Hey, y’all,

We hope y’all had a great 2017. It was weird not being at home for any of the Christmas holiday. Something felt a touch out of place. But, we kept moving and made sure to enjoy who was around – and go to a coffee shop that made change with $2 bills before seeing The Last Jedi at the local theatre on Christmas Day.

And eat. Holy Hell with the eating.

Speaking of moving…

By the way, it’s probably not much of a surprise but we moved to Oregon. We’re along the Oregon Coast for a while. Tillamook Bay. The land of Tillamook Cheese, farmers, fishermen, loggers, and a shit ton of rain.

We’ve gone from the desert tundra of east Alameda County, California, its 15 inches of rain a year & 288 days of sunshine to about 88 inches of rain a year & 135 days of sunshine out here.

Whatever it takes to keep it beautiful and green up here.

Our long-term plan:

If you’re a betting person, it used 4:1 in favor of moving over the mountain to the Portland area. Now it’s more 3:1 we keep a permanent place along the coast and get a condo in Portland.

Either way, it feels as though we came here to help out, lend a hand, and spend some time with family.

Why we moved to Oregon:

1 – We wanted to.

We’ve talked about it for months. Years. We liked the weather down there in Northern California – when you were allowed to go outside. If it wasn’t the sun, it was the smoke that kept with you in for stretches of time. Fall of 2017 was the worst of it during our time there.

Katie spent 7 weeks in Oregon in 2017. We were already spending our holidays here. We were staying in California long enough to rest up, supply up, and head back to either Oregon or Chicago.

2 – It’s overcrowded as Hell in Bay Area.

The logistical nightmares of Bay Area are only getting worse. Being in East Bay, it could take three hours to see friends in South Bay – where Silicon Valley sits – unless we waited till off-peak hours to travel. And, sure, Chicago gets like that, but in Chicago if an accident happened on one of the highways, you had about 20 other ways to get where you needed to go. In Bay Area, you were usually stuck. Foothills and mountains corralled the logistical options.

3 – The housing in Bay Area has gone stupid past reason.

The starter home prices were showing for as “little” as $600,000.00 USD, but those advertised prices are just bait to start bidding wars that could often land in the $700Ks. These houses are usually from the 1960s, 1,200 square feet on maybe 5,000 square feet of land. And in the towns where we were looking, those homes were either near a fault line or a liquefaction zone.

I had to look up what a liquefaction zone was. It’s brutal. An earthquake hits, the land turns to quicksand, and all the things above into the ground.

If we had stayed, or had ever move back, we would have chosen either South Bay or Oakland. But that’s a whole lot of betting on yourself and a whole lot of things needing to go right for a long, long time. If you don’t have 3 streams of solid income, such a starter home – no matter who you are – is financial suicide. Now many are taking those risks because if they had to give it up, their house has probably already appreciated 20%. But eventually such a well runs dry, fast, and, despite warning, without notice.

There likely wouldn’t be a chair left to sit in when the music stops.

We would only move back to Bay Area with serious financial leverage in our coffers. The overcrowding jacked up rent pricing, too. Our rent was $2,800+ for a 2-bedroom apartment in a barracks commuter town 20 miles away from the nearest big city. It had two BART train spots but no active cemetery.

Never trust a city without an active cemetery. You’re only worth what you’re giving to the city.

Our rent was only as low as it was because we had been in the building for years.

There’s more about Bay Area housing. Much more. Novels more. But that’s for another time.

4 – Consolidating travel.

We were putting a lot of miles on the road. We love the travel, especially going through the desert farming valleys of Northern California, up into the mountains along the border, weaving about the state & national forests to the Oregon Coast. But over time, it’s the hours on the road, hours which were becoming more and more necessary, that prompted us to cut our frequent 1,400-mile round trips.

Now we have more hours to explore other parts of the world, not just the I-5 route, as beautiful as it is.

5 – No financial reason to stay.

