to keep in touch.
On our journey back to California, we stopped in New York to visit Mom and East Coast Dad. We spent a few days with them and the grand finale was a wonderful ďsmallĒ Mexican party (40 people, I thought small was a hand full). We had the pleasure of meeting Momís entire bridge group; more family and new friends at this small get together. The funny thing is it felt as though we already knew everyone from talking with mom over the years. This was a very special party that mom has wanted to throw for us ever since we tied the knot. Mom, We Loved It! Muchas Gracias!
Well by end of June we were in our temporary apartment in San Jose, CA. We chose this place because it was less than a mile from Alanís office and we were able to book it over the internet. We had to live in a hotel for a couple of weeks, across from Great America Amusement Park. During those couple of weeks we were still waiting for our belongings on the 2-month journey from London to arrive. We did have access to our empty apartment, but no bed.
Within the first week at the hotel we had visitors -Mom, my sister Karen, my brother Matthew (of course they arenít related), nieces Karina and Taira, and nephews Robert, Michael and Dillion. Alan and I were completely exhausted and stressed out, so we opted not to spend the day at Great America with the gang. We did meet up with them in the evening and had a good time. While the gang was at Great America we were able to finish emptying our storage unit and get my old Suzuki Samurai (Blondie) up and running. We also needed to buy another car for Alan to use. We decided to play it safe and just by a small used commuter car instead of getting into a big debt with a new car until we were settled for a while. So we purchased a Suzuki Swift and it did the trick. It was named shorty because we now owned 2 Suzuki cars and I am lame about naming cars.
The first few weeks we tried to see as many of our family and friends as we could, at the same time I was trying to find a job and Alan was working at Latitude. We found it to be a difficult transition moving back to California from England. In fact, I would say it was more of an adjustment than it was to move over to England. Alan and I had over 2 years with just the two of us and there was constantly a new adventure in London. We had to learn a new culture and customs and used public transportation daily. Coming back to California and having to rely on a car once again and to be stuck in traffic jams left and right, this was not a pleasant experience. We love California and it had changed slightly, but we changed more. We were both working and after a few months we both felt that things just werenít what we wanted.
Alan wanted a new job and so did I. So we both went on the hunt. Alan landed a fantastic job with Asera in Redwood City and I was going to be working at the GAP Head Office in San Bruno. We had a few weeks off in between jobs, so we decided to take off on a last minute diving trip. Cabo San Lucas, here we come.
We were in Cabo for a week and we found the diving to be less than desirable. Maybe we just had it too good on our other vacations. Anyway, we did do a few days of diving and had the greatest little hotel (Los Milagros) http://members.aol.com/hotelcabo/index.html . We loved it there a quiet little sanctuary. We had a great afternoon and sunset on the 4 wheel quad bikes we rented. We were riding in the sand dunes and going on some great desert trails. We flew home and had another week off before starting work. A week later it was Thanksgiving.
We spent Thanksgiving in Sacramento with Alanís Dad. Alan spent the few days prior with his dad and I drove up the night before. The two boys did all of the cooking and mmmm! was it good. I must admit they did include me in on the making of the special family cornbread stuffing. There was enough food to feed and army and we did our best to devourer it. It was a very pleasant and relaxing day.
Time to start the new jobs and get ready for Christmas. We spent the weekend prior to Christmas in Wonder Valley at Moms house. Our family celebrated the week before Christmas because that is the only time we could all gather together. It was a full house and loads of fun just like the old days. All of us stayed up late challenging each other to a game of Pictionary and lots of good chatter. I was nice spending some good quality time with everyone again.
The following weekend was Christmas, Alan and I rented a small cabin in the woods on the beach in Pacific Grove, CA (between Monterey and Carmel). There was a fireplace in the room and it was so cozy and romantic. We brought a small potted Christmas tree with us and placed in the corner for Santa to easily find. We brought some snack food with us anticipating that many of the stores and restaurants would be closed over the weekend. Our favorite was roasting marshmallows over the fireplace and making smores with graham crackers and Hershey chocolate bars. First thing Christmas morning we exchanged our gifts and decorated the tree with the ribbons and bows from our packages. That was the cutest tree ever. It was a wonderful weekend and it was nice to get away to the beach.
We didnít do much for New Years as I had to work at 6am on New Years morning. We did manage to make it to the beach, Half Moon Bay, for a Midnight kiss.
