Right, I Started a Blog

So much for twice weekly updates huh?

I honestly thought I’d have more to write about, but I guess that was because my expectations were out of line. I thought I’d get a job in two week then I’d be able to start running around and getting myself into all of those awkward Mike Murray situations people seem to enjoy so much.

That didn’t happen though. Let’s break down what’s happened in the last 42 days into the fun and the not so fun.

The Fun

When it’s a clear day around here, it is absolutely beautiful. From the living room at the house in Mukilteo you can see the the mountains of the Olympic National Park. Head towards Everett and you’re treated to views of the Cascades. My personal favorite view, however, has to  be the start of the drive into Seattle. As you drive past the shopping centers on the Mukilteo Speedway you come up a slight rise and there is Mount Rainer on the horizon. I haven’t been able to get a decent picture of it yet, but it is quite the impressive view given the mountain is a two hour away.

I haven’t done a lot of it, but the hiking has been pretty good as well. There is a trailhead to the Big Gulch Trail about a quarter mile from the house. Not a whole lot of stunning vista-like views, but there are some pretty neat creek crossing and views of the woods along the trail. The Japanese Gulch trail is about a five minute ride from where I’m at. It’s a maze of trails that I’d like to explore more, but the day I went it was pretty damp so I didn’t do too much exploring.

I bit off a bit more than I could chew when I hiked to Poo Poo Point Trail last week.  I had heard about it during my brief stint of work (see below) and decided to go for it. I did some research and thought I’d be able to handle it, but neglected to look at the trail conditions before I left for the trailhead that morning. There was some slipping and sliding, I didn’t bring enough water, and the trail was snow covered but the views along the trail and from the top were worth it. Take a look through the mediocre lens on my phone.

That time I decided on a lark to hike a 7 mile trail with little to no prep. But hehe, poo poo.

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Also, shout out to Drew and Jocelyn for all the resume and job hunting advice and putting up with me as I loaf around their house trying (and failing) to not spend my limited funds while I wait to hear back about interviews and start dates.

The Not So Fun

Things started off promising on the job front. I had an interview for a review website and a restaurant out in what people around here call wine country within a week of arriving. After a phone interview and submitting a writing test, the review website decided to take a pass, but I managed to get a working interview at the restaurant. That went well and I was contacted a few days later about setting up a second interview. I gave them my availability and then never heard back from them.

I’ve had interviews since then and even accepted a job in Seattle a block or two up from Pike Place Market. I worked it for two days, taking the bus into downtown. The hours were great and I didn’t really mind the bus ride, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was over cooking in a professional setting. I had originally thought that maybe the environment I was in when I left my corporate dining gig had soured me on the idea and that four months on I could hop back on a line and be fine. That wasn’t the case. I woke up on my second day dreading it and felt even worse than that when I woke up for my third day. I let the owner know that the fit wasn’t quite right for me and moved on. But, hey, I got to take this cool picture of the Pike Place Market sign in the early morning.

That's nice

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Where I’m at Now

That was two weeks ago now. Since then I’ve accepted a job in an Amazon warehouse that starts this Saturday, but I’m hoping I don’t have to start it. Friday I had an interview with the general manager of a cider taproom. She seemed super interested in having me come on board at their current taproom and then transferring or bouncing between the current taproom and the one they are about to open in Ballard, which, from what I’ve gathered, is kind of the “it” neighborhood in Seattle. I was going to wait until I heard back for sure about the job before writing this post, but decided to go for it anyway. What else was I gonna do while I waited? Play another 6 hours of The Witcher 3? Try to salvage another forgotten NaNoWMo? Enjoy the first sunny we’ve had in about a week?

Psh, I’m on the west coast now, there’s still plenty of time to do those things today.

Utah! Get Me Two!

When I drove through Utah Thursday and Friday I was in awe of the landscape, but this was all I could think of.

Thursday started out with a short drive to Golden, Colorado for the Coors brewery tour. I had never been on a brewery tour so I didn’t know quite what to expect. I enjoyed it, but was a little disappointed that the fresh tasting room was closed. Overall the tour was informative, the packaging line was mesmerizing, and it was free so there’s not much to complain about. However, I did buy an extra large shirt that was long enough to be an XL but was so tight you it could have been a medium. Oh well.

After leaving the tour, I started the drive to Salt Lake City. Can we talk about what an engineering masterpiece the interstate highway system is? Take I-70 in Colorado. Driving through Glenwood Canyon the views are not only mind blowing, but the bridge, viaducts, and tunnels are mind blowing. Words cannot describe what kind of work and ingenuity wnet into this stretch of highway while preserving the natural beauty of the canyon.

