Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Job, New House, and a Very, Very Dangerous Commute

This is what it looks like when you are getting on the West Seattle Bridge.  It's hard to see, but that's the skyline off in the distance.  When  you get a little further down the road, you have a nice view of the Sound and the mountains.  

It's about a 7 mile commute from West Seattle to downtown, but it can take a long time because of traffic congestion.  Also, according to some guy at work, driving from West Seattle to downtown is really, really dangerous.  To be fair, however, when things are screwed up traffic-wise in Seattle, they are a smidge worse because you already have the Puget Sound and a couple of big lakes to contend with.  And hey, look, my first day of work I took the bus.  The bus got into an accident on the West Seattle Bridge (some guy hit the bus - yeah, he HIT the BUS), and this morning there were two accidents:  one was with a motorcyclist in critical condition (having a way worse day than any of us sitting in gridlock) and a separate incident involving a woman who went into labor (seriously).  

Overall, though, driving isn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  The hills are scary and I still want nothing to do with them, but I've been able to navigate around them for the most part.  Otherwise, the drivers on the road are courteous, even if it is to a fault.

But enough about the commute. 

This is the view from my office downtown.  It poured down rain yesterday so the picture isn't fabulous, but you get the idea.  For all of my MDK folks, the walls go all the way to the ceiling and I can shut the door.  I forgot about walls and how nice they can be!!  The job is going well, I think, but it's crazy busy.  I have been given supervising responsibility over a couple of attorneys and also a caseload.  Somewhere between figuring out the phone system, navigating the parking garage (which is absurdly laid out) and finding the bathroom, I need to learn Washington's state and local rules and the law.  Whew.  I've been mentally exhausted these last two days.  I think I'm supposed to help these attorneys find their way as well.  At the very least it should be interesting.  What is it I always say?  On a new job it takes 6 weeks to get acclimated and 6 months to own it.  Okay.  Let the countdown begin.

Probably the oddest thing that happened so far this week is that I couldn't get out of the garage tonight.  I don't have a key card yet, and I was leaving after it closed, so I had to call security to let me out.  The guy from security took one look at my car and said, "You're from Ohio?"  As it turns out, he's not only from C-bus, he's from Galloway.  That's spittin' distance from our house!  He gave me a hearty "Go Bucks!" when he let me out of the garage.  What are the odds??

This picture is the kitchen in our new house.  Yep, I found us a place out here in West Seattle (where the commuting is very, very dangerous).  It's a townhouse and we can see the Sound from the balcony.  I'll have more pictures of that later.  I probably can't really move in until Shawn and Lorelei get here, but I take possession on Thursday.  It can literally be never-ending looking for a place to live in West Seattle because all of the houses are different and the rental market is wide open.  I looked at other townhouses, but they were too narrow.  I looked at free-standing houses, but most of those were really dated.  I don't mind a fixer-upper, but I'd prefer not to rent one.  This place should do just fine.  

I'm afraid Shawn is going to get here and say, "what were you thinking??"  I basically decided this was the right place because of the kitchen.  It has plenty of cabinet space, a dishwasher, and most importantly, a gas range.  I might be a little obsessed with the kitchen.

Now I just need to finalize the paperwork on the townhouse and wait for Shawn and Lorelei.  We'll give West Seattle a whirl and see what happens.  As for that dangerous commute, well, I guess I need a challenge.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Phase 2: Finding our Place in the New World

The last few days since arriving in Seattle have been a flurry of activity: showing Debbie the sights and what drew me to this place, helping her enjoy her vacation and mine, and starting the all-encompassing search for a place to live.  I'll say, it's pretty overwhelming and might make me feel a little small like that Wyoming prairie dog (who became, incidentally, Debbie's buddy in the Wyoming desert).  I was, however, able to show Debbie some of the Seattle highlights and we met a few interesting folks along the way.  Seattle never wants for interesting people; that's for sure.

It helps that the weather was beautiful today, and is supposed to be tomorrow.  I think fall will really hit here next week and then we go into the seriously rainy months.  Hopefully I can sort out the living arrangements before we get too far into fall.  The sooner I line that up, the sooner Shawn and Lorelei can be here.  Interestingly, Seattle has a wide open renter's market.  There are tons of places to choose from and they are constantly coming on the market, going off, etc.  I've looked at several already and have a couple more on Sunday.  Fingers crossed one of them works out....  In the meantime, it looks like I'll get to watch the Buckeyes tomorrow (it's being televised out here on one of the ESPNs, I believe), and I'll continue my preparations for my first day at work.

