Becoming an American citizen

I live and die by my to-do list. Anything that needs doing needs to be in there or it won’t get done. So, when I got my permanent green card 12 years ago, I set up a reminder for earlier this year that I would need to renew it.

After taking a look at the situation, I was presented with a choice: renew my green card for 10 years for $540, or become an American citizen and pay $725 one time.

Previously, I’d never given it much thought. I had zero desire to become an American citizen and very much wanted to retain my British citizenship. But after actually thinking about it and asking myself the question, I decided there were definitely some benefits to becoming an American citizen:

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My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

It has long been me and my family’s dream to move to Portland, OR. Earlier this year, that finally happened. This post is about the 4,100 mile road trip that my Dad and I made to get from one corner of the country to the other and all of the places we saw (and avoided) in between.

I wrote another post about how the planning, the move, the driving and the logistics went in a separate post, so if you’re interested in that, you can read on over here. This post is more about the adventure.

Last autumn, me and my family finally got word from my company that the move we had long wanted to make (to Portland, OR) was going to happen.

We set an approximate date and started planning for it. Ultimately, we decided that it made the most sense for me to drive across the country and for Marti to fly.

Continue reading “My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR”

Oregon’s pedestrian laws

A pedestrian stands at the side of a six-lane road with a speed limit of 55mph, but there’s no marked crosswalk. Surely you, the driver, have the right of way? Not in Oregon.

If you should ever come and visit Oregon, you need to be aware that laws governing pedestrians are probably quite different than what you’re used to.

The main difference is that every single intersection is a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or not. So, whether you’re travelling on a residential street or a six-lane arterial road, if a pedestrian is waiting to cross at an intersection (that is, where two roads meet, not necessarily a marked crossing), you must stop to allow them to cross. Continue reading “Oregon’s pedestrian laws”

Planning a road trip (move) from St Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

Marti and I have been wanting to move to Portland for many years now and in the recent past, all of the stars aligned and we’ll be picking up and leaving FL early next year. I’ll be moving our belongings and vehicles across the country, so with many months to plan, I want to make sure that if I’m going to travel 3,500 miles, I’m going to make it the most enjoyable and beautiful road trip that I possibly can.

It has been our dream to move to Portland, OR for many years now. We’ve been waiting for the right time when my company was able to accommodate me in our Portland office so that I could stay with my company (whom I enjoy working for) and so that I would have a job waiting for me at the other end.

Sadly in my case, my company isn’t going to pay for the move because it is my preference to move there: they’re not requesting that I move for work reasons, so the financial burden is on me which I understand and accept. It’s just the price that we have to pay to realise our dream of moving out west.

So with that in mind, I now find myself in a position of trying to figure out how to achieve this. It’s quite a logistical operation, especially when you have a wife, two children and four cats. Continue reading “Planning a road trip (move) from St Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR”

My 4th of July trip to Kingston, MA and Bath, NH

This past 4th of July, I went to spend some time with my family in Massachusetts and then traveled with them to their cabin in rural New Hampshire to enjoy the peace and quiet.

This 4th of July, me and my family planned a trip to visit with Marti‘s cousin and her kids in Kingston, Massachusetts before heading up to Bath, New Hampshire to their cabin for some time in the mountains.

It was a really nice trip. The weather was a refreshing change (it still got pretty warm during the day, but with much less humidity than Florida, and it cooled off in the evenings) and the terrain and landscape were also a very welcome change coming from the monotonous and flat swamps of Florida.

I happened to spend 4th of July there and so participated in the town’s 4th of July parade, which is kinda cheesy and stale, but it’s something to do for the day. However, despite trying to fit in on the 4th of July, my American family still tried to send me to my grave by sitting me such that my chair fell through the deck and the balcony railings. Fortunately, I stopped just shy of falling over the edge and slept with one eye open for the remainder of my trip. Continue reading “My 4th of July trip to Kingston, MA and Bath, NH”

Ichicoro – delectable Korean food in Tampa

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying my third visit to Ichicoro – a fairly new Korean restaurant in an up-and-coming neighborhood in Tampa: Seminole Heights.

It’s quite small inside – there’s maybe only 30 or 40 seats – but it’s intimate, modern and hip.

The menu is quite simple: I think there’s only 8 items on the menu (at least for lunch), of which only 1 is suitable for a vegan, but I’ve been happy to have the same dish all 3 times that I’ve been there. I could quite easily eat it once a week, week after week.

The dish I have is the Veggie Miso Bowl which consists of a miso and tomato broth, corn, seasonal vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, scallions and sesame seeds. I also add nori and their spicy sauce for a little extra. It has such a fresh, unique, delicious flavour that I’ve never experienced anywhere else, which makes me eager to keep returning for more.

I’ll happily keep coming back for the delicious food, cosy atmosphere and nice people.

St. Augustine Distillery is the best place to visit in the city

The St. Augustine Distillery is a place teeming with history, homemade spirits, intrigue, education, delicious food and new experiences. You’ll enjoy the craftsmanship that goes into making the spirits and beyond that the cocktails that they’re used in.

A few weekends ago, Marti and I visited St. Augustine, Florida. It was part of a Christmas present to me: a 2-night getaway from the kids with just Marti in tow. We had a great time exploring the city, but the best part without a doubt was when we visited the St. Augustine Distillery.

The Ice Plant’s history

The St. Augustine Distillery opened just a couple of years ago (March 2014) after successfully securing ownership of the former “Ice Plant” on Riberia St. This Ice Plant opened up as a power plant around 1907 and they started producing ice soon thereafter as the city began to boom in order to support tourism and commerce (such as providing fishermen with a way to keep their fish fresher for longer).

The plant closed down in the 60s and lay dormant for many years before real estate developers who wanted to tear it down to make room for new condos snapped it up in the early 21st century and subsequently lost it in the downturn. The community bandied together with a common goal to save this historic building and the St. Augustine Distillery was born. Continue reading “St. Augustine Distillery is the best place to visit in the city”

An aerial perspective of Sussex

This video from Scott Wright helps highlight the majesty of my home: Sussex, UK. Once you see it, I’m sure you’ll see why I love it so.

Sussex is a county (well, two counties actually) on the South coast of England where I had the pleasure of growing up. Sussex is my home and I miss it dearly. Once you see this video, you’ll understand why.

Scott Wright took a mountain of 4k drone footage over the beautiful sights and landscapes of Sussex early in the morning. The golden light that is cast across the horizon produces really rich, warm colours with some remarkable depth. It makes for awe-inspiring viewing no matter where you’re from, but for those lucky enough to call Sussex home, it’ll warm your heart and help you realise just how blessed you are. Continue reading “An aerial perspective of Sussex”