One of the things we were told to prepare for when moving from Chicago to San Francisco was that we were going to develop allergies within three years, but that we’d adjust. We had doctors tell us that, friends tell us that, blogs tell us that… But we dismissed the warnings because we thought we had the following going for us:
- There are more allergies along Lake Michigan: we were living along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. If ever there was a place to have allergies, it was along those forests and shores…
- One can presume more health conditions living next to steel mills: What’s left of the Gary steel mills have been known to toughen you up and wear you down at the same time.
- There is more than twice the average rainfall on our side of Chicago than where we were moving to in Bay Area: Chicago’s South Shore? About 36–40 inches of rain a year. San Francisco’s East Bay – Tri-Valley Area? About 15–19
inches. That means a lot less mold and growing things. Livermore/Pleasanton/Dublin is an arid, nearly desert climate. The grass you see? Seasonal rain and recycled water sprinkler systems. I’m told here in Dublin, it’s cleaned and one process away from drinkable, but I still wouldn’tlet your dogs lick the dew in the morning because that ain’t dew.
- It also stays warmer in Bay Area: For the most part, even during the winter wet seasons it’s warmer and drier than back in Chicago.
We had all that going for us and yet, as we got to mid-February and near our second anniversary in Bay Area, I developed a soft hacking cough and stuffiness for months. All the allergies I never had came back to me.
This season will be our 3rd anniversary, and our first time “enduring” drought-busting, reservoir-bursting rainfall in Bay Area.
When you get here from Chicago, or from most anywhere east of the Rockies, the rain will never feel like anything more than a sprinking. You’ll get about 23 minutes’ worth of exception to that thought, annually.
We’ve about hit our annual expected rainfall before March. There was water everywhere. The Altamont was closed earlier this week because of flooding. I didn’t know that was possible. Tassajara Creek still has several knocked-over bushes and trees and soot hills pushing the flood banks.
All this rain brings spots of standing water. With such standing water, one should expect more mold and other allergies, yet here I am, not coughing and hacking and wheezing.
Now, it’s not been perfect.
Last night, driving up the hill on I-580 East to get into Dublin from Oakland, Katie & I both started to have sinus pressure. It could have been the rain falling, yet again. It could have been that Google Maps routed us from Oakland International Airport, through San Leandro, up to I-580 to avoid the congestion on 238 and I-880, and put us through areas that had much more rain – and mold and ick – than we have had up the hill.
It could have been the Elevation.
I went from the 350 ft. above sea level in Dublin, up a couple hundred feet higher to get over the hills of the Pleasanton Ridge, then dropped back down to near 10 ft. when I got to Oakland. Katie flew in from Portland, OR. She went from near sea level in Tillamook Bay, up 2,000 ft. on the road before dropping back down, only to fly up to 35,000 ft. above sea level before landing at OAK, where it was about 9 ft. above sea Level. Once she got in the car with me, she, too, went up to 550 ft. or so before settling back down to 350 ft. in Dublin.
Yeah, the elevation points would have been a thrill seeker’s dream. Our sinuses weren’t fans.
We now live on the 3rd floor with a Southern View over Armadillo Willy’s – Dublin. The living situation could have contributed.
Today, it’s down to 59 degrees and almost dinner time. I’ve had the patio window open. I’ve gone down 25 feet of elevation from time to time to walk the dogs.
It’s much, much better than last year at this time.
Last year, we lived in a smaller one-bedroom apartment on the first floor facing the west along a tree-lined side street, just down from where they’re building that relatively useless natatorium. The pointless structure’s construction equipment was running in and out while builders finished the exterior. Dirt and mud abound despite their efforts to wet down the dust to keep it from flying around.
Our original location was on the bottom of a near-5 story building.
“5 stories? It’s a 4-story apartment building?” Each apartment has high 9 ft. ceilings, adding to the height. There is extra trim on the top adding to the height. It was also built on a slope, where the north end is level with the street and the south end has shops below the first-floor apartments. The combination gives it essentially a 5-story feel. Haha, suck it neighbors-across-the-side-street.
Across the street is filled with 3-story duplexes and townhomes. The combination rendered little sunlight to our apartment during the day, allowing the damp places to stay damp longer.
To add to the situation, our old apartment was about 5 ft. above street level, and there were bushes and mulch and wood chip-decorative-things garnishing the ground. When they got wet, they stayed wet longer.
