Showing posts with label Washington State. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington State. Show all posts

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Just call us the village people

We are back in the village.
The American village, that is.
The place we hang our hats and settle in when back in the States these days.

Downtown Manson

We've become what you might call 'the village people', preferring this small-town lifestyle to that of the city.

Manson, Washington

Manson, our U.S. village, sits on the shore of the glacier-fed 55-mile long Lake Chelan in the north-central part of Washington State. Manson got its roots as an agricultural town and was once surrounded by apple orchards. In the last decade, though, many of those orchards have given way to vineyards and the Lake Chelan AVA (American Viticulture Area) in which Manson is a part now boasts some 40 wineries or tasting rooms!

Vineyards have replaced orchards here

Little is written about Manson history, I've discovered in writing this post.  A Google search will turn up far more on the notorious Charles Manson (one of America's more famous murderers) than on our little village.  I've learned the population here in 2016 was 1,284. This little unincorporated town got its name back in 1912 when it was named for Manson F. Backus, president of the Chelan Land Company.  It is seven miles from the larger, more well-known town of Chelan. . .where The Scout was born and raised several decades ago.

Wapato Point in Manson

Manson became our part-time home base in the U.S nearly two years ago.  We'd had 30 years of big city suburb life and had been spoiled by the wide open spaces we have in our expat life in Greece. We went in search of  similar wide open spaces in this part of the state when we decided we needed roots back here as well. While there are any number of charming Eastern Washington towns that offer alternatives to the fast-pace of the city, we've landed here.

Strolling in Manson on a winter's day

As we settle in and become more familiar with the village and its surrounding area, we notice how similar our Greek village is to this one. For instance, they each have a single main road through town, which is bordered by small home-owned businesses. The road here is wider but the vibe when walking on it is much the same as Greece: people still greet each other and make eye contact - whether they know each other or not. Seldom do you see anyone pass with their head bent over immersed in their handheld device.  It is just plain-old small town friendliness.

Countryside near Manson

Both of our villages are distinctly - and refreshingly - rural. Each is situated on large bodies of water and surrounded by agriculture. Tourists have discovered both villages and bring a dynamic to them during the warm weather months.  Both are building new tourist accommodations.

For fear of making them out to be Mayberry, USA ( 1960's television show starring Andy Griffith), there is a bit of Mayberry charm about them both.  Take the church bells - you can hear them ring out in both villages. And people still attend worship services. It is a normal part of life.

Businesses display American flags year-round  along Main Street

Patriotism and flag displays are also common traits of the two villages. While the blue and white stripes wave in the wind in Greece, the red, white and blue flags are on display in Manson.

Tasting rooms and a brewery are among Main Street businesses

In winter, both villages slow their pace.  Businesses that cater to tourists take a much needed break, often reducing their hours or closing for weeks on end. (In Greece it is usually to allow the family members to harvest their olives, here it is for a bit of vacation time.)  The places that do stay open become gathering places for the locals.  And even as part-time as we may think we are, we have become 'locals' in this small community.

Sign at a local eatery captures the mood of Manson

'You are back!' the waitress called out a couple nights ago, throwing her arms around me at one of our favorite eateries here.  It was a hug much like those received in our Greek village before we left in January.  It is something we didn't experience when dining out in the Seattle suburb.

Full moon spotlights downtown Manson

In Greece we are often called, 'the Amerikani' and here our moniker is 'the ones from Greece'.

Speaking of Greece our time in the States is coming to an end this weekend.  It is time to return to our other village.  The next time you hear from these two 'village people' will be after we are settled back into our Stone House on the Hill. Until then, safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking sometime in the next few weeks with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Traveler Looks at Home

“Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
  --Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

ChelanToppPort2010 044
Lake Chelan - The Scout's hometown
These two vagabonds-soon-to-be-full-time-expats have been uncharacteristically focused on home this summer. We are packing up and preparing to say goodbye to our current home in Washington State so that we can spend more time at our home in Greece. We’ve interrupted our ‘slogging’ out of accumulations only to make a couple of quick road trips back to our hometowns on the other side of the state.

