Tag Archives: Seattle

Young Man Went West #31: Evolution of an Escape Plan

And now what?

The road trip is over and I’ve been on this island for nearly two-and-a-half years, which is a year-and-a-half longer than I had schemed. My original game plan for life after college was hopping from one city to the next, a year here, a year there. Repeat ’til fully jaded or satiated. I wanted to know several regions–inside and out–before settling down in one of them. While I’m still on the first stop of that master plan, I can assure you the travel bug has not vanished.

Had I no upcoming plans around the time of my first kama’ainiversary, i.e. my first full year on this island, I’d have made some to move elsewhere. However, several months before that one-year marker on September 16th, Ian proposed his idea for the cross-country road trip. Obviously, I wasn’t going to go through the hassle of moving back to the Bay Area and finding a new job, so I stayed put way past September. The road trip became, for me, not only a chance to see the country with my own eyes, but also an opportunity to scout out that next stop.

Change #1: Move out of Hawaii after one year –> Move out of Hawaii after 21 months, before the road trip

Regardless, I had a candidate picked out: the Emerald City. I left my heart in Seattle when visiting my cousin Avery for her graduation from SPU. It looked and felt and smelled like San Francisco, but it was, at the same time, completely new. That fascinated me, and I was dead-set on relocating there. I planned on moving off the island, driving around the country for a summer, then starting anew in Seattle.

Then I realized I was going to be crazy broke by the end of the trip and decided I should return to Honolulu for three months and save up a bit of cash before heading somewhere else. Seattle was still my target destination, unless something on the road changed my mind.

Change #2: Move to Seattle right after the road trip –> Return to Honolulu for three months, go home for Christmas, then move to Seattle

Of course, something did change my mind, I just didn’t expect it to be Seattle itself. Upon my arrival in that familiar, rainy wonderland, it hit me: I knew I could live in that kind of city. I knew I could fit in with those types of people. Growing up near another progressive, West Coast city, I knew I’d be immediately comfortable in Seattle, and that goes against the whole point of moving to different places. I wanted to learn, I wanted to adapt. Seattle was out of the picture.

As we journeyed on eastward, I kept my eyes open for new opportunities. I’d have considered Minnesota for its mix of big city feel and small town friendliness, but the weather blows on both ends. Chicago is undoubtedly a great American city, but after the food opportunities, there’s little charm left. Madison and Ann Arbor seemed like delightful college towns, but I’m not in college anymore.

Then, we stumbled across the border.

Toronto offered the same laid-back, big city vibe as do San Francisco and Seattle, but because it’s in Canada, it’s inherently different. Despite its proximity to the border, there are still enough cultural difference to learn about between the US and Canada to keep me intrigued for at least a year.

I was researching dual citizenship all the way through Boston. . . until we hit New York.

Change #3: Move to Seattle after three more months in Honolulu –> Move to New York City after nine more months in Honolulu

As soon I stepped foot in New York, I knew where my next stop would be. The promise of burgeoning opportunity oozed out of every crevice. The City moved in a million different directions, none of which would be a dead end. It activated my curiosity, my imagination, and all five senses. It was certainly a place one needs to live in once, but can only move to before a certain age. I was set on making that move before the opportunity passed. Of course, I’d need to save up a lot more money to make such a big move, so I figured I’d stay put in Honolulu until the following summer.

All the way down the East Coast and through the South, I told every new friend that I was moving to New York.

Then I met up with my oldest friend in New Orleans: my sister. She’s been a fountain of helpful advice my whole life–from preparing me for my first school dance to guiding me in picking a college–so when she has something to say, I listen. She liked my decision to move to New York, but wondered aloud if I should utilize my youthful freedom, i.e. lack of responsibility, to pursue an opportunity and discover where that led me, instead of the other way around. It made sense. She sister’s advice always does.

