Expat Escapades: life after three months in the USA

Expat Escapades April 2016: Happy hour at Secret Cove, Anacortes - LiveRecklessly.com

Today marked exactly three months from the day that Tom and I arrived in the USA, ready to start a new expat life together on a two year work exchange.

To mark this small occasion, we celebrated with our standard mix of outdoors time followed by delicious bites.  A blustery visit to the top of Mt Eerie, Fidalgo Island’s highest peak, and a stroll around Whistle Lake. Meeting friends for Anacortes’ First Friday Arts Walk and cocktails at The Majestic, followed by a cozy night in, complete with hot toddies by the fire.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.

View from Mt Eerie, Fidalgo Island

Autumn leaves and hot toddies

Some things with the move have been easy, and some not so easy: jumping through Uncle Sam’s red tape challenges without a credit history or social security number, discovering a proper credit card is an absolute necessity for things like car rental, finding good quality loose leaf tea at the supermarket (the latter requires training from Sherlock Holmes himself).

Some things about America have been just downright confusing: topless-barista coffee kiosks. Surely the mix of bare nipples and steam wands screams OH&S issues?

From the trivial problems to the truly tear-my-hair-out moments, overall it feels like we’ve breezed through the initial phase of setting up our new lives and building a new home together, even if it is relatively temporary.

I have a gym membership for the first time in my life, a wonderful group of friends, a new local coffee shop so good it should belong in Melbourne (or Newcastle!), and a growing list of favourite neighbourhood restaurants and happy hour hangs.

I’m even getting used to the drizzle and cooler climate.

In 2013 we spent six weeks holidaying around the country. At the time neither of us could have predicted that we’d be back so soon – let alone living on an island by the Puget Sound. While we didn’t visit Washington State or any part of the Pacific Northwest on our previous jaunt, I think in part our previous travels made it quicker to adapt to life here. Many things felt familiar as soon as the plane touched down. The accents, the tipping culture, the free pour at bars (take note, Australia).

Local exploration

I feel so incredibly lucky to be living in the Pacific Northwest. My new home, Anacortes, edges the Puget Sound, and offers the quaintness of a small town life alongside some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes – while being close to both Seattle and Vancouver.

I live within a stone’s throw of a beautiful lake, have found a peaceful park where I go to watch the sunset or work remotely, and spend free time visiting little Washington towns, hiking and photographing this unique part of the country.

It all appeared postcard perfect when we first arrived in summer, and I’ve loved watching the change of season and trees exploding with autumn hues.

From the big buck hanging out by the gas station, to the bambi’s on my street, and the squirrels that hang out in my courtyard eating fruit from the blackberry bushes. It’s like real life Disney in Anacortes. Don’t get me started on the seals and otters in the harbor. Hopefully I’ll spot some Orcas soon.

Deer in Anacortes WA

Lady by the Sea, Anacortes WA

Adventures across America

Not one to sit still for long, I’ve been making the most of any available time to venture further afield – though most excursions have remained in the Pacific Northwest area.

Tom and I have enjoyed sunshine and margaritas in Santa Monica, cycled and drank our way around Vancouver (twice!), partied with friends in Whistler, hiked and chased waterfalls in British Columbia, camped in national parks and spent an indulgent weekend imbibing in Portland.  Stories and photos coming soon!

Vancouver BC

Whistler, BC

Beautiful BC views

Brandywine Falls BC

This month I’m planning a trip to California to reunite with an old friend, while Thanksgiving will bring very British afternoon teas and brewery-hopping in Victoria, Vancouver Island. And there’s plans in the works for Christmas and New Year celebrations. So much to look forward to!

All in all, I’m loving this American life.

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