Sunday, April 16, 2006

Slug Fest

We are having a miserable, cold, wet weekend here, and there was a fresh dusting of snow in the hills over night. What ever happened to that In Like and Lion and Out Like a Lamb crap that was supposed to happen with March? And don't give me April showers bring May flowers. At this pint I couldn't care less about flowers. I want sun and lot's of it. The only solace I can take is in knowing that The Bay Area is actually getting more rain than we are this year (Sorry House Made).

Back in the late 70s my family moved to California and we settled in the LA Area. Actually it was worse than LA, we moved to Orange County. Most of the Counties are huge in California, except for Orange County, which for some reason is relatively small. There also happens to be no central area of Orange County. I mean, there’s Disney Land, but that’s not really a population center. There is no There There. It’s just Orange County. It doesn’t really matter which city you live in it all looks the same. It’s all Orange County. It’s like someone knocked over a can of suburbia and it spilled out over the flat landscape and slowly covered orange groves and strawberry fields with a thick, viscous, stucco colored ooze. Cities congealed from the ooze, but it’s like trying to differentiate between different parts of an ameba. It doesn’t matter. I couldn’t wait to get out.

When I left in 1985 I moved to Santa Cruz which is about 75 miles south of San Francisco. All my friends warned me about Santa Cruz, and The Bay Area in general. They all said the same thing, “You know, it rains a lot up there.” They said it as if being (half) baked in the So. California sun was so much better. When compared to So. California, or just about any place on the globe, Santa Cruz is a paradise.

Then after Santa Cruz became so congested and over-priced that I could take it anymore I decided to move on to someplace else. I searched all over the country using realtor web sites, on-line newspapers, and a book called Places Rated Almanac. Places Rated Almanac takes 400 cities and metro areas in the country and rates them on things like affordability, jobs, weather, traffic, schools, etc. They had the cities ranked in each category, and then an over-all ranking. At the time Santa Cruz was one of the top places in the country for weather and 4th worst in the country for housing prices. Starting with the worst, I think it went SF, NY, Honolulu, and then Santa Cruz. Just over the hill from Santa Cruz is Silicon Valley. Need I say more.

Anyway, I searched and read and read and searched and a few cities percolated to the top. I wanted a small city, with a university near by (bring in some culture), and a stock of old housing that was still somewhat affordable. Weather was not a top priority. When you live in paradise it’s hard to find better weather. I looked at places like Burlington, VT, Madison, WI, Missoula, MT, I think someplace in N. Carolina, and maybe a few others. Eureka, CA wasn’t even listed in the almanac because it was too small an area.

I honestly don’t really remember when I first learned about Eureka. I knew nothing about it but I found a realty web site and figured the prices for houses must be typos or something. How was it possible you could buy a Victorian home in a costal city in California for less than $100,000. There had to be something wrong. I found a very charming little 1875 Greek Revival on a web site that was listed for $60,000! I emailed the realtor and made an appointment to see it.

I drove up the following weekend and walked through the little Greek Revival hell hole. The place was a real dump. One might even have called it feculent. I spent the weekend in the city and drove around. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I went back to Santa Cruz and after about a week I made an offer on the house. I got it for $52,000. I quit my job and 3 months later I was living in Eureka. It was a very strange experience. I fixed up the little Greek Revival and ssold it two years alter and then bought the Palatial Petch Manor.

When I told all my friends I was moving to Eureka they all said one of 2 things. It was either, “Where’s Eureka?”, or “You know, it rains a lot up there”. Yes it does rain a lot in Eureka, but I don’t care. I really like it. I mean, weekends like this suck, but we’re at the tale end of a wet winter, so it’s expected that I should be complaining about the weather. Everybody is. It’s a local pastime. It could be worse, right. I mean, I could be in Seattle or something. From what I hear, it really rains a lot up there.


Nick said...

I have no idea what you're talking about, Greg. Rain? In Seattle? You're totally mistaken - it doesn't rain here. At all.

Greg said...

:-) I actually heard a native of Eureka say, "It rains too much in Seattle for me." I had to laugh. Seattle is, of course, a great town.

Kristin said...

Nice post. I like to learn how people got to where they are. T

There's a lot to be said for low real estate prices. This coming from someone who lives in another town that starts with "Eu" and people think I'm crazy for moving here.