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gdtrfb
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  Quote gdtrfb Replybullet Topic: PNW Places to Live (for Paddling, etc.)
    Posted: 26 Apr 2014 at 11:16am
Brand new to this forum. I posted the following at BoaterTalk and Mountain Buzz, and someone suggested this might be a good place to post. Thanks in advance!

My wife and I have been paddling for a few years in MN/WI (we live in Minneapolis) and are planning to move to an area with a more active community, better paddling, and a longer season this summer.

Weíve been debating between the Southeast (likely Asheville) and the Pacific Northwest for well over a year, and I originally intended to post a ďSE vs. PNWĒ thread. However, after much research and many emails with the NC Dept. of Public Instruction and some teacher groups in the state, we have all but eliminated NC as an option. Here are some details on the abysmal teaching situation in NC (no offense to those of you in NC) if youíre interested:http://www.npr.org/2014/02/11/275368362/pay-cuts-end-of-tenure-put-north-carolina-teachers-on-edge. We are both relatively new teachers, so income is pretty limited to begin with. Moving to NC from MN would mean about a 10K (~25%) wage cut for both of us, which is untenable. The surrounding states arenít really that much better for wages, and we really wanted to live in Asheville for the culture, music, beer (!), etc.

Iím open to suggestions for other SE Ďhot spotsí (i.e., fun, liberal, relatively small towns with an active/íoutdoorsyí community), but Iím now concentrating my efforts on the PNW. My question is where? Right now Hood River, OR/White Salmon, WA and Bend are on our radar. We donít want to live in a Ďbigí city, so unless our jobs demand it, we wonít look inside Portland or Seattle. Iíve read every page of the SE and PNW sections of Lelands book, River Gypsies. It was helpful, but it focuses mainly (not entirely) on runs that are beyond our current abilities.

Might be helpful to know a little about us:
- Early/Mid 30ís; No kids
- Class II-III paddlers, though we both aspire for more, and are determined to keep improving
- Other interests: Snowboarding, Biking (Mtn. & Road), Camping/Hiking, Disc Golf, Live Music, Craft Beer

I was researching Mt. Bachelor (just W of Bend) last night, and was amazed at their annual snowfall, length of season, and % of Difficult and Extreme runs. This is a definite plus for Bend. My hesitation for Bend is that itís a high-desert climate (relatively cool, esp. at night), and I donít know how much Class II-III whitewater there is in the area (other than Deschutes, which Iíve read a bit about). My goal right now is class IV, but I REALLY believe in a strong foundation, so I work hard every time out on skills, not just getting to IV quickly. What I want to avoid is moving somewhere that has only easy stuff, or worse, only hard stuff.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and for any thoughts or suggestions. Iím posting this on BoaterTalk and Mountain Buzz since those are the forums I know, and I know they draw from all over, but Iím open to PNW forum suggestions too.
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  Quote Jimmy Replybullet Posted: 26 Apr 2014 at 7:47pm
We live in a town called Monroe, NE of Seattle.  Close to the Sky, which is paddled almost all of the year.  A lot of 3/4 runs within an hours drive.  Awesome backpacking right down the road.  Stevens Pass ski slopes a little over an hour away.  We like the schools, but I have no idea what the teachers think of the district.

