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I often experience a period of anti-climax or letdown once one trip ends and the next begins.  Although we stayed within a couple of hours of my home during my family's recent visit to New Mexico, I'm finding that I'm experiencing some anxiety now that I'm back at home.

At least I don't have long to wait for my next trip — a slightly more "major" affair:  I'll be travelling to the Northwest United States during the week of September 13-19.  This journey has two primary goals — meeting with the NGO whom I'll be volunteering for in Nepal and joining Marillion for what could be their final American shows for quite some time.

This is turning into quite an involved trip.

My free time in Portland will actually be fairly limited with Tuesday afternoon meeting with my future employers and that evening attending Marillion's in-store signing and acoustic session.  My hotel is close to both (on the west side of the city within walking distance of the Japanese Garden and Oregon Zoo, among other attractions) and public transportation is such that I can easily get around without a car (I plan to take the light rail all the way from the airport).

I'll have most of the day Wednesday available to sightsee and will probably remain near downtown checking out Pioneer Square and browsing at the world-famous Powell's Books.  Time permitting, I may check out Chinatown and the Chinese Garden (one of the few in the United States) and some of the nautical activity alongside the Wilamette River (the maritime museum won't be open during my brief visit).  Marillion's concert that evening is at the Aladdin Theater in the southeast section of Portland so I need to plan my bus journey there with plenty of time to spare (I still need to research places to eat/see nearby the venue).

Early Thursday, I'll be catching the Amtrak Cascades train to Seattle (only $25 one way).  My friend Mike (who I first met at the Marillion concert in Boulder last September) will be flying in from Bozeman, Montana, a couple of hours after my arrival so I'll probably take the bus from the Amtrak station to the airport to meet him (Seattle should have their own light rail system from Sea-Tac to downtown up-and-running in another couple of years or so).  We have a rental car reserved (a Dodge Neon — which I currently drive at home — "or similar") which we'll pick up and drive back up to our hotel (which is within walking distance to many sites downtown and around the Seattle Center grounds).  Actually, we probably could have gotten by without a rental car (and Seattle is notorious for bad traffic), but I wanted a place to stow my camcorder in case we can't take it inside the venue for Marillion's show there (Chop Suey doesn't seem to have a "friendly" camera policy so they might frisk us down more than other venues; I plan to ask the band if I can get a press pass).

By the time we get checked-in to our hotel on Thursday, it should be time to leave for Marillion's acoustic session at Tower Records.

The actual concert is Friday night and we don't return to our respective homes until Sunday evening, so we'll have plenty of time to check out the tourist attractions in Seattle — a city neither of us have ever spent any time in.  Just perusing the two travel guides I have (a DK Eyewitness Guides Top Ten volume and a more comprehensive Lonely Planet book) has given me numerous ideas of things I'd like to see and do.  High on that list is a visit to the Museum Of Flight (where I should finally be able to take some decent photos of a Concorde) and a ferry ride across to Bainbridge Island.  Of course, we'll check out the many things to see around the downtown area including Pioneer Square and a ride to the observation deck of the Space Needle.  Even the Monorail is back in operation following a long shutdown by a fire in May 2004.  The Seahawks are even playing their home opener (against Atlanta) that Sunday but we probably won't go to the game (it starts at 1pm but it would seriously cut into additional sightseeing time before we'd have to leave for the airport).

I'm sure I'll draw up a brief daily plan of things to see and do each day sometime soon.

We both fly out of Sea-Tac Sunday evening; I depart for Phoenix at 6:45 (where I'll have to camp out until my 50-minute flight to Albuquerque leaves at 6:15 the following morning) and Mike's plane leaves an hour or so later.  All of these advance bookings (and the planning to coordinate it all) took relatively little time at all.  I did compare A LOT of flight routings and prices (my return flight wasn't really a mistake — I decided it was far less to do it that way than to fly out of Seattle early Monday morning on a direct flight to Albuquerque; the airfare was $50 or so cheaper and that doesn't count the extra night in a hotel — I don't mind sleeping at the Phoenix airport for a few hours as I've done so there many times in the past and am familiar with the "good" places to rest without being disturbed).

I'm looking forward to the trip but fear I've finished the online planning for it too quickly (this is an area that I thrive in).  I've just begun reading the Insight Guide To Portland (the new edition was just published a couple of months ago so it's still relatively current); when I finish that, I'll probably go back to my research on Nepal, tips for volunteers, and guides to teaching English as a second language (not to mention the first volume in the complete Patrick O'Brian series of naval novels).

For being in a "between-trip" anti-climatic limbo, I certainly seem busy!