I spent a good portion of my young adulthood in the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Inland Empire, Spokane and surrounds. I have been looking forward to coming back to this part of the country for a long time.
Whenever we have visited scenes from our pasts, Shannon and I have done the scavenger hunt game…can you find all the houses you used to live in? and schools you used to attend? and places that evoke certain memories and stories from your past? Well, I came to Spokane in 1969, and a lot of history happened between then and sometime in the late 70’s when I moved south to Portland. I need to admit up front, there were drugs and alcohol involved, and the timeline is quite fuzzy.
Before my walk down Memory Lane, the place we are calling home for two weeks is a beautiful meadow lot at Spring Ridge Estates outside of Newport, Washington. Developer Gary Chantry has divided this beautiful 360-acre tract of land into sixty 5 to 20 acre lots and invited people in the RV community to come and stay for up to 4 weeks for free. The lot we are on has a level gravel pad and full hookups. The 3 lots to the north of us and the 4 lots to the south have not been developed yet, so while it is difficult to tell how close our neighbors would be if we lived here, right now this feels like camping in the middle of the wilderness.
We had a long drive on Wednesday from our Boondockers Welcome visit in Stevensville at the foot of the Bitterroot Mountains, and after we got here and got set up we just chilled for the rest of the evening. Shannon wanted to spend day 2 in our new home planning our route and our stops from here to Coburg, Oregon, where we are scheduled August 1 for warranty work (our one year anniversary in Wanda, even though we spent most of that time in the driveway). I started to get antsy by noon on day 2 and badgered Shannon till he agreed to take a drive into Spokane to look around.
The Spokane of today bears absolutely no resemblance to the Spokane of the ‘70s as I remember it. As with most cities, the jumble of commercial activity has extended far beyond its previous boundaries. Also, my timing totally sucks, as we arrived at the beginning of rush hour, there was a huge amount of traffic, and it was impossible for me to help Shannon with navigation and look for signs of my past at the same time.
First stop we went to my first school, Whitworth College, now Whitworth University. The quad is still there with its majestic pines, and some of the old buildings are still recognizable, but the road around it is now sidewalks, the old music building has been replaced with a beautiful huge brick and glass structure, and the size of the institution has at least doubled. I remember my parents dropping me off at the back door to Warren Hall. Needless to say, they never really saw that kid again. I pointed out to Shannon the bars on the basement windows where I spent my sophomore year, initially installed to keep us in, now I assume serving to keep unwelcomed guests out.
Since we made the hour drive to Spokane, Shannon wanted to actually “do something”, so I suggested a visit to St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Cathedral, a period gothic structure on the opposite end of the city. In the early 70’s a friend of mine was the organist at the cathedral so I attended there for awhile. After inching our way through all the afternoon traffic we arrived 8 minutes after the doors closed, so we decided to attend there on Sunday. Then we inched our way back through town, stopped for ice cream, and headed back home.
I was disappointed with my reunion with Spokane. I know, I didn’t really expect the city to stop in its tracks and cheer my return, the repentant prodigal daughter, and I don’t understand my need to revisit all of the scenes of my past misdeeds. Maybe that’s the trick…I need to revisit these places from my past as the person in my present: sober, reborn in my Christian faith, happily married to my best friend, and on the greatest adventure of my life. There is no closure needed or to be found here, just the re-discovery of the beautiful things this corner of Washington state has to offer through these new eyes.