When people move to the Pacific Northwest from states that don’t feature 226 to 308 days a year with clouds covering upwards of 75% of the sky they frequently freak out and want to move back to Napa, which is fine by Pacific Northwesterners, not that we have anything in particular against Napians other than their teeming wealth and lack of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which they will acquire after their first Thanksgiving here.
It’s best to warn those researching real estate through indulgent, in-real-life tours of major Northwest cities like Portland and Seattle between May 19th – September 12th that before they commit they need to seriously slow their roll and come back during guaranteed bummer-weather dates like oh exactly 4:30 p.m. on November 21st, 3:22 p.m. on December 17th, 7:40 a.m. on January 8th, any time on March 22nd, and most certainly on June 21st as, despite anomalies, the first day of summer tends to be distinctly unsummer-like, especially in contrast to weather reports from the rest of the country where it’s basically 72-82 degrees, excluding Alaska, where the government still pays people to live there.
But we’re just talking about clouds at the moment. The rain here is a further deterrent, with 152 days a year dedicated to the wet t-shirt-inspiring stuff. Granted, other cities enjoy the thrill of higher rain totals by volume, whereas in these parts it’s all about increased frequency versus girth, ah, versus cubic inches, and the subsequently amplified desire to simply give up and put on a solid 15 pounds by gorging on sausage sandwiches, spicy Doritos, and midnight chocolate lava cakes, given that the lack of vitamin D and dopamine create an insatiable desire to feel good, even if for a wistful, fleeting moment, like trying to emblazon that Mediterranean sunset or a robust financial statement on your memory.
The exception to this sage advice (try it before you buy it) lies within those citizens who enjoy winter sports, particularly mountain sports like skiing, snowboarding, drinking in the lodge, hot-tubbing at a friend’s sweet chalet, and snowshoeing – or even not necessarily mountain-bound sports but could still technically happen there like hunting and watching football or the new local NHL team The Seattle Kraken, as much as we thought the Seattle Sockeyes was a much better name given the alliteration.
While the rain dumps depression west of the Cascade mountain range, it magically transforms those pinnacles and the nooks and crannies in between into powdery-white winter wonderlands – a phenomenon scientists are still trying to understand and Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms consistently try and monetize with AI and machine learning – with, for example, Washington’s Mt. Baker ranked #8 on one slightly obscure online survey of best places to ski nationally based on snow volume.
In the interest of igniting some real inter-state xenophobia, we’d like to point out that the real advantage of Washington’s – and to a much, much lesser degree Oregon’s – proclivity for collecting snow at high elevations is the simple fact that most of the competitor states are Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming, all of which are documented as having really bad restaurants, including slow service, dirty bathrooms, and a distinct lack of house-made crinkle cut or curly fries, which is tragic.
Speaking of Mt. Baker, we’re barely old yet-still-got-the-mojo-thank-you-very-much-enough to remember the winter-spring-summer of 1998-99, where it literally rained here in the lowlands through July, resulting in martial law and a complete breakdown of the sexual conventions and customs of the local community, leading to desperate, rampant copulation between strangers in cars, waiting for the bus, at Sonic’s games (they were still here then), and at the original Starbucks store at Pike Place Market. But along with STDs this weather anomaly did yield 1,140 inches of snowfall at Mount Baker, verified by NOAA as the World Record for snowfall in a single season. Skiers and snowboarders loved it, despite the fact that much snow basically turned the lifts into rope-toes and the only way to enter the lodge was through the chimney.
The other thing mountains in the Pacific Northwest have going for them is a lower population of creepy, cave dwelling monsters. Competitor states engage in heavy PR efforts and media-quashing to hide the fact that hundreds if not thousands of ski- and snowboard-bound tourists are eaten each year by Ogres, CHUDDs, The People Under the Stairs, Fairies, Jackalopes, Dryads and Cave Trolls. Documented fact. In the Pacific Northwest it still happens, but to a much lesser degree.
