In Search Of…: The PNW?

I’ve made it to the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver, Washington more specifically.

I left Boise on Friday and headed for Seattle. And once I got through all the smoke (?) in Oregon, Washington proved to be the most beautiful state I’ve ever been to. There was some sort of mountain range, lush forest or hop farm every step of the way. The farms almost reminded me of pictures I’ve seen of the Italian hillsides where they grow grapes for wine.

After making my way through the state, I came upon my first stop: Snoqualmie Falls in Snoqualmie, WA. After a fitful sleep, I woke up Saturday morning ready to check out the falls, the first waterfall I’ve seen in person to my recollection.

Snoqualmie is a small town about 45 minutes outside Seattle, and it’s gorgeous. One of my favorite stops on the trip so far. The falls were easily accessible and covered in fog. But it didn’t hurt the aesthetic at all.

Washington Falls

After the falls, I had plans of visiting the Washington Park Arboretum, the Olympic Sculpture Park and the Space Needle. I didn’t get as far as I had intended.

The Arboretum was beautiful, but the experience was marred by the people of the city. I’ve tried to make a concerted effort to keep my head up, headphones out, and engage in some way with as many people as possible. In Boise, it was the easiest thing in the world. Everyone seemed to be friendly and at least nod their heads at you as you walked past. Not in Seattle.

I found the active avoidance in human contact unnerving actually. Even in Chicago, people were plenty polite. And I should acknowledge, not everyone was so isolating. There were a few people that I had small moments with, but in Boise, I literally got into full-blown conversations with random people. Even in Snoqualmie, there was a bit of interaction. I might be overvaluing these moments, but it was enough to sour me on Seattle.

I tried my best to shake off the isolating feeling by heading down to the sculpture park, but by the time I got there, I was in a full-blown bad mood. The experience in the park, combined with getting into another hectic, construction-laden downtown setting was enough to run me off.

I got out of the city as fast as possible and haven’t thought twice. I know the whole point of the trip was to experience as many places as possible, do things I’ve never done, and generally just enjoy. But that’s the thing. My gut usually will clue me in pretty early if I let it. But it was also about potentially moving, and if I’m not going to enjoy a city in the short term, I definitely won’t enjoy it long term.

I’m starting to feel that sense of isolation and loneliness though. It could just be because of this experience (I am feeling better in Vancouver), or it could be because of my time on the road. I’ll see how the next few days go, but there are a lot of potential factors to this mental hurdle.

The big cities seem to be my undoing, though. They seem so cramped and chaotic. And I may not know exactly what I’m looking for, or what I’ll find. But I know I want freedom and open spaces. The big cities typically don’t provide either. As noted before, it’s so cramped, and because the cost of living is generally higher, you’re working just to pay the bills. It’s no way to live. Not for me anyway.

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