As we roamed Canal Street, I pondered on my wide, open future a bit more, then was struck by inspiration. My first and last nights in the Crescent City were spent with my old college buddy, Josh, who relocated there after graduating to work for Teach For America. I come from a whole family of teachers, and everybody says I’d be a good one, so why shouldn’t I teach, too? And it doesn’t have to be for America; countries around the world are constantly seeking English teachers. If I have nothing leading me to New York, maybe I should let this idea lead me to another country.

Change #4: Move to New York City after nine more months in Honolulu –> Apply to teach English in Korea and stay in Honolulu until I’m accepted

After a bit of research, I discovered that because Japan is the number one destination for foreign teachers, Korea offers plenty of benefits to lure potential teachers away, including cheap living and a good salary. On top of that, Korean food and movies are amazing.

I had planned my future. Again. From New Orleans to the West Coast, I told every new friend that after I returned to Honolulu, I’d apply to teach English in Korea. By the time I got to LA, I started thinking about what to do with all that money I’d save. The website said teaching abroad is a good way to save up for grad school. I had never considered grad school because I didn’t think I had a passion. Well, after I moved to Honolulu, I discovered I liked to write. And during the road trip, I discovered I had an eye for photography. Put two and two together, and you get another plan: grad school for photojournalism!

Addendum to Change #4: Apply to teach English in Korea, stay in Honolulu until I’m accepted, buy and learn to use a good camera in the meantime, use the teaching money to pay for grad school for photojournalism after I return

So, my near future plans set. They were peer- and parent-approved. They involved travel, teaching, money, and school. That’s all that matters, right? I returned to Honolulu and told everybody I had everything figured out.

And then I met Jenn. . .

No more need for Roxy Models at the end of the posts


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Young Man On The Road #4: Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs

Seattle and Mountlake Terrace, WASHINGTON 

June 21-24, 2011

Ian and I had no regrets leaving Portland after just an afternoon because waiting for us in Seattle (well, just outside Seattle in Mountlake Terrace) were the sweetest, most accommodating hosts we could ever ask for.  My Uncle Scott (and by “Uncle” I mean cousin’s wife’s older brother) and his wife Jennifer let us stay in their beautiful home even though they were going to be away in Montana for business.  They were leaving Wednesday morning and were willing to let us arrive after they’d left, but we thought it best to power through Portland to see them Tuesday night.  Best decision yet, as Scott and Jennifer are terrific company: equally interesting and interested, always willing to provide, and offering to cook meals for us! Ian and I almost didn’t want to leave the house, but we had a city to explore.

On Wednesday we toured the University of Washington and the surrounding U District before driving downtown.  The redbrick buildings and wide open spaces of campus were pretty, but it wasn’t Berkeley (I say, completely unbiased).  However, University Way, a.k.a. “the Ave” was like a cleaner, longer, friendlier version of Telegraph Avenue.  No street vendors, granted, but no hobos either.  We scarfed down some $3 Vietnamese sandwiches (score!) and then headed south towards Seattle’s most prominent landmark.

I did not go to the Seattle Space Needle the last time I visited the Emerald City.  Crazy, yeah?  They friggin’ love that thing; it’s plastered on every souvenir and half the business logos.  But Anthony Bourdain was too cool to see the pyramids while in Egypt, so I felt no pressure to see the Needle during my first visit.  This time, I felt somewhat obligated to go.

Thing is, it’s actually a pretty cool place.

Behind the 360-degree observation deck is somewhat of a lounge area with a cafe, snacks, and a post-modern aesthetic.  Just below that is a swanky rotating restaurant that Ian and I definitely could not afford.  I did, however, spring for a chai latte upstairs.  I felt very Seattle-y sipping a Starbucks beverage with a view of the city below.  Due to a private function, we had the great fortune to be turned away from the Space Needle when we first attempted to ascend to the top that afternoon.  Returning that night after exploring Downtown, I’m sure we got a much better view with the lit city skyline and the long-lasting twilight sky.

