Imagine the clouds breaking after a long storm. The landscape seems to brighten and bloom instantly, the sun gently warming you up as you step outside and take a stroll along the scenic waterfronts with equally scenic forests competing for your attention, the cool breeze in your face pairing nicely with the perfectly hopped beer and impossibly delicious artisanal ice cream you’re double fisting (and somehow they taste good together)! Now imagine that feeling drawn out over a period of several months. That’s summer in Washington.
I had always kind of assumed Minnesotans exaggerated when it came to the charms of their summers -- and make no mistake, mention the word "summer" in front of a Minnesotan and they are bound by state law to lecture you on the state’s allegedly unparalleled summers for no less than nine minutes. I similarly always kind of thought the whole “10,000” lakes thing was an exaggeration, like someone saying “we have eleventy bajillion lakes” but nope, they have MORE than 10,000. And after spending some time there, I can begrudgingly admit that they aren’t really exaggerating on the summertime fun front, either. In fact, they’ll probably be angry they weren’t number 50 instead of Washington. You know what? They might not be wrong.
48. Rhode Island
At the very bottom of Rhode Island lies Misquamicut State Beach and an entire sliver of a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic like a wooden spoon into a certain, regionally specific frozen lemonade. Now, if you’re looking at a map, you might ponder how Rhode Island managed to claim that land from Connecticut, as it pretty clearly crosses over the border. And a clever person might say something like “well, the states are pretty clearly divided by the Pawcatuck River and the state lines follow the river out to the ocean.” But THAT IS NOT THE POINT.
The point is this: RI is tiny, basically a state the size of a pre-renovation, middle tier high school football stadium in Texas, and usually it just gets the brunt of whatever weather is afflicting its bigger (but still somewhat small) neighbors in CT and Mass. But Rhode Island’s secret is the summer. While all these other states were busy claiming land mass, RI made a smart long game Risk maneuver and just decided to scoop up all the coastline. And now they’ve got every summer pleasure you want, from the subtle wealth of beach towns like Little Compton, to the more aggressive wealth of beach towns like Narragansett, to the most aggressive wealth of beach towns like Newport, where billionaires used to build palatial estates and throw Gatsby-style Gilded Age parties where Vanderbilts and Berwinds and whomever Theresa Fair Oelrichs met playing lawn tennis that day would grind to Al Jolson and Mamie Smith as Harry Houdini impressed the children by trying to escape from a giant Del’s Frozen Lemonade in the background. "Keep your land-locked suburbs," Rhode Island shouts. "We’re going in the ocean."
Nothing can screw up an Oregon summer. Not a two-hour brunch line. Not a surprise shortage of kombucha on tap. Not even an internet writer summing up your culture with broad hipster cliches that happen to be accurate, but whatever.
And to be clear, stuff can absolutely go wrong during an Oregon summer, like ending up with Sam Bowie and Greg Oden instead of Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant, for example. But no matter what hiccups happen along the way, the sun will (likely) be shining, the marionberries will be ripe, and the nearest brewery will probably be less than seven steps away with a patio that has your name on it. It’s gonna be fine, because it’s summer in Oregon -- if it’s something you REALLY can’t handle you’ll just go camping.
As long as the trickster demigod Maui doesn’t steal away Te Fiti’s heart turning everything into ash, making the coconuts rotten, killing Moana’s caring, mystical grandmother, and forcing Moana to go beyond the reef despite having just cursory knowledge of sailing and limited provisions, summer in Hawaii will be just as damn beautiful as it is every other damn season. Watch out for volcanoes, though.