Destination West

Over the last three years, I've been visiting major cities across the United States. Specifically, places with young people, nearby "big nature", and tech industry opportunities. The goal has always been to leave New Jersey. I feel like I'm closer than ever, if only because I know where I'm not going.

I've been to Nashville, Austin, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Sedona, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Tahoe, Boulder, Denver, and Los Angeles within three years. And also Reykjavik but that's not really on the table. 

I fell in love with Portland and the Pacific Northwest, but the consistent rainy winters would be too much for me. I thought for sure that Boulder and the nearby Rockies would sell me, but it was hotter and less diverse than I was hoping for. It was also dog-friendly to a fault, which would've made it hard to avoid other people's dogs while out on the trail.

Out of all these places, I wouldn't have expected Los Angeles to be the answer. And I guess, in a lot of ways, it's totally not. But it does have a mountain right next to it, with considerably colder temperatures and (seemingly) affordable housing. It's got the potential for human contact—my new job is based out of Santa Monica and I know friends out there already. I could take long weekend trips to some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, like Yosemite, Big Sur, and Zion.

But Jess, what about your sled dogs? How can you move to southern California?

Well, that's the thing. There's snow.

To be clear, my fate is not the city of LA or the surrounding suburbs. For one thing, there's a three dog limit per household. I'm looking at the mountain towns along the Angeles Crest Highway. I think I could get used to this.

There's also a community of recreational dog mushers in SoCal (which is even more surprising than dog mushers in NJ). The coastal inversion layer keeps temperatures relatively cool even when you descend from the mountains. New Jersey skyrockets to 80 degrees pretty fast each spring and with it comes plenty of humidity, so I might even have a longer mushing season out west. When the heat does arrive, I can always trek northward to Mammoth Lakes or even up to Tahoe. My job would still be remote, no matter where I end up.