I figured this would be a good topic to follow up yesterday’s travel post with. Mainly because Washington State will always be my “home” and because now to go there, it requires travel 🙂 But I feel like home always has a big effect on people and so I think that Washington has shaped a lot about my outlook on life. Almost all of my family is from there and most still live there. My entire education was there. All of my memories growing up were there.
I do think that it took me leaving there to fully appreciate it though. As a kid visiting California and Arizona on vacation, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more than to leave Washington. After visiting in Chicago in 1995, all I thought about for going to college was that I was going to go to Chicago. I even applied to DePaul University with their Early Admission process cause that was where I wanted to be. Well when the time came to leave….I stayed. I went to the University of Washington. UW is a great school, but I think really I just wasn’t ready to leave home and move across the country. So I never truly left Washington until I was 25 when I went to Cincinnati and River Downs. But even through the years working in Cincinnati, I was still back in the Northwest in the wintertime. So right now is truly kind of the first time that I won’t be back in or near Washington for at least a good chunk of the year. Which kinda makes me sad.
One of my favorite things about Washington is how different it is in various spots. From the Ocean coast, to the cascade mountains, to the Seattle metro area, to the high desert, to the rolling hills in SE Washington, to all the other areas. It’s truly geographically diverse and if you took a week and just drove around the state, you’d have vastly different experiences each day. If you’ve never been to Washington and you had a week to visit, I’d spend a day at the following spots:
- Olympic National Park/Sequim/Crescent Lake/Hurricane Ridge
- San Juan Islands (Lopez Island is my fave)
- Mount Rainier/Mt. St. Helens
- Lake Chelan
- Yakima valley/Walla Walla
I could honestly list another ten places that are must visits, but that will get you started. It’s a wonderful state and I’m so proud to be from there. I’m going back in September for a few weeks and I cannot wait.
The last few years it seems like Seattle has gotten a lot of shit on the news and nationally. Protests, CHAZ (Remember CHAZ/CHOP!), Eric Johnson’s videos about the drug and homeless problems, etc. Is Seattle different than it used to be? Yeah, what city doesn’t go through changes. Is it worse than it used to be? In some ways sure, in others, no. Every time I go back it feels the same as it always does. I feel just as safe there as I do any major city. But really these are questions for people who live in the city, I always lived in the burbs or out in the sticks.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten very romantic about Washington. It’s certainly nostalgia but it’s also just a very great place. I have pictures in my mind of certain parts of the state that pass through my thoughts all the time. Thinking of home just gives me a warm feeling no matter where I’m at. Even if I’m loving where I’m at like Tampa, I’ll still think happily about Washington. This past winter when we had a couple gray days in Tampa, everyone was complaining. To me it felt like home and it was remarkably comforting. The weather up there has never really bugged me and cozying up on a gray Washington day is my idea of fun.
I don’t know when I’ll get to live in Washington again. If I keep my same career for the next twenty years, I likely won’t get back there until my retirement. My retirement goal is to have a small place near or in Sequim up on the Olympic Peninsula. I like to imagine taking walks near the water, playing golf at Sunland Golf Course, and getting cheap buffets and playing simulcast at the Seven Cedars Casino. Sounds like a good retirement to me.