For those of us who grew up and have lived most (or all) of our lives here in the Pacific Northwest, the tremendous influx of people moving to the region has changed how we live and travel.
That strenuous hike with spectacular views within an hour of Portland or Seattle? Forget about going on a weekend if you treasure a quiet time in nature, especially during the warmer, drier months. Or go well before sunrise with your headlamp.
Or that cozy little neighborhood bakery in Portland/Seattle that serves the most buttery, melt-in-your-mouth scones you've ever tasted? Don't consider stopping there on a weekend morning, and be prepared to stand in line before they open, sometimes even on a week day. (We restless Northwesterners generally loathe waiting in line for more than a couple minutes.)
The annual tulip festival in the Skagit Delta or the Sequim Lavender Festival on the Olympic Peninsula are jammed on weekends. I sat for almost 30 minutes last year at a dead stop next to a tulip field as the two-lane local roads were clogged like hardened arteries. (Bicycling is the best way to go here, but so many cars make it trickier.)
It's a double-edged sword, the mushrooming growth of the region's population. We have better restaurants and a more vibrant food scene, transplants have brought fresh vitality to the arts, and more. But those crowds on the trail! The lines at favorite eateries, coffee shops, bakeries, and such!
So we adjust.
Blessed with a relatively flexible schedule (sometimes), these days I tend to either go hiking on weekdays (still plenty of people on the popular trails), as early as possible, or on rainy days. There's a reason we all have good rain gear.
The best time to hit Seattle's Pike Place Market? Tuesday morning on a chilly wet mid or late January day (or some variation). Okay, I jest a bit, but it's not too far off.
But still. Just this week we waited in line over 20 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon for one of those famous ice cream cones at a popular farm stand. (However, there was no line for their incredible fresh seafood counter.)
While I don't want to go all Ron Judd here because I value the infusion of energy that émigrés have brought to the region, sometimes it's better not to openly reveal favorite places.
So because everyone enjoys nice pictures, I'm sharing a few of places I love around here but not dropping place names. Some, like the photo at the top of this post, are on private property; some can only be accessed via private property; and some are well-known and popular.
Do you recognize any of these locations or where the shots were taken? I've got Oregon, Washington, and east of the Cascades represented.
On the plus side, I'd like to think that more people out enjoying our precious outdoors here in the Northwest will be moved to donate time and/or money to help protect the land. Some worthy Northwest organizations include the San Juan Preservation Trust, Washington's National Parks Fund, Conservation Northwest, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
So how do you negotiate getting outside, around town, to your favorite museum, hike, or such? Have you changed the way your get out and about?
Jump in with a comment below.
Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons!