I was asked to write what I love about the Pacific Northwest. I thought this would be incredibly easy. But how does one condense an immense collection of emotions and memories of a region that changed your entire life?
In October of 2016 I moved to Washington and had zero expectations. I knew Seattle was obsessed with coffee. Portland had great donuts and zero sales tax, and Northern California had tall trees. I had no idea what was in store for me here. So here’s a love letter for the PNW.
Dear Pacific Northwest,
With fresh, midwestern eyes, I drove up the 101 highway into Oregon. My neck was sore from craning and gazing at the redwood trees that towered over my small car packed with my entire life. My mind was stuck trying to process all the shades of green that were new to my brain as I made it to some of the classic Oregon waterfalls. I grinned as I passed the ‘Welcome to Washington’ sign which was accompanied by the rugged coast and teasing mountain views.
A year later, I hop in my car to head south of Seattle to go to work. The latest news on the radio suddenly dissipates from my consciousness as views of Mount Rainier command attention. I physically flinch from the sudden presence of this stunning volcano. I wonder if this reaction will ever fade. It didn’t.
My contract to work in Washington was 3 months. Three months passed, and then a year. Three years went by and I was still here.
Was it the lush forests, sharp mountains, or the rugged coast that kept me there? Weekend after weekend was spent exploring new mountains, new horizons. I needed every sunset, every sunrise. It became intoxicating.
It is hard to put into words the feeling you get as you push through those last few steps to a summit. Your lungs and every muscle in your body are screaming, and you feel alive. The Pacific Northwest challenged me physically and mentally. I began to trust my feet, respect my body and appreciate what it was capable of as the tally of hikes increased over the years. My idea of what I could do changed.
I was addicted to the joy I felt as I pulled my backpack from the car, walking away from the world for a weekend in the mountains. What a privilege it is to do so. When I looked out over the expanse of the world in front of me, it made me reflect on my priorities, my coexistence with the natural world around me. I want everyone to feel this.
I will forever be grateful for the lessons learned here. The outside world has a way of pulling you outside of yourself and refocusing your attention. I will never stop appreciating the opportunities I was given to experience the world this way and will continue to fight so that everyone can.
Check out some of my other posts on the PNW