Seattle → Austin

September 4, 2019 4 min read

We moved from Washington to Texas.

We recently sold our little house in Seattle, packed everything in a shipping container, and drove to Austin, Texas. We’d never even visited, but were ready for change and a bit of adventure.

These are my first impressions:

Tacos really are everywhere, including the breakfast variety. To save you some embarrassment, in case you didn’t know either, they’re all about the size of your hand with fingers outstretched. Not your fist.

We all know Texas is a large state, but to know is one thing and to drive through is another.

Strangers seem warmer. I’ve stood in exactly two long lines and each time someone invited me ahead of them. People not in line for things are also pleasant, mostly with passing acknowledgment and friendly banter.

Traveling with an anxious little dog is much harder than not traveling with an anxious little dog.

Horizontal traffic signals make sense. You can see each light no matter who’s in front of you, plus they’re not dangling precariously for storms to toss around. Why do they dangle in every other place I’ve lived?

Fewer ya’lls and twangy accents than anticipated thus far.

Roads are a few shades lighter and splotchy with tar patches. I’ve yet to encounter a pothole, however, and the grass flanking the highways always seems to be mowed—most perplexingly in the middle of nowhere.

The night air is chirpy with crickets.

Who actually goes to Taco Bell here and why?

Highways don’t always use ramps to spiral you on and off, but often parallel frontage roads that simply merge in and out. This makes getting on and off simple, and screwing up isn’t a big deal since you’re still moving in the right direction.

Austin is apparently In-N-Out territory.

It’s oven hot and it doesn’t cool much at night, but it’s okay in the shade and not as oppressive as Florida’s heat.

It’s greener than I’d imagined, and the hills are really pretty.

There’s no shortage of Texas barbecue. One mustn’t memorize and blurt out his order at a barbecue counter, however. Instead, he should note what station he’s at and only relay pertinent requests.

There are little geckos, some speckled and some a pale green. Both elicit canine investigation.

Abundant trees provide essential shade. In our Seattle neighborhood it seemed like everyone was cutting theirs down, where here they’re an important consideration for any patch of land. They’re often old, proud things that have been pruned with care.

It’s easier driving a car around when there’s more space and it was designed with cars in mind.

This isn’t Texas-specific, but I learned that if you go through a DQ drive-through with an angsty little dog they may offer you a “pup cup,” which is a little dog bone atop a blurp of soft serve in an upside-down sundae lid. Our pup gave it a few licks and rode home in blissful silence.

If Google Fiber’s in your city but not at your address, you’ll live.

H-E-B looks more like a normal grocery store (Kroger, Safeway, etc.) than I remember Wegmans, but they’ve got an awful lot going on in there with fresh tortillas and salsas and things I didn’t need to discover.

Having some of your stuff broken and mangled is a helpful reminder not to get too attached to your stuff.

Dedicated U-turn lanes taught me not to approach an intersection in the leftmost lane. Similarly, right turns off service roads require an early signal and a generous amount of braking distance.

You don’t really move, you just change where you are and try to be open to letting that place change you.