Mike Gold writes for the News of Mill Creek on a regular basis. He is a retired entrepreneur and describes himself as a, “relatively recent transplant to the West Coast. I have lived (born and raised) in the Northeastern U.S. So these observations are based upon ‘living the dream’ in the Pacific Northwest.
Okay, I admit it. People from the Pacific Northwest have managed to keep the region’s attractiveness a secret from the rest of the county.
Our youngest son moved here with us when we first arrived. He constantly complained that the people were very parochial and it was hard for him to “break into” social groups. I thought about it and concluded - why share all the richness of the region with those who don’t deserve it? There are already enough folks here (and the traffic nightmares confirm it).
This attitude is surprisingly like New Englanders’ attitudes. There is an old homily about driving anywhere in the State of Maine. If you stop on any country lane – and ask one of the old codgers how to get somewhere, the answer is almost always: “you can’t get there (pronounced they-ah) from here (pronounced he-ah).” You must be an old codger in order to qualify to live in that state. Here are a couple of Maine jokes:
- Question: What is a State of Maine breakfast?
Answer: A Winston and a Coke.
- Question: How do you complement someone from the State of Maine?
Answer: Nice tooth!
The only better way to discourage people from moving to the Pacific Northwest is to make all the roads one-way; heading east.
The Space Needle: You know, for something only 518 feet high, the locals sure do make a big deal of it. C’mon folks, with all the mountains around here there are vastly better viewpoints than the needle. Yeah, it was one of the wonders of the world – but in 1962!
The main landfill in Palm Beach County Florida is 500 feet high. (and it generates enough methane to power 15,000 homes to boot!) And that’s in a state whose “highest” natural point is only 345 feet high.
I suppose if we could capture all the “methane” issuing from all the local politicians perhaps we could power a few homes (probably small homes – and somehow we’d wind up paying ten times the going rate for the electricity).
And lest I remind you, the new Freedom Tower in New York City is 1776 feet high. You can see Connecticut, New York and the Meadowlands of New Jersey (although I can’t imagine why anyone would want to) from it. The Meadowlands, home of Giant Stadium, is a vast flood plain of the Hudson River just west of New York City. For decades, it was the dumping ground of organized crime executions and perhaps the ugliest stretch of local urban development (other than highway 99 – see below). You can watch the Meadowlands stream by in each opening segment of the TV show “The Sopranos.”
Local names: I still can’t pronounce Puyallup. Before it got the name Seattle in late 1852, the city was known as Duwamps. Sounds like the rock & roll style of the 50’s (The Platters, Little Anthony & the Imperials, etc.). Okay, almost everyplace in the U.S. has old Native American names. Massachusetts has Worcester (pronounced wuster). New Hampshire has Lake Winnipesaukee and the Abenaki tribe (from whose tower, you can look over Lake Winnipesaukee). Florida has the Miccosukee, the Seminoles and the famous lost tribe, the Figowees. Then there is the best of all: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in the town of Webster, Massachusetts. Locally known simply as Lake Webster, the old Native American name means, “you fish on your side, I fish on my side, no one fish in the middle.”
Highway 99: If you look up “ugly urban design” in the dictionary, you will see a photo of Highway 99 (virtually anywhere along it). The best thing about Highway 99 (perhaps other than the “company” you’ll find along the “motel row” section near the King/Snohomish county border) is the diversity of the businesses. You can find everything from fresh fruit to recreational vehicles.
I especially like all the used car lots where you can buy from those listed as “buy here pay here.” The owners of these businesses specialize in taking advantage of those who otherwise could not afford a car. They feature old jalopies on their last legs where you can drive off for $99/down, $99/month. But if you are ever late on a payment, you can count on someone repossessing your car in the middle of the night and you’ll be walking to work or taking the bus the next morning.
Psychics: We seem to have an ample supply of “sidewalk psychic shops” in our area. I’ve always wondered why they have a sign in the window that says, “open.” Shouldn’t they know when someone is about to show up? This is one of the oldest cons on the planet. The Nazis identified gypsies as one of the groups they tried to eliminate from planet Earth, as these travelling herds of people were often associated with this type of business.
Here is a typical encounter with a psychic. A highly distressed person walks in, shaking from real or imagined “ills” that affect them. The proprietor starts by saying, “I feel you are under stress.” Is the drool coming out of their mouth perhaps a clue? This is the case of the obvious telling the uninformed that the sky is blue.
I think most of the operators of these shops have degrees from “matchbook U.” $99/down, $99/month for any degree from Associates to PhD – and if you’re in a hurry, you can have your diploma expressed mailed with one-day delivery as long as you promise to complete your coursework and most importantly - you pay your bill in full before we mail it out.
Now some reading this might infer that I don’t appreciate what we have here. Let me say I do appreciate it. Especially the evergreens. They are magnificent and some of the old growth are 350 to 700 years old. How can you not appreciate that?
Next time I’ll talk about alligators – also old and one of my favorite subjects.