Seattle, Washington

We are on our homeward journey now from Vancouver to Los Angeles to catch our flight back to Australia. Arriving by train we had a much more pleasant experience than flying or even driving (no queues at the border). Feeling refreshed we were ready to hit up the Pike Place Market, home of the first Starbucks and the famous fish market where workers make a spectacle of the orders by throwing fish up to 5m to be caught and packaged for shipping.

In a nearby side street is the Market Theatre Bubblegum Wall, a sickly-sweet smelling alleyway where the wall is covered in pre-chewed gum. In some places its 5 to 10 cm thick. I keep a wary eye out so I don't trip and end up a permanent part of the attraction.

The Market Theatre Gum Wall. Yummo!

The market is bustling and full of character. Downstairs we met the second hand book seller who passes the time singing grandiose operas in his, rather good, bellowing voice. Nearby, Shan passes her time, and a quarter, peering into the Giant Show Museum. At least that only cost a quarter. Before leaving we went past the giant piggy bank and deposited a bunch of our change. Shan made someones day by giving him the rest when he asked for some change.

Food at the market was amazing. Seafood bisque, Ukrainian pastries, not to mention the countless little samples and tid-bits we found during our meandering. We returned to our 'US' rationing of buying one meal to share before migrating to the next taste sensation. We noticed a relative lull outside the worlds first Starbucks and decided to follow the crowd and grab a photo of our own. I still prefer the ones with gigabit wifi.

There is a monorail that provides easy travel from the market area out to the space needle. We hopped on and had a look around. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has its central administration nearby and the ground floor had an exhibit area that goes into detail explaining the different projects the charity is involved in. It was very well done, interesting exhibits that explain the projects while keeping you engaged, utilising technology in a way that harks back to their Microsoft heritage. That said, I left somewhat disappointed. Nearing the end of our travels I am looking toward my future. How can I go back to normal being normal? Do I want that? What will I do with my life? I had hoped I might find an answer here, the foundation is doing great work around the world but I didn't walk out with plans to head to a far flung part of the world to solve its problems. I will continue to look for inspiration.