Those who survive the sporadic attacks here apparently love returning again and again to pay approximately $71.30 plus 8-10% sales tax (Washington, rates vary by how you voted) or $109 (Oregon, no sales tax, but they make up for that by employing people to pump your gas, so while in Oregon don’t you dare get out of your car to pump gas because you’re jeopardizing their attempt to recreate 50’s-era gas station experiences across the state, minus the racism) for an all-day pass to ride on a lift/gondola/rope tow, complete with jerky stops/unnerving swaying in an air temperature of roughly 24-degrees Fahrenheit, +/- a few degrees based on windchill or lack thereof, then careen down the mountain screaming “I hate my jobbbbbbbbbbbb” and blasting through as many beginners’ lessons as possible without hurting anyone.
Which is a better way to deal with reality than drinking, smoking weed, or rifling through your friend’s bathroom looking for old prescriptions.
Skiing and snowboarding are incredibly challenging and physically demanding, mostly thanks to trying to escape the Cave Trolls and such (but remember they’re less of a problem here locally), which is why the professionals in this arena workout all the time and are thus so dang hot. To get in top form means putting down the cuban sandwich – the one called “The Press” with the morsels of roasted pork nestled atop banana peppers, draped with slices of smoked ham, Swiss cheese, slathered with extra virgin olive oil and a garlic tapenade and melted together in a hot press oh sweet Baby Jesus – and hit the official winter sport training circuit, as outlined below, which we expect you to try after reading this article and consulting your physician and signing a waiver:
Okay we’re exhausted already that sounds like enough. But for the record top-tier snow sport athletes (excluding snowshoers which is fun but we mean come on they’re just walking around looking at stuff then wondering if they should have brought a safety beacon and where their car is):
All of this involves concentrated effort to do things like maintaining a “chest-upright” or “your parents should have taught you this” posture, track hips, knees, and ankles, work non-dominant appendages (nothing on the human body is symmetrical, just saying), develop “proprioception” which may be a made-up word, and generally do plyometric exercises or the repeated, rapid stretching and contracting of muscles – generating maximum force in short intervals of time – to develop power like Kanye and a desire to walk around without a shirt like an underwear model. All while breathing “correctly.”
It’s confusing. Only people with membership in the shadowy organization known as allied health professionals – whose bizarre behavior is best exemplified by their hierarchical bureaucracy complete with weird, coded initials signifying status or speciality, specifically RCEP, DPT, DMD, ACSM-CEP, ATC, and PRC; all of which FBI analysts recently decoded to reveal direct ties to the fields of exercise physiology, dentistry, and physical therapy, revealing those professions as directly tied to the overall conspiracy and thus facing looming indictment – can help make sense of it.
But be forewarned, once you get them going it’s impossible to make them stop. It’s like being trapped in a broken elevator filled with cosplay enthusiasts and a limited edition run of The Avengers Issue #1 (1963) at Comic Con. Their eyes literally glaze over and they become so enraptured discussing their passion they salivate, levitate, and end up chanting what sounds like a mixture of aphorisms and the regurgitation of some highly technical user’s manual. What’s worse is if this takes place at home they frequently forget to help with dinner or the laundry and you’ll find them frozen in some pose in the living room, concentrating so intently you’d think they’re trying to solve a mathematical equation for landing a spacecraft on Venus.
But it’s all worth it. Winter sports offer great workouts in stunning scenery with fresh air and a peaceful, almost meditative ambiance. They also teach grit, how to overcome obstacles, and provide an escape to the freneticism of daily digital life and simply think. Just don’t think about work, the price of the tickets, cave-dwelling monsters, or how fast you’re going.
Oh, in these parts they also create a reason to look forward to drenching, lowland rain. We know many skiers and snowboarders who actually smile on Sunday morning when the downpours are so heavy we can’t see our neighbor’s house. For any non-winter sport folks, the best advice is to book some kind of beach vacation around November 20th then again sometime around the first week of February. It helps fight off the insanity.