Welcome to Sidewalk & Highway: Life in the Pacific Northwest

A trail going into a lush green forest in Bellingham, Washington

Hello! Welcome to my blog. I have been attempting to blog in some form or another for over a decade. After graduating from college in 2007, I was hired by an after-school program to teach English in South Korea. In the weeks before I moved, I scoured the internet for information on life in Korea and found a blog written by an American who had moved there the year before. It was a great way to day dream and gather information in anticipation of the big move. I was not confident enough to start my own blog about life abroad until a few years later. However, I never really kept up with it.

When I made a plan to complete the CELTA course in Prague in 2014 and save up enough money to get me by while looking for a job, I turned to blogs for information on local life. When the school I worked for in South Korea closed unexpectedly, I could no longer save what I needed to save. I decided not to move to Prague. I realize now that I could have made a new plan, but at the time I was already completely overwhelmed with a sudden change in direction and needed to find another job in Seoul to stay afloat.

When I got a job teaching kindergarten in Moscow, Russia in late 2014, I had already been reading blogs written by expats in Russia for at least two years. I had applied for a job at a different school in Moscow two years before, so I was incredibly excited that something finally came through. The school would be paying me enough to take care of my monthly loan payments and have some leftover for life and travel. However, when it came time to sign a contract, the final offer was less than half of what they had originally offered which would barely be enough to keep the banks and my stomach fed.

An elevated wooden walkway going through a lush green forest
An elevated wooden walkway going through a lush green forest

Blogs about living abroad and the bloggers behind them–some of whom I have been following for years–have been a great source of inspiration and information. There is also a good sense of community to be found in the blogging world. There were months and years when I didn’t read a blog let alone write a single post, but I somehow found my way back to those favorites from 2012 that made me want to pack it all up, board a plane, and find myself in some new and dazzling place.

Coming from a small town in the mountains with a population of 2,500, I enjoyed reading magazines and watching films for a glimpse into the outside world. My mom brought home a box of fairy tale books from a yard sale one day when I was a child. Each book had stories from different countries around the world. I read these stories repeatedly and imagined what each place would be like. When I started reading blogs, it felt surreal and magical to read about someone’s–a real person’s–experience living in the places that I had only read and dreamed about.

A trail next to a creek going under a bridge with lush greenery on the other side
A churning creek running over mossy rocks in a lush green forest
A creek running around mossy rocks and through a lush green forest

In 2016, I moved back to the United States with my partner, Brian, whom I met while we were both living in Seoul. We were determined to make life work at “home” and set out for Denver, Colorado. We’d chosen Denver one fall day in a Seoul neighborhood called Insadong. We set to work in a coffee shop on a tree-lined street and sat looking out the window with our maps open on our laptops and found the biggest city in-between Chicago, Illinois (where Brian is from) and Portland, Oregon (near where I am from).

Denver was a cool place to live. I still miss some of those big city vibes and our favorite neighborhoods. We moved up from living in a 300 SF attic apartment in City Park West to a 600 SF garden-level apartment in Capitol Hill. They were both great locations for experiencing the local restaurants and walking to local parks. Although we enjoyed life in Denver, we knew that we wanted to move to the Pacific Northwest. We were drawn to the ocean and to the rain forest. We kept talking about how someday we would move there (a return for me) and then we realized that there was no good reason to wait.

A trail through a lush green forest with colorful posters on a cement wall
A bridge over a creek in a lush forest in Bellingham, Washington in the Pacific Northwest
A walkway leading out of a lush green forest with a low wooden bridge

Jobs were applied for, rejections were taken in stride, an offer was finally accepted and we moved to Bellingham, Washington in the summer/fall of 2018. I drove from Denver to Bellingham at the end of August with our dog, Kiki, by my side. Kiki enjoyed sitting in the passenger seat watching the scenery go by, but you could tell she was a bit confused about the move. She found herself exhausted from the drive and relished our two nights at a motel when she was just so glad to be out of the rented minivan and back to digging her bed in the sheets. Brian joined us a month later.

Bellingham is a small city nestled between woods and water just an hour south of Vancouver, B.C. and two hours north of Seattle, WA (if traffic or the border wait time isn’t bad). When I first arrived, people kept asking me, “How did you find Bellingham?!” I can understand what they meant now that I have left and returned a few times. You get the sense that we are hidden away as you drive up I-5 and see the glow of this little fairy tale place in the distance. It’s a gorgeous city where you find yourself immersed in greenery. Did I mention there’s water? We currently live a fifteen-minute walk from the bay and we can see water and islands in the distance when we take Kiki for a walk.

A city park with neon-green grass, trails, and lush green trees
A wooden totem surrounded by lush greenery

After all of those years following blogs and constantly wishing to be somewhere new, I finally feel settled–well, as settled as I will ever feel. I would be happy staying here for the rest of my life, but we have some other potential plans on the long-term horizon that *might* allow us to live in another foreign country someday. They’re pretty big dreams, but for now I am just soaking in this place that has been calling me back year after year after year. I am called back by the water, the green, by family, and by the smell of fresh air full of plants and seawater.

Every time I had a little dream of living somewhere new, I turned to my fellow bloggers to take a peek at their lives in that place. I learned what might be hard and what it might be like. I lived vicariously through their stories of daily life in a brand new place. I’d like to be that person for someone else. I write because I enjoy it. I blog because I enjoy the community. I read blogs because it’s so neat to me that we can see what life is like across the globe without ever setting foot in an airport. I hope that someone might find and enjoy this blog as they wait for their big move, plan a weekend getaway, or wonder what life is like in a different place.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to give this post a read. I hope that you are all enjoying your own small or big adventures–whichever sidewalk & highway you may be travelling.

A close-up of a wooden totem surrounded by greenery
A close-up of the figure of a woman carved into a wooden totem
Bright green grass with green trees and a hill in the distance with a path
A restaurant in an old building across the street with an island and water in the distance
A railroad crossing with an island and water in the distance
A waterway alongside Waypoint Park leading to Bellingham Bay with industrial ships
A bridge over water and industrial buildings in the background with a cloudy sky
A park with a playground, acid ball, other industrial structures, hills in the background, and a cloudy sky
A sidewalk leading toward the barely-visible water with a dark, cloudy sky above