Life in the PNW

Since I had been meaning to do this awhile ago, and didn’t, I figured I would deal with the stress of my impending move by reflecting on my time in Washington.

Moving up here I didn’t know what to expect. I was taking a huge gamble and hoping it would pay off. This was the craziest thing I had done to date. I packed my stuff up into a U-haul and drove it 24 hours straight to Silverdale, WA. I hadn’t seen my apartment except for pictures on the internet. I didn’t know the town or the area at all. We got there in the dead of night and after unpacking the trailer and dropping it off in the middle of the woods, finally slept. The next day it was adventure and buying stuff for my new apartment (which was awesome by the way). I strongly dislike the streets in Washington. They make no sense. It is like someone just threw lines into he air and figured wherever they landed would be a good spot for a street. We got lost and were tired. Couple that with the sun coming down, I never saw the traffic signal. I love my truck (Red Wing) and had so many great times with it. It was not a truck made for hauling and it was the first time it did so on this trip. It got us up there and safe. I think it knew it would know that driving in the rain and snow would not be agood thing. It was also 15 miles away from 100k and it was not happy about that. I ran the light and was side blinded by another truck. It was my fault.

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Luckily we were okay. God was definitely looking out for us that day. Only thing broken was a 6 pack of beer, a plate, little damage to microwave, and a cut in shape of heart on my left foot. This was also the first time I encountered the awesome people of Washington. I had no clue where I was. My only contact was in Olympia and my new boss whom I had never met in gig Harbor. My Aunt lived over an hour away in Kenmoore. One of the responding firefighters said he lived in Silverdale and was off soon and could give us a ride, but could not take our stuff.

Then there was a lady who had stopped after the accident. She helped clean the stuff strewn across the driveway and street. Then she offered us a ride to the airport to get a rental car. We loaded her truck and left my truck to be towed off. The lady, Julie, told us she lived down the street from the accident and was driving home after going to the unemployment office. She was out of work and had kids and even grandkids I think. Her husband had also just been laid off. When we got to the airport and got a rental car we offered her money for gas. She refused. We even tried to put it in her hand and she refused. I later sent her a card and something in the mail to say thank you. That was the first 24 hours of my adventure. I couldn’t believe what the rest of my time here would hold.

Rain and snow

There are some things you just have to accept in the PNW. The weather sucks. I finally accepted this in about March which made October through February pretty stressful and depressing. Looking back I realize how much the isolation and weather really affected me. I was alone with nobody I knew, trying to find things to do in a land that made no sense to me. Coming from California the rain was bearable because you could predict when it came during certain months. In Washington, it is pretty much wet all the time. Misty and wet. Then it rains a little bit, then it pours a lot, then it goes back to overcast and wet. One day I got up in the morning and thought it was a little colder than normal but didn’t think anything of it. I looked outside. It was snowing! Everything was white and beautiful. This was my first experience with snow.

Which also explains why I couldn’t go to work that day. I tried, I really did. My new little car, a Chevy Cruze, was not able to make it out of the parking lot. I slipped and slid all over and barely made it back to my parking spot. I called my boss who lived an hour south and told him I couldn’t drive because of the snow. He laughed and said “it’s snowing?” Apparently I was living in a known convergence zone where the weather blows through between the Olympics and Cascades. For months there was snow in Silverdale, but as soon as I got down the street from my apartment there was nothing. At work, half hour away, a whole other climate! It was weird.

Silverdale and my bar

Silverdale is a beautiful city but there is nothing to do. Reminds me of a lot of Camarillo with the size of Santa Paula. If you aren’t active duty military, then you had some affiliation with the military. I found a great bar/restaurant there, Silver City Brewery. Nowhere have I ever gotten great service, food and atmosphere. I love it there. Even after missing a month or two they still remember you and what you drink and eat. And that’s just the other regulars! I highly recommend it to anyone who goes up there. I never had anything bad on the menu. The Meatloaf is AMAZING!! http://www.silvercitybrewery.com The beer is great too. This became my hangout to get out of the house, especially when the weather sucked. Anything else was too far to drive and cost money to go. I was probably still having driving issues from my accident too. Despite all that I was still able to see a lot of the beautiful area. It is so amazingly clean and green and beautiful. And the fall colors are just indescribable. Everyone told me “wait ’til summer, wait ’til summer.” Well, summer here is only really during July. Little bit in August, but the rain has returned too.

Photography and Activities

I have always had a connection with art and being creative. The patience? Not so much. In December 2012, I was getting antsy about not being able to do anything because of the weather, and was getting bored. It was about then that I found out that a friend from high school posted on Facebook that the was going to be around Renton, WA. Last I had seen, he was in New Mexico. So I sent him a message that I liked his photography and that I would like to come check out a shoot one day soon. He replied back, and for the past six months, and a few dollars later, I have been working with him and the photography group Flash Mafia. I don’t know what I would have done here without Steve Groves, Justin McConnell, and Jessica Snow.

