adventure

From Vegemite to Venti: From Sydney to Seattle: The Beginning of my Expat Life

TLDR: It’s Feb 2024 and I’m moving to the United States to become an Expat!

G’day from Seattle to all my mates back home in Australia. Today, I’m not just sharing a travel story, I’m living it. That’s right, I’ve officially taken the plunge and swapped Vegemite for Venti, crocs for gators, XL to XXXXL. As of 26 Feb 2024, Kelli and I have moved to Seattle, Washington to begin our expat lives.

Why?

So why the big move, you ask? The truth is, it wasn’t one specific reason, but a whole heap of them! A part of me has always craved new experiences, and let’s face it, Australia is fantastic, but there’s a whole other world out there to explore. It’s all largely linked to my other recent post Making the Most of Now

This was actually one of my longest plans to come to fruition. I can still recall clearly when I was still working at Woolworths and went for a walk around the block with a mate/colleague and I realised that I wanted to try something, not just an industry, but a culture, a society and way of thinking. I wanted to be working somewhere ‘cool’. I wanted to see what it’s like working at a ‘hip’ place. I want to see what running and other adventures are out there. 

How did I make it happen?

So from that day of roughly 2.5 years ago, I hatched a plan and started to make it happen. First, I had to figure out what I wanted and why; cool companies, trail running, big national parks and a way to make it happen fast. United States – boom. Yosemites, Google, Amazon, but making it happen fast wasn’t an option…. Long story short, working rights are tough to get, so I had to go the long way around and find a job at an Multinational company operating in Australia and pray that they give me an international transfer. I’m not really the religious type, so I found an opportunity at Amazon AU and made sure I performed and did what I could to get the transfer. Skip forward 2.5 years, to Feb 2024.

Moving to Seattle, WA, United States

Pros and Cons thus far

Sydney / Australia Pros
Seattle / United States Pros
  1. Home of the NRL
  2. Things Feel Cheaper: No Tipping and tax included in prices make buying things and eating out very simple.
  3. Culture and Society feels more environmentally aware (although still have a long way to go)
  4. Feels safer
  1. There’s just more of everything. Food, people, portions and destinations to explore
  2. People are very into everything: Sports, politics, pop-culture, you name it
  3. There a way to make a lot of money over here, I just haven’t found it yet…

Adventure is Out There!

My ever-growing travel map of the US and beyond. Come say ‘Hi’!

Trail Running and Lord of the Rings Locations in Wellington NZ

A beyond-awesome time in Wellington New Zealand. Although I was only there for 4 days – there was so much to do and explore for adventure and food lovers.

Highlights

  • Lord of the Rings Locations and Weta Cave tour
  • Surrounding Mountains for Trail running, hiking and mountain biking
  •  Cycling – building and expanding more cycling lanes
  • Food and coffee options
  • Affordable – from house prices to food. Rent seemed expensive but hotels were pretty good.

Wellington NZ - Travel Map

Kumamoto, Japan – The City of One Piece

“My fortune is yours for the taking, but you have to find it first! I left everything I own in One Piece.” – Gol D. Roger

Ever since, One Piece fans from around the world set sail for Kuamamoto, searching for One Piece (statues). The treasure that would make their (travel) dreams come true.

As part of a collaboration with Eiichiro Oda, author of ONE PIECE born and raised in Kumamoto City, a total of 10 statues of the Straw Hat Pirates of ONE PIECE have been installed throughout Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan! The One Piece statues are part of a larger project to help Kumamoto recover after the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes and are being built thanks to the cooperation of and extremely generous donation from Mr. Oda.

Statue Location Map

My 'Off the Beaten Track' Bucket List Travel Map

Aka the bucket list

The below Map is my ‘away from the ordinary’ locations that I would recommend as well as places I’m planning to visit in the future. I hope you find it handy instead of searching ‘most popular things in X’. Remember as a wise man once said ‘sheep who follows crowd loses identity in wool’.

It has made me realise where my interests are and where gaps may be.

Trail Running the Great North Walk; Newcastle to Sydney ~250Kms

Day 0 - Newcastle to Wakefield ~35K

The Great North Walk is a 250Km walking track which runs from Sydney to Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. My wife and I’s current house in Macquarie Park literally backs onto the Lane Cove National Park which the GNW (Great North Walk) passes through.

I have walked and run many sections of this great trail and owed it the respect it deserves to traverse the whole thing. With some inspiration from The Backyard Adventurer and no plans for the June long weekend, I decided it was finally time to attempt it – in just 3 days (+ an afternoon).

I went up to Newcastle very early Friday Morning to work from and old mate (Rolly’s) house before setting on a sneaky ~35K ‘warm up’ run.

