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  1. #1

    Default San Fran to BC & back - To vacation and find a place to live

    I am moving to the SF Bay Area this fall for a 2-yr stint at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. I grew up in Oklahoma, have lived in San Diego for 10 years, and am searching for the place where I want to settle down. I would love to get away from the horrible So Cal traffic and find a wonderful quality of life. I'd love to live on the water (any kind) and have snowboarding/hiking/water to play in all around me. I can't do a really small town, but am not sure I want a huge one either (remember the traffic comment). I'm very interested in the northwest (my parents live in Seattle now), and am already considering Portland, Seattle (and surrounding area), Bellingham, and maybe somewhere in BC. My fiancee, dog, and I have 5 weeks in July/August to explore, and we'd love some feedback/help on places, routes, and sights to consider!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Only took us 6.5 years!

    Quote Originally Posted by mbishop22
    I am moving to the SF Bay Area this fall for a 2-yr stint at Stanford's Graduate School of Business
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! My wife/partner and I hit the road in 1994 with a similar goal in mind. It took us about 6.5 years of living and working on the road, to choose Las Vegas (and even then the source of the inspiration came from a fictional character, Megan was creating).
    I grew up in Oklahoma, have lived in San Diego for 10 years, and am searching for the place where I want to settle down. I would love to get away from the horrible So Cal traffic and find a wonderful quality of life.
    I agree that driving in So Cal is a bit troubling at times -- these quest types of roadtrips often bring results in unexpected ways. Not surprisingly, such trips are a common subject of discussion here. You might get some ideas from this recent thread by another Los Angeleno looking for a new place to call home.

    Happy Hunting!


  3. Default

    A couple of random comments, if I may?

    Seattle has worse traffic than LA. I spent 2+ years there recently, having moved from SoCal to Seattle, and moved back. It's not that the drivers are worse, or there are more cars/ lane on the roads, but the roads themselves. If you're commuting any distance in Seattle you'll realize that if the weather is good and if there aren't any accidents, and you can time things around the ebb & flow of traffic for the morning/ evening commute (like any other big city) things go well. But if things get screwy a bit (rain, snow, an accident) the freeways mess up. And if you're going around the lake in the middle of the city, there may be VERY limited options to take an alternative route. My commute in Seattle varied from 30 minutes each way (light traffic) to over 2 hours with no identifable reason at times. Culturally, it also was a very insular town, where you had to be there 20 years to avoid being known as "the new people". And if you're moving from California, be careful. There was an active anti-California hate culture there that was particularly virulent in the late 90's but has toned down quite a bit over the last few years. As a person who's family has roots in both Washington and California, it was quite distressing to witness. Here's a reference on that:

    I've been told Portland is similar regarding traffic , particularly if you have to cross one of the big bridges. But I have no personal experience.

    For good places to live, you might want to look at:
    - Bellingham. I echo Judy's comments here -- my family's from the Bellingham/ Linden area. Very nice area, if you can find a job there. I'd also add Blaine, Linden and Ferndale as nice communities.
    - Sequim/ Port Angeles. This is in the rain shadow from the Olympics, and gets substantially less rain than Seattle. Also very nice.
    - Beaverton area near Portland.
    - Eugene, OR
    Last edited by W. Larrison; 05-10-2006 at 12:53 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default My two bits!

    Sorry for the late response to this thread. I didn't have time to respond when I first read it and wanted to give it some thought.

    I agree with Larrison that Seattle traffic is horrid. I live about 120 miles from Seattle and used to go up there often for the day. It was a beautiful, little city worth visiting. Nowadays, it's gotta be something really good like attending a traveling Broadway play or tickets to a Mariner game when they're playing someone like the Yankees or anybody in the American League West. (OK, the Red Sox and the White Sox, too. LOL) Seattle is still a beautiful city but the sprawl you have to go through to get there is really yucky. Unfortunately, the same can be said going south all the way to Olympia or north to Everett. One big parking lot. Personally, I would avoid living anywhere along this congested part of the I-5 corridor with a few exceptions. There are some nice, small town areas off the I-5 corridor that would be lovely to live in as long as your commute into whatever job you get keeps you from having to travel much on I-5 itself.

    * Yelm is a nice, little town with amazing views of Mt. Rainier. You can get into Lacey (a suburb of Olympia) or the eastern/southern parts of the Tacoma metro area easily from this little town.
    * There are beautiful places to live near Olympia like Tenino in the mountainous foothills and Shelton on Puget Sound that wouldn't be a bad drive into Olympia as long as you worked on the side of Olympia nearest those towns.
    * Monroe area is a beautiful, fairly small but growing town on the foothills of the Cascades and isn't a bad drive to some more metro areas. Again, the key is working at the nearest metro point to the town you live in.
    * The outskirts of Issaquah towards North Bend is still fairly rural and, if you worked in Issaquah or Bellevue, it wouldn't be too horrid of a drive.

    There are many other places worth checking out that might work for you without horrendous drives through bad traffic. I know quite a few people who live on Vashon Island and Bainbridge Island and take the ferry, then busses, to work. This is a beautiful ride and would be fairly relaxing crossing those waters on the way home as you make your transition from work. And no driving! If you've seen the movie "Disclosure", you'll have a good idea of how this works.

