Since Travis is being transferred to Washington state for work at a different gold mine site, we got to come down to the lower 48 for a house finding visit. As per usual, we made several last minute changes to our travel plans. We both had plans to fly down on a Wednesday and return on Saturday. Then Travis' stay was extended so he could go in for a site orientation and training. I was still planning on heading back for work on Monday. But then the night before we left, I got an unexpected extra week off of work for the summer shutdown and rig maintenance going on up on the slope. So in the end, we both get to stay a full week. And I get three entire weeks off. This job rocks.
We started off our stay by visiting Coleville, Kettle Falls, and Republic. The mine is located in Republic, the smallest town. It is likely we will either live there, or in Kettle Falls, which is slightly larger but also farther away. Coleville is the largest, too far away to live in, but a good little town for shopping and getting out a bit. We haven't had too much luck with house hunting until yesterday. I had four calls about five houses within an hour, it was kinda ridiculous. So we are set up to go check out a few the last bit of time we are here. We have seen one in Kettle Falls so far. It was huge, and we may not be able to rent it as its still on the for sale market. But it had huge picture windows overlooking the lake portion of the Colombia river and the surrounding mountains. I can totally see how the environment is perfect for Bigfoot.
Though we are moving back to the lower states, we are by no means moving back to civilization. We are still so far north that we are only a 20 minute drive from Canada. We drove within site of the border crossing, until our phone company sent us "Welcome Abroad" texts. The entire county has only one stop light and something like 2500 people. The one thing I found entirely unacceptable...this store labeled "Thrift Foods." I question what exactly this store might be, but it makes me feel very suspicious. Things look pretty similar to Colorado to me, lots of hills and right now the only trees are coniferous, everything else has lost leaves. And there are deer everywhere. Literally, all around town, and we see them constantly while driving. Lots of farmland too. We even saw two alpacas having a rather personal moment on the side of the road. Travis commented as we drove by, "You really don't get the full experience until you have heard them orgle. It sounds kind of like wookies." On one of the routes from Spokane to Republic we drove through about two hours of farm fields and slightly rolling hills. Then suddenly, out of nowhere we dropped down into a mountainous area. It was a really strange experience but made for a neat drive. We also crossed Lake Roosevelt on a ferry. Our own personal ride as we were the only car on that trip.
We spent Halloween visiting the local breweries. There was one in Kettle Falls that served delicious pizza. And one in Republic that you could get pizza delivered from the local pizza place. The bartenders were Gandalf and Penny from Big Bang Theory. Gandalf introduced Travis to several of his new coworkers who happened to be at the brewery. I think Travis will fit in well. On our second visit, we met the former mayor of the town who told us amusing tales and explained the current drama concerning trash service. Penny the bartender also apologized for IDing us a second time and vowed she would remember next time, not that we were horribly bothered in the first place.
Spokane has been our main venture into civilization. I saw weed related stores and Sasquatch themed things everywhere. That's how I know I am in Washington. While in Spokane we went shopping for wedding tuxes (another check on the wedding to do list is completed) and I settled on a lace jacket to go with my dress. I've become surprisingly conservative with my dress code in my old age. No new fangled sleeveless dresses for me. A far cry from my high school days where I was often in trouble for wearing tank tops. While we did accomplish plenty of wedding shopping, we got off to a rough start. The first mall we went to, we couldn't find the store we were looking for. Instead, we got a little distracted by a nerdy paradise of a store and ended up leaving with a new game, Cthulhu Fluxx, and a Munchkin Zombies expansion pack....nothing wedding related.
We stayed the night in Spokane in an adorable hotel. Not your typical forgetable place. They left us candy on the pillows and the place had a spiral maze type feel to it. The mirrors everywhere also added to the feel that the place was huge (though it was actually rather small) and maybe had a few secret hidden passages to alternate dimensions. We had a glass of wine at the wine bar across the street (wineries were everywhere!) and ate dinner at a restaurant called the steam plant. It was, in fact, an old converted steam plant. Which I totally loved because it had a perfect ChemE nerd feel to it and the food was delicious. We had steamed mussels and clams that were just wonderful.
Currently we are staying in a hotel in the middle of Republic. There is not a lot to do at the moment so I am just relaxing while Travis goes to work for a couple days. Other than trying to squeeze in a few last visits to prospective houses that is about it for excitement. Though I am excited for one extra weekend off work with Travis in Fairbanks. We get to have normal flights (not red eyes) home and get to pick up Roxi from the kennel immediately. She will likely be very cuddly with a smokers bark (she seems to be talkative at kennels). I can only hope she won't be too angry and vindictive from her abandonment.