Utah is equally as beautiful, but not quite the engineering feat. There really is something special about driving through the desert and seeing these amazing mountains and mesas not quite flying by at 80 miles per hour.

Not bad, Utah

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Southwestern Idaho apparently used to be some sort of prehistoric lake and looking around with that mindset you can trick yourself into seeing the old banks of lake in the mountains and ridge lines. I’d show you a picture of what I’m talking about, but the only picture I took in Idaho was this one:

That's an Idaho plate that says GOTSPUD. I think they win the license plate game.

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Oregon and eastern Washington are a lot of yellow rolling hills and mountains slowly breaking into the brown of freshly tilled fields and the greens of vineyards before hitting you with the onslaught of rain forest green that is the Snoqualmie Pass. It’s hard not to lean forward and look up out your windshield at the mountains cut through the low clouds as you drive through the pass and into the greater Seattle area.

I’m in Mukilteo now. I’ve used the last couple of days to unpack and acclimate to my new environs. Today I stared applying to jobs. The goal is to get a job waiting tables as soon as possible while also looking for work outside of the service industry.

From hear on out, as far as this blog is concerned, expect about two posts a week on my job search, things I notice about living in the area compared to where I’ve come from, and just general musings.

Wind Farms, Happy Hour, and Cheese

When I left Kansas on Tuesday, I was ready to run into the boring part of the trip. Vast vistas of grassy nothingness. And those were there. Exits where the road turned to dirt as soon as you left the overpass. Corn fields as far as the eye could see.

But then there were the wind farms.

Not long after I left Manhattan, Kansas I came across two oversized truck towing blades from a wind turbine. A few miles past that, there were a couple more. In an hour, I probably passed a dozen of these trucks. I saw one cause a back up in the middle of nowhere as it tried to take a left turn off an exit ramp, but at this point I was in the middle of the first wind farm. Blades almost as long as a football field spinning on these turbines out on the flat plains. I was mesmerized. I thought they were beautiful in all honesty and it surprised me. They were just sitting there, stretching out on my right as far as the eye could see, spinning just out of sync. Everyone should go see a wind farm.

I pulled into Denver late in the afternoon on Tuesday. Prime happy hour time. I met up with a friend and we caught up over drinks and appetizers. I’ve gotta say, I could get used to this happy hour thing. Cheap drinks and cheap, yet outstanding, food? I’ll take it.

Denver is an incredibly walkable city, and I enjoyed that aspect of it. I walked from my hotel to lunch to the aquarium to Laramie Square and then back to the neighborhood I had lunch at to catch a second happy hour with my friend and had no problems at all.

I was a little underwhelmed by the aquarium. Stopping at aquariums are the touristy thing I do. I walk through, stare at the fish, take bad pictures, wonder what it would be like to live underwater. And I could do that at this one, it just seemed a little small.

Yesterday was a food day to remember. I went to Masterpiece Delicatessen for lunch and had this amazing pork belly, ham, and avocado sandwich. Then, for happy hour/dinner, we went to The Truffle Table and had a phenomenal experience. I tried some phenomenal cheeses and cured meets while wafting in the musky cheese aroma coming from the kitchen. I could go on and on about both these places, but just go to Denver and find out about both of them for yourself.

Today I hit the road again and head to Salt Lake City, but first I’ll make a quick stop at the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado to take the tour, something I’ve been looking forward to for some time. More to come!

Wait, This is Kansas?

I write today from a hotel room on an urbanized portion of the prairie, the university town of Manhattan, KS. I spent maybe an hour an a half downtown last night getting dinner at a place (Rock-a-Belly) recommended by a friend and former coworker and, I have to say, I really dig the vibe of this city. It’s some sort of weird cross between a larger Boone and Chapel Hill and I almost wish I could spend more time here, but I must I press on westward.

Yesterday started off with a trip to the Super Museum in Metropolis, IL. It was a nice look at a bunch of Superman memorabilia, but I would hesitate to call it a museum. It was more of a collection that had been open to the public. Most of the signs just read “Don’t touch!” and there wasn’t much organization going on. There was plenty of stuff there that peaked my interest, but none of it was labeled so I had no idea what I was looking at or what it’s significance was. Overall verdict? If for some reason you find yourself in Metropolis, stop by but don’t go out of your way to go there.

The highlights from the Super Museum. Commentary on the blog later

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Lets talk about these pictures though. This first one is in the town square. Just a huge Superman in front of what I’m guess was town hall.

Second was this gem. “Superman in Scotland Yard.” This was one of the few items that had a sign nearby. Apparently, in the early days of Superman, when it was distributed overseas they sent out these black and white promo pictures that artists would late color in themselves. The guy who did this one apparently had no idea who Superman was.

