Although I have not lived in Washington for more than thirty years it has remained home to my heart, and always draws me back… sometimes with a deep longing that is almost hard to describe. It is the place of my youth… my innocent and carefree years. It was here, side by side with my brothers… in these woods, on these mountains, and along these shores that my spirit was inflamed and nurtured. It was here that I grew to love the great outdoors, with a seemingly unquenchable thirst to be “in it”.
The northwest is home to my family. My parents, as well as my brothers and their families, all live within a few hours of each other here. It is also home to many friends whom I’ve managed to stay in touch with over the years. My high school classmates… who have an uncanny knack of reuniting with glee… did away with the tradition of gathering every ten years after our ten-year reunion, and instead make it every five. Now it seems we’re making it an annual tradition!
Before and after my flight back to Texas, and road trip through Arkansas with Elissa, I enjoyed time with my family members and several good friends in Washington. I enjoyed a night on the town with several Longview friends, and time with my friend Bruce Wood while traveling through Portland. During a weekend visit to Seattle I met my college friend, David, and his wife Diane for breakfast in the “U District”, and then took Jazzy and Sadie for a walk around campus. (I went to school at the University of Washington for two years before moving to Santa Barbara to study photography, and still believe it’s one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Interestingly, I met David in Santa Barbara.)
I reconnected with a photographer friend, Joanne Murray, near her home in West Seattle (Alki Beach) and stayed to have lunch along the beach with another friend, Rich Hinrichsen. Obviously it was a lovely weekend for these outdoor rendezvous. 🙂
After returning from Texas I finalized my itinerary for the seven weeks I planned to spend journeying through Alberta and British Columbia. Normally I don’t plan so far in advance, preferring to travel more spontaneously, but the last time I traveled over the border… although I had pre-arranged phone and data service with my cellular company… I had neither. Winging it for a few days as I journeyed along the northern edge of Lake Superior (completing my final leg of the Lake Superior Circle Tour) was unsettling enough, and I had only one highway to navigate, several points of interest on my list, and four nights of camping to deal with.
This trip would take me much farther over the border and out some very remote roadways. Even though I lined up phone and data service (and confirmed it twice) it seemed prudent to have the seven week trek mapped out and all campsites booked before crossing the border. After much deliberation I decided to start my Canada tour in the Okanagan Valley. My route from Longview took me through Issaquah, where I stopped for a night to spend time with two brothers and their families, as well as a few high school friends. The following morning I set out over the Cascades and through the beautiful Wenatchee Valley to Chelan, where I would stay for a few days to spend time with some very good friends.
Darren Talley is one of my oldest (as in we’ve known each other a very long time) and dearest friends. His lovely wife Lisa fits him perfectly, and is an easy woman to love. I always look forward to time with them, and it was on their property that I set up camp for the few days I was in Chelan.
Another good friend from “the hood”, Greg Cowell, also lives in Chelan with his wife Jo (who I had yet to meet). Greg and my brother Tom became best friends… thick as thieves… when his family moved in two doors down while we were in Jr. High, which made him an honorary brother. Greg’s brother Reid stayed in Seattle for college when his family moved to Longview, but we met and became friends during one of his visits, and continued our friendship during my years in Seattle. Although we lost touch after I moved to California, I kept tabs on Greg and Reid when I stopped in to visit their parents a couple times a year.
Despite their busy work and social calendars, the weekend filled up quite nicely as they pretty much took turns spending time with me. Before heading out for an evening of graduation parties Darren took me to meet Greg’s wife Jo at their little wine boutique, One Wines, Inc (great story… one I can completely relate to… at that link. Great wine too!) I liked Jo immediately for her sassy “vim and vigor” and we hit it off nicely. A bit later, when his work day was over, Greg picked me up and drove me out along the lake and through the vineyards that had sprouted up in the surrounding hills. (I should mention that my family enjoyed waterski vacations on this lake for several years when I was young. Back then these same hills were orchards.) We completed our little tour around the valley as Jo closed up shop and they took me out for dinner… where we were later joined by Darren and Lisa. (Pretty well rounded day!)
The following morning while Darren and Lisa attended another grad party (he’s a well loved former Chelan High football coach), Greg and I took our dogs out to a big grassy field where they could run and play freely… which they did in their typical humorous fashion. From there we drove out to a gorge (above) where the Chelan River makes it’s way toward the Columbia.
After saying goodbye to Greg I went by the “wine boutique” (I’m not sure what they call it, but it’s small and quaint) to see Jo one more time, and to purchase a couple bottles of wine for the road. After a few more sips of their refreshing white I ended up purchasing a whole case! I should say that I have never purchased a case of wine for anything other than a large social function. It’s that good! I’ll be amazed if there’s any left when I cross back over the border!
When I reconnected with Darren and Lisa they presented me with a few options on how we might spend the afternoon. With the sky so blue and the sun so bright, boating on the lake was an irresistible choice for me. If the open lake had been as smooth as the no-wake zone (where the ducks below were swimming) skiing would have been irresistible as well!
That evening we went to the top of Chelan Butte and enjoyed a 360 degree view of Eastern Washington, the sunset, and a bottle of “One White”. 🙂
Before I left the following morning Reid swung by to see me. Funny… more than thirty years had gone by since we last saw one another, and although he didn’t look like the long haired, college age “rock star” I remembered… his smile had not changed, nor his eye or his voice. We enjoyed a good visit. Not long enough to catch up on 30+ years of life, but a joyful reunion no doubt.
As I’ve mentioned many times in my writings, time with friends (old and new) along the way are moments I cherish. The memories are like precious gems I can take along… treasures I can open and enjoy whenever my heart desires.
Thank you Darren, Lisa, Greg, Jo and Reid… for the precious memories. Know that I have held them close and enjoyed them greatly during my travels through Canada!
There’s more to come about Washington. Some interesting news actually, but that will have to wait until my return from Canada. In the mean time… I’m enjoying the amazing spenders up here! Spectacular vistas and an abundance of wildlife. I can’t wait to share!
Added note- after reading this post Darren sent me some info worth sharing;
1) Lake Chelan is the largest lake in Washington State at 50.5 miles long. It is a glacier fed lake, with a constant flow through the Chelan Dam on the Eastern end of the lake right next to the town of Chelan. It is the 3rd cleanest and the 3rd deepest lake in the United States. (1486 feet at its deepest point)
2) Greg & Jo Cowell – One Wines – just won “Gold Gold” for both their red and white wine in San Francisco International Wine Competition, which is the largest international wine competition in the USA http://sfwinecomp.com/results/overview (Contrats to Greg and Jo!)