Welcome back to another chapter of the “big 3-0” story! Those of you who haven’t been reading along (shame on you!) you’ll not know the significance of this trip. I’ll put links to previous posts at the bottom so you can catch up but in summary, I was spending 30 days in the USA celebrating my 30th birthday!
So now everyone is caught up, last time out on the blog we’d left Portland and arrived in Walla Walla, Washington on Thursday afternoon ahead of a weekend family get-together!
I hadn’t specifically planned the trip for this to be the case but a few factors meant that this was a really convenient halfway point of the trip. I’m not going to say it was a quiet weekend by any means but we had fewer plans and fewer places to be. It was more relaxed and less go-go-go, keeping in mind I’d already spent time in five different states on this trip. It felt nice to know that this was a weekend where I could refresh and re-energise ahead of more adventures coming.
My relaxed mood however was a little short-lived. After a decent sleep I woke up to news from England. My bank were desperately trying to reach me regarding a suspicious £190 payment that had come out of my account.
I didn’t have enough information to confirm the charge was or wasn’t something I’d purchased. I’d had a night here or a couple of nights there.. once exchanged in to the correct currency it could easily have been a hotel charge so I kicked off my morning by spending 30 minutes on the phone to my bank. I eventually got through and discovered somebody in Brazil had somehow made a purchase with my card details, leading to the suggestion they deactivate and replace my card.
I had some cash with me but not enough to support myself for the next 16 days. I couldn’t have my bank cancelling my card, I anticipated that I’d still need to use it at some point. Fortunately my bank found a compromise and placed a restriction on it instead which meant my fraudster in Brazil couldn’t use my card and that my account could only be used with the presence of the card and by pin-transaction only. That was perfect! Sort of..
Any of you that have been to the US will know that they’re allergic to pin-transactions. You almost never have to input a pin number in to a machine, you just sign for everything..
Not that anyone ever checks the signature. Scribble this, leave a nice doodle here.. people are none-the-wiser. The signature process is effectively redundant, I don’t get why they even bother with the signature part – all they do is swipe your card details really.
Having been to the US plenty of times by now I was fully aware of this of course. Only being able to use the card for pin-transactions was going to really limit where and when I could use my bank card. The important thing was that I could use my card but I knew that going forward I’d probably be reliant on finding ATM machines and withdrawing cash to use.
I didn’t foresee that being a problem so heads up for anyone thinking this is a good plan for a trip to the US. Free-to-use ATM machines are almost non-existent – even if you’re American, even if its YOUR bank. You will be charged every time you want to withdraw cash! At least $3 I reckon, sometimes more. I find that incredible coming from the UK or even Europe where free-to-use ATM’s are everywhere! I was grateful to be able to use my card in a “pin-only” capacity as I’d have been screwed without it but the charges racked up.
I guess moral of the story is either make sure you have enough cash to cover your trip or ensure you have multiple cards you can use. I’ve never owned a credit card, I’m quite “good with money” and consequently I got stung by my only card being compromised.
Anyway, long story short: I got it sorted and meant I had money for the rest of the morning. After half an hour on the phone I was free to enjoy the rest of my morning. We had a pretty lazy morning and didn’t do too much really. The big family BBQ wasn’t until tomorrow and I’d been to Walla Walla six months earlier so I’d seen much of what was in town.
After relaxing for a bit myself, Haleigh and Ben (Haleigh’s brother) went out for lunch. We went to this cool pizza place in town called Sweet Basil. I hadn’t been here before but it was really good, albeit a little messy. I don’t know how but I’d seemingly managed to get some tomato sauce on my nose (seriously, how?) which amused the other two.
Moving on from lunch we strolled along the main street in the downtown area. It’s largely made up of wineries because Walla Walla seemingly does really good wine. We ended up popping in to sweet-tooth favourite Brights which is home to a whole host of candy and dessert options. We grabbed some ice cream which rounded off our lunch quite nicely.
After browsing a few places downtown we headed back to the house and got some video games going, although I mostly watched. Ben and Haleigh kicked off by playing some Minecraft, a game that I’ve never really seen the appeal in, before Ben switched to some newly-released zombie game which was pretty fun to watch.
The added bonus to being in Walla Walla was that it allowed the opportunity to catch up on some of the more mundane things. For instance I hadn’t packed a month’s worth of clothing so this was a good afternoon to get some washing done. Between doing that and hanging out the afternoon flew by pretty quickly. It wasn’t long until Ben had to switch his focus to getting ready for work.
By this point in the weekend a few other out-of-towners had arrived in Walla Walla so we headed over to the second set of grandparents for a BBQ-eve get-together. It was a chance for me to meet a few new faces and enjoy an evening of good company, good food and playing a few more games.
Whilst it hadn’t been the most eventful day of the trip so far, it was a nice enough start to the weekend and good to be back in a city that I’ve quickly adopted as my second home. Surrounded by good people and mountain views, what more could you want?
I was excited for the rest of the weekend. More on that to come soon! Stay tuned!
P.S – if you want to read previous days on this trip there are links below!
Day one – Chicago bound
Day two – exploring Chicago
Day three – Minneapolis
Day four – Why I visited Minneapolis!
Day five – New Orleans!
Day six – The real New Orleans!
Day seven – Goodbye New Orleans, Hello Washington
Day eight – Exploring Poulsbo!
Day nine – Wedding day!
Day ten – To Portland!
Day eleven – the actual 3-0!
Day 12 – Oregon City and Portland
Day thirteen – Walla Walla bound!