The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

My upcoming relocation to the other side of the continent is constantly on my mind, as you can well imagine. This is going to be a dramatic change for me. I’m a Florida girl who has never had to deal with Pacific Northwest-y stuff. I’m anticipating having to ask a lot of stupid questions, and I’m quite sure things are going to come up that I don’t expect. Here are some of my biggest concerns.

  • I have never driven in snow in my entire life. I don’t know any of the tricks or rules or… anything. Will I need snow tires? Chains? Where do I get them? How do I put them on? Do they salt the roads? How do you avoid rust?
  • I don’t know what footwear to get to deal with rain and snow.
  • I don’t know how heavy a coat I’m going to need. Should I get thermal underwear?
  • What’s a good setting for your thermostat so you don’t freeze to death but also don’t get an insane electric bill?
  • This is going to sound silly, but I basically don’t know how to dress. Here, it’s t-shirt, shorts, flip flops, and you’re good 90 percent of the year, even in nice restaurants. I think I’m going to need more long sleeve shirts…
  • Do people dress up when they go out to dinner? Or is it as casual as Florida?
  • How often will I experience earthquakes? What do I do when one happens? What do you do if you are driving during one?
  • How do you keep mud off your carpet?
  • My lease says I have to wrap the outdoor hose bibs every October. What do I wrap them with, and where do I get it? Wouldn’t it just be easier to keep them wrapped all year round?

God, this is embarrassing. I feel like I’m about to be dumped off on another planet with no orientation whatsoever. I feel like I’m 5 years old and have wandered away from my mother in a department store. I realize that this is all part and parcel of my general free floating anxiety about this relocation, but seriously… help!

Between these silly questions and having to beg the world for help on my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, thereby putting my fat pasty self on a video and getting all emotional for the whole world to see, this change has been a huge lesson in what it feels like to make myself vulnerable. It’s a good lesson to learn, but it’s hard to swallow.

puss in boots

[Image credit:]

14 thoughts on “A Florida Transplant to the Pacific Northwest

  1. Where in the Pacific Northwest are you moving? I, too, moved from a sunny climate (though a lot closer- California) and experienced quite a few shocks with the weather, culture, and whatnot. You’ll get through it, and if you feel the need to vent, I’ll be here to more than likely understand what you’re going through. And, by the way, earthquakes don’t happen all that often. I used to live on the San Andreas Fault, where we had earthquakes more often, but most times I wouldn’t even feel them. When are you moving to this side of the country?

    1. Seattle area. I’ll be there the end of this month. Don’t know a soul, so I’m scared silly and excited at the same time. Check out my indiegogo campaign about it here:

  2. Colin says:

    Hi Barb – I’m Helen’s husband – we met at Chuck’s memorial. Having lived in Seattle for nearly 25 years I can give you some insight.
    Snow – yes, it does snow occasionally in Seattle, maybe 6 inches a year. Seattle is very hilly so that could be problematic. That being said, the only time I had to deal with snow tires or chains was when I went skiing. So you needn’t worry about it unless you head up to the mountains in the winter. Seattle has an excellent bus system so you can always take a bus around town if necessary.
    Rain/mud – there’s a reason Seattle is so green – it rains…a lot. About 3 feet a year on the average. The fall and winters are often overcast, cool and wet. You may find this a bit depressing coming from the “Sunshine State.” When the sun comes out people look up and wonder what’s going on! Actually, the spring and summers are very pleasant. They had a string of 80 degree days last month. Fall is beautiful. You’ll enjoy having four seasons. Get yourself some rain boots and an umbrella (or bumbershoot as they’re sometimes called there). Just remove your footgear when you get home to avoid messing up your carpet – same as we do here in FL.
    Clothes – Seattle is casual – after all, it’s the birthplace of the “grunge” look. Most people wear jeans and a jacket or sweater in the cooler months. No need for thermals! Sure, if you’re going out to a nice restaurant for dinner, you’d want to dress up a bit. Shorts and T-shirts are fine for around town.
    Earthquakes – very rare. I only remember one when I was at the UofW and it rattled the books off my shelf. Only minor damage. As we’ve seen recently with earthquakes in the midwest and the mid-atlantic, they can occur most anywhere. Not something to lose sleep over.
    Freezes – there just aren’t the hard freezes in Seattle that would warrant wrapping the hose bibs. But who knows what global warming might do bring us? To satisfy your landlord just wrap cloth around the bibs in the winter.
    Hope this helps Barb. I’d be interested in knowing what part of town you’ll be living? Feel free to ask me if you have more questions.

