April 2003
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G'day!  This has become the trademark of the Aussies working on the project at Boeing.  Sure, you can say Hi, but it doesn't have the impact & even if you don't know the person, you can still immediately identify him or her as an Aussie!
We have made a point of going somewhere every weekend.  Vancouver was just to get some stamps in our passports.  It was great to see highway signs in metric (kays not miles).  It got a bit hairy overnight when an argument broke out down in the street & then shots rang out.  The whole area was cordoned off with crime scene tape the next morning, the police cars, forensic, yellow markers & on the road....seems a taxi driver had a fight and came out on the wrong end. The classic part of that trip was the 90-minute wait to get through immigration back into the US along with the dumb questions from the officer....did you buy anything?  shown our one piece of pottery and a shot glass, he gave us a look and said....is that all? I thought being from Boeing you would have bought stuff!!! Seems many Seattleites go up there as the prices are better  ( why am I not surprised!)
We've had a quick trip up to the nearest snowfields, where you can see the ski runs from the freeway.  And across the sound, over the Tacoma Narrows bridge (that's the one where the original bridge blew down by harmonising in a light breeze) to a delightful harbour community called Gig Harbor.  Then there was a one day trip to the nearest ocean beach, where you just drive right onto the beach itself.  It's listed as a State Highway, with a speed limit of 25 mph & give way to pedestrians & horses at all times.  Not good for swimming where we went, the sand is black, volcanic & abrasive, the waves were pounding in & some of the logs that get brought in are several feet thick.  More recently, a weekend trip to Spokane, right across the State to the east & a quick sprint to Oregon to the south.  We have amazed some of the locals with how far we have travelled.  We're now planning a big one, 2 weeks, flying, to New York, Niagara Falls & Florida, to get a feel for the east coast before the schools go on holidays for the summer.
The interstate highways here are something else - minimum 2 lanes each way & once out of the city area, the speed limit is 70 mph & you can sit on it.  So if you don't stop, & just allow the countryside to roll past, timing the trip is very easy, although it does help if it's not bucketing with rain, to the point that you can see a cloud of spray but can't see the vehicle that's producing it.
Stewart has been playing Rugby with a school team.  He's been in the rather unique position of being one of the few who really know how to play the game.  At the North West tournament recently, not only was he made captain for he competition, his team  also won the trophy, and he was voted by his fellow players as "MVP" - Most Valuable Player.  We were pretty proud, but Stew being Stew, he was rather ho-hum about it.
Doris has FINALLY found an organisation for whom she can volunteer without a huge rigmarole of filling in forms & getting Police checks.  It's a local service group that provides for the not-so-privileged in the area, by running a thrift shop in the Bellevue Square mall.  It's probably the only thrift shop in a Downtown mall in the world!  Our guess is that most of the government's money goes into the military & not much else.
We've found that Americans don't like to think outside the square.  If it's not in the book of instructions, then it doesn't count.  Consequently, the rare individuals who do think laterally tend to stand out by providing a fantastic service.  The other characteristic that we've found is that everything has to be explained to the absolute n-th degree.  Which means that if someone doesn't care, you get nothing, & if they do, then you get the whole complete story from woe to go, which can be useful if your object is to gather information, or can be bloody annoying if you just wanted a simple answer!  But it's great when you have them building planes & cars.
Rod's commuting has settled into a pattern.  He takes the car 2 days a week & collects 2 colleagues from a few miles north, then they all head south on the freeway to work.  The trade-off is that they collect him from the front door on their way through on the other days, so Doris has the car available without having to walk down & collect it from the side of the freeway.
Doris & Stewart are becoming pretty bored with being together all day every day.  We think we have finally convinced Stew that he should go & volunteer at the Scout Camp, about an hours drive up into the hills. We're hoping that it will actually put him in contact with a network of kids of his own age.
The weather has been pretty good and it is so green and pretty with trees and bulbs in flower.  All very stunning.  Stew and Doris travel into Seattle by bus quite often ( too daunting to drive in and parking costs at obscene ), so they have the chance to see the impact of spring as the city really starts to come alive.  They recently visited the local Zoo and were blown away by the enclosures.  They got to see baby tigers, an orang-utan who put his face right up to the glass with their hand on the other side, the enclosure for the bears looks so natural that at the glass observation bay, you can see salmon in the water.  The gorilla enclosure is designed so that you are in the socialising area for the gorilla group...you are almost a part of them.  Doris was so awed to be only inches from a silver back male!!!!
Remember to check the web site for photos - http://www.vzavenue.net/~turnerfiddaman/.  New photos are uploaded at least once a week.
We hope you are all well at home and that the coming winter is not too bad....we miss you all.
Phone numbers for those who feel like calling us:
Dialling code - 0011 1
Home - 425 453 5507
Rodney (work) 253 773 8290
Rodney (mobile) - 425 736 0540
Doris (mobile) 425 736 0154
Stewart (mobile) - 425 736 0117
And our snail mail address is:
111 108 Avenue NE, Apt A501
Bellevue WA 98004 USA

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