What Brought You to the Island?
Arrival Stories

What Brought You to the Island?

By Scott Harvey

Our journey to Vashon began over 30 years ago when I lost my job as part of a RIF (reduction in force). This was shortly after the Rodney King riots in Southern California. At the time, my wife Michelle and I came to the conclusion that Southern California no longer was a good place to raise a family.

We narrowed our search to living within a one-hour drive to an ocean. Heavy annual snow and humid summers eliminated most of the East Coast and Gulf. We researched quality of life and career opportunities. We ultimately decided to join my brother-in-law, who lives in Ollala, and move to the Puget Sound.

After dozens of cold-call inquiries, over many months, I secured a position and moved into temporary housing in Seattle, while Michelle and our son, Stephen, prepared our home for sale.

I began our search for a home knowing nothing about the region. However, my co-workers told me to avoid Mercer Island and Tacoma, for different reasons. We were seeking some acreage, with trees, and looked everywhere within what we believed was a reasonable commute to Seattle – Snohomish, Issaquah, Sammamish, and Kitsap County

Just by chance, while riding on the triangle route, I spied a real estate ad for a geodesic dome home on Vashon. Michelle and I were fascinated with the unique architecture, and wanted to see if it would fit our needs. Fortunately for us, our realtor, Emma Amiad, was on “Vashon time.” During the hour we waited, I discovered the listing for our home on the real estate office wall.

When my mother-in-law, who was helping with the search, saw the home, she insisted it was perfect and that Michelle should immediately fly up to make an offer. The house was owned by a relocation company, which had it because the former owner had been unable to sell it, after Boeing had transferred him.

Our adventure was not over. Michelle and Stephen flew from California with our two golden retrievers on the day the closing documents were signed. After the documents were complete, we were shocked to discover we would not get the keys for three more days! Since our in-laws had handled over all the paperwork with our home in California, this was our first real estate purchase. We did not know about the three-day right of rescission!

It already was the afternoon, and the five of us had no place to spend the night. Fortunately, Emma Amiad came to the rescue. After we agreed to take care of the property, promised to not make any additional demands, and keep her indiscretion secret (until now), she gave us the keys. We moved in on my birthday, three days before we owned the house.

Only after we closed did my co-workers tell me we had moved to the “granola” island. A description we soon understood. My mother-in-law had been right. While our house was not “perfect,” Vashon was the perfect place to raise our son, who graduated from Vashon High School and ultimately became an elementary school teacher.

The summer of ’93 was gray, overcast, and rainy, so everyone was apologizing for the “terrible” weather we were “enduring.” Coming from Southern California, we thought we were living in heaven. Besides, we really thought it was rainy and gray all the time in Seattle. It was so long ago; we did not know we had found our forever home.

January 23, 2023

About Author