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Road trip: Ellensburg

June 29, 2009

Though my eyes become dust bowls, and my skin dry as driftwood, I love the desert, especially where resourceful drylanders have managed to irrigate farms, vineyards, and orchards. My passion necessitates pilgrimages from time to time to eastern Washington, and so on Saturday we took a long-needed road trip to Ellensburg.

As soon as we crossed the line from King into Kittitas County, we were comfortably, undefensively, officially in Red State country. My McCain hat was now a friendly greeting instead of a remnant of defiance.

Ellensburg has several of my favorite things: the Palace Café is my favorite diner; Bailey’s became my new favorite used book store as of Saturday, and Eastern Washington University boasts my new favorite student union building. Unfortunately, the university bookstore was closed, so it could receive no rating in its category.

We doubled the pleasure of the Palace by having breakfast there, and later, afternoon ice cream. They have only vanilla, but it is the best vanilla in the world. It was more than worth blowing my glucophobic diet.

We walked around Olmstead State Park and looked at supposedly pioneer-era farm implements, most of which my husband used in his own ranching days, the 1980s. We ate tractor dust as park staff performed routine trail maintenance while we ambled. The scent of human flesh on an 85° day aroused mosquitoes from their lassitude.

We drove through some neighborhoods in the hills and admired the broad valley vistas. But I thought of the winter wind and snow that would snag my breath were we to live in these beautiful hills.

The Puget Sound region where we live is a beautiful sector of the planet. Its downside is that we have never found a neighborhood anywhere in the entire Tacoma-Seattle corridor that combines the basic elements of attractiveness, decency, quiet, and convenience. The consolation the region offers for having to compromise essential qualities of life is its equal proximity to Washington’s outer coast and the dry hill country of Ellensburg and Yakima.

We travel to the outer coast at least once a year, usually to Ocean Shores, to walk through dunes and along long sandy beaches. We enjoy winter storms but wouldn’t enjoy the coastal weather on a daily basis. We wouldn’t enjoy anything about Ocean Shores on a daily basis. I’m sure we could enjoy much about eastern Washington on a daily basis, but summers are very hot and winters are very cold. The other drawback to eastern Washington is its distance from the outer coast, and I would miss day trips to the ocean.

Tacoma has the annoying habit of being annoying while at the same time being the perfect catch-all that our diverse tastes require. In other words, there are some things we intrinsically appreciate about Tacoma. This includes, but is not limited to our ability to travel to other places and be home in time to give the Cat his shot. And as with all other things, there are Other Considerations.

Wherever we live, I suspect that I will always be a happy day-tripper and a slightly discontented dweller. And really, my discontent has a low melting point. Just now, a flock of goldfinches are darting through the bamboo in my front yard. They’re even more fun to watch than Ellensburg’s windmills.

One Comment
  1. editormj permalink
    July 12, 2009 12:10 pm

    “Ellensburg” caught my eye, after I read your interesting post about Prempro, which I discovered in a search for “going off Prempro.” I have fond memories of traveling to Ellensburg from Seattle as a young lady. I am glad to have discovered your blog, Lauren, and feel the way you do about so many things–
    God bless you, your family and the cat!

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