Past home, present home, future home

Our Kirkland home
The juxtaposition of all those homes – past, present and future – got me to thinking about how many times the average American moves in his/her lifetime. The answer I found was 11.4 times (as of 2015 statistics).  We seem to be way behind even if we include those fleeting years of college housing.

While searching out that information, another statistic, from a 2012 project at George Washington University, caught my attention:

“About 1.3 million American seniors now live in nursing homes.  70 percent of them rely on Medicaid to pay the bill, which means they are low-income or have otherwise spent down their assets. The average cost of a nursing home private room tops $83,000 a year.”

It put this transition of ours into perspective, reminding me that we are blessed to be young and healthy enough to grab this extraordinary opportunity to live differently for awhile in our home on the other side of the world.

“You can go other places, all right – you can live on the other side of the world,
but you can’t ever leave home."
                                                       -- Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair

Living Differently

We’ve had interesting responses when we speak of our plan to live in Greece for a year. Some cheer us on, others say they’d seen it coming, and some are sent reeling at the news.
“But where will you live?” they ask.
“Greece” we answer.
“No, I mean where will you live here?” 
“Well, Greece for awhile . . .”  Beyond that we have no answer – we don’t know where we might end up. And that is the interesting part; we have options but no set plan, yet. (And that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.)

Washington State's Mt. Rainier towers over the Selah Valley 


It’s a tiny word with huge connotations. It was change we wanted when we moved from our home in the heartland of Washington State to the hustle and bustle of the Seattle metropolitan area. The Scout was taking a job in ‘the big city’. I was leaving a good job and would be seeking employment. We didn’t have any close friends in the area. We spent days searching for a place we’d eventually call home.

Seattle skyline from Puget Sound (tallest bldg. is Columbia Tower, Smith Tower to the right)

We settled in a suburb with a small town feel to it. Somehow 30 years have blown past during which time we’ve worked at and retired from great jobs. This has become ‘our world’. One in which we are wrapped in the friendships of dozens of people.

I remember crying at the thought of our move to the big city – even though I wanted to do it – because we were leaving ‘our world’ and all that was familiar. I could cry now at the thought of the friendships and experiences we would have missed had we not left the comfort of our previous homes.

Our road trips back to Central Washington this summer were good reminders that contrary to the old adage, you can go home again. As we’ve traveled those old familiar roads we’ve met up with friends, many who’ve know each of us long before we knew each other. Visits with them are filled with old memories and laughter. . .stories and reminiscing about good times back in ‘that world’.

The Scout at Nefarious Cellars - site of his parent's old apple orchard - Chelan, WA

'In life, a person will come and go from many homes. We may leave a house, a town, a room, but that does not mean those places leave us. Once entered, we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world. They follow us, like shadows, until we come upon them again,
waiting for us in the mist.'
                                               – Ari Berk, Death Watch

The route to our hometowns takes us through the Kittitas Valley
It all has reminded us once again that we can have many homes in this lifetime and each will be a special chapter in our life’s story.  It really isn’t the where we are in the world, but the what we do with the experience there that matters.

“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.”
                                             -- Cecilia Ahern, Love, Rosie

The Stone House on the Hill - our future full-time home

“Travel does not exist without home....If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.”
                                                       – Josh Gates, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

Summer scene in our present home: Kirkland, WA

An acquaintance asked if we were getting ‘scared’. . .at the thought of living in Greece. Since we’ve been doing it part-time for two and a half years, it isn’t like we are leaping into the unknown. I’ve chuckled over the question since it was asked and decided the answer should have been,  “No, we are scared of not going while we can.”

Summer scene in our future home: Agios Nikolaos, Greek Peloponnese
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”
                                                   – Basho Matsuo

That’s it from the home front – (yes, pun intended). We have some tales to tell you yet about France and Switzerland so I’ll be focused on those in the coming weeks.  Until then we thank you for your time and interest in our next adventure. We hope your travels are good ones.  We are curious, though, how many homes have you lived in and which were your favorites? Tell us your story in the comments below. . .