On our first morning back in Bay Area in 2018, Katie came home for lunch to tell me she had been let go in what looked like a lot of salary slashing. It took about two days for us realize we could actually leave.

6 – We’d rather start our family near family.

We had our friends there. Most of them were from back home and had transplanted like us. That’s the only other reason we would have stayed.

We want any offspring we’re lucky enough to have to know their extended family members. Up here, they’ll have a grandparent, an aunt, perhaps an uncle, and cousins. Then, they’ll only have to make one big trip annually to Chicago to see their other Grandparents and aunts. Ceterus Parabus.

What we’ll miss:

We’ll miss the sun. We’ll miss our friends. We’ll missing living 10 yards from Armadillo Willy’s and 100 yards from a Safeway. We’ll miss the 48-acre park across from our complex and views from our balcony of the Pleasanton Ridge and the Altamont during sundown. I’ll miss Carlo and the gym and Caps & Taps. I’ll miss historic Sunnyvale and the Fox and Drake’s Dealership and Dean’s Café – and that little local bookshop in Pleasanton. I’ll miss O.co Coliseum and rides to my aunt & uncle’s in Bakersfield – with a little stop over to Temblor Brewing to see Lahti. I’ll miss living near a city with a baseball stadium, let alone two of them. I’ll miss being looped in on roots and jam bands passing through the area.

And the sun. To never having to look at a weather app to know the sunny day today was like the one yesterday and the day before and the day before that. I’ll miss that most of all.

Will we ever go back to Bay Area?

Hell Yeah. We’ll go back to see friends. We might better be able to enjoy California now that we’re stationed closer to family. Katie still hasn’t been to Yosemite (“But at least I know longer call it Yose-Mite,” she added). I somehow, as if by devilish providence, never made it out to the Big Sur. We spent a few nights in Incline Village, but that was during the 2016 World Series. Not even Lake Tahoe could tear me away from the TV that week.

As for Bay Area, so long as it involves friends or to see friends. I’d like to road trip and hike down through Livermore wine valley again. I didn’t spend enough time in Sausalito for my liking. I could spend years in Sausalito and it wouldn’t feel like enough time. I still need to do a lunch at X Development campus, as I promised. Mount Diablo would be cool, if there’s time, but I’ve been there before and if time exists, I’d rather schlep it around majestic Mount Shasta.

As for the rest: So much earth, so little time.

That said, California is on our bones now.

It’ll forever be a part of what we call home.

What we look forward to in Oregon:

We look forward to Garibaldi Days. We jones for crab races and Pig & Ford races at the Tillamook County Fair. We look forward to learning why folks want Portland to stay weird. I look forward to more days where when I smell smoke I’ll be thankful it’s a bonfire. I look forward to seeing where we choose to plant roots. I look forward to the quiet, peaceful days along the water. I look forward to the simpler, cleaner life surrounded by folks less concerned about possession and more concerned about others. Not that they didn’t in Bay Area, but those good folks were often smothered by those scrapping and hustling, living 4-to-a-single-bedroom apartment in hopes of surviving another month.

I look forward to showing our kids the park bench in Rockaway Beach named for their great-great grandmother and getting enough leg strength to keep up with the little hill-climbing jackrabbits I have for siblings-in-law.

I look forward to fish & chips and Sunday morning services and learning to crab on the docks – and to remember to use chicken drumsticks as bait. And to learning to like crab, I guess. I look forward to never paying $3 for coffee unless it’s roasted locally. I look forward to Pronto Pups and waiting on park benches with an ice cream cone in hand and staring out along the sea while my wife and her mother go looking for quilting fabrics. I look forward to The Gorge & Bend & Hood & McLoughlin & Crater Lake, and learning that the valley we’re in is pronounced Wil-LAM-ette.

And, hopefully, I look forward to sharing this wet, wonderful land with family and friends from back home. I’ll set up a Google Calendar. Y’all can start scheduling your times.

But first, what magical, wonderful thing will Katie do next in her career?

To days to come.

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