    I am, however, chuckling a bit at Larrison's comment about Seattle being an insular city. Really? I don't mean to discount his experience and I could be really wrong but I find that a bit hard to believe. The population in the Greater Seattle Metro area has grown exponentially the last couple of decades. I'd wager that more people are transplants than local these days. And, since it's such a big city, it's not like everybody knows everybody anyway. Yes, there was a movement back in the 90's that was definitely anti-Californian as folks were moving there to add to traffic congestion and this added to rising housing prices, etc. But I haven't heard anything about it for some years now since the perpetrator of it, a folksy Seattle newspaper columnist whose name escapes me right now, died.

    I really think you're more likely to feel like an outsider for awhile in small towns instead of cities like Seattle. I know that in my town, you're not considered a local until you've lived here for about 20-30 years. LOL However, it's not like people are going to be rude to you and treat you like pond-scum because of it. I find Washingtonians to be generally pretty laidback and accepting people and I'm not just saying that because I'm one of them. Our little rural community has growing populations of Korean, Phillipino, and Mexican immigrants, along with a few from former Soviet Bloc countries like Yugoslavia, etc. I have heard very little within our community negative against this but, of course, there's always a few jerks, unfortunately. In fact, several groups have sprung up with the specific goal of providing support in terms of social networking, easily accessible ESL classes, etc. for these groups to make them feel more comfortable in our little, rural, slightly redneck communities. It wasn't too far back in our past where our area was teeming with new immigrants that used to have little communities of their own within our greater community before becoming more integrated. When I was a kid we had Finntown, Croataville, Scandihoovian, etc. where these immigrants congregated, had businesses that catered to recent immigrants (particularly butcher shops and bakeries), etc. Those have gone by the wayside as folks have moved around and no longer cluster together. Most of us are descended from these fairly recent immigrants so we are welcoming and understanding to this new wave of immigrants. Our town isn't unique in this.

    So, surely, a transplanted American isn't going to have much problem if folks with cultural, language, and ethnic differences are greeted with open arms. 'nuff said on that.

    I don't think Portland's traffic is near as bad as Seattle's yet. And they do have a better public transportation system as well. I have several friends who live in Vancouver, WA, and work in Portland and they don't complain about traffic problems.

    Vancouver, WA, is a lovely, growing, small city that might be worth checking out as well.

    And I do agree with Larrison's recommendations for the Bellingham area, Sequim/Port Angeles, Beaverton, and Eugene. I would add to that Bremerton, Port Townsend, and Mount Vernon in Washington, and Salem, Bend, and Roseburg in Oregon.

    Hope this helps a bit. Happy home hunting!

  5. #5

    Default Thanks everyone!! Now...need a time frame!

    First of all, than you so much for your feedback. I really appreciate the advice/thoughts.

    Now that I have some good ideas of places to check out as possible relocation spots, I want to get an idea of TIME FRAME for the trip (vacation + feeling out some cities). We've got 5 weeks to do it and we'll be camping most of the time, so if you know of great places to camp along the way, please tell me. I have scoured this board for routes, and below is what I've come up with. Note: I could easily switch this and go the other way around. Also, feel free to chime in with stuff I missed (or shouldn't have on there in the first place). :)

    Shasta, CA
    Portland/Beaverton/Vancouver (at least 2 nights)
    Seattle (parents are here, want to stay at least 3 nights)
    Bellingham (at least 2 nights)
    Side trip from Bellingham:Highway 542 Northeasterly loop back to Bell.
    Birch Bay
    Makah Indian Reservation
    Lake Crescent
    Sol Duc Falls/Hot Springs
    Hurricane Ridge in Port Angeles
    Dungeness Spit NWR in the Seqium area
    Port Townsend area
    Poulsbo Port Gamble
    Seattle (again, stay a few nights)
    Hall/Trail of Mosses (just south of Forks, WA)
    Ruby Beach
    Kalaloch area
    Lake Quinault area
    Aberdeen. Lady Washington
    Raymond/South Bend
    Long Beach Peninsula - little towns of Oysterville, Ocean Park
    Ilwaco - Lewis & Clark museum
    Seaside/Astoria - Cross over the 5 mile bridge
    Fort Clatsop
    Depoe Bay
    Crater Lake
    Cannon Beach
    Tillamook (+Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge)
    Lincoln City
    Depoe Bay
    Devil's Punch Bowl State Park
    Sea Lion Caves
    Gold Beach
    Dunes Recreation Area
    Gold River
    Crescent City
    Bodega Bay

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Great itinerary!!

    I just posted to someone else a list of great places to camp from Puget Sound down to about Eureka, CA, along the coast. Sorry, but it's late and I'm almost off to bed. I can't bring myself to do a search. But if you click on my name and look on the page it takes you to for the link to my posts, it will be a fairly recent one. I think I just wrote it earlier this week. It should give you lots of good ideas.

    Your trip is going to be great. Fantastic itinerary!! One thing is missing though: Mt. St. Helens!!! Do it! You won't regret it. The quickest way into the park is to the take road to the Dave Johnson Visitor Center at Castle Rock, WA (about 1/2 way to Yelm from the Vancouver, WA, area). It's about an hour drive to the visitor center and a peak right into the crater. The devestation is slowly being mended by Mother Nature but it's still an awesome sight to behold.

    I live in a town right next door to Aberdeen. If you'd like to meet up, let me know and we can exchange contact information.

    BTW, the Lady Washington is very cool. She's not always in port though. When do you think you'll be coming to Aberdeen to see her? Here's The Lady's website. I notice the link to the calendar/schedule is broken. There is contact information there. You might contact them if the calendar isn't fixed to find out if she's in port when you're here.

    Have a good one and I hope you find a new home that meets your needs.


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