When you think about Washington, most people think rain, Space Needle, coffee, rain, ferry boats, Pikes Place Market, and let’s not forget the rain! Locals know better. Although Seattle does have a lot of gray days, Seattle gets just 37 inches of precipitation per year, while NYC gets 49, Boston gets 42, Miami has 58 and parts of Hawaii get a whole lot more! The highest mountain peak in the Olympic Rainforest sees over 200 inches each year. What Washington does have is green green forests, 900 miles of waterway, 170 islands, mountains and farmland, the mighty Columbia River – and lots and lots of coffee!
Eastern Washington has rolling wheat fields, farms, and much warmer and colder weather. The mountains are home to a dozen or so major ski resorts and quaint little towns. The coast has lighthouses, seaside villages, and miles and miles of the Pacific Ocean. While California has beaches, Washington calls it the coast – only the very hardy jump in that cold water!
Wine, beer and now spirits are due to the excellent growing conditions. In 2008, the state passed a craft distillery license and small distilleries are popping up all over. Washington wine production second only to California. The central valley of Washington is host to dozens of tasting rooms and vines. And the beer! While only Germany grows more hops, Washington is 8th in the country for craft breweries per capita.
Starbucks first opened in Washington in 1971 and is now a worldwide conglomerate with stores in every country in the world. (We saw one in the guardhouse of Canterbury Cathedral in the UK!) While the locals crowd the famous Starbucks outlets, you will also find the overflow in coffeehouses in every city. Washington and caffeine just go together.
Washington is home to a number of unique places to visit. Leavenworth is a Bavarian village in the mountains NE of Seattle, the Chihuly Glass Garden can be seen at the Seattle Science Center, and the International Kite Festival is in August. The Space Needle, the most famous of Seattle’s landmarks was built as part of the 1962 World’s Fair. Pikes Place Market is home to the famous salmon tossers, putting on daily shows.
Washington has no income tax. The sales tax and property taxes are moderate compared to the rest of the nation. If you live in Southern Washingon, a quick trip across the bridge and you can shop tax-free in Oregon, which is the best of both worlds! There are dozens of RV parks in the state and campgrounds are a great summer escape for those who live in the southern (hot) climates.
Highways I-5 and I-90 transect the state. Locals try to take other roads and stay off the freeways. Vast areas of natural forest, sweet little towns await those who travel off the beaten path. Snohomish is famous for antiques, LaConner is an artist’s colony, and Yakima is apple, wine and hop country.
The three big volcanoes in Washington frequently let off steam (thank heaven!) with no significant eruptions since 1980 when Mt. St. Helens lost millions of cubic yards of dirt from it’s top. Mt . Baker, near Bellingham in the far north frequently vents. Mt. Ranier, the tallest of the three, has not erupted in more than a thousand years, but is still active. Each provides a dramatic backdrop to the Washington landscape.
We’ve travelled all over the place and we picked Washington for our retirement home!
Photo By Cheryl – Editor