Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Astoria, Oregon

The same day my family and I went to visit Cannon Beach, my wife and I decided to head back to Vancouver (actually Portland - more on that later) via Astoria.  Fortunately my parents watched the boys so we could make this extra excursion.  

Astoria, Oregon, is at the mouth of the Columbia River, on a tiny peninsula.  This extremely long bridge connects it to Washington state, across the river.

Seen while driving into town.
A view of Astoria, not far up a hill from the river.

Our destination: Fort George Brewery.

A view further up the hill.

Astoria was the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific coast.

Of course, there was a fort there.
Reconstructed (?) fort juxtaposed with more modern Astoria buildings.
The Columbia River, with Washington state across.
View of Columbia from Fort George Brewery.

Menu inside Fort George Brewery.

I got an IPA.  It was tasty.

Lo and behold, in an astonishing coincidence, my brother-in-law and mother-in-law decided to take an excursion out from Portland and Vancouver (respectively).  I texted a photo of them like this one to them, which led to a funny reunion.

Up next - the Warriors @ Trail Blazers.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cannon Beach, Oregon

One of the beaches I've most wanted to visit in the world is Cannon Beach, the most famous of Oregon's noteworthy beaches.  Haystack Rock rises 235 feet above the surf, giving the beach (and the state) its iconic image, which graces a ridiculous number of calendars.  My family drove the 100 miles to Cannon Beach over Mother's Day weekend = here are the pics.

My parents, walking with Christopher on the main drag.

First stop = a local bakery, to get marionberry turnovers.

Chris preferred his blueberry muffin.

Beach time with Gaga.

Several horseback riders were to be seen this day.

Haystack Rock looms behind the minor cliffs.

That's a big rock.

Chris with a pointed stick... like a moth to the flame.

Grandpa relaxes.

Chris and I would make lots of sandcastles (when I wasn't taking photos).

Another cowboy.

Definitely a beach worth visiting, and given that it's one of the closest to us, we'll surely be back.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Goodbye, California

I picked a funny time to leave my native California.  I loved my job, I loved the climate (minus the drought), and I certainly loved the recent success of my sports teams - no small thing for me!

However, I was far less enthusiastic about the cost of living (my wife and I grossed over $120,000 and with two kids were just barely staying afloat despite having only a 960 sq. ft. apartment) and the stress of maintaining non-tech jobs in the worldwide headquarters of tech jobs.  Furthermore, when our apartment complex in a suburb of San Jose developed a black mold problem (long story), we were forced to temporarily move 28 miles to the south.  While it's worth noting that we had decided to relocate to the Pacific Northwest prior to this health hazard, the absolutely ridiculous traffic that we encountered (made worse over the last year by the vast number of people economically forced to the same far-flung suburb) only strengthened our resolve to flee the place of my birth.

The Bay Area, my home for 34 years, had become a shadow of its former self... not just in my mind, but in objective reality as well.

I'm actually just barely old enough to remember orchards and wineries in the South Bay.  I even grew up walking distance from one of the oldest wineries in California... which no longer exists thanks to the demand for housing (and that was about 10 years ago when it disappeared).  We can all be prone to waxing nostalgic, though I'm not one to bemoan inevitable change.  But the rapid rate of acceleration in both the Bay Area's population and the sharp spike in the cost of living, coupled with an increasing property crime rate due to a reduction in the local police force, left much of the idyllic past to be desired.

So my family pulled the nuclear option out of our proverbial hat = get out of California altogether.

I'm a staunch believer that the grass isn't greener on the other side... but what if you're comparing grass to asphalt?

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can afford to have a house, for far less than townhouses we were considering in the Bay Area.  Sure, salaries are less (more so for my wife's line of work than my own), but because we chose Washington as our home, state income taxes aren't collected.  Public schools are much nicer than in the Bay Area, where the nationwide teacher shortage is magnified intensely due to the sheer impossibility of affording property, resulting in a teacher turnover rate that is off the charts (and educational results that are inversely proportional).  The weather is certainly far from desirable for many, but the rain and the moody skies make for perfect reading weather for yours truly.  Traffic is certainly part of life here, too, but there aren't the 10:00pm traffic jams like in the Bay Area.

An aside = on my departure from the Bay Area a few days ago, I sat in a 10:30pm traffic jam that was NOT caused by an accident or construction... it's the new norm, just like 10:30am, 2pm, and 7pm traffic jams that already augment normal rush hour times.  This was not something I grew up with, or even dealt with as a college student attending San Francisco State University (and making the trip up and down the peninsula at all hours of the day).

There's still much about our future up here in Washington state that remains to be seen, and perhaps I'll be pining for a California visit sooner than I anticipate (I do still have my good friends there, after all, plus I hear the winters are mentally draining), but for the time being, I'm especially grateful to have fled the Golden State for the Evergreen State.