I love first impressions, or more specifically, looking back on my first impressions of people and places after I’ve become familiar with them. I say this, because I just returned home from my first taste of Ellensburg and Central Washington. I’m so excited about this move. I admit that there was a part of me that feared I’d hate the town and school, and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, since I’m committed to being there for two years. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem like it’ll be the case. Instead, I’m more concerned with not wanting to leave after I finish my masters. But that’s two years away and I have plenty of time to experience lots between now and then.

I want to write about my trip and thoughts, so that once I’m familiar with everything Ellensburg has to offer, I can remember what I thought of it at first sight.

Day 1:

Flying to Washington from Florida takes an entire day. What an exhausting adventure. Mom and I got to the airport about 6ish in the morning. Our first flight was at 8:30am, we flew to Nashville and actually met up with Ashley, who drove to the airport to hang out for an hour. From Nashville we flew directly to Seattle-Tacoma airport, I need to remember to bring a pillow or one of those weird head U-shaped things next time. From the airport we picked up a rental car and headed towards Ellensburg. The drive reminds me of the drive from Vancouver to Whistler; extremely scenic, surrounded by mountains, water and green trees. One thing that mom noticed, that I failed to notice was the lack of billboards. Maybe Washington has some law against billboards but there weren’t any along the interestate. Also, the speed limit for trucks runs about 5-10 mph slower than that of cars. It’s awesome. Compared to driving from St. Pete to Orlando, it was heaven. No aggressive drivers, no crazy truckers changing lanes erratically and an overall scenic drive.

After checking into the hotel, mom and I drove over to the apartment complex. We could only see the outside of the building, but from what we could see, it’s a nice and clean apartment. I have a second floor, corner apartment. I think it might mean that I have a bit more space than the other apartments. Also, there should be less noise than the other possible apartment locations.

From there, we went down main street in search of food. We ended up at the Ellensburg Pasta Company, which was okay, but not wonderful. Then we wandered around downtown, taking pictures and looking at the local stores. Mom commented that I am moving to Franklin (North Carolina). In some ways, she’s right. Ellensburg is very much a small town, it’s not a city by any means. There seems to be two main roads, Main Street and University Way. You can drive to anything within 5 minutes, which is convenient and should help save on gas. But, unlike Franklin, there are plenty of activities going on, such as Friday art walks, a film festival, winter hopfest, a rodeo, and a lot more. I’m looking forward to experiencing the small town lifestyle. I love North Carolina, it’s my favorite place and I actually wanted to find a grad school there, so Ellensburg seems perfect for me. Plus, I’m thinking that I’m going to have so much school work, that I’m not going to have a lot of time to get bored anyway.

Day 2:

We made an impromptu trip to Roslyn, Wa. It meant a lot to my mom because she used to be a huge Northern Exposure fan and it’s the town where they filmed the show. The town literally consists of a single street with shops on it, but the random trip showed me that there are lots of cool little towns and places to explore all around Ellensburg.

Next on the list of things to do, sign a lease! The apartment I’m renting is very basic. It’s a little on the small side and only has one bathroom, but since it’s just me, it’ll be perfect. The pictures on the website showed this horrible 70’s-tastic carpet, but thankfully, the carpet in the apartment turned out to be plush, brown carpet that I actually really enjoy. One thing I didn’t notice right away, is the fact that none of the apartments have air-conditioning. As a Floridian, it’s impossible to fathom, yet I don’t think it’ll be an issue. Since I’ll be on the second floor, I can leave my windows open and create a nice cross-breeze. I love fresh air and the weather isn’t that hot most of the year, so it should help keep my energy costs down. Also, not to worry, the apartment has central heating for the winter months. It  will come in handy, since I was told that there is generally a foot of snow on the ground for five months out of the year. Oh my.

Other pluses: The laundry facilities seems clean and like a fun place to meet people. Next door to that, there’s a lounge room with big tv and a fitness room, so I can workout and do laundry. All around the complex there are picnic benches and outdoor grills. I’m really impressed by the apartment managers. It seems like it’s going to be a clean, quiet place to live with staff to take care of whatever issues arise. I’m excited. 🙂

The productivity continued after lunch, with many errands on campus. As I took care of errands, I also explored the campus. CWU reminds me a lot of FSU in that it has pretty brick buildings and green grassy areas, but there are places that are also rather modern. The student union and rec center/gym seemed more like UCF’s. I am very happy and feel like the school will be the perfect place to spend the next two years.

I also accomplished a lot in the afternoon. I went to student employment and filled out the forms for my assistantship. Dropped off a direct deposit form at the cashier’s office, so my financial aid and loan money will go straight into my bank account. Hooray! Then I stopped into the financial aid office to verify that I’d taken care of all possible paperwork. From there, I went to the graduate studies office (which is located on a half-floor, it’s very Harry Potter-esque!). I turned in my employment receipt and double checked with the woman who does all the coordinating for all the grad students, that everything is completed. She looked over my file and said I was on top of everything and gave me some tips for succeeding in grad school. She’s very much all business, but she kept repeating that if there is ANYTHING that I need during my time at CWU, come back and see her. She can help with ANYTHING and ANYTHING can be fixed. I love the supportive environment!

For dinner mom and I discovered the Palace Cafe and Saloon. It’s weird, because from the outside it looks closed, but inside it’s a cute little bar/restaurant. If you go on a Sunday-Thursday afternoon/night, they have a $5 menu, which is FABULOUS! I had the most delicious burger, fries and corn on the cob!

Day 3:

Seattle!

I discovered that driving in Seattle is super stressful. It took us a bit to figure out the whole parking situation, but ultimately found two hour street parking. More than anything though, why doesn’t anyone talk about the HILLS in Seattle? Seriously, I don’t know why people make a fuss about SanFran’s hills after seeing Seattle’s. I’ll never drive a manual car there, that is, if I knew how to drive a manual.

Anyway, mom and I went to Pike Place market, drank some original Starbucks office, some daily donuts, saw the fish guys and explored the market. I really wanted to buy one of the bouquets of flowers. If dad and I end up at the market, I’ll surely buy one for my new apartment.

After the market, we went to Ballard, to see the locks and salmon. From there we went up to Queen Anne’s park, where you can get an overview of the city. It was an amazing view. There also happened to be a movie filming that day, so we stumbled onto the set of The Details with Tobey Maguire and Kerry Washington. Neat. 🙂

That pretty much concluded our exploration of Seattle. We took the car back to the place and went to the hotel.

Day 4:

We spent the whole day traveling. The only highlight was our luggage didn’t make it onto our plane and arrived at the house about 1am last night. Other than that, it was just a long day of traveling.

I’m glad to be home, but ready to start the road trip part of this adventure. After seeing how gorgeous Washington is, I’m excited to see what the rest of the country looks like!

I also added a link to my flickr account to the right —–>
I’ll update it with pictures from the roadtrip and Ellensburg.

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