The area around the Space Needle was even more impressive.  It’s surrounded by the monorail that leads straight to Downtown (three blocks from Pike’s Place Market) and the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum.  Our first goal of the next day was to visit the EMP/SFM because their two featured exhibits were the  Nirvana and Avatar!  You can really gauge where you stand on the nerdy-to-cool scale by seeing which side of the museum you’re most excited about.  I love me some Nirvana, but I was totally geeking out over the interactive Avatar displays.  That should be no surprise to you folks.

We ate a packed lunch in the car (thank you for the leftovers, Scott and Jennifer!) then headed to Belltown afterwards too see my former roommate Charlie.  We lived together in my first apartment in Hawaii, but he left the island for Seattle a year ago.  He is now a bartender at a sleek Japanese bar where I ate sushi, drank beer, watched Cal baseball lose, and caught up with my old buddy.

After a little more downtown exploration, we packed it in somewhat early.  Ian and I had laundry to do, dishes to clean, and cats to feed.  Plus, beautiful house.  We were reluctant to leave the vibrancy of Seattle and the warmth of Scott and Jennifer’s house so early, but we had am eight-hour drive ahead of us.

Up next, Boise!

P.S. Sorry these posts have been pretty long and decidedly not “micro,” but I’ve had the opportunity to use my laptop more often than I thought.  Also, brevity ain’t my thing.


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Young Man On The Road #3: You Have Died of Dysentery

Eugene and Portland, OREGON

June 20-21, 2011

Ian and I actually started the big trip in two different places.  I had spent the night at my sister’s place in Sacramento while he stayed with his family in Livermore with the plan to pick me up the day after Father’s Day.  “I’ll be there by noon,” said he.

Then, “I’ll actually be there by 2 pm.”

At 2:30 pm, Ian found me walking around Midtown Sacramento, and there our journey began.

. . . but not before a quick stop and less-than-quick reshuffling of luggage at a nearby Safeway.  By 4:30, we were packed in, amped up, and on our way to Portland!  Or so we thought.  The late start and setting sun decided we would make Eugene our first stop.

We rolled into the Northwest college town around midnight and stopped at the one place that seemed to have any action: a packed bar on the University of Oregon campus called Rennie’s Landing.  Now while the food looked fantastic, we decided to save our money and just get a pint each.  I wasn’t surprised but truly delighted to see that their small selection of beers on tap comprised quality brews, including one of my favorites, a black ale called 1554 that I haven’t been able to find outside of Henry’s in Berkeley.

After a quick game of pool (which I won!), we had to find a place to sleep. We weren’t yet ready to start our trip with a night in the Honda Civic, and since our last minute crash sites fell through, Ian and I sprung for a cheap motel.  Totally worth it since we were able to cook some rice and reheat some leftover steak.

Yeah, that’s right.  We have a rice cooker.

The next morning, we walked around the beautiful, green, bike-friendly UO campus for an hour, then continued on to Portland.

Oh, Portland, how incredible you are!  It’s refreshing to see a well-planned city with an efficient rail system and a green agenda (hey, Honolulu, HINT HINT!).  You can feel warranted pride emanating from the people gathered in the many parks and along the waterfront.  This city works.

Stuffed with trail mix and jerky, Ian and I weren’t yearning for a Portlandian meal (which would most likely be healthy, organic, and delicious), but we weren’t going to pass up Voodoo Doughnuts.  A Facebook comment, a Reddit comment, my travel book, and Anthony Bourdain collectively told us to go there.  The  downtown location was under renovation, but a thirty-minute walk brought us to the second location and $10 got us a baker’s dozen.  To describe these doughnuts would expand this already-lengthy post by another paragraph, so I’ll let a picture do the talking.

As much as we loved Portland, we had nowhere to stay the night.  On the other hand, we had somewhere to sleep and people to see in Seattle, and being there by night would get us on our proposed schedule.

So we left.