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Washington Weekend ~ Apples Found Round-the-World

For the next few weeks our seasonal “Washington Weekend” posts return to TravelnWrite. In them we’ll take you along with us on road trips and ‘staycations’ in the Pacific Northwest’s, Evergreen State. The series begins, however, on the other side of the world. . .

We’d flown to the other side of the world – 11,149 air miles or 17,942 air kilometers – in April to board Oceania’s Nautica in Bangkok, Thailand for a cruise to Istanbul, Turkey.

PicMonkey Collage
Back-of-the-seat monitors let you track your travel on Emirates Airlines

By whatever measurement, miles or kilometers, we were a long way from anything Washington State. . .or so we thought, until. . .

. . . we went into a grocery store just down the road from The Peninsula Hotel where we were staying in Bangkok. Grocery stores are among our favorite places to ‘tour’ when traveling because we find local foods interesting.  And sometimes the food isn’t always local, as we found out when we found ourselves standing before a display of Washington State apples.

PicMonkey Collage
Apple display - Bangkok, Thailand
Pretty cool, we thought. (If you are new to the blog, you may not know that our childhood and early adult roots are in Washington State apple country; in fact, The Scout’s family were apple orchardists in Chelan. Therefore, the apple holds a special place in our hearts.)

The following week, in Phuket, Thailand, our third port of call, we’d sought shelter from the heat in a large retail complex which housed a large, very modern grocery store. Once again, we happened upon Washington State apples. Quite a selection as a matter of fact:

Washington Apples - Phuket, Thailand
(Although larger, Washington apple display didn’t quite compare with the ‘gift-wrapped’ Asian-grown variety next to them. Of course, by then we were taking ‘ownership’ in these Washington grown fruits and predicted that ‘ours’ probably tasted far better):

Asian apple display - Phuket, Thailand
It wasn’t until we reached India that we really were reminded of the far reaching impact of our state’s apple industry. I have to admit the salesmen at the Mumbai fruit and vegetable market couldn’t get over my fascination with the apples we found for sale. But it seemed there was a Washington State apple box at every turn.

PicMonkey Collage
Washington apples were everywhere in the Mumbai market
India, we’ve since learned, was the fifth largest importer of Washington apples in 2013/14 with some 2.3 million boxes shipped there, according to the Washington State Apple Commission. (For those who like stats, Mexico was the largest importer at 10.5 million, followed by Canada, UAE (Dubai) and Taiwan).

The Commission reports that about 30% of the state’s apples are exported to 60 countries in the world!.  We probably could have found them everywhere we stopped, had we taken the time to look!

Apple Country travel is close to Home

ChelanToppPort2010 044
Apple orchard above Manson at Lake Chelan

The good news for those of us living in – or those visiting – Washington State is that apple country is easily reached within a few hours drive – no need to fly half-way around the world to find a great apple. Since wine country has co-mingled itself in the state’s orchard country, it is easy to follow Washington’s wine roads and find yourself in the midst of apple country as well. 

Apple orchard Yakima with Mount Adams in background
There are still 175,000 acres of apples grown here, primarily in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Apple harvest begins in mid-August and generally ends in early November.
Notice the similarities between the wine region and apple land maps below.

We’ll pay more attention to those apple trees the next time we take a Washington road trip – no telling where in the world we might find ourselves and those apples being harvested the next time!

IMG_5100Again thanks so much for the time you spent with us today.

Have you found a taste of home on your travels? If so, please share the story in the comments below.

Our Magic Carpet lands in Myanmar in our next post. Hope you’ll be here when it does.  We are linking with Mosaic Monday so stop by there if you get a chance!

