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  1. Default Sac to Seattle, August 2008

    Hi

    This August, I'm planning to take a 2 week trip from Sacramento to Seattle and back with my husband and our puppy (golden retriever, he'll be 7 months at that time). We've never been to the Pacific Northwest before and we've heard a lot of great things about it. My husband is a grad student and in a couple years he'll be graduating, so part of the reason for this trip is to find someplace that we might like to settle down and start a family. We're also interested in exploring national parks, doing some hiking and we're planning to camp most of the time.

    The things that we're looking for in an ideal place to live:
    - somewhere we can find work (hubby does computer security, I make art and do freelance web design)
    - small city or town
    - near mountains and water
    - good schools
    - low crime rates
    - good art community

    I've heard good things about both Seattle and Portland but neither of us like big cities. A smaller town nearby might be nice so that we could enjoy the art, music etc. of the city without having to actually live there.

    We don't really have a route planned out except that we'd like to drive along the coast one way and inland the other.

    Places that we'd like to check out include:

    Lassen (CA)
    Redwoods NP (CA)
    Ashland (OR)
    Crater Lake (OR)
    Umpqua River (OR)
    Newport (OR)
    Portland (OR)
    Seattle (WA)
    Olympic NP (WA)

    So my questions are:
    1. Do you have any recommendations on places to see and campgrounds to stay in?
    2. Do you know of any lovely places where we might like to settle down?
    3. What are some fun things that we can do while we have the puppy with us? (We like hiking, art, music and beer.)
    4. Should we go north on the coast or inland? (I can't think of a reason for one or the other.)
    5. This one's a bit of a long shot, but we were thinking that it might be nice to put the puppy in a doggie daycare for the day while we explore Portland and maybe do the same in Seattle. Can you recommend one in either city?

    Thanks so much!

    Jessi

    ps. Here's a question I posted last month about traveling with the puppy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default I'm excited for a new neighbor!

    I live in Washington and would really like to give you a lot of help with this search for the right town for your needs. Since your questions are a tad different than the norm, I need to put more thought into my response than I have time for now. I'll return with a better information in the next day or so.

    In the meantime, you might want to check out this post that has links to several discussions about traveling in the PNW that should have some helpful information. The discussions should answer at least some of your travel questions.

  3. Default

    Yay! I've read some of your posts and I was hoping you would help me out. I can't wait to read your suggestions.

    Thanks Judy!

    :o)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-07-2008 at 01:10 PM. Reason: navigation

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Well, here goes....

    ...I hope this helps a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessi View Post
    The things that we're looking for in an ideal place to live:
    - somewhere we can find work (hubby does computer security, I make art and do freelance web design)
    - small city or town
    - near mountains and water
    - good schools
    - low crime rates
    - good art community

    I've heard good things about both Seattle and Portland but neither of us like big cities. A smaller town nearby might be nice so that we could enjoy the art, music etc. of the city without having to actually live there
    If you want a place near both mountains and water, I would suggest anyplace along the eastern side of Puget Sound. This would mean all the communities from Olympia in the south to Bellingham/Blaine in the north.

    I really don't know anything about crime rates or quality of schools, sorry. You might have to do a web search on communities that appeal to you to get that kind of information. Also, if you visit these communities, talk to locals. I also couldn't guarantee anything about the job market for the skills you have. However, most of the communities along these areas are either growing or are close to growing areas where you can travel there with a commute for work but still live in a small town atmosphere.

    With all those caveats out of the way, I'll mention a few specific communities that I believe might be worth looking into. (Going south to north on a map)

    Olympia/Tumwater/Lacey: Olympia is the state capital so the area always seems to be booming for jobs. It's a charming small city that still retains a bit of a small-town feel to it. Arts: It seems like there is a lot of art-related activities (google Procession of the Species for just one example of artsy-type, fun events. I believe that happens on Art Walk Day.) There is a thriving farmer's market that also has artists that display their work. The Evergreen State College and St. Martin's College are two 4-year colleges that are highly regarded (Evergreen very liberal; St. Martin's not so much) that will probably offer more opportunities for the arts as well. Small towns you might want to live in that are just a short commute away are: Centralia/Chehalis and Oakville about 30 minutes south. Shelton about 30 minutes west, then north. McCleary iabout 30 minutes due west. And there are many other areas of housing closer to Olympia that aren't in incorporated towns. Steamboat Island is a pretty cool place and only about 15 minutes from Olympia, for example. Tenino Rainier, and Yelm would work as well (east of Olympia).

    Dupont: This is actually a planned community that was mostly built for a new production facility (probably a Dupont company but I really don't remember for sure, LOL). It's very attractive but I can't tell you much about it. I would sure check it out. You could easily commute to Olympia or north to Tacoma from here, if needed, for work.

    Tacoma/Seattle: Well, these are big cities. People do commute from smaller communities into them but the traffic is pretty horrid and seems to get worse each year. Obviously this is where the jobs are and where you're going to find most of the arts. But I don't think the cost of living and commute problems would be worth it. But, then again, I'm a small-town gal.

