Sitting Pretty in Seattle – 2022 in Review

Happy New Year! We’re just winding down our second house sit in Seattle and after almost 2 weeks, we’ve learned a lot about life during winter in Puget Sound. As expected, it is wetter, colder, and darker than the SF Bay Area winter. No real surprise there.

The amazing Cheryl and Seward Park along Lake Washington
Fully equipped kitchens, one of house sittings many perks

But “living” in two different untouristed residential neighborhoods has allowed us the opportunity to experience a bit more realistic perspective. We’ve walked to the parks, grocery stores, and restaurants that we might use if we lived here. We have to decide to walk, take a bus, or drive as yes, life in most of Seattle would be fairly limited without a car for some trips ( We’d also have bikes of course).

Cute cats, another perk
Not to mention security detail!
Kubota Garden – a Japanese garden oasis and one of Seattle’s 485 parks!

People are very laid back compared to SF and friendly if you engage them, but sidewalk or trail greetings are not a given. Just all a bit reserved here. Nordic roots maybe play a part in this. Or maybe it’s the fact that the area draws more introverts with the weather and open space of the Northwest. Where can I hide in the wet woods? Seattle for sure.

Coal Creek Falls in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
Cougar Mountain Reserve was previously an active coal mine…ferns hide the legacy pits!
Cheryl never listens!

Seattle has been cool and intriguing to the nation for years, but especially since the rise of grunge and SubPop records in the late 80’s and early 90’s. We’ve been here many times, including multiple bike tours and I’ve been listening to the amazing KEXP for years on the web.

The glassy north side view of Seattle’s skyline with our friend Christine.

We always enjoy it, but how would it be in the dead of winter? Well, we still love it. The magnificent firs, cedars, and other evergreens are in frequent view and are so soothing along with the occasional spectacular Mountain View’s. But it IS cold and damp, and we’ve only had two doses of sunshine in two weeks. Other than an unusual ice storm our first few days, the rain has always been on and off.

The mighty Olympic Mountains from Queen Anne near downtown Seattle. The core and inner neighborhoods are very walkable.

But like the locals, it’s really not an issue if you have decent gear or just ignore it and run or walk in the rain. It’s just water Californians, don’t freak out like a cat in a bathtub! We haven’t freaked out.

More cute cats to keep us warm in Seattle
What’s that thing on the ground behind Cheryl? Rare winter sun in Seattle.

So we’ve surmised that cozy and warm housing is a key to happiness here as there is no fallback to walk in regenerative sunshine in winter, like SF. Oh, and Vitamin D supplements left over from our last dark winter in the UK are just what the doctor ordered. And we’d also need to scale back our pace a bit…which is good.

A rite of passage in the PNW…drive thru Espresso near Mount Vernon.
Caffeine brightens the gray days

Another place we’ve been intrigued about, mostly from afar, is the City of Bellingham which is two counties and about 90 miles north of Seattle. Close, but a very separate place. We bike toured through the area during late summer many years ago and found it beautiful and it felt a bit undiscovered. It’s no longer undiscovered by any means after articles in the New York Times and appearances on endless “best places to retire” lists.

Lake Whatcom…drinking water and recreation source for Bellingham.

We only had two brief days to explore the city and environs but it is a very nice place. Funky but somewhat vibrant downtown, hills, views, forest, lakes, mountains and many parks. It’s also only about an hour by car to Vancouver, Canada, although the border crossing can slow things down.

Downtown Bellingham is funky and hip boosted by 16,000 students at Western Washington University
Old building charm in Bellingham

Could we live here? Sure, it’s very cool. But at this point in our lives, we still crave a bit more urban density, diversity, and a variety of neighborhoods to explore. Seattle has this AND access to the outdoors, although maybe not as close or as as quickly to remote wilderness as Bellingham.

Afternoon Chai and a Cortado at Makeworth Coffee Roasters – Bellingham Chic.

So the decision to live somewhere else for awhile is not easy for us and is not easy when you’ve been in the blissful bubble of San Francisco, which is so eminently walkable, very bikeable, and still full of creative people, variable cultures, and amazing food. We always compare places to these high bars.

Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham. Including a landmark WPA bridge.
A legacy logging railroad trestle in Bellingham who’s days are unfortunately numbered due to collapse and flood risk.

But SF has its problems, especially affordability, exacerbated by a lack of new housing and stagnant neighborhood planning. The financial disparities are tough and strain everything. Seattle has similar issues, but has more of a relief valve in buildable area and housing options. But we also have deep roots and hundreds of friends and family in the Bay Area. We would miss them but are convinced we could find some good friends here too…we just might need to start the conversation!

Breadfarm in the quirky artist hamlet of Bow…very picturesque but we didn’t think the bread lived up to the scene.
Enjoy your pastry and coffee by an inlet of Puget Sound
Unfortunately, the King tides and the lowlands around Samish Bay don’t always mix well.

But no need to fret about where we land yet as we have decided to wander the globe for another year. We stayed in 130 different places in 2022….yup, that is a lot, so settling down somewhere now would be a bit like hitting a travel brick wall at 100mph. Other stats for 2022 FYI: 45 days of house sitting (9 cats, 2 horses, 2 bunnies), 61 days in apartments, 146 days in hotels (apart hotels, B&Bs, Inns, and pensions), 3 nights on transport(planes, trains, and a ferry), and finally 110 days with friends and family (thank you all-:). Whew!

Where will we go in 2023?

So tomorrow we meander a few days back to the Bay Area for final prep and friend catch up before heading on our next big adventure in Asia…first stop, Taiwan. So excited!

Happy travelers ready for 2023!

Happy New Year and Happy Travels. Maybe we’ll see you out there!

Published by

TravelRich

Embarking on the next phase of my life after working as a full-time Civil and Transportation Engineer in the San Francisco for 30 years. My wife and I will be following our shared passions for world travel, culture, and sustainable transport.

3 thoughts on “Sitting Pretty in Seattle – 2022 in Review”

  1. Don’t want to be Debbie Downer but Taiwan? You know that China might invade them, right? And Americans are not China’s favorite people these days. Just saying, exercise caution, there’s a lot of war going around right now.

    1. Oh thank you for your concern, that is sweet of you. We’re confident all will be well. As we always say the most dangerous part of any trip is the drive to the airport. (We’ll take a BART train to SFO so that’s nice and safe!)

  2. Libby & I would love to see you two, but we might be too much like passing ships if we tried this weekend. Do remember we have that guest room, in any case.

    Your self-queries on where you’d feel most in your element as a place to live – if change is a possibility- seem like my own. I’ve come up with twelve places (so far) that resonate with me and where I think I’d be happy if I couldn’t live here anymore. Seattle is one of them, Vancouver is another. I really do like the PNW.

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