Photo by Jessica Snow

Photo credits: ESI Media

Photo by Jessica Snow

They have been such great friends and so supportive. Please take a minute or two and click on their names above to check out their excellent work.

This was the first birthday I spent away from my family and from California. Since we started getting together for shoots and as I learned more from them we started light test Tuesday where we would do a light setup and shoot some pictures. Mostly it turned into some sort of philosophical discussion or talking about future shoot ideas or camera stuff, but nothing was wasted. The day before my birthday, we shot some great pictures and afterwards I was cleaning up to go home as we shot late and it took about 2 hours to get home and I had to get up in the morning. When I started to grab my stuff Jessica went into the refrigerator and brought out a cake she had bought. They all said “Happy Birthday” to me. It literally took everything I had not to start crying like a huge baby. It meant so much that these people whom I really had just met went out of their way to do something special for me. I was able to save the crying for my car and the long drive home. That was one of the great things that happened on my birthday.

The next day, my actual birthday, I went to the brewery and was enjoying a nice dinner and talking with the bartenders and regulars like I usually did. I decided to order dessert (try the brownie too!! AH-MA-ZING!) and enjoy a nice night. I was texting with someone who asked what I had done for my birthday and when I told her, I noticed the bar phone rang. I didn’t put two and two together until the bartender and waitress looked over at me and said “Noah, is it your birthday?” They were upset I had not told them and bought my dessert. Again, took everything I had not to break down in the bar as it meant so much for someone to do that for me.

The members of Flash Mafia are great! I appreciate all of them. For those who do not know, Flash Mafia is a group of photographers, models, makeup artists, and anyone who wants to make art. Every Sunday we get together and everyone gets together to create art and learn from each other. What I love about Seattle is that everyone appreciates each other. Rarely do you hear someone say that an idea is stupid or that something can’t be done or that someone is weird. What you usually hear is someone offering to assist or bring something to the idea. So unlike California where there is so much judgement of everyone. I like that about being here. People who are weird are not judged, they are looked at by others as if to say “You’re weird? Cool! I’m weird too!”

We always hold Flash Mafia and different locations each week. What this allowed me to do is experience the area. It was a great way to see the different parks and lakes and places around Seattle that I may not have gone to on my own. Click here to check out a special project I worked on for Memorial Day.

Adventures

Up here I have gone on plenty of adventures. Since my job takes me to Marysville, Oak Harbor, Reno, and Fresno, I got to see a lot of great places. The drive to Oak Harbor takes you over Deception Pass, an amazing bridge with such a great view. Marysville was not much to check out, but what I love about going up there is going by Paine Field in Everett. Paine Field is where Boeing is located. Usually I would check out what flights were scheduled and go out to the windsock or the Future of Flight parking lot and watch the planes land.

 

On Twitter and the internet I found a group of people who call themselves AVGEEKS. These people watch planes and take pictures for fun. Some even blog about their experiences. Yes, this is very nerdy. I love it. I have always loved planes since I was a kid. The airport is somewhere I would love to be the most other than the beach or a hockey rink. When I was a kid I used to go to Santa Monica Airport with my Uncle Wally and checking out the planes come and go. Growing up near a Navy base we always had jets flying over our house to land. We always ran out to the front yard and watched the planes. The air shows were the best! So there were many times I would go to Seattle Tacoma Airport and watch the planes land. Just fascinated.

Photo credit: Noah A. Spevak 2013

Photo credit: Noah A. Spevak 2013

During April there was the Tulip festival, June the Seattle Pridefest, July the lavender festival, and as I am writing this, the Seattle Hempfest is coming up. The people watching here is amazing. It is amazing to see everyone so happy and okay with who they are. While you may think this shows an insecurity or recklessness on their part, I see it is openness. Such openness as if to say to the world and other that they don’t care, they are going to be whomever they want to be. Click here to see the rest of my photos at my flickr account.

During my time in Washington I have met and experienced so many things. Those listed above are only a small portion of what I got to experience. I was able to attend Peninsula Bible Fellowship, watch some Seattle Mariners baseball, Seattle Seahawks football, and was a staff photographer for the Seattle Street Food Festival. I cannot think of one thing that was more special than the other. My dad came to visit, friends came to visit, and I got to see a lot of things that I would not have gotten to experience in California. I really enjoy this area just because of all the wonderful people. They are really great. So many people would think that it is all crazy liberal and tree hugging hippies living in Seattle. Well, yes there are quite a bit of those people around. But they are interesting. Once you get outside the Amazon/Microsoft/tech areas of Seattle you get into the woods and countryside. It is a whole other way of thinking out there. I loved talking to those people too. They were just as open and friendly as the rest of the people I met.

I think that pretty much sums up my journey here in Washington. I hit the main points that I could think of off the top of my head. I am sure I am missing something, and will post that here when I remember.

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