    But I still wouldn't rule it out if you can live fairly close to where you work. For example, I know someone who lives in Black Diamond and works in Maple Valley. These are smaller communities on the eastern edge of the Tacoma/Seattle sprawl so my friend still has a relatively trouble-free commute and still lives in an area with trees. Yet can zip into Seattle in less than an hour. So there are ways to make living near Seattle work well for what you're seeking. It's just trickier. Also, if you can live in one of Seattle's "neighborhoods" and work near home, it might work for you. For example, if you lived and worked in Fremont (a VERY artsy community). Commuting within a neighborhood isn't too bad. It's just going across the city where things get seriously congested.

    Communities on the edge of the Seattle/Tacoma complex that you might find intriguing are to the east: Enumclaw, Black Diamond, Maple Valley, Issaquah, North Bend, Sammamish, Duvall, Snohomish and Monroe. You will be very close to the mountains and skiing/hiking/mountain-biking in any of these. Not so close to good beaches though. Snohomish and Issaquah will probably have more art-related activities than the others. Snohomish has a very thriving antiques industry as well. People take tour busses there just to shop the antique stores.

    Again, the key to making any of these smaller communities outside of the main Seattle/Tacoma areas work is to not have to cross over the towns to work. So if you live in an eastern community, have your job on the eastern edge of Seattle or Bellevue, for example.

    Bainbridge Island: Bainbridge Island is only a 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle so it would make it easy to get to the mountains from there. The ferry ride is probably closer to an hour once you figure boarding/debarking. However, many people live in Winslow and ride the ferry to Seattle to work and don't take their cars over. This is a cool option! And would make the trip faster as you wouldn't have to board as early, etc. (If you saw the Demi Moore/Michael Douglas movie "Disclosure", that was where he lived and the ferry he took into work.) The town of Winslow is also where most of the famous pictures of Seattle's skyline are taken from with Mt. Rainier towering over the city's skyscrapers. So Winslow would have you right on the water, looking at a mountain regularly, and only about 2 hours from skiing at Snoqualmie Pass. A wonderful option, imho. It's a very thriving community. I know the principal of one of the schools and, from what she talks about, I have a feeling the schools are excellent. Thriving arts as well. I think this should be one of your first communities to check out. One of my favorite towns, Poulsbo, is only about 15 minutes west of Winslow and would also be worth checking out. And there are other ferry options to cross as well if you wanted to end up farther south or north than Seattle. And Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula are a very short drive west. I think this is almost the perfect area.

    Whidbey Island is another interesting option. The town of Langley is quite charming. However, ferry service isn't as quick and you would need to be working either on the island or in Everett as the commute to Seattle would be horrid from here.

    Everett: I really can't tell you much about this area. It's really grown a lot so the job market might be good. I have heard little about any kind of arts community there but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    Mt. Vernon/Burlington/Sedro Woolley & Anacortes: I don't see any of these communities as being particularly artsy either. But they are kind of a nice size, i.e. large towns/small cities so they probably offer a lot of options but still have a smaller town feel. Especially if you were to live a bit outside of town in the rural area surrounding these towns. There are tons of arms in this area. One of the major crops are tulips. Each spring they have a Tulip Festival and the fields are absolutely magnificent.

    Bellingham: Now, this is probably the perfect area for you. Small city, small-town feel. Right on the water with lots of beaches and boating. One hour from Mt. Baker's ski area. Tons of hiking trails, lakes, and virtually limitless recreational opportunities close by. Western Washington University is here. Many farms nearby. Thriving arts, I believe, from what I've seen. It's a very progressive community. You could live in nearby Blaine, Deming or Lynden.

    Personally, if I had to move away from the coast but wanted to stay in Washington state, Bellingham would be my first choice to move to. Winslow/Poulsbo would be my second.

    My third choice would probably be the Port Townsend/Sequim area. Lovely, lovely, lovely. And Sequim is in the "sun belt" area, i.e. the rain clouds let down their rain prior to crossing over the coast and the Olympic Mountains in the center of the Olympia Peninsula so they are dry once they hit Sequim. They don't pick up moisture again until they cross Puget Sound and do another dump, although a lesser dump, over the Olympia-Seattle-Bellingham stretch before going over the Cascades. So the weather in this area is very dry compared to most of the western part of Washington state.

    Port Townsend is amazing. If you're familiar with Eureka, it's much like that. Many restored Victorian-era buildings, thriving shops with very creative offerings (arts, antiques and more). It's right on the water.

    Sequim is a newer town. Well, an old town that is newly growing in population and wealth. It's mainly upper-middle-class retirees moving in so I'm not sure how much that senior population supports the schools though. Something to check into.

    Both of these towns are fairly near to Hurricane Ridge which is a small area with limited skiing in the Olympic Mountains. Most of the rest of the Olympics are inaccessible by car and require hiking into. So it's really hard to say these towns are "near mountains".