Having never done a move like this before, I don't have much of a frame of reference.  I find the experience somewhat disorienting.  I miss Shawn and Lorelei and feel incomplete without them.  On the other hand, it might be a little easier for them if I've already gone through my shell-shock phase before they get out here and go through theirs. Even though it's disorienting and leaves me vulnerable, however, I really feel like this is right.  I love this city and as I get comfortable in my own skin again, it's going to be wonderful exploring it.  Ed and Amy are helping keep me grounded, which is the most valuable resource a girl could have in this situation.

Hopefully by the next update I'll have news and more pictures to share!  I believe they may reflect a wetter version of Seattle, though.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Destination Seattle!

Day 4's travels were, again, amazing.  The part of Idaho that we drove through, however, was sort of nothing special by comparison to Utah, Oregon and Washington.  In a way, that's good.  We needed a break from the fabulous landscape in order to not lose appreciation for it.  Ed and Amy said a friend of theirs came up with a term for it:  scenery fatigue.  In fact, all of my pictures from Day 4 are from Oregon because by the time we hit Washington, my reaction was more like, "oh look, more fabulous beauty, more of the same."  I don't want to understate how incredible Day 4 was, though.  Oregon is stunning in its landscape, and the idea that we were on the Oregon Trail was pretty enticing.  I cannot believe people traveled out here by horse.  The picture above is taken from the Blue Mountain summit in Oregon.  I'll have more pictures of the view below, but above the lookout there was a little shack with some horses hanging out on the hill.  Pretty serene.

These pictures are the view from the summit.  We had been traveling through the mountains for several states running and then to have this view of the plains was striking.  Oregon has a little bit of everything - mountains, fabulous coasts, plains, farms/vineyards.  It is truly some of the most beautiful country I've seen.

These pictures are from a rest stop in Oregon.  It really felt like we were on the Oregon Trail and it was easy to imagine the first settlers coming out this way because it remains undeveloped and unspoiled.  That has been one of the most memorable parts of the drive out here:  after Iowa, there is very little and all you see are wide open stretches of land, animals and sky.  

Once we got into Washington we started to see a lot more in the way of civilization and vineyards, and the scenery was, of course, amazing.  The eastern part of Washington has desert and farmland, and couldn't be more different from the western part.  Upon Amy's suggestion we got off 82 at Yakima and drove up SR 821 (which runs parallel to 82) and drove through the Yakima canyon.  It was treacherous driving, as I was so enthralled with the scenery I kept having near misses on the S curves winding through.  The road ran right next to what I believe was the Yakima River.  The water was crystal blue and we could see the rapids from the car as well.

Before getting to Seattle we had to cross the Cascades via the Snoqualmie Pass and the Wenachee National Forest.  It was here that I started to see all the green and smell the trees and plant life, which is what I associate with Seattle.  It's all very lush and green and fragrant.  Crossing Snoqualmie was a beautiful way to arrive.

Of course, we arrived during rush hour, so the last hour of our drive was navigating Seattle's gridlock.  I suppose that was good experience for me, given my job starting on Monday.  

I'm so glad to be here and I'm certain this was a great move for us.  I now focus on looking for a place to live so Shawn and Lorelei can get out here.  I'm ready to move on to phase 2:  Family reunited and getting settled.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Boise, ID: Getting Close

We started the day in Laramie and drove into this fabulous blue sky with cattle ranches on either side of us (and me still wrestling with a craving for steak with every meal).  It was landscape like I'd never seen.  We had seen in Nebraska the signs saying, "When lights flashing, exit immediately, road closed" and we had no idea what that was about.  Apparently, the snow gets so bad in Nebraska and Wyoming (and Utah and Idaho, now that I think about it) that they just have to shut down the whole interstate.  Wow.  They also have intense wind rolling through there.  The weather forecast for today was for only 25-30 mile/hr winds.  Small potatoes for Wyoming - they have railroad-tie fences stacked up facing southwest to cut the wind for their farms.  

Wyoming is some of the most amazing country I have ever seen.  My feet itched for my boots the entire time, and I remembered every horse I'd ever ridden.  For the first time in my life, I didn't like loving the city.  Wyoming is where the deer and the antelope play - Debbie and I saw it.  I imagine it's normal for people like me to want to stay in Wyoming and work on a ranch.  I sure got the bug.  I didn't want Wyoming to end.  

And then we crossed into Utah.  Utah is the most amazing landscape so far.  This is Utah:
And this:
These pictures are taken from the car and a rest stop, respectively.  Utah is so beautiful that even its rest stops are majestic.  There are amazing mountains on either side of the interstate; it's hard to keep eyes on the road.  I had to remind myself to breathe in Utah.