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  Quote LisaF Replybullet Posted: 26 Apr 2014 at 8:14pm
You would probably have to apply for a job and go where the job takes you. I have some friends who are teachers and it isn't always easy to find a job around here. That being said, Monroe is good, North Bend (both in WA), Maple Valley/Black Diamond/Enumclaw areas (WA); Hood River (OR) or White Salmon (WA) are all good outdoors towns near both paddling, snowsports and biking. I live in Seattle and have no trouble paddling everything from class II to class V within an hour of home and find awesome snowboarding less than an hour away at Alpental and a bit more than an hour away at Stevens Pass.
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  Quote jon! Replybullet Posted: 26 Apr 2014 at 8:53pm
On the other side of the pass(Stevens Pass)is a small touristy town called Leavenworth . The tourist part can be annoying but makes for live music. Unlike western Washington it has 4 seasons. It does not have as much to paddle but high in quality. There is a big mountain biking scene there with hiking and biking almost from your doorstep. Wenatchee is near there with more biking and skiing. I don't know about the potential for teaching jobs but could find out.
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  Quote Wiggins Replybullet Posted: 26 Apr 2014 at 9:31pm
You may also want to consider the Whatcom/Skagit county area. Both are close to Mt Baker and Whistler. Both have good access to class II/III runs (the lower Sauk, Nooksack Canyon, classic and lower Chilliwack, Chehalis, Skagit, and upper Stilligumish).
 
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  Quote NateW Replybullet Posted: 26 Apr 2014 at 10:35pm
I'd be pretty tempted by Boise even though I don't know too terribly much about their whitewater scene. Lots of good stuff in Idaho. The whitewater park they have looks cool that's for sure.
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  Quote osmelendez Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 12:51am
Boise ID. Is an amazing place for whitewater. Some of the best boating/boaters I've ever met live there, but that's not where it sounds like you want to be.
I'm curious why not the big city? I live it Seattle and I'm from a small town in Idaho. I love it. Good money, good jobs, and great whitewaterr that's fairly close.
I'm still not used to the two whitewater seasons around here. But it's the best.
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  Quote osmelendez Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 12:56am
Back to Boise though, you'd probably find good teaching jobs there
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  Quote gdtrfb Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 6:30am
Wow, thanks everyone! I've been getting a lot of feedback from BoaterTalk and Mountain Buzz, but nobody has mentioned anything in WA, so this is helpful. I mapped out all the towns/ski resorts/areas mentioned, and made some notes as well.

LisaF is probably correct about going where a job takes us, but it's nice to have an idea of where to concentrate our efforts.

Osmelendez, thanks for the Boise info. That is one that's been on our radar too (along with Missoula), and has been mentioned on the other forums as well. Others people have mentioned are Ashland, OR; Arcata, CA; Bozeman, MT; Corvallis & Eugene, OR; and Knoxville & Chattanooga, TN

As for the city thing, it's just that I prefer Nature, Outdoor Recreation, and Peace & Quiet to Noise, Crowds, Pavement, and Traffic! Plus the cost of living is usually lower.

And in case it matters, here are a couple things I failed to mention before:
- We are kayakers (as opposed to rafters, etc.)
- I am certified to teach middle school science and high school biology.
- Wife is certified in MS science and elementary (she'll likely stay elementary)
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  Quote gdtrfb Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 7:26am
Forgot one thing I wanted to ask about PNW. One of the things I've worried about as we've contemplated this move for over a year is the WW 'difficult' in the PNW (and especially WA).

Someone on BoaterTalk posted this, which gets to my point:
"A thought on the Northwest that is just my personal opinion: I think it's pretty hard to develop as a paddler up there. The water is always cold, there's wood, gorges, and the whitewater is usually powerful and difficult. There are folks to hook up with and learn with, but overall the Southeast is an easy win when it comes to learning to paddle. Once you are a solid Class IV-V boater, the Northwest is the best."

Any thoughts? We purchased drysuit this year (Kokatat Icons, which arrive Tuesday!), but is it hard to progress in the area?

Edited by gdtrfb - 27 Apr 2014 at 10:16am
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 7:56am
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  Quote Jimmy Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 9:36am
One thing to keep in mind is that you will get tired of driving before you get tired of paddling.  The PNW spoiled me, whenever someone wants to go somewhere that is more than a 2 hour drive I'm inclined to not go unless it is a long weekend.  Pick a place that will keep driving to minimum except for those special trip weekends scattered through the year!
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  Quote Larry Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 10:01am
Alright, I feel I have to chime in here.