Until then, thanks to the Washington State Apple Commission for letting us reprint these fun facts about Washington’s apple crop:



Apple Crop Fun Facts

  • 10 - 12 billion apples are handpicked in Washington State each year.
  • Each Washington apple is picked by hand. There are no harvest machines to pick apples.
  • If you put all of the Washington State apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times.
  • About 2,500 known varieties of apples are grown in the United States. More than 7,500 are grown worldwide.
  • Last year, the average U.S. consumer ate 19 pounds of fresh apples.
  • Red Delicious is the apple variety named as favorite by most consumers.
  • Apples are the largest agricultural product grown in Washington State.
  • Apples originated in Kazakhstan and were carried east by traders on the Silk Road.
  • The only apple native to North America is the crabapple.
  • Apple seeds are like people; you will never get the exact same type of apple from a planted seed.
  • The Red Delicious apple began life as a chance seedling on an Iowa farm. A chance seedling is a viable apple variety that grows from a seed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

WAWeekend: Seattle’s Summer Sizzlers

“Oh yes, we ‘know’ Seattle.  We went to its market. . .Pike Place Market!”

Time and again we meet people on our travels who place our world by recalling a visit they’ve made to Seattle’s iconic public market. There was a time we used to regularly beat a path to the market when we found ourselves in the Emerald City.

Seattle 014

We live so close to Seattle now that like other of its destinations, we go there when the occasional out-of-town visitor comes along.

That is until this week when one of Seattle’s glorious sunny days and a freelance article I am working on, lured me back to this century-old market with post-card perfect views overlooking Elliott Bay.

I decided to stop at a few of my old favorites and seek out at least a couple new spots to tell you about this weekend.

Seattle 019Let’s start under the Market Clock (erected during the Great Depression) at ‘Rachel’, the piggy-bank  (donations go to the Market Foundation)brings out the photographer in all visitors:

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Rachel is right in front of the boys who throw the fish when making sales, so you have to watch that show again, even though you know what’s coming and now matter how often you've seen it before:

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Note:  this area is congested with crowds waiting to see the antics of the sales staff – I had to muscle my way through the throngs to get to the stairway nearby (and kept my purse clutched tightly to my chest. . .just in case there were some among them more interested in my belongings than the fish show).

The Gum Wall:  Egad, how I had never visited this place, on Lower Post Alley (almost under the fish company) before? Now that I have, I probably don’t need to return. This, is as its name implies is a wall of gum, chewed gum to be exact, that seemed to draw as many photographers as those shooting out over the bay.  Not to  miss ‘a photo opp’:

PicMonkey Collage

The Urban Garden:  This was also an area new to me but it’s also new to the Market.  And a pleasant contrast to the Gum Wall almost below it.  This raised bed garden – the first seeds planted in April this year --  will provide fresh produce to low-income residents who live in and around the Market and who visit the Pike Market Food Bank and Senior Center:

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From the garden I had one of the best views ever of Seattle’s Giant Wheel that opened in Summer 2012 at Pier 57:

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If you are like me, the real draw of Pike Place Market continues to be the longtime food and flower vendors (Sadly, it seemed a number of the produce and flower stands that once lined the main corridor have been replaced by souvenir and gift stands – hopefully it is because the harvest season isn’t yet in full swing):

PicMonkey Collage

That’s it for this weekend’s WAWeekend, when we visit close to home in Washington State.  If you are heading to Seattle, put this Market on your must-see list. It is open year-round.

If You Go:

For the latest information on Market operating hours, how to sign up for guided tours, and the latest happenings, visit the Market website:

Note:  In the summer ,the market by mid-day is usually crowded. It is a popular stop for cruise ship passengers – three ships were in port on the Friday I visited, not to mention the land-based tourists. Plan your visit accordingly.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

WAWeekend: Heavenly!

While airplanes aren’t my favorite mode of transportation, I have to admit that they provide a ‘heavenly’ view of the world. . .especially when flying over Washington State. 

Just last week en route to Arizona we passed one of our state's ‘purple mountain majesties’ as the song says. . .this one, Mt. Rainier:

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And within minutes of passing that state icon we were reminded of the size and beauty of the winding Columbia River and the song we sang as children, “roll on Columbia, roll on. . . “:

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Do you have a favorite 'heavenly' view?


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