Strava Link

Day 1 - Wakefield to Cedar Brush Creek ~75K

This was a real tough day. Trail markings went missing when I needed them most, elevation was double what I had expected, only 11 hours of light. But that’s what adventure is – overcoming the unexpected. Originally I had planned for Yarramalong but decided to pack it it 10K’s early and tidy those up the next morning after a solid dinner with the Wife at Angel Sussurri’s.

Strava Link

Day 2 - Cedar Brush Creek to Patonga ~80K

A frosty morning made it difficult to start but I started with a bang – finishing off the previous night’s leftovers I ran back to town at ~5:30min/km pace and felt awesome. Tucked into some breakfast and set off again. 

There were some tough trails between Yarramalong and Summersby but it was nice, away from cars and I was lost with the spirit of adventure. Met up with Kelli for some a quick look in at the Harvest Festival events in town but had to quickly jet off as I knew I had a big day ahead.

Landed in Mooney Mooney bridge where my number 1 was going to bring me lunch…. but she wasn’t there. Turned out the 5am morning starts were a bit much and she needed a much needed nap… oh well, onwards! I saw a snake, got a horrible bleeding nose but soldiered on until kilometre 63 where my knee decided to breakdown. I marched on and took some nurofen to finish off the day but knew the final day of adventure would have to be postponed with my knew unable to carry me. “True strength is knowing when to call it” – The Fish.

Strava Link

Day 3 - Brooklyn to Sydney ~80K

Exactly 1 week later, a deep tissue massage and a rare visit to the physio – I had mentally told myself that I was ready to take on the final segment: Brooklyn to Sydney Cove. The Sign said 77kms but we all know how they lie. I knew it was going to be a tough day out so I set off on the very first train to Hawkesbury River station on the 5:20am from Epping and arrived to start just before 6am, then disaster struck.

On the train I realised I had forgotten my carefully prepared breakfast and coffee! I ate through most of my snacks before even starting but knowing that I could get a replenishment it would be okay. I also made an emergency pit stop at the local Cafe in Cowan to grab a quick bite and a brew and I was back on track.

I had to mentally push myself after leaving Cowan with some small niggles in the same knee that gave out the week before, telling myself it would be okay and keeping my mind on the job at hand helped get me through. As well as Joe Abercrombe’s book – The Blade Itself. I made good progress and sped up just as I was arriving in Thornleigh to meet Kelli who had already ordered a giant dish of sweet and sour pork. Fuel of champions.

I set off on my most local trails for which I’m probably the local legend on 50% or more of them and met up with my good mate Leighlan who had agreed to pace me the final 20Ks – legend. It really started to hit home as we were running past the Woolwich pub that I’d just (about) finished a 270K run from Newcastle to Sydney, nothing could stop me now! We smashed through the final few kms, finishing just before full darkness – arriving at Woolwich Ferry Wharf at around 6pm. A ferry ride into Circular Quay to meet Kelli and the final destination!

Strava Link

MetricsDay 0Day 1Day 2Day 3Total
Distance32.576.580.079.8268.9
Time (Moving)03:17:2310:34:5310:53:4410:40:4035:26:40
Pace06:0408:1808:1008:0107:55
Ascent Metres (m)5463,2262,2202,7838,775

The Adventure

Those who know me might know that I’m a bit of a sucker for adventure and done just a little bit of cycle touring (wayyy back in 2018 – https://thetravellingbeancounter.wordpress.com). I had dreamed up this baby a little while after getting back from Japan – the idea of cycling from (new) hometown to (original) hometown. With a good mate’s wedding the weekend following, the stars finally aligned and I set off on the 2nd of December.

Stats

SportDateTitleTimeDistanceElevation
RideFri, 02/12/2022Day 1: Sydney to Warners Bay5:57:24147.40 km1,381 m
RideSat, 03/12/2022Day 2: Newcastle to Scone6:49:35168.59 km1,579 m
RideSun, 04/12/2022Day 3 – Scone to Tamworth6:08:54142.22 km1,107 m

Highlights (and Lowlights):

  • Highlight: Fueling up at Manly bowls before starting for my Finance Christmas party at Amazon. Also noting the bike way atleast 80% lighter than what I was riding around Japan on
  • Lowlight: Crazy traffic and psycho drivers from Manly to Palm Beach Ferry
  • Highlight: KFC with Rolly on arrival into Newcastle
  • Lowlight: Gear cable snapping literally halfway into the 2nd day
  • Highlight: “Day for it” good weather all round, especially when going through the Hunter Valley
  • Highlight: Powering up the Great Dividing Ranges without stopping until reaching the top
  • Lowlight: Currabubula Markets had millions of cars on the small rural roads when I was so close to home
  • Highlight: Accomplishing the trip! Especially with no injuries (besides an aching gooch and dead quads).