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Into the West

A three-month internship
turns into an 18-month adventure.

Northwest-BoundOn the Road
Life Among the EvergreensComing Home

Northwest-Bound

Chris (thatís my husband) and I moved from Florida to Seattle right after we finished college. I was looking for a newspaper internship, and The Seattle Times said yes. We made the decision to go, not really knowing how long weíd be there.

We got rid of most of our stuff, packed the rest in a pickup truck, said goodbye to our families and headed down the interstate to see what we could find.

On the Road

We took three weeks to make the trip, figuring it's not every day you get to see so much of the country.

Some highlights of the trip, which followed a meandering route west to California, finally cutting north from L.A.:

Angie in Las Vegas

  • The Tabasco factory in Avery Island, La.
  • The Blue Bell Ice Cream factory in Brenham, Texas.
  • The Alamo, up close and personal in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Hitting "scan" on the radio in west Texas, only to watch both the AM and FM dials go around and around several times without stopping.
  • Eating a boxed lunch at the picnic tables in the bottom of Carlsbad Caverns, N.M.
  • The coldest night of my life, spent shuddering in a tent at a Grand Canyon campsite. Did you know the area is 6,000 feet above sea level? Neither did I. It was 25 degrees in May, and every hotel for miles was full.
  • The very next night, spent in luxury at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. The perfect antidote.
  • Taking a winding Pacific Coast Highway route up the California coast with a fully loaded truck.
  • Driving down Lombard Street in San Francisco with a fully loaded truck.
  • Taking the Avenue of the Gods instead of the interstate through the redwood trees.
Freezing in the Grand Canyon
Me, already freezing well before nightfall at the Grand Canyon.

Life Among the Evergreens

The Pacific Northwest is verdant, lush and exotic to this Florida girl. But as my summer internship lengthened into an 18-month commitment, Puget Sound began to lose part of its charm.

Why we loved Seattle:

  • Green, green, green! There were plants and green things growing everywhere. Even the moss seemed more vibrant out there. They donít call it the Emerald City for nothing.
  • Water all around. Lakes, bays, Puget Sound. It was hard to go anywhere without crossing a bridge.
  • Ferries! When we first got there, we took them just for fun.
  • No A/C. You donít need it. The hottest it got in our 18 months there, which included two summers, was 82 degrees.
  • International flavor. Seattle has thriving international districts and markets. Good food is plentiful there.
  • Fish throwing at the Pike Place Market downtown.
  • Clean air. Despite the big city, the air in Puget Sound always felt cleaner to us than it does in Florida.

Why we moved back to Florida anyway:

  • It got dark at 4 in the afternoon from October to March. Dark.
  • If it's not July or August, it's raining. Not big, beautiful thunderstorms like we have in Florida, but a constant, timid rain that reminded me of a drippy nose.
  • The sun never really made it all the way up in the sky like it does in the Sunshine State. I used to feel awful watching how eager our cat was for the 45-minute window every morning from 8:45 to 9:30 when our apartment got direct sun. Every 10 minutes, she'd move over a few inches to stay in the little sunspot on the rug. So sad.
  • I don't do ice. Forget it.
  • But we did have some good times there. We took as many side trips as we could around the state or to Canada and Oregon.

    In the Tulip FieldsOne of the best special events we went to was the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. A county north of Seattle grows some huge percentage of the world's tulips. Every April when the tulips are in bloom, you can visit all the different tulip farms in the valley. I had never seen a real tulip before, so it was a treat.

    Playing in the Snow

    Chris even got me to go up into the mountains to play in the snow. The place we stopped, called Snoqualmie Summit in the Cascades, had snow piled up twice as high as our truck on the sides of the roads.

    See my feet? They're on the road. See where the trees at the top of the picture become solid white? That's the snow. Yikes.


Coming Home

We took a different route home, cutting across the corner of Idaho and down through Utah. In eastern Oregon, near the Blue Mountains, I saw a small bison wandering through the snowdrifts not far from the road.

We hurried home, not stopping too much, but we did stop for the afternoon at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, the quietest place I have ever been.

The cat hated it. No surprise there. She gave herself a good scare by meowing loudly as soon as we let her out of the truck. It echoed off the rock walls. We were hoping a hawk or something might swoop down and make off with her, but no such luck. Besides, she's much happier now that she has all the sunshine she could ever want.


Skitters in Arches National Park
Skitters, out for a reluctant stroll in Arches National Park.


Copyright Angie Brammer 2002 all rights reserved
Last revised March 14, 2002
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