Let the fun begin. The bell has rung. Let’s see how both halves of the U.S. match up against each other in the ring of comparison. If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read The Resume here.
Just to say it, so I don’t repeat throughout the list below, the northwest might relate more with the east on some elements due to it’s wetter conditions. However, the beauty found in the northwest is unique to it’s region and has distinct beauty that fits with the rest of the west.
I grew up in the west and bring obvious biases to this post. But over the years I have tried to be objective with my assessments of each side. I have no doubt I fell short in all that could be communicated concerning these two sides but I have tried to be comprehensive and concise.
Who loves humidity? Really. Who? Not me. I hate “humid hot” with all my heart. And “humid cold” is down right torture. Trust me. I lived in Michigan for years. It took me quite a while to get warm again after I left there. Humidity has pluses and minuses. But mostly minuses.
It just isn’t right when you have taken a shower, feel clean and then walk outside and immediately begin pouring sweat. You constantly feel disgusting during months out of the year.
It can create a lush green with vegetation. Drought is never a worry. However, with it comes nasty weather, lots of bugs, an unending need to shower and much more. Even the shade cannot help you on a humid summer day. The breeze is hot and the shade makes no difference. You can’t escape the suffocating power of humidity in the east.
Dry heat and dry cold is amazing! I’ve found that after living in a dryer climate, going through a humid summer elsewhere, can be torturous. In the west you can actually stand in the shade on a 90 degree day and feel the temperature cool down. Especially if there is a slight breeze. However, dry climates do leave your skin feeling dry or scaly with a need to lotion up occasionally.
Whether it’s Florida, Michigan or any where in between in the east, I think rain and wet. And where there is rain, there is cloud coverage. Which obviously limits sunlight in those areas and can affect people more than we know.
I grew up with 300+ days of sun each year. I never realized what a big deal this was to me until I moved and lived with less sunlight.
After growing up in NM all my life, I thought the sun was trying to avoid me when I headed east. I cannot stress how much difference it makes to see the sun a lot! This is one of the many reasons I would always, always, always take southern California over Florida. Every time I remember a memory of Florida, the word “cloudy” and “smug” comes to my mind (been there probably 10 times; same amount as Cali). Now I am not completely against Florida, but Southern Cal is sooooo much more beautiful in my mind and has the perfect weather 300+ days of the year.
Whether it be the amount of people per capita, the trees lining the roads, or the crazy traffic, claustrophobia is a real reality in the east. My wife and I still talk about the crampness I feel while driving in her home state of NC. I can’t see anything to the left or right due to tree coverage. I believe that because of how everything is jammed packed in most of the east (compared to the west), it causes the traffic to be far more scary. Tensions are higher and you feel it on the road. Once you’ve tasted the freedom of open space, there is something confining about the east. I feel it each time we travel and creep further east.
However, in the farmland and areas of the east that are more open, it brings some incredible beauty.
I love driving in the west for this reason. It is the openness of the west which gives people the ability to take in the beauty all around them. Whether it be in NM, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Cali, etc, the views are breathtaking and dangerously distracting for anyone driving a vehicle. You can see for miles. And from one plateau just south of where I grew up, you can actually see the mountains of Arizona, Utah and Colorado from the top. In contrast, there are many times in the east where I am “white knuckle” driving and have to travel long distances to find a view that the west offers repeatedly.
Whether it be in Maine or Florida, the ocean is stunning on the east coast. Even the cold that often covers the east, can transform the ocean landscape dramatically and make it into something completely different, yet gorgeous. The lighthouses that line the coast are unique and interesting to visit.
At the same time, the cold and hot is far more abrasive in the east and gives less ability during the year to enjoy the coast. I’ve accessed the ocean in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, NC, SC and Florida. Most of the beaches were nice and several were really beautiful.
I’m sure this will make me some enemies but my coastal experiences of the west far outweigh those in the east. I’ve had some good times at the beaches on the east coast, but have had way better ones on the west. It seems like no matter when I have been to the beaches in the east, the water is always cold, and rain is prevalent. Now understand that I’m far more of a mountain guy than a beach guy due to my fair skin. But being able to get ALL THE WAY into the ocean makes the beach way funner for me.
Not to mention the beauty surrounding the west coast is far closer, easier to access and more majestic in presentation. The fact that you can surf, ski and hike all in the same day without changing, is pretty amazing.