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Young Man Went West #26: The Next Step

I am not afraid of much, but one thing that does scare me is routine: falling into a seemingly endless cycle of daily chores and traditions.  While one grows up, routine is tolerable, even comfortable, because it is balanced out by the ever-progressing, next-step-having stage of school.  Kids do the same thing for a year, then they move on to the next grade, and the grade after that.  Middle schoolers move on to high school, high schoolers move on to college.  But once one is done with college, what is that next step?  Work, eat, sleep, repeat until you die or retire, isn’t that the path?  I don’t want that—at least, not right now—which is why I moved here after graduation.  Even still, between punctuations of random side jobs and extreme activities, I’ve teetered near the edge of repetition.  I’d find myself biking home from work thinking, “I did this yesterday.  Exactly.  And I will do it tomorrow.  Again.  What am I doing?”  This fear of routine grew strong last Spring during several weeks of uninterrupted monotony.  Then, some time last May, I believe, my buddy Ian called me up and changed everything.

Ian graduated from UC Berkeley a semester after I did and, like the rest of us, has not been receiving a million job offers.  He, too, is finding some path in this wonderous post-Recession economy.  Fortunately, Ian has a sense of adventure.  He called to tell me about a grand idea: roadtripping around the continental United States for a whole summer. Ian’s route would start in the Bay Area, go up through the Pacific Northwest, snake up and down towards the Atlantic, thoroughly soak in the East Coast, and head back west through the South.  It would hit every major city and many college towns.  This trip, he informed me, would be low-cost, too.  He’d couch-surf whenever possible, sleep in his car when it wasn’t, and eat cheaply and on the go.

The entire time I was listening to Ian’s idea, I was thinking, “He hasn’t asked me anything yet, he’s just telling me stuff.”  That might have been normal were it some other friend, but Ian calls with a purpose.  I knew what he was getting at, and I couldn’t wait for him to ask.

“So,” Ian continued, “considering the couch-surfing aspect, do you think it’d be better if one person traveled alone, or if there was someone else?  Because somebody offering their couch to a stranger might be more hesitant if there were two, but on the other hand, it’d probably be safer if I wasn’t by myself.”

“Oh, definitely,” I said through grinning teeth, “It’d be much safer if there was someone else.  I mean, not just for couch-surfing, but also just on the road.  What if the car breaks down?  Additionally, it’d always be nice to have someone to talk to. . . and to split the cost of gas.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.  Would you like to join me?”

I could have answered before he was done with the question.  I could have answered before he began to ask.  I could have answered as soon as he mentioned a roadtrip.

“Of course,” I replied.  I had found my next step.


So now, I have something to look forward to, a finish line.  Or, more appropriately, a checkpoint.  Though the weeks aren’t blurring together as much as they did in the Spring, I don’t mind when they do.  This routine, I now know, is temporary.  I have a goal, and that is to save money the best I can until we embark on our roadtrip, which is slated for June 2011.

Of course, the start of this journey marks the end of another; I don’t plan on coming back to Hawai’i. By late May 2011, I will have been here twenty months, which is a good amount of time.  No longer are my “next steps” entering the next school grade, but rather entering the next city.  I want to pack up, move, and start all over again.  My plan after the roadtrip is to move to Seattle.  You all know how much I loved it there.  Plus, I have family offering a place to stay until I find one of my own.  Sound familiar?

Young Man Went North.  Wait for it. . .

Ian's a great friend, but I'd leave him on the side of the road in a second for these chicks.

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YMWW #21: Feeling Settled After Seattle

This is only my second entry for the month of June.  Seeing as my New Year’s resolution was to do at least one entry a week, I’m staring at a 50% fail rating for this month.  Or, maybe it’s a 50% success rate.  I am an optimist.  Besides the lack of feedback on my last entry, I do have reasons (read: “excuses”) for not writing as much.

First of all, I was gone for a whole week. . . in Seattle!  For those of you who logged onto Facebook anytime between the 9th and the 16th, I’m sure you were bombarded with my daily photo albums.  I got quite camera happy.  And why wouldn’t I?  Seattle was a fantastic place to visit!  My family rented a model-perfect, two-story house in a neighborhood that reminded me of a clean Berkeley.  All the character and charm of my old college town without the hobo smell.  And just like Berkeley, we were within walking distance of  the main college drag: University Street a.k.a. The Ave.  Small, privately-owned shops and healthy restaurants lined both sides of this student-infested street.  Needless to say, I spent a lot of time walking up and down The Ave.