Finally, throw in that we had mold remediation by our sliding glass door from when the 3rd-floor water heater leaked during our first year in the small place. There’s still an argument as to whether the carpet padding was replaced (manager said, “no,” maintenance asshole said, “yes.” We moved. Fuck it.)
Throw those all together and there could be several reasons why I’m not coughing and hacking and wheezing this season despite the rain.
“I” am. Katie is still hacking a little.
I was inspired to remember because a friend of hers from Mizzou just moved out here from St. Louis to work for a startup. He lives in San Francisco and his allergies just flared up.
Now, like us, he had lived near an allergy center. Life along the Mississippi River will do that.
Now, like us, he’s finding out there are a whole new set of allergies in Bay Area than there were in the Midwest.
We told him to get out to the Embarcadero and walk it a bit. Once he gets up near the Golden Gate, he should be getting some fresh air.
The “Area” in “Bay Area” might be an understatement. It’s damn near a “World” with all the different climates out here.
Here in Pleasanton / Livermore / Dublin, it’s Mediterranean-esque arid, but as you get into southern Pleasanton / Livermore – where the wine valley is, it starts to drain into the southern part of the bay. That’s when you start to go into the coastal / forest & palm tree climate concoction as you work into South Bay – where you’ll find Silicon Valley.
Go west on I-580 over that Pleasanton Ridge on the west edge of Dublin, and 10 miles later you come out onto the eastern edge of San Francisco Bay’s coast. It’s much colder, damper, and humid than, well, the arid Tri-Valley. And that’s just in the summer. We’ve had more days where it was over 100 when we went outside, drove to Oakland and it was 72 degrees. It’s crazy out here.
Go into the city of San Francisco, and you’ve got all sorts ocean-meets-bay conflicting weather that seems to depend on which body of water generates the stronger breeze. There’s a reason why everyone out here knows the Mark Twain quote:
“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”– Samuel Clemens
To give a hint to the confusion: sure, there are places to surf, but remember your wetsuit. You could even have a warm day but still be near sea lions.
South of San Francisco is a hilly forest mixed in with coastal beaches and agrarian spots. It’s like going home.
Cross the Golden Gate and go north into and iconic hilly area with fishing village of Sausalito along the bay side and Muir Beach sequestered within Muir Woods on the coast side. Spend time here and you’ll find a climate that’s completely different from the hilly coastal and forest areas south of San Francisco.
Go east of Muir and head over to Petaluma and Mediterranean-esque Napa / Sonoma (which Dublin / Livermore is also like) – and you’ll find some more Mediterranean microclimates on through Sacramento until a couple hours later, you’re going up into the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Enjoy Tahoe while you’re up there – and remember your snow skis and shoes.
Then there’s folks inland who live along the Delta.
Yeah. There’s a Delta, too.
And there are folks who live along Mount Diablo – that’s not considering which side of Mount Diablo they live on.
It’s crazy how many specific climates there are out here.
All those areas have allergies specific to their respective climates.
For us, we get caught up as to where we want to live once our roots start growing.
It feels like the allergies here in Tri-Valley are the most tolerable. John Madden’s wife, Virginia, is right, “it’s warmer over here.” Also, Katie’s job’s out here and commuting in Bay Area sucks. Even counter-commuting is a pain-in-the-ass by the sheer lack of roads. The slightly higher elevation has made us mostly flood-resistant (though, once again, the southern sides of Livermore and Pleasanton had some issues).
I’m waiting to see how fellow Chicago-to-San-Francisco friends do in their new homes.
We’ve got a few friends starting year two and three in South Bay. If they can get through it, we might go that way. Hopefully, all the allergies in Silicon Valley are digital.
We also like North Bay. If our friends in Napa do alright, we might go there.
It’s cool we’ve got test subjects. Once we know more, we’ll pass it along.
Wait? Are you thinking of moving to Tracy / Mountain House?
That puts you over the Altamont and into the San Joaquin Valley. You get to deal with the pleasure of Valley Fever. It’ll feel like allergies, but if you start to develop red bumps on your legs, run to your doctor. It’s treatable but annoying. It’s like developing chicken pox. So, I’m told.
There’s a lot to plan for weather-wise out here, and that’s just going from town to town. But if you’re like us, you will adjust, as will your allergies.
If not, I can tell you about the air purifiers we bought last year.