Northern Exposure I

Northern Exposure I

10 Aug 2010 | 15:15 Author: Francesca Soler

Today, two weeks later, I am sitting here in the Pacific Northwest with three official addresses.

On Monday, I finished setting up my personal work/crashspace in Seattle, and I also got my new family home finalized.  As if these were not enough homes, since I will be making trips back and forth to Las Vegas on a somewhat frequent basis over the next couple of months, I decided to keep my place in Rexville for awhile longer.

This means that I am unofficially a resident of three cities at the moment.  I'm a SeatOlympiVegan if you will.  It's kind of a weird hybrid, but it will have to do for now.

Now, even though my choice for a workspace in Seattle was somewhat easy, my choice for an actual home was quite difficult.

Personally, I have always loved both Seattle and Portland. 

When I lived in NYC, I was able to climb to the top of my Brooklyn rowhouse and enjoy a sweeping panorama of Manhattan.  It was one of my favorite places to just sit and contemplate life.  Even though I was used to such urban sights, the first time I saw Seattle's skyline, I was rendered speechless.  It was breathtaking.  The Puget Sound, glaciers in the distance, low clouds hanging over the city ... in my opinion, there is no place on Earth more visually compelling than Seattle.  If you don't find it beautiful then I submit that you have no soul.

Portland, on the other hand, has the best urban planning of any large city I have ever seen.  The mass transit system is a stroke of genius, bicycling is the norm, and city blocks are restricted to 200' in length which makes them easily walkable.  It's by far the most "livable" city on the planet.  I just can't say enough good things about how the town was designed.

Yet, even though I will be spending a large amount of time in both cities, I have decided to call a different city home, and that city is Olympia, Washington.

Why Olympia?

There is no one reason ... just a combination of several reasons.

Here are a few of them.

1)  Location  

It's between both Seattle and Portland.  The best of both worlds if you will.  Olympia is really the heart of the Pacific Northwest.  It's 60 minutes to Seattle, 90 minutes to Portland, and 45 minutes to Aberdeen.  I will be working with people somewhat frequently in Seattle and Portland, and I have a couple of people that I will be visiting in Aberdeen and Ocean Shores/Moclips every now and again.  Olympia is perfectly situated for this type of "whole Pacific Northwest" existence.

2)  Climate

Olympia is the cloudiest city, rainiest city in the USA (Abderdeen, Astoria, and Forks get more rain, but they are generally too small for statistical purposes).  Since it is not in a rain shadow, Olympia gets 40% more rain than both Portland and Seattle, and has more days of rain per year than anywhere else in the country.  The thing I have enjoyed most about the last couple of weeks is the cloudy/drizzly mornings.  When the sun comes out at about 1-2pm, I promptly go back inside.  I want nothing to do with the sun, and when it comes to sun ... no city gets less than Olympia.

3)  Education

Olympia has the highest-rated schools in the State of Washington, and Washington State has some of the best schools in the USA.  It's generally said that public schools in Olympia are equivalent to private schools in other cities.  I have kids, and this was a major consideration.

4)  Transportation Alternatives

Similar to Portland, Olympia is the anti-Vegas when it comes to transit.  The majority of people walk and bike around the city's Downtown, and people here do not generally borrow their self-esteem from auto manufacturers.  I've yet to see one, single, solitary car with dubs or spinner rims.  Olympia's bus system is a minor miracle considering the size of the town, and every route links to the transit terminal where one can transfer to express buses running frequently to Downtown Seattle, SeaTac Airport, Aberdeen, and even the Pacific Shore.  Far from being a necessity, car ownership in this town is completely optional.

There is a city bus stop about 20' from the front door of my new house.  It's so close that I stood at the bus stop today and surfed the Internet on my MacBook ... while still connected to the router sitting in my living room.  I will keep my car for longer trips, but for day-to-day existence, it will stay parked.

Since I hate driving, this is a big deal for me.

Read Northern Exposure II

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