Serpy the Wombat is a five-and-a-half ounce stuffed wombat who served as a team mascot when I worked at a digital marketing firm nearly 10 years ago. We liked to pretend that he was a valued member of the team and later when I moved on from that job, Serpy came with me. Whenever I traveled, I took Serpy with me and shared pics of my favorite wombat in various exotic locales with members of my old team. To this day, the team still has a Facebook chat group aptly named “The Wombat Cave”. In spite of the fact that he isn’t real, Serpy has a special place in my heart.
So when I decided to leave the Pacific Northwest to spend one month in each city I visited in search of a new home, it was only natural that Serpy the Wombat, my beloved marsupial companion, would join me on the trip. This why every city review that I wrote has a picture of Serpy at the very top of it.
“Travels with Serpy” is an homage to John Steinbeck’s wonderful book Travels with Charley, a travelogue about a road trip that Steinbeck took with his dog Charley around the US. In the book he makes a number of fascinating observations about what the country was like in 1962, as well as to share his take on the great upheavals the country was experiencing at the time.
While there were some parallels between my travels and Steinbeck’s, there were some obvious differences. Steinbeck had a home which he planned to go back to after his travels were done while I looking for a new home: a place where I’d settle down after my travels were done. Also, as much as I’d like to believe, Serpy was not a living breathing animal. I was very much on my own for this trip.
Why move? The short answer is this: Ten Seattle winters and ever increasing rents. Also, now that my work had shifted to be permanently remote, I could actually do it. In September 2021, I packed my Corolla with everything I needed to work remote and set off on a 9 month trip where I visited 7 cities, spending at least a month in each one to see if it was right for me.
As I traveled, I wrote reviews of each city (an idea I borrowed from John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed) giving them a rating on a 5-star scale. The main factor for deciding how many stars a city would receive was how much I would want to live there in the long term. While I don’t pretend to be a Steinbeck or even close, I did my darndest to paint a faithful picture of each city–at least as best I could with my limited perspective as an outsider.
This is the full list of reviews, sorted in chronological order:
A guest in the desert | My 3 month review of Tucson
This is the first in a series of seven articles about my 9 month trip through the Southern US. I lived in Tucson from October 2021 to January 2022. These are my thoughts. Suburbs in the Deep Desert I spent most of my time in the a Western suburb of…
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A city that found me | My review of San Antonio
This is the second in a series of seven articles about my 9 month trip through the Southern US. I spent one month in San Antonio in January 2022. These are my thoughts. The Riverwalk This had to be my favorite feature of San Antonio. On hot days, you can…
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This city won’t ever drown | My 1 month review of New Orleans
This is the third in a series of seven articles about my 9 month trip through the Southern US. Some thoughts about New Orleans after living there for a month The Food Of all the cities I visited, New Orleans has the best food. The food is greasy, flavorful, spicy…
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A city in search of its soul | My 1 month review of Atlanta
This is the fourth in a series of seven articles about my 9 month trip through the Southern US. I lived in Atlanta for one month in March 2022. These are my thoughts. Bubble Neighborhoods While I haven’t visited all the neighborhoods in Atlanta, the ones I did visit seemed…
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Fishbowl town | My 1 month review of Asheville
This is the fifth in a series of seven articles about my 9 month trip through the Southern US. Thoughts about Asheville, NC after spending a month there. A little fishbowl of a town Asheville is a small place, but one with an expertly curated image. It’s a fishbowl with…
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Grit and grind | My 1 month review of Memphis
This is the sixth in a series of seven articles about my 9 month trip through the Southern US. Thoughts about Memphis, TN after living there for a month: Wide Build Those familiar with computer strategy games will generally talk about two ways to build: wide or tall. And as…
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“Nash Vegas” | My 1 month review of Nashville
This is the seventh and last in a series of seven articles about my 9 month trip through the Southern US. Thoughts about Nashville after a month of living there. “New” Nashville Of all the cities I have visited on my trip through the South, I’m convinced that no city…
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