After Peru, I headed back to the United States for a whirlwind tour of the country to visit friends and family that have been long neglected by my Australianess.
A few highlights of my time en Los Estados Unidos:
I hate Florida. There is nothing to do in Florida and all but two of my friends escaped after high school. Because Florida is fucking terrible. So, I saw some family. I saw the two friends that I still have there. I unpacked and repacked a few times. And that is all.
I was long overdue for a visit to my ex-home, and I realized how much I missed Seattle. It was so amazing to catch up with all of my old mates and hit up my old stomping grounds. I went to most of my old favourite restaurants and reunited my trivia team for a trivia night at our favourite dive bar. Elcid – another American friend of mine that I know from Australia but now lives in Japan – also came to visit me in Seattle with another friend of his. It was his first visit to the Pacific Northwest so I also got to do a lot of touristy things that I would normally have missed out on in my mad rush to see everyone: Kerry Park, Fremont, Gas Works Park, Ballard Locks, Olympic Sculpture Park, and Pike Place Market, where Elcid was unimpressed by the original Starbucks but totally impressed by the piroshkies. I consumed proper craft beer and ate proper brunch (not together, of course) including proper breakfast burritos. Oh, breakfast burritos, how I have missed you!
I also did two other key things in Seattle. The first was a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory! I took Elcid and his friend for the tour and then bought a substantial amount of chocolate afterward. It’s my favourite chocolate in the world and the whole thing was a chocolate-flavoured orgasm. The second was to take part in some new key laws that had passed since I’ve left. No, no, I didn’t get married, but I did go to the store to do some shopping. I still vote in Washington state. I voted for the law and I had to test it out just to make sure it was the right decision.
It certainly was. I was sort of thinking I should move back to Seattle based on this alone!
My good friends Della and Eric were getting married in Denver and I knew I couldn’t miss the wedding. I planned my time around the event. I came in early to have a bit of time with Della and Eric before everybody else arrived. I know the bride and groom from university, and nearly all of our old friends flew in for the occasion. It was so great to see everyone all together!
On my second night in the city, Della arranged a big group of us to go to Casa Bonita – a giant Mexican restaurant made famous by an episode of South Park. And yes, South Park was accurate in their portrayal of the place. There are actually cliff divers doing a show in the middle of the restaurant. WTF?
I had been to Denver twice before. The first time was for a big math competition in high school (yes, I’m a nerd) and the second was to visit Della over one summer break when we were in university. I didn’t really like Denver then, but I was excited to see if my opinion of the city would change. It definitely has. We had some good ethnic food while in Denver, including Ethiopian cuisine and Taiwanese shaved ice, and I also found proper coffee. Denver still needs to badly fix their crap transport system, but at least they also have a law similar to the law I was talking about in Washington state. Oh yes…
There is absolutely nothing to do in this shit city. I visited my grandma and ate some Mexican food and BBQ and a bit more Mexican food and got fat. Texas.
My trip to Washington was all about visiting my friend Lenora, but I did manage catch-ups with a few other friends while I was there. In true Phill/Lenora style, we also went bowling one night and played board games and cards. It was good chill time.
As with Washington, my trip to New York was more about visiting friends and family than it was about doing anything touristy, though I did manage to do two touristy things. I met up with a friend of mine who had his parents visiting from Texas and we took them out to Coney Island. It was surprisingly my first time there. We ate Nathan’s, did the bumper cars, and rode the Wonder Wheel. Check. I also went to the Central Park Zoo with a friend from Connecticut who came into the city to meet me with her two small children.
Aside from that, I hung out with some cousins and a lot of my friends from high school and other places. The gang took me for my first escape room, which we conquered in near record time (though it was more them conquering it and me just looking confused). I had Jewish deli, pizza, bagels, and – and this was key – I got to sample several of the Australian-style cafes that have popped up in New York in recent years. The coffee tasted like home!
I saw some of my mom’s cousins in February when we all happened to be in Florida at the same time. They invited me up to Boston and I gladly took them up on the invitation. While in Boston, I visited with my family and met up with a few friends (mostly from university) who moved to the city. I also wandered around some of the historical areas of the city, but as with the other cities, I wasn’t really here to be a tourist.
In addition to the food mentioned above, I just have to add that Dairy Queen now serves their famous Blizzard in a waffle one, which is about the fattiest and most American thing that could ever happen. Also, I had my favourite salad which is called the Quesadilla Explosion salad from Chili’s. It a salad with big wedges of quesadilla in it and covered in cheese and beans and tortilla strips and it’s basically the least salad-like salad in existence but it’s delicious and everything America is supposed to be.
And that’s a wrap. That’s the gap year. That is the end of the travels. What’s going to happen next? I’m still figuring that out. More to come when I figure out life. Until then, I’ll have all sorts of blogs coming up with facts and figures and top lists of all sorts of things from my gap year. But first, let me take a selfie.
To see more photos of my time in the United States, follow this link: