“Welcome to Sequim,” says everyone!

I recently moved from San Jose, CA; the city I grew up and lived most of my life, to Sequim Washington.

First things first:

1) It’s Sequim, pronounced  “Skwim” not Sek-wim. One syllable, not two.

2) I’ve relocated. Not retired, though Sequim does seem to attract a lot of retirees.

3) I’m finding that Washington State means different things to different people. I live on the Olympic Peninsula, not in Seattle.

Sequim has over 60 small businesses within its six square block area. We have Costco, Walmart, and a few other big-box type stores and a dozen or so restaurants ranging from diners to gourmet fare. The downtown features purple park benches with matching purple trash receptacles, fresh flowers hanging in artful arrangements downtown and purple bike-shaped bike racks.  The Clallam County seat, Port Angeles is about 17 miles away and possesses a cleverly and beautifully stated slogan  “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” The same is true here in Sequim but unlike Port Angeles, we have a smaller population, less rain and more sunny days.

cropped-downtown.jpg

Downtown Sequim

Some observations:

1) Unlike the Bay Area, where there are clearly defined areas of affluence; there seem to be less divisions here in Sequim. Perhaps this boils down to population alone, I’m not sure. But even in what might be regarded as a more pricey area, you can still find moderate housing. For example there are pricey areas near the water but at the same time, you can find a less expensive home. In the 17 months I’ve been here, I’ve yet to come across what appears to be an undesirable area. There are good areas, even great areas, but not sketchy ones.

 2) People go out of their way to smile and say hello. I can’t pump fuel at Costco without someone greeting me and striking up a conversation.  It’s as though the residents of Sequim are more concerned with offending their neighbors by not greeting them. I can’t walk my dog in my neighborhood without a car passing me by and waving. I no longer have to aggressively speed up to change lanes on the highway. I simply turn my signal on and people let me in. It’s not Stepford, it’s Sequim. And it’s refreshing.
costco

Sweet couple shopping at our very uncrowded Costco

3) Here in Sequim I daily witness aesthetic beauty which has provided a contentment I’ve never quite experienced. As a runner, I’m continually mesmerized by the theater of nature as I explore new paths on new roads. Sometimes it’s a wooded forest or sometimes it’s the combination of the vast open sky and the changing colors of the trees. It’s hard to not stop in my winded tracks and gaze toward the snow-capped mountain ranges and not be overtaken by the beauty. I wonder if I will eventually grow bored of all this nature the same way I got bored of the visual appeal of Santana Row or the Winchester Mystery House.  But in talking with people who’ve lived here for years I’ve learned that the natural beauty we experience here is not the sort of thing people tire of. I guess it explains why the Sequim Facebook page is comprised almost entirely of beautiful images that people post of everyday observations. I can’t help but wonder if living among and within this environment actually contributes to a happier populous whose friendly hello’s are nothing more than a natural outflow of their contentment.

dungeness

Dungeness Park trail leading out to the water

4) I’ve heard it a number of times but “Everyone here is from somewhere else.” Translation: This isn’t a cliquey town. Sequim is a place where the residents delight to know where you’re from not so they can judge you, because they too, are from another place. And their response is always the same: Welcome to Sequim.

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