New year, new… something.
2016 is ‘off to a flying start’ if I can borrow an old cliché. To be honest, I have no eloquent words about the year thus far, no meaningful statements about how January is a symbol of the year to come, how I’ve stuck to/already broken my resolutions (because I half forgot, half couldn’t be arsed making them in the first place).
One thing I can say? January has been a whole lot of fun.
This beautiful corner of the world just comes to life in winter. The scene of snow-capped Cascade mountains from my street is a continuous joy. Those grey-skied chilly days are perfect for wandering along the local beaches and having them completely to myself.
Seattle City Break
Tom and I aren’t the biggest New Year’s Eve partiers, and after a few years of joining the moshpit of Sydney Harbour celebrations, we now usually opt for more low key evenings with friends. This year, we decided to make the most of our new surroundings and ring in the New Year with a long weekend in Seattle.
NYE was spent partying at Seattle Bash, hosted at the EMP – one of the most fun museums in the city. Several stages throughout the museum featured stand-up comedians, a bunch of live bands and DJ floor. Our tickets gave us after-hours museum access and we watched the midnight fireworks from beneath the Space Needle (which I forgot to take photos of, but it was super pretty!).
The rest of the weekend was spent chilling out in our favourite neighbourhood, Capitol Hill. We revisited some places we love: Cafe Pettirosso, Caffé Vita, Garage (a billiards and bowling bar) and Capitol Hill Cider (over 150 ciders available). And we added some new spots to the mix: Juicebox Cafe, Porchlight Coffee & Records, Rumba, Witness, and 8oz Burger & Co.
I also got the chance to dine at Seattle institution Wild Ginger, an Asian restaurant I’ve been dying to try since we moved here. Meals are served ‘family style’ so with our big group we were able to sample nearly half the menu. My picks of the bunch: Fragrant Duck with steamed buns and Lamb Rendang.
All that eating and drinking was interspersed with side visits to Pike Place Market, the SAM to see the Intimate Impressionism exhibit, a wander through Chinatown and geeking out at the Pinball Museum. We even made the trek to SODO to try Ghostfish Brewery – a completely gluten-free brewery. I’ll definitely be back, and next time pair it with a visit to Westland Distillery for some whiskey samples.
The absolute highlight of the weekend was seeing the season’s first snow in the city. We were picking up some last-minute treats from Nuflours and about to drive back home to Anacortes when I saw the snowflakes falling softly outside (my shrieks of happiness were definitely enough for everyone within a mile to realise ‘I’m not from here’… in case they hadn’t already heard my accent). And because there’s always time for more coffee, we ordered macchiatos at Caffé Ladro and sat outside to enjoy it in the snowfall.
About Town – Anacortes
January brought the gift of having my first full weekend at home in Anacortes since November (it felt insane to realise how long Tom and I have been on the move!). As exciting as travelling can be, it was so blissful to be in our own space and just chill.
Anacortes is slightly sleepier in the winter, but we kept ourselves busy checking out the newest bar in town (Union Tavern), catch ups at our favourite cafe/gallery Portal, brunch dates, farmers markets and vintage sales.
January also brought SNOW TO ANACORTES!!!! Lightly… for just a few hours… but I was psyched!
Later in the month we hosted an Australia Day party, using it as a chance to introduce the delights of lamingtons, vegemite pizza and sausage rolls to our American crew. What started out with relatively civilised street cricket ended in some outrageous Cards of Humanity and the contents of a goon sack on our floor.. So it was pretty much a typical Australia Day!
When my days got busier with work I’d try to steal a few moments to myself: my favourite escape is always the walk to Little Cranberry Lake, which froze over this month!
Lazy day in Coupeville
Taking advantage of a work half-day, we took the scenic drive to Coupeville, one of the quaintest towns on Whidbey Island. I think it might be an actual crime to be so close to Penn Cove and not eat its famous mussels, so we tucked into a seafood lunch at Christopher’s. An outing capped off by a stroll along the pier and a cheeky wine tasting session at Vail – a brilliant local place to get acquainted with some of the smaller winegrowers in Washington.
Winter is such a beautiful time to visit Coupeville, as it’s quite serene without the summer tourist crowds. The only downside is my favourite dessert spot, Kapaws Iskreme, is closed for the winter. A day by the seaside isn’t quite the same without an ice cream, regardless of the weather.
Skiing Mt Baker
Despite a busy month, Tom and I were able to squeeze in two trips to Mt Baker. I feel pretty lucky to live just 90 minutes’ drive from the mountain, which makes it an easy (albiet long) day trip. Slightly off the tourist trail, Baker is a real local’s haunt with awesome staff – and it’s without the congestion you can experience while skiing other mountains.
Our first visit was on a sunny blue sky day, the other a whiteout on a weekend that received more than 70 inches of fresh powder. I’m starting to become more confident on the slopes, and even finally bit the bullet and purchased my very own ski gear!
San Diego Sunshine
In adventures further afield, I headed to San Diego on Martin Luther King weekend for an injection of SoCal sunshine. While I was met with some very un-Californian rain upon arrival, it didn’t stick around for long.
The weekend was a good balance of sightseeing, relaxation, and of course, eating. Morning beach walks with coffee, multiple lazy brunches, visits to the San Diego Zoo, Museum of Man (primarily to climb the California Tower) and USS Midway, drinks with friends, eating a tonne of Mexican food – plus an impromptu visit to the Supercross.
A long weekend wasn’t long enough to do all I wanted in the city – I’ll definitely be back to tackle some of the local hiking spots, the more outer-lying breweries and diving among the kelp forests of La Jolla Park Ecological Reserve.
It’s been a great start to the year, with a balance of keeping the adventure alive and settling in at home, in a town I really love.
Here’s to 11 more fantastic fun-filled months to come in 2016!
Expat Escapades is a new series here at Live Recklessly. Each month I’ll recap my latest adventures in the USA, new Seattle favourites in food/drink/culture/activities, and uncover more of Anacortes and the Pacific Northwest region.
If you have any suggestions of where I should visit, let me know in the comments below!
Read more from Live Recklessly: Snow in Anacortes, Sunsets at Washington Park, Red wine and chocolate on the Whidbey Island Wine Trail.
Catch up on all of my Expat Escapades here.