Preparing for a Career Break: One Month of Travel

A lot has happened since my last blog post. Perhaps the biggest news was the successful first flight of the 787 Dreamliner on December 15, page 2009. It was a tremendous moment in time to witness (on a live broadcast from the comfort of my desk) for several reasons. First, symptoms I joined the company as an intern around the time the Dreamliner was first announced. Second, I’ve spent the bulk of my first corporate career out of college working 60-80 hours a week to get the interiors of the Dreamliner properly financed. Thus, seeing the Dreamliner finally achieve its goals seems to signal the right time for me to bow out of the corporate world about a year and a half in.
The other big news (in my life, anyway) was getting the chance to officially photograph my first big concert: Visqueen at Deck the Hall Ball 2009. Sure, I’ve been covering moderately big shows in the area, but this was a different animal–photo pit and all. It was exciting, not gonna lie. What made it even better was the fact that lead singer Rachel Flotard is preparing for (and currently, as I write) doing aid work in Laos. This is of particular interest to me since my recent trip to Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity. You can follow the hyperlinks to read about her adventures in Laos last year on her blog, my photos from the show, and my review of the show, which includes the inspiring story behind her band, Visqueen.

The Career Break Plan

Here’s the plan: I have airline tickets booked from Seattle to Georgia, where I’ll visit with some friends from Habitat Humanity HQ that I met while volunteering in Cambodia last year. From there, I’ll fly to Costa Rica meet my friend Sara and travel for 2 weeks. Afterward, I’ll depart Costa Rica for Amsterdam, where I’ll meet up with Kirsten and Adam for two weeks. Then I return to Seattle and figure out what’s next.

This was written on Saturday afternoon, December 19, 2009, on my Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta.

James Cameron’s epic new film Avatar has gotten enough press to raise my curiosity to the point of spending my last night in Seattle for the year 2009 at the premiere of the movie. Director Cameron was in town himself, making a quick stop to walk the “blue carpet” at the EMP Museum, and I was fortunate to photograph him for Seattlest.  Having not seen any visual or written previews of the film, I knew only that it was about some alien who tries to save a race he was originally sent to destroy, and that it is two and a half hours long. Don’t worry, I won’t give any details away. I will only say that it reminded me of a mix of Disney’s Pocahontas, and maybe a bit of Tarzan and District 9. When you have nearly three hours to spare, go see it. I don’t think you will regret it.

James Cameron Seattle

Bright and early the next morning (today), I rushed to Sea-Tac airport just in time to grab my 6:45am flight to Atlanta, GA, via Minneapolis, MN. I have caught a lot of flights in my 23 years, the first when I was around 6 months old. This was the second flight ever that I probably should have missed, but somehow was allowed aboard. Upon arrival at Sea-Tac, I rushed through check-in, security, and the train to a connecting terminal, not even bothering to wait in line to check my extra bag in. With sweat seeping through every pore in my body and my muscles burning from racing up multiple staircases, I must have looked like a pathetic mess at the gate. It may have been an advantage, because even though boarding had “officially ceased,” I fed the flight attendants a sob story and was allowed to board.

I am the worst at making my flights on time

My absolutely miraculous story of last-minute airplane boarding adventures occurred in June 2007 in Berlin, Germany. I had spent two days in Germany’s beautiful capital city, staying with a Couchsurfer in the center of town. I departed for Berlin Schönefeld three hours before my flight was to take off to Munich, thinking that my two days of getting around Berlin on the metro meant that I knew it well enough to make it to the airport with any hitches. Not so. First, I caught the metro going in the wrong direction, and when I finally got aboard the metro going in the correct direction, I happened to hop into the car where the “ticket master” was checking for purchased tickets. Throughout my entire six month stay in Europe, I had never had my transit ticket checked, even though I had faithfully purchased one every time it was required. Of all the days, I failed to do this, it had to be that day.

Sure enough, the gruff ticket master was most displeased at both my lack of ticket and inability to speak a lick of German (although really, what ticket master in a touristy region like central Berlin wouldn’t understand more than 5 English words?!). Our inability to communicate frustrated us both, and finally grabbed my arm and escorted me off of the train at the next stop, about to take me to some unknown destination, when I conveniently spied an ATM and extracted enough to pay him to leave me alone. At this point, it was less than one hour until my flight departed, and I was far enough from Berlin Schönefeld that the metro would not get me there on time. Fortunately, I was able to hail a cab; I tipped the man well for getting me there 10 minutes sooner than expected. As I sprinted into the airport, I was certain that I was going to be turned away, since it was five minutes until take off, and I was supposed to have boarded over 30 minutes ago. Amazingly, I checked in without a hitch, was escorted aboard, with the plane shutting its doors right behind me. It was as if they had been waiting exclusively for me to show up. Now that is one travel adventure I don’t care to repeat!

Photos of the Day

To close, I am going to post some photos of the day. This is something I want to try incorporating into my posts, just because I have thousands of photos and each has an unrecorded story behind it. When I’m old with dementia, it would be nice to remember some of these memories.


At the Berlin apartment of my German Couchsurfer, Arnas.


Parliament in Berlin


Outside of Parliament in Berlin with fellow Couchsurfers Kirsten from Cologne, Germany, and Jen from Canada.

A Coruña, Spain (España) in Spring 2007

I might have mentioned in earlier posts that I studied abroad in Granada, Spain for one semester in 2007. This photo was taken in the Northwestern region of Spain known as Galicia, in the town A Coruña. Pictured are myself (in the middle), my roommate, and two of our study abroad classmates. The four of us traveled to Galicia upon hearing rave reviews from our host families and classmates. This was one of my absolute favorite regions of Spain, partially because it was like the Pacific Northwest in that it was green and rainy, and thus the polar opposite of southern Spain, where it was warm, dry, and brown.

Suzi Pratt is a Seattle event, food, and travel photographer available for hire. She is also a contributing writer at Digital Photography School and runs a blog teaching others how to start a photography business.


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