What is there to say about a paper mache Doomsday? That Batman is life-sized.

Let’s talk about this creepy kid in the last picture. He looks like he’s going to grow up and become some bro that look on his face and his stance just screams “Hey bro, take a picture of me while I sexually assault this unconscious girl.” Way to go 90s.

The rest of the day was largely uneventful. Missouri was odd. There were a bunch of state routes that were just labeled with single or double letters instead of numbers. But there were numbered state routes too. There was quite a large number of adult superstores just off the highway. I guess there’s not a lot to do in Missouri. St Louise looked cool from what I saw from the road and Kansas City was a knot of bridges.

Let’s talk about Kansas though.

I am thoroughly impressed with you, Kansas. I was expecting flat, flat, flat. Instead I get rolling hills and sweeping prairie vistas. I chuckled to myself when I saw the “Welcome to the Flint Hills” sign. What could be so great about them? Well I crested the hill and I saw what was great. Tall, rolling hills of green and amber grasses, dotted with cattle and copses of trees. I was stunned. My mouth dropped open. I said “Wow” outloud, which is a rarity to me. I regret not getting that picture. Here’s a picture from the Flint Hills Tall Grass Prairie Overlook I took in a downpour late on though:

Some rainy Flint Hills Tall Grass Prairie for yah

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Did I mention the speed limit here is 75? That’s great too.

I’m off to Denver today to take a break from the road and reconnect with some old friends.

Greetings from the Burgeoning Metropolis of Metropolis, Illinois

I feel like I wait my whole life to make bad jokes like that.

The weekend in Boone was pretty good. I got to spend time at some of my favorite places with some of my favorite people. I had a Philly at Cafe Portofino and a mediocre sandwich at the worst bar in the world, Macados. There were places I didn’t get to go and people I wasn’t able to see, but that’s life and overall I got what I think I needed during my visit.

It’s creeping up on 7 AM here in Superman’s hometown (no, seriously, they claim that title, but more on that later). I left Boone yesterday morning and not long after that the Eastern Time Zone as well. The drive was pretty uneventful. People in Tennessee drive fast, but generally aren’t dicks about it. The roads in Kentucky are not that great, but I did get to cross the Ohio River. It was pretty big.

I also ran parallel to a large thunderhead moving across the relatively flat landscape of western Kentucky and was quite struck by how awesome it looked. Big, billowy clouds of white ending in varying layers of dark grey to almost black sheets of rain. I don’t know why it left suck an impression on me, but it did. I almost stopped to take a picture, but then realized the camera on my phone wouldn’t have done it justice.

Today I head to everyone’s favorite island, Manhattan, KS!

Wait, there aren’t any islands in Kansas….

Oh, Manhattan, KS in a university town.

And it’s probably nothing like it’s big cousin in the northeast. Not that I have much experience with NYC.

I guess it’ll have to do, though.

Before I head further west, I’ll head to downtown Metropolis, IL and see this “Super” Museum. Like I mentioned earlier, the city of Metropolis claims to be Superman’s hometown. Even though he was born on another planet. And landed in Kansas. And I think the comic book city of Metropolis was supposed to be based on Cleveland or Chicago or something.  But, hey, there’s a museum that opens at 8 AM and there’s a big statue and it’s only like 15 minutes from my hotel, so I’ll stop by. I’ll take some pictures that you can check out on my Instagram @murrayme89

Speaking of university towns, quirky, small cities, and Instagram, here’s a picture of one of my favorite places in the world, Boone, NC:

How man pictures on my page are from Howard's Knob? One last look at my favorite little city.

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It’s Not Raleigh, It’s Me or Why I’m Making This Trip and What This Blog Will Be

I’ve left Raleigh. It’s done. I’m now sitting in a house on a mountain above Boone that’s apparently owned by some dude who owns a recording studio where the likes of Shakira and Juvenile have record gold records.

Why did I leave? I’m not sure I can give you a comprehensive and coherent answer to that. I just felt that it was something I needed to do. The simplest and shortest answer is probably that I felt I needed a change and that I have a place to crash outside of Seattle. So I figured, why not? I packed up what I could in the ol’ Kia Soul and started in that direction. This weekend I’ll spend time in Boone for the App vs Wake Forest game with some good friends then get back on the road.

What can you expect from this blog? Well, over the next week or so, you can expect almost daily update on my drive. My musing from the road and thoughts on the cities I’ve visited. After that the goal is to write an update once or twice a week about adapting to life in the Pacific Northwest.

So, there it is. Half an answer and a brief outline of what to expect here. What? Were you expecting more?