    --------

    More in another post.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    Default More thoughts on where to live

    Another area that would have you close to mountains and water is within the Columbia River Gorge area. There are beaches on the river. They even have waves....although not as big as you would have on the coast or the sound. Water sports are in abundance. This area is one of the premier wind-surfing areas. And Mt. Hood in Oregon is only about an hour drive from places like Hood River OR for skiing and hiking opportunities. These areas cater more to the tourist trade so there are a lot of art-related things in most of these towns. But I'm unsure how much you'll find in the water of computer-related work...especially at the level your husband sounds like he's seeking.

    But you could easily live somewhere near the river but still be near the cities for work. A short commute could take you into either Portland OR or Vancouver WA. Vancouver WA is the 4th largest city in Washington state and it is growing so that might be a great place to seek employment.

    This is a gorgeous area and the weather tends to be better here (drier, warmer, more sun) than it would be in most of the Puget Sound area.

    I can't really suggest too much else in Oregon as there aren't many places in Oregon that are near both the beaches and the mountains. The coast of Oregon is quite a way away from the Cascade Mountains. You could live in a number of communities in the area between both but you would have a good hour or more commute to get to either the beach or the mountains. So you wouldn't be particularly close to either.

    But if you're fine with that, you might want to focus on the Eugene area. Eugene is about 1.5 hours to Florence's beaches and about 1-2 hours from the mountains. About one hour for mountain activities like hiking. More like two hours for skiing and I'm unsure if that road is open all winter.

    There are many lovely coastal towns in Oregon that fit your desire for arts. But I doubt they'll meet your other criteria.

    Just realized I almost forgot to talk about Portland. Portland is a lovely city. It's easy to find suburbs to live in if you don't want to live in the city. Portland doesn't have quite the traffic congestion Seattle has. First, because it has more areas to spread out as it's not as hemmed in by water/mountains so it's easier to build wider freeways. Second, they've done a better job with mass transit like MAX. I don't know the city enough to give you specific suggestions of where you might want to live near it but I still think if you want to be near mountains and water, that you consider the eastern portion that is closer to the Columbia River Gorge area and Mt. Hood as I already mentioned above.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 05-07-2008 at 07:54 PM. Reason: Added about Portland

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    Default Now onto your vacation!

    Places that we'd like to check out include:

    Lassen (CA)
    Redwoods NP (CA)
    Ashland (OR)
    Crater Lake (OR)
    Umpqua River (OR)
    Newport (OR)
    Portland (OR)
    Seattle (WA)
    Olympic NP (WA)
    Lovely trip. It's not taking you into too many areas that fit where you might want to live. But it's a great vacation!

    It would be a shame to come from California to Washington without doing the Oregon Coast, the entire route of it, one way or the other. I suggest going up the coast one way and doing I-5/the interior the other direction.

    When doing the coast you can see the Redwoods, Newport, and many other fantasic things. When doing the I-5/interior route, you can see the rest of the places you've listed.

    If you come up I-5, I suggest taking that ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island/Winslow and then driving around the peninsula to the coast and continuing on the coast back to California. If you come up the coast, circle around the north part of the Olympic Peninsula to Winslow and take the ferry to Seattle. Whichever direction you travel on it, get outside and watch Seattle and The Mountain (Mt. Rainier). Beautiful.



    So my questions are:
    1. Do you have any recommendations on places to see and campgrounds to stay in?
    I think this has been covered in the discussions I pointed you to in my original response in this thread. Read through those and get some ideas and then come on back here if you have further questions.

    2. Do you know of any lovely places where we might like to settle down?
    Obviously answered in the two posts above.

    3. What are some fun things that we can do while we have the puppy with us? (We like hiking, art, music and beer.)
    Unfortunately, the dog is going to limit some of these activities. I can't think of any art galleries, music venues, or pubs that allow dogs (unless it's a service dog). You can take the dog anywhere on a leash for hiking except the national parks. In the national parks, dogs are usually only allowed in the parking lots, overlooks next to roads, etc. Not on trails. Even though leashes are required on beaches, too, most people don't do this. When I walk my dog on the beach, I take her off-leash unless it's very crowded. So you can probably get away with letting the dog run free as long as you're not on a busy beach.

    4. Should we go north on the coast or inland? (I can't think of a reason for one or the other.)
    Both. See above.

    5. This one's a bit of a long shot, but we were thinking that it might be nice to put the puppy in a doggie daycare for the day while we explore Portland and maybe do the same in Seattle. Can you recommend one in either city?
    I'm sorry, I can't. But I'm sure a websearch will yield many options.

    You might want to check out this post for some resources on traveling with a dog. You might find some recommendations at one of these that you like.

    Good luck on this. If you have any other questions, let us know.

  7. Default

    Judy, you are amazing! Thank you so much! I really, truly appreciate all the info and suggestions. Some of the places you recommended sound really lovely.

    Thank you!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
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    Default Glad it helped a bit!

    Please feel free to ask more questions about your trip planning and about the communities you visit. Especially if you get it down to a short list to explore further. I could probably elaborate on a few of those places and I know people that live in a few of those communities that I might be able to get some feedback from.

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