When I moved to Portland in my early twenties, I have to admit I had no idea what living in the Pacific Northwest was all about. I was young and in love and only did it to follow my (now) husband here.
But other than sticking with him, moving to the Pacific Northwest was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I quit my job in Nebraska and left my family to drive across the country to live in a place I had never even visited. Little did I know that I was going to be putting down roots in one of the most beautiful and diverse places in the world.
Twenty years later, I still haven’t experienced all that Oregon, Washington and British Columbia has to offer. That’s part of the reason I started this Pacific Northwest travel blog – to force myself to get out and explore more and to finally go to the places nearby I have not yet been.
As with any area of the world, there are certain quirks and idiosyncrasies the locals tend to have, and that I have also developed. Especially in Portland and Seattle. Here are my observations of the people who reside where I live.
1. We darn near all of us recycle and/or compost. You people in the Midwest and southeastern states should get on board with that. Seriously – look it up.
2. You’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that does not have any vegetarian or gluten-free options. Try going vegan (not vegetarian, that’s too easy) for even a week. Or better yet go gluten-free. Your tummy, not to mention the rest of your body (which is a temple, by the way) will thank you for it. Oh, quit calling me a hippy.
3. People are annoyingly polite behind the wheel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve approached an intersection on foot, and I kid you not, the car also approaching said intersection will stop for me. Even though he does not have a stop sign and I’m still about five paces away from actually crossing the street. I still look both ways before I cross a street, thank you very much.
4. Unless we actually live on a mountain, we don’t handle snow well. At all. Entire cities will completely shut down if we get over two inches.
5. When it’s raining, you can easily spot the locals from the tourists simply by who is carrying an umbrella. Locals use their trusty raincoats with hoods. Always. Umbrellas are way too cumbersome when you are also carrying a to-go cup of coffee and/or walking your dog. And speaking of coffee…
6. Starbucks no longer belongs to Seattle. It’s everywhere dag-nabbit. That means that locals who are really serious about their coffee will not be caught dead in a Starbucks. There are far too many other incredible coffee roasters with establishments that actually give a damn about presentation and atmosphere.
7. Those bikers can be aggressive. I’m not talking about motorcyclists. I’m talking about pedal-pushing cyclists. Especially in Portland. Man, they sure do know their rights and are eager to yell those rights at any driver who encroaches on their glaringly visible bike lane. Having said that…
8. Most people here are very friendly. Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver defy big-city logic by exemplifying small-town friendliness.
9. The sun can actually be annoying. I noticed this on about my third or fourth year living in Portland. During the winter months, you actually get so used to grey days that when the sun does make a glorious appearance, it’s too bright for you and you’d just as soon head back indoors. But after that initial shock, most people come outdoors in full force to soak it up while it lasts.
10. You’ll never get bored. There’s just too much to see and do. In addition to all there is to offer in the big cities of Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, there is the jaw-dropping Pacific coastline, the Cascade mountain range, the Olympic rainforest, the high desert, the whole of Puget Sound, the wine country. I could go on, but you’re just going to have to come here and discover for yourself.