I have lived in Houston TX, Eugene & Springfield OR, Boise (actually Emmett) ID, Hartford (actually Simsbury) CT, and currently Seattle WA.

My favorite activities are; skiing, hiking/backpacking, kayaking (mostly whitewater), rock climbing, and just about anything that gets me outdoors.

That said, I would never live anywhere but the PNW. That leaves only the question of WHERE in the PNW. Right now work dictates that I live in the Seattle area. But I would likely stay in the area even if it didn't, just farther out.

Favorite ski areas are; Jackson Hole, Whistler, and Mt Bachelor (locally; Stevens, Crystal, & Baker)

Favorite places to hike; Alpine lakes, North cascades, and Olympics.

My favorite places to kayak & rock climb are all over the PNW, so you can't go wrong there.

Based on all of that, I will likely end up somewhere north of Seattle.

So, my recommendation:
Find a job you and your wife are happy with somewhere in the PNW (that part's a no-brainer). Plan on staying there for a few years while you get out and experience all the PNW has to offer. Find your own favorites. Then choose a permanent place to live.

Oh, and what better place to progress in your kayaking than somewhere with so many different skill levels that can be boated almost all year. But that may be a different topic.
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  Quote BrianP Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 11:14am
Having lived and paddled in both MN and WA and since your coming from Minneapolis, it's WAY easier to progress in WA. Minnesota basically has one class III-IV(V) that runs all summer. If you want to paddle a lot of harder water, you're coming off the couch and stepping into cold water with ice shelves and snow on the ground class IV and V. It's also a different kind of paddling. Most everything in MN is huge slides and waterfalls. Not a lot in the way of standard boulder gardens that you'll find in the NW.

As for water temp, yeah it's mostly cold, but not like spring in MN cold with ice bergs in the water and 4 feet of snow on the ground.

The comment about wood, gorges, and water being powerful is kind of stupid. Rivers collect wood..it's how nature works. Lots of rivers have gorges..it's how nature works. Whitewater can be powerful, but so can a slow moving river..it's physics. It's not like that changes from the SE to the PNW.

I wasn't a great paddler when I lived there but I sure progressed. Since moving back to MN I've used the foundation I built there to start running harder stuff and wouldn't trade it for anything.
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  Quote JayB Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 11:49am
-Make sure you check out Boise before committing. It has incredible mountains, rivers, skiing, etc plus vastly more sunshine and a *waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay* lower cost of living than pretty much any populated area in Western Washington. If you are planning on settling down wherever you move, and eventually want to own a home, the expense-factor might be something to add to the list of variables that you want to consider.

-Jay
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  Quote osmelendez Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 5:44pm
Ultimately I say give Seattle or surrounding area a try, but if you're not having it then I guess I'll officially cast my vote in for Boise Idaho.
I remember the warm summer days surfing fat waves/holes with only shorts, spray-skirt, life jacket, noseplugs, and helmet on. The weather was so nice I didn't have to even wear a top, just a life jacket. We'd surf for HOURS, literally.
I spent many days on the river thinking that I can't believe me and all of my friends have it soooo good. The whitewater near there is hands-down, world class. Progression is friendly. And as soon as you're ready for the step up, it'll be there. The kayaking and whitewater community is huge. It's the biggest I've seen. Almost too big at times. I actually already have plans to move back to Idaho and Boise is where I will land. To the north is Riggins Idaho. East is over 50 miles of whitewater near Twin Falls Idaho.
One of the main reasons that I cast my vote in for Boise Idaho is because I think that you and your wife will be able to get great jobs there and support your family.
If I could, I would just live in Leavenworth, spend some time there and then move near the Little Salmon and then go to the next great spot for whitewater, but the problem for me is that there is no industry for me and what I do for a living. I'm probably just not creative enough to tap into it, but it seems like it would be pretty hard to find a 40hr job that pays $70,000+ a year in Leavenworth. That's possible in Boise.
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  Quote osmelendez Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 5:46pm
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