Well, we had been looking at houses to buy for the past 6 weeks without much luck. We started looking along the Peninsula and in San Francisco and found the prices to be out of this world. We then went over the hill to Half Moon Bay and Pacifica along the beach and found the prices to be better, but still outrageous. After weeks of frustration and neither of us willing to spend $500,000 on a small old used home, we decided to look at other options. We did some investigating and found that there were a few places in the US where the cost of living was less and we could still get some good jobs. The areas that we were thinking of were Raleigh, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon. We decided we may like the climate a bit more in North Carolina, so that is what we checked out first.
After thorough investigation on the internet, we found that RTP (Research Triangle Park) is the up and coming area in the Tech fields ďthe Silicon Valley of the East CoastĒ. Jobs appear to be plentiful, rated one of the best locations in the USA to raise a family, it all looked good on paper. A few weeks later we were on a plane to Raleigh Durham Airport, this was something we wanted to check out in person. We had a few days in the area and in this time we did it all. We looked at homes, jobs, grocery stores, drove in commute traffic (10 cars, huh!), visited the Chamber of commerce, checked out the city cultural events, racquetball, mountain biking trails, scuba diving, etc. We didnít get much sleep that weekend as we were trying to think of everything to investigate.
The portion of the flight home from Chicago to San Jose was over booked and they were looking for volunteers to give up seats for $300 each and take the next flight. Needless to say we were $600 united airlines dollars richer within minutes and they gave us a dinner voucher for Chiliís too. There was one problem with the arrangement, the next flight was into San Francisco and we needed to go to San Jose (45 miles south). The airline promised that they would have ground transportation between the two airports and that our luggage would be set aside in San Jose. We had a couple of hours to kill, so we ate dinner and chatted.
We caught the next flight and we arrived into San Francisco at midnight. When we went to the United Reps for the ground transportation, they knew nothing of the arrangement. It seemed there were a few others in the same boat as us. Finally they checked up on our stories and they called a mini van to pick us up to drive us to San Jose. After a 45min drive we finally arrived in San Jose at 1.30am, only to find that the San Jose airport was completely closed down. They close at 12.30 and there was only the floor buffer man in sight and he was no help.
At this point we thought we would just get a cab home (4miles away) and then we would return the next day to pick up our luggage. No cabs! Not one, after all why would they be waiting at a closed airport? We found a phone booth and rummaged up 35 cents to call a cab. The cab company we called said they had no cabs and gave us another number to call. Great! We have a number and no more change. There were two other guys that were on the journey with us and they were hoping to pick up rental cars, but nothing was opened. They too decided they had to get a cab.
They were tourists and asked us if we knew where their hotels were. One was just a few miles away and the other was in Burlingame (next to the San Francisco Airport). He had no idea that he was better off flying into SFO and he didnít even have any checked luggage to pick up. Oh, we felt so bad for him. I almost said come home with us and we will drive you up, but I had to be to work at 6am. Between the four of us we scrounged up another 35 cents and we called for two cabs. The two guys shared one part of the way and then the guy that had to go back near SFO probably had a good $75 journey. We took the other cab and finally walked in the house at 2.15am. Whew! We love adventures.
A couple of weeks later we took a trip to see my sister and her husband Karen and Eric in St. George, Utah. Click here to check out St. George http://www.ci.st-george.ut.us/ We flew into Las Vegas, NV and then rented a car and drove 1-Ĺ hours to St. George, UT. It was a beautiful drive in the desert and through a phenomenal canyon. We arrived at their adorable town home and we rested a bit. Within no time Eric arrived home from his morning out riding the dirt bike. Karen and Eric had plans for us. We hopped in the truck and off we went across town and through the beautiful red earth landscape. We went off the paved roads and on to see the sites.
First stop, real Dinosaur tracks imbedded into the stone. Click here for more info on the tracks http://www.ci.st-george.ut.us/dinotracks.htm Next stop, the petragliphs from the ancient Indian tribes, (Incredible carvings and etchings in the enormous boulders out in the desert). Karen and Eric then showed us around town and some great shops, then plenty of visiting at the house.
The next day we headed back to Las Vegas to visit with one of Alanís good buddies, Dwayne and his wife Carrie. We had a wonderful dinner at their house and Dwayneís parents were also in town so it was very nice to visit with everyone. Next morning we were on our way home.
Back to North Carolina
Well it didnít take much for us to decide that North Carolina would be a fantastic location to grow as a family. Now that we knew where we wanted to live and why, we just needed jobs. We began to look for jobs over the internet and found loads, but not too many companies were willing to relocate from the West Coast. After much thought we decided it would be best to go ahead and make the move and then look for jobs once we were locals. We made a timeline, booked the movers, gave our notice at the apartment and jobs and notified our friends and family. Just a month later we were packed up and ready to go. We decided to be adventurous and drive across stopping in a few places to visit friends and family along the way. Click here to view our Driving Journal.