January is an eternally long month. There. I said it. We received word of our new duty assignment last week, and like all things military, we’ve entered another waiting game. The difference now is that we can work while we wait, prepping and purging for a monumental change in our family’s lives. We’ve done our best throughout our time here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to stay busy, and we’ve been immeasurably blessed by our experience in the PNW – regardless of my initial unhappiness about living out here. And in all honesty, there are things we’ll miss about JBLM.
The best thing about military life is that you have that opportunity to live in incredible places around the country – and the globe – that you may have never otherwise wanted to live. For me, that was Washington State. Zero desire. When Ryan told us our last orders called for JBLM, I cried. I didn’t want to come here…like, at all. In truth, JBLM and I have had a rocky relationship from the start. The summers are beautiful, but the gray, rainy winters are brutal on the psyche. I’ve learned, however, there’s more to a place than meets the eye.
Things We’ll Miss About JBLM
We’ve found a love of hiking in the PNW. Fun fact: I hated hiking growing up. Hated it. In learning to love hiking though, I found an immeasurable beauty out here that’s truly one-of-a-kind. We learned to look beyond the inevitable tourist traps in Seattle (think: the Space Needle or South Lake Union Markets) and find an incredible and diverse landscape in both sides of the state. We’ll miss the opportunity to drive two hours and climb a mountain.
We were blessed to be in the best neighborhood. After a rough start living off post in a lackluster (at best) house, we were lucky to be able to move on post while Ryan was deployed. While on- vs. off-post housing is pretty much a toss-up in the military, we’ve had a great experience. Our neighborhood is bar none. It’s a community – and a great one at that – and we’ll miss our neighbors dearly.
There’s something for everyone here. There’s city. There’s forest. There’s beach. There’s food. There’s education. Truly…you want it, it’s here. After moving from Fort Drum, which offers the quintessential great white North, small-town vibe, JBLM and its surrounding towns are massive and offer and endless list of, well, everything. We’ve been spoiled, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
It’s challenged us in more ways than one. JBLM took us out of our comfort zones. I never wanted to live in the PNW. I never wanted to move by myself at 34 weeks pregnant while my husband was deployed. I think I can speak for Ryan in saying he never really had any desire to have seven TDYs in one year after spending nine months the year prior away. It’s forced us out of our comfort zones, and it’s made us grow.
Access to glacial lakes. I know, you think we’re crazy, and hell, maybe we are. Ryan and I have a thing for diving into freezing cold lakes, and we’ve bestowed that level of cray on our children. But seriously…we’ve dove, swum, and played in more glacial lakes and rivers in the PNW than we can ever boast to have done before. I guess we’ll be doing more ocean adventures in Korea!
Here’s the thing. There are things we’ll miss about JBLM, and most of those things are pieces that we’ve learned to love in the surrounding areas. You don’t have to love your duty station or where you are, but you can find the good in it if you’re willing to look. JBLM has challenged us a lot, and it’s forced us out of every comfort zone imaginable. For that, I’m grateful. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and it’s given us the opportunity to explore more than ever before. Even with COVID, we were forced to embrace a new normal and, in doing so, we unlocked new corners of this gorgeous place.
Tell me – what’s something you love about where you live?