What is probably one of most striking things in Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho are these great stretches of nothing.  I mean, seriously, nothing.  There will be an exit from the interstate and it tells you right off that this is to some non-descript ranch, and no, you can't get a diet coke or gas at this exit.  You must wait until the exit 40 miles down the road.  It's sort of alarming and beautiful at the same time.  I admit, I've considered scrapping it all and staying in this part of the world.

Boise is nice.  It's pretty civilized compared to where we've been.  I caught my first Portland beer here, so I know Seattle is close.  I'll be sad, though, to end this trek, as I've loved this experience.  I love the American West.  And the Plains, and the Prairie, and the Midwest.  We have good thing going here in this country of ours.

Tomorrow:  Seattle!

Laramie, Wyoming

[I have to post 2 blogs tonight because the Hampton Inn had internet troubles last night.  I'll catch up today.]

We started in the rain in Des Moines, which was bad because we could tell through the fog and the rain that western Iowa was gorgeous rolling hills of farmland.  Through the gray I saw fantastic colors in the land; fall colors were starting.  Yellows and greens.  Nice.  Once the skies opened up, however, this is how it looked:
Look at that blue!!  Nebraska from start to finish was wonderful.  Well, with one notable exception:  Debbie burst into tears when we passed Friend, NE.  I think she thinks she's losing me to the west coast, but it's okay.  It's the technological age.  We'll be fine.

Nebraska was amazing.  It was cattle ranches and big sky and the occasional reminder that you are on the prairie.  Everything felt big and beautiful in Nebraska:  big cattle ranches, big haystacks, big fences, big cows, big big big sky.  It was green and yellow and blue and gorgeous.  The people we met in Nebraska, including Debbie's favorite barkeep, were so nice and accommodating to us.  It was truly America's heartland.

Nebraska was where I really found myself craving red meat.  Huh.  I wonder why.  

And then the rug was ripped out from under us.  We crossed into Wyoming and the landscape changed dramatically.  It was America's heartland one minute and the Wild, Wild West the next.  Hell, we crossed in and stopped in Cheyenne for gas and it was so windy that my written directions blew away in a second from inside the car door.  Shawn told me that I would feel like I should trade in my car for a horse in Wyoming, and he couldn't have been more right.  Wyoming's motto on the welcome sign is Forever West.  Hell yeah.

We stayed in Laramie.  It was lovely, right down the road from the University of Wyoming.    I worried about staying in Laramie because I wondered if it would feel sad because of Matthew Shepard.  As it turns out, this town has become a very accommodating and accepting town...maybe occasionally something good comes out of something terrible.

Next stop: Boise. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

First Stop: Des Moines, Iowa

We made it to Des Moines, Iowa!  This was a complete football day.  We ran into Notre Dame traffic heading into South Bend in the morning and we ran into the Hawkeye fans post-game going around Iowa City.  Of course, with Debbie and I in our OSU gear for game day, we caught lots of heckling from the Iowans, but they ended up being pretty friendly.  Chatted up Tressel, Pryor, and the future of the Bucks with some Hawkeyes at a rest stop, and their parting words to us were, "Beat Nebraska!  We hate those assholes!"  These people in Iowa are very serious about their football.  I liked them instantly.

The drive has been good, but maybe a little on the boring side.  We've had about 700 miles of rolling farmland with more to come tomorrow.  We had some excitement in Indiana when my engine light came on (really??!?), but it's probably just the bad gas at the rapist gas station on the turnpike ($3.99/gal).  We'll go with that.

With this drive being nearly identical state-by-state, Iowa feels like the edge of the universe.  It feels as if tomorrow things will start to look different and we'll cross over into  another world.  I guess we'll see.  As they said on one of my favorite shows, you never know where the day will take you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

As I leave

Today I leave my beloved Columbus to begin the trek across the country to Seattle.  It's time to say goodbye or maybe, until we meet again.  As I leave Ohio, I will take with me the gorgeous covered bridges, the bonfires and the backyard fires, especially this time of year.  I take with me the music of the crickets and the cicadas, and the stunning colors of Ohio farmland.  I still believe in the mysticism of Mount Pleasant and Devil’s Kitchen, and I honor those who carved their legacy into that rock.  I have loved Columbus.  I’m a Buckeye, through and through, cowtown or not.  I learned love, loss and literature (and alliteration) at OSU.  My family is here, which makes it especially hard to leave.  

I know, however, that it's the right time and Seattle is the right place.  Today, the adventure begins.  Godspeed.