    1. Wow, thanks Colin! This is a HUGE help. I do appreciate it. I’ll be living in Shoreline and working the drawbridges of Seattle. I’m very excited and also scared silly. Never been there, don’t know anyone, and yet off I go!

  3. KerikM says:

    Seismic events. We do get them sometimes, and it’s like sex and snow…you never know just how much you are going to get this time or how long it’s going to last. There is the possibility of a huge one, or it may wait another century.
    When you feel it start–it *won’t* be just the same as a big truck rolling by–get under a solid table or right down next to your bed. Don’t get in the doorway unless it doesn’t have a door that can hit you.
    In a bridge’s tower, I am not sure what you should do but watch out for the windows.
    There is a book called “Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest” I believe, which you can check out when you introduce yourself to our two wonderful library systems [city and county]. It will tell you some things you can do to get ready beforehand, for peace of mind. I am sitting at a very strong wooden table I built just with this in mind. But many quakes will be over before you know it. You will think someone just hit the building with their car and that’s all.
    We don’t get hurricanes, but one tradition we do have is a late fall or winter windstorm that knocks out power and blows down trees. You might want to stay out of the fall-radius of trees when the wind gets over 30, but otherwise enjoy the greenery. 2 or 3 layers you can add or subtract will be better than 1 thick coat. One layer should be windproof. A cheap plastic rain poncho, reinforced with duct tape, ought to tide you over until you make enough money to get a good one at REI if you so desire. There are Value Village and Goodwill stores scattered around.
    Your shoes should be the kind that can deal with wet pavement. You would also do well to lay in a pair of those things you put on them when there is ice. That will help with the snow, and also with the rare but dreaded supercooling event, early on what you thought was just a wet winter day, that results in what I call “death ice”.
    You’ll find a lot more variation in day length here. It can mess with some people’s minds, so this fall you might want to look into the sort of lights people can get to treat seasonal depression.
    We don’t have the same creepy-crawlies as in your region, but we do have slugs. Watch your step, but they are harmless if rather gross.
    The bus systems are called Metro and Sound Transit, 2 separate entities. You can get what is called an Orca Card that you run thru the whatsit when you get on either. You will need extra change when crossing certain boundaries. Ferries take you to a few islands. You can walk on or drive on, but be sure to brace yourself when it is about to dock!
    We have Trader Joe’s, and the Grocery Outlet, or “Gross Out”, which have good deals on food.
    Various locations. The Pike Place Market, downtown, is where you can buy from the farmers; there are neighborhood farmers’ markets as well.
    There’s the University Bookstore in the U district, and Elliot Bay Books on Capitol Hill, huge and independent.
    Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks! Yes, that does help quite a bit. I’m getting really excited. I’m looking forward to all the new sights, sounds, smells and experiences. I’m sure I’ll be blogging a lot about that in upcoming months. Thanks for your input.

  4. You need rain gear and warm clothes… you aren’t moving to Siberia… you shouldn’t need chains in the city, they salt the roads and stuff I think. And there is plenty of casual dining. Get a warm coat. You will figure the rest out.

    1. You’re right. I will. One way or the other. 🙂 I’m looking forward to it. But to a Florida girl, any place that goes below 30 degrees seems like Siberia. 🙂 But I’m looking forward to the changes in seasons. I miss the Autumn of my childhood.

      1. Keep in touch… I will get good advice on places to go and things to do and food to eat.

      2. See if you can scare up some single, non-smoking men with no anger issues who are between the ages of 45 and 60 while you’re at it. 🙂

  5. Carole Lewis says:

    What great advice from everyone. If you’ve ever dealt with FL weather in the last 20 years (It is no longer the Sunshine State) you should do fine just about anywhere. And I hope in about 6 mos. You will Blog us all one of your famous lists. Of who, what, where, when and why taking a chance is a good thing, and how, to go about getting there. Barbara Cochran of Shark Tank says the most important thing to do is when you make a “To Do” list, You should also make a “To Not Do” list. You always make really great list.

    1. You know I will! My hours are going to be crazy, but I fully intend to explore the area every chance I get! What an adventure!

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