Mo Bloggin'

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Archive for the tag “Chesaw”

…on earth

Or should I say Eden?  (Part 2 of 3)

In the early 1970s my stepfather decided we would go on a family vacation.  We’d been living in Washington State for a year or so, transplanted from Southern California (one year of sunny bliss and beaches, before So. Cal became the “teeming masses” it is today), and before that, northern New Jersey, land of my birth and early years.  By this time my family was already growing apart–my older brothers were on their own, one stayed in So. Cal, where he lives to this day, and the other enlisted in the Army–and my older sister was a recent high school graduate. 

My stepfather had lived in Washington before, and knew the area somewhat.  We drove across the state (a drive I remember not at all) to a place called Sun Cove Resort on Lake Wannacut (Wannacut Lake).  I think it was my first encounter with cattle guards.  I have no idea how he knew of this remote location (he would be deceased no more than three years later), nor what possessed him to take us there.  It was an old fashioned cabin-style resort, with units that had small kitchens and there was even a miniature golf course for us kids.  We fished from the resort dock and with one of their motorboats, and went sightseeing–the old Molson Ghost Town was a high point.  It was my initial experience with the Okanogan Highlands.

Fast forward to the mid-1980s.  I was with my future (ex) husband by then, living in a little house in downtown Issaquah, growing a garden that was, and still is, unmatched in its bounty and ease of growing (creek bottom land).  His employer was a local contractor, Jim, who owned property in…the Okanogan Highlands.   We were both a little tripped out when we realized we’d both been to this remote lake.  We took a weekend trip to stay over there with Jim, just east of Chesaw, and I remember Jim singing the praises of the area, exclaiming how it was “glorious!”  That seemed a little over the top, and as we drove and drove, through the magnificent Teanaway valley and over Blewett Pass into the desert country of midstate I wondered at Jim’s exortations.  Just when I figured it was just hyperbole, we rounded a curve…turns out he was spot on.  Once again I visited the Molson Ghost Town, and soaked in the stunning beauty of the Okanogan Highlands.  We went to the Chesaw 4th of July Rodeo (my first rodeo) and spent several days on a ranch just east of town.  Glorious was an understatement.July 23-25 09 010

It was over 20 years before I made it back.  In 2008, on my statewide scouting trip for relocation properties, I was back.  My friend Karen and I were on a road trip of the north central and northeast parts of the state, and I made sure to stop at the Molson Ghost Town museum again on our day drive through the area.  The memory of the area’s stunning beauty was not tarnished with age, nor out of proportion due to fish story time-exaggeration.  It was just as magnificent as ever.  Could I live here?  In a minute.  By myself?  Um….

I recently went back to spend more time and to look at a couple of properties I’d seen for sale.  The realtor I’ve been in contact with was unavailable (and evidently had no associates to refer to me?) but it didn’t matter.  I had made my plans spur of the moment and was going regardless.

A big issue with going anywhere, any time, is what to do about pet care.  The cats are okay in the house for a few days–plenty of water, food and litter boxes and they’re good for at least three days, even four days isn’t a problem.  Same for the other critters–turtles, parakeets and the hens outside.  So I decided to bring the dogs with me and either camp or…?  I was perusing my brochures and tourist booklets from last year and came across an ad for Eden Valley Guest Ranch.  I picked up the phone and called, leaving a message and not expecting any availability for the coming weekend.  Robin, the proprietor, called me back and said they had openings and the three dogs were welcome, so I booked two nights  in one of their cabins.

Concluded in Part 3.

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The secret yearning

Well, not a secret, exactly.  More like something I’m trying to talk myself out of, like an illicit vice or lust.  And lust is probably the most apt description, though there’s nothing illicit about it.  You see, I am in love with the Okanogan and Columbia Highlands areas of Washington State.  I have lust in my heart for these areas, and don’t quite know what to do about it. 

First, let me describe, if I can, why these lands make me giddy…  Okay, forget it, I can’t.  The descriptors that come to mind seem tired and trite, and wholly inadequate.  Stunningly gorgeous?  In spades. Next.  Breathtakingly beautiful?  Check.  Next.  Glorious?  Um, yeah.  Like, a chorus of angels singing glorious.  Like, so pretty it will bring tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat.  Like, something here speaks to me, at some visceral, elemental level, and the vistas are so achingly beautiful they make me want to cry.   On a September afternoon, with the sun warm and the breeze blowing, the giant, fluffy clouds sailing overhead like clipper ships, you want to yelp with joy for being alive and able to appreciate this.  And this is the “ugly” time of year, according to a local.  Can you imagine how perfectly glorious this scene would be with my bird crazy bird dog quartering the field a couple hundred yards out?

While much of the eastern part of Washington State is essentially high desert–dry and unforgiving, with sagebrush as the most abundant vegetation (aside from the multi-dammed Columbia River irrigation and the miles of apples, cherries, peaches, and more apples)–if you head far enough north and east, you find this wonderland.  It has just the right combination of wide open, big sky vistas and evergreen forests, of rolling hills you want to snuggle up into, with puffy white clouds dotting the oh-so-blue skies, snow covered mountains, and verdant green valleys.  And land is affordable.  I scan the real estate sites and find parcels with decent homes on 10 and 20 acres, and, be-still-my-heart, sometimes even more acres, that fits in my budget.  Why acres of land should make my heart beat faster is beyond me, but the idea of settling on a chunk of this heaven on earth beauty is thrilling to me. 

And the wildlife!  Not only do you have all the usual players of western Washington State (deer, elk, black bear, cougar, bald eagle, hawks, etc.) but you also have the most recent confirmed sighting of a Grizzly bear in the state (Chesaw) and the Lookout Mountain wolf pack, the first confirmed wolf pack in the state in 50 years.  I mean really, does it get any better than this?  Imagine stepping outside on a brisk spring evening, the stars a canopy of lights above you, and hearing the sounds of wolf howls in the distance.  Sure, your hair would stand on end, but you would know you were alive, and the Earth was singing. 

So why haven’t I packed up and left for the hills to satisfy my yearning, my lust for this country?  Ah, yes.  That.  Just a handful of reasons I can’t seem to get around.  While my heart sings, the head says, whoa Nellie!  Can we talk snow and cold?  Like feet of snow and temps in the teens.   For weeks.  Have you heard of remote?  Well, this is north of that.   Like Ted Kazynski north.  Like “The Shining” remote.  Like, no jobs to go to even if you could get there during the winter.  Okay so I’m exaggerating a bit.  But there are a million little and not so little reasons for my heart’s “cold shower”  (good vet care for Cutter is one).  And the thought of moving to a place where I know no one, where I, as tree hugging, Obama-loving liberal,  single woman, (again) don’t fit the demographics  (I’m not anti-hunting or guns, just to set the record straight there), and the winters are below freezing cold (but it’s still blue-sky sunny gorgeous) for weeks on end…well, I’m just not quite ready for that leap.  So I lust.  And yearn.

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