Also it doesn’t snow quite as much on the beaches of the west. Just to hit this home, the average snowfall of a random small coastal town in Maine, called Rockland, is 49.5″ between just January and April.
However, sunburns are more likely on the west coast excursions. Bring the sunscreen.
The Smoky Mountains have some beautiful hidden waterfalls nuzzled away in it’s woods. Not to mention the amazing foliage that happens one month out of the year, which I truly love. We have already talked about the coast but the far northern beaches of the east have an amazing rocky landscape with lighthouses shining as a fixture over the ocean. There also is the Great Lakes, which at times feel like an ocean. I lived in Duluth, MN and standing on the shore of Lake Superior can make you feel like you are at the ocean.
I would say that the mountains of the east fall well short of the western mountain ranges in appearance and features. However, the eastern mountains are easier to drive over.
This part of the west is the biggest selling point to me personally. After growing up near the southern Rockies, the giant plateaus of the southwest and the Grand Canyon, I can’t get enough of it all. And just this past year I was able to hike the northern Rockies for the first time and fell in love with a whole other part of the west. There is something about the western landscape that sparks perspective and helps you take your eyes off of little ol’ you.
There is actually something inside of me that feels sorry for someone who has not yet seen the expanse and beauty of the west. Or even more so, someone who could see it but chooses not to.
The western mountain ranges are so majestic with all their ridges, glaciers, rock formations, waterfalls, etc. Not to mention things like the arches of Moab or the massive crater in Arizona.
When it comes to the east I think of the dreaded mosquito and having those red bumps all over my body. Itching them until I begin to bleed. Mosquitos lay there eggs in water and where there is more water, there is more mosquitos. Thus, the dryness of the west keeps them at bay.
I’m truly not saying this out of bias but the east just has more creepy crawlers who invade. Not sure exactly why that is but I think it could be connected to having more vegetation and plant life.
Growing up we mostly worried about wasps/hornets and ants getting into the house when it got to hot outside. In the west there are always the dreaded insects like scorpions, black widow spiders, etc. But personally most people don’t feel a constant threat from them.
However, there are those insects that disturb our everyday life in a significant way during the warmer months. In the east it would have to be mosquitos and ticks. Whereas in the west it would be hornets, wasps and ants. Pick your poison. :)
Because the weather mostly moves from west to east, things usually get worse as they head further east and clash better with the jet stream. Thus, I attribute severe weather more with the east than the west. Whether it be the tornado I experienced down the street from me in MN or the ice storm that hit NC and severed power to hundreds of thousands, the east holds all kinds of points when it comes to facing fairly consistent natural disasters.
Those in the east might have to worry about a tornado ripping their house apart, a hurricane flooding their town and damaging their home or giant hail from an ice storm damaging their car. But one thing the east never has to worry about is drought.
The west deals with different forms of severe weather than the east. If the rain does decide to come with intensity, the ground can’t absorb it fast enough and flooding occurs rather quickly. And in return, landslides can happen.
On the flip side, the west can experience extreme dry heat for long periods of time without moisture, which ultimately can lead to multiple forest fires happening all at the same time. In recent years I have felt the results of both forms of severe weather in the west. Severe erosion from flooding and smoke from forest fires.
The east is jam packed with people and thus the roads are too. It’s evident as you get farther east that it is difficult to keep the roads decent. 2+2=4. More people, more driving, more damage to roads, harder to keep up maintenance.
Driving on roads in the east is often like being a quarterback in a football game. You better be watchful and aware or else you might get blindsided. I’ve been “sacked” many times by the east coast roads and they have taken a toll on my vehicles and family.
Some might think I’m a bit too sensitive with this subject. Well, a lot of my travels have included pulling something fairly big behind me. Thus, when the road throws you a big enough surprise, you can end up needing to change your pants at the next stop. Let’s just say that the east cost has thrown me more big surprises than I can count.
So, let’s work the formula on this side of the U.S. Less people, less driving, less damage to roads, easier to keep up with maintenance.
And the winner is…..THE WEST!
I know many of those in the east are shaking their head and feeling like this thing was rigged from the beginning. Well, maybe it was. But I really did try and be somewhat objective.
I’m sure there are other things I could have on this list but forgot. However, I feel like these categories gave a good overview of both sides.
With all offense aside, if you haven’t explored the West in a substantial way, then you really should. It will leave you in awe of God again and again. And the same is true for those who have explored the west but never ventured into the east. Go.