I put up my out-of-office message at about 12:30 yesterday, and ducked out soon after that. I won’t see my coworker until September 10th… and I won’t see my boss until at least the end of October, because she’s having spinal fusion surgery. I feel a little bad for my coworker, who is going to have to hold down the fort without both of us, but I’m not concerned about her ability to manage. She’ll be fine.

I’d intended to stay at work longer, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. Yesterday was a slog, and once I’d cleaned up my desk, done my timesheets, sent out instructions and talked people through things that might need doing while I”m gone… what else was there? I wasn’t going to start anything new.

So it was an early start to my month of freedom, and I’m glad for it. The wind was incredible, yesterday, to the point where there were yachts beached sideways down at Manly, and bits of roof flying away. The long, windy road up through the national park that I have to take to leave my workplace was covered in branches and debris. I was actually a little worried about anything bigger coming down.

I spent most of the afternoon curled up in bed with my laptop, a good book, and the electric blanket on. I have no regrets.

Tonight, in what will count as an official start to my holidays I guess, we’re off to see David Attenborough talk at the State Theatre. I’ve been looking forward to this for months: when we bought the tickets it was still a long, long way away, especially because I knew it coincided with holiday plans. This morning, Rohan and I will go up to our usual breakfast place and have our last meal there for four+ weeks.

Thinking of things in those terms is strange.

When I bought my coffee yesterday morning, the barista and I had a conversation about the fact that I never use a loyalty card; I admitted that I always forget about them. He picked up a new one and calmly marked off all the squares in one row, and then several in the next as well, meaning I have a free coffee waiting for me, and if I’m good at remembering, another one soon.

Except it won’t be soon, because I won’t be back for four weeks. This occurred to me only later, and I felt guilty. This guy remembers me and my order, says hello every time, and generally makes me feel like a regular (which I guess I am), and just did something really nice… and now I’m going to not show up for weeks and weeks. Whoops.

I now have a few days to get myself ready for this trip. I want to clean the house – it needs it, and there’s nothing worse than coming home jet lagged and exhausted to a messy/dirty house. I also need to sort through all the bookings I’ve made and print things off. And make sure we have everything we need. And…

I know most of it won’t take anywhere near as long as I feel like it will, and I’ll have plenty of time, but I am unquestionably relieved to have a few days in which to get it done.

In the meantime, I have also made a number of purchases and had them shipped off to my friend Amy’s place. I love free shipping. I love shopping on Amazon.

I am going to be so broke.

Counting down

This week is my last week of work before I get a whole four weeks off: I’m going on holidays.

It’s actually a little hard to believe that it’s nearly here. It was first talked about over a year ago, and at the time the whole point of the exercise was to have a meet up of a bunch of people I knew (to varying degrees) over the internet. Unsurprisingly, most of the people who initially joined in on the discussion forgot about it and moved on; realistically, the whole thing was originally discussed was never really going to happen.

But a core group of us – a group of actual friends rather than just acquaintances – kept talking about it. And once I signalled my actual intent to fly across the world for it, it became a reality. Suddenly, we were actually talking dates.

Of course, I was always going to take Rohan, and we were always going to do more than just meet up and hang out with my internet friends. Hawaii was suggested as a way to break up the flights, and since Rohan and I both enjoy things like submarines, stargazing, helicopters, and volcanoes, it seemed like an ideal choice. And then I stumbled upon the Coast Starlight, and since we almost certainly had to fly out of Los Angeles…

And so, an itinerary was formed.

A year ago, it seemed like a very distant possibility. Eight months ago it was a definite but still in the planning stages – and still a very long way away. And now, suddenly, it’s my last week of work and it’s only a little over a week until we leave.

No doubt the trip itself will go just as quickly.

We fly first to Honolulu, where we have two nights. From there, we fly to Hilo on the Big Island, where we’ll be in an ideal location to see Mount Kilauea. We have two nights on that side of the island, during which time I will need to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road (please let it be an easy adjustment), before we drive across to the other side, for a further three nights in a beautiful condo.

After the third night, we pack up to leave paradise, and fly on to Seattle, where we’ll meet up with a number of people I’ve known (to varying degrees) for well over a decade but never met. Since we’ll be there at the appropriate time, we’ll be attending PAX, amongst many other things. Rohan is also going to attend PAX Dev, and hopefully show off his in-process iOS game, thus making part of the trip a tax write-off. Win, win. We have about ten days there.

And then, yes, the train from Seattle all the way down to LA – a thirty-hour trip. We’ve booked a roomette, which means we get fold-down beds, but not a private bathroom (is a private bathroom and a little extra room worth several hundred dollars? Not to my mind, though we’ll see if I feel the same way after thirty hours). Rohan’s a train enthusiast and I’m a fan of anything that doesn’t mean flying, so I think we’re both pleased with that prospect.

We then have two nights in Los Angeles, which we largely tacked on because it seemed silly not to visit for a day or two if we have to travel through there anyway. We’ll hopefully catch up with a few more internet friends (because that’s the kind of people we are), and enjoy a real bed, before it’s time to fly all the way back to Australia, arriving home on Saturday the 8th of September.

My intention is the blog relatively regularly while we’re away, and to post photos as I go (this necessitates my remembering the cable for my camera this time, something I’m not holding my breath for since I’ve never, ever remembered it in the past); we’ll see how I go.

In the meantime, I have four more days of work to get through. Four days in which to train my coworkers in my job. Four days to clean up all the loose ends.