Downtown was a $17 cab ride away.  While our northeast neighborhood was a clean version of Berkeley, Downtown was a clean version of San Francisco.  Besides the lack of hobos (I’m sure the rain washes them away), Downtown Seattle felt like San Francisco.  The seafood was great, the shops were eccentric, and the street musicians were abundant.  I could have sworn I stumbled onto a hidden pier off the Embarcadero.  At one point I even smelled my city by the Bay.  The fact that I felt at home and at the same time knew I was traveling made my experience in Seattle special.  I was simply happy.

I am not going into detail about my day-to-day adventures in the Emerald City.  That’s been done through my Facebook photo albums (all the detail you could ask for. . . with pictures!).  What I will discuss, however, was how Seattle changed my view of Hawai’i.  While touching down on the runway at HNL Tuesday evening, it occurred to me that my trip to Seattle was my first vacation from the island.  I went home in December, sure, but that was “going home.”  This was “going on vacation.”  I came back with a sigh and realized I had finally settled in.

I have a routine here.  Sure, it’s not as tedious and repetitive as it was during my Whole Foods days, but it’s still a lot of the same.  Ride bike to work.  Ride bike back from work.  Watch TV with roommates.  Hang out at bars with coworkers.  I’ve lost that urge to “explore the island” every chance I get.  That little voice that motivated me to just walk around Waikiki during my free time has quieted to silence.  There’s nothing new.  Nothing exciting.  It’s just Hawai’i.  It’s just home.

Routine leads to lack of progress, lack of progress leads to lack of story, lack of story leads to empty blog.  And that’s my second reason for not writing as much.  I know, I know, it’s a lame excuse, but unless you want to read about how well my tables did at Forrest Gump trivia, you’ll be stuck with these bi-monthly routine rants.

Until, of course, I move to Seattle next year. . .

(Young Man Went North?  More on that next time.)



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YMWW #2: The Crucible

Friday, September 18th, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Every new adventure has a preliminary challenge. Mine this time was called “layover.” In order to earn the cheap ticket price ($225. . . one-way, of course), I had to wait out eight hours in Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. I had never been to Seattle.

By my own standards, I still haven’t.

Those eight hours took place between approximately 12:15 AM and 8:15 AM. I was originally supposed to land at 12:50 AM but—oh joy—we landed early!. I had vowed not to leave the airport for the sake of saving money, but that additional half hour had me seeking out a taxi. Ultimately, I wised up and stayed (besides, it was nearly last call), trudging over to the only 24 hour business inside SeaTac: Starbucks. I was feeling fine about my responsible decision. . . until I learned there was NO FREE WIFI in SeaTac (which answers your question, Michael)! What the fug-nut?!?! SeaTac, how dare you call yourself an airport without offering your clientele the simplest way to pass their time!!!

So, after a few games of Minesweeper, I watched the digital copy of The Dark Knight (bless you, Batman). It was near four o’clock in the morning when I passed through security to my gate. For the next four hours, I read a book and mostly stayed awake. . . except for this one time I was resting my eyelids for what seemed like a few minutes, only to open them to a sun-filled airport. I had missed the sunrise, but luckily not my plane.

Ultimately, my eight hours in Seattle were not too shabby, but I owe it to myself to venture back and leave the airport next time. I heard it’s a beautiful place. Well, kinda. As my cousin Avery described it, quoting a friend of hers, living in Seattle “is like marrying a gorgeous woman, who is sick most of the time.”

Well, by that analogy, living in Hawai’i could be described as marrying a Roxy model whose natural beauty is emphasized by cover up (resort areas) that hide its scars (seedy, inland towns).

Ben thought it would be a good idea for me to add a new Roxy model photo to each blog entry.

I think Ben thought well.

TUNE IN NEXT TIME as I describe my adventures walking and driving around the island looking for a job and a place to live!

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