Showing posts with label Yakima. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yakima. Show all posts

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Gasperetti's - A Taste of Home

 My taste of home arrived at our village post office last Friday. 

My taste of home

Exactly one month after it began its journey from my hometown, Yakima, Washington, in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, it arrived in our adopted home in the rural Greek Peloponnese. 

Melt-in-your-mouth meatballs

'Gasperetti's, The Story of The Restaurant' was published as a tribute to the long-time Yakima business and the family for whom it is named. The restaurant is a part of Yakima Valley history, having been operated over a span of nearly 70 years, in two locations, by two generations of the Gasperetti family. It closed in 2020.

From the book, a menu, circa 1945

I liken the book to a multi-course meal at 'The Restaurant' (as it was called in its day). Its appetizer course is the opening chapter; a history that takes the reader back to the family's culinary roots in Tuscany, Italy. The main course consists of some 65 mouthwatering recipes for those favorite dishes that were once served at The Restaurant, now adjusted for home-sized cooking.  Sweet memories prompted by its photos was a most fitting dessert. 

Thursday nights Crab Cannelloni Nights

I was surprised by not only the hunger pangs it prompted, but the emotions as well. It was a shot of nostalgia, and memories both for the restaurant and the town.  It had been 'the place to go' when celebrating life's special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, or even the end of an ordinary work week. It was at this restaurant where we gathered with our close friends a few years ago to celebrate our move to Greece.

Gasperetti's Comes to Greece

John Gasperetti and the book

News of the book's publication many months ago had me contacting my now FB friend, John Gasperetti, about ordering a copy. I'd finally decided the logistics of doing it from Greece were too difficult and I'd risk waiting until my next trip to the States to get a copy. I was hoping it wouldn't be sold out.

Postage to Greece is outrageous

Then came a message from my college roommate and forever friend, Mary. She said a parcel was headed my way. She provided a tracking number, but its contents remained a secret.  

She and I both began tracking the parcel two weeks into its journey. By then, it had reached Athens. In fact, it had shipped from Athens five days before the day I checked on it- but to where, I wasn't sure. The travel time between Athens and here is about four hours, certainly not days. . .

Nikos, the unflappable clerk at our small village post office, checked his computer. He told me it had shipped from the Post Office to Customs in Athens. He speculated, that maybe it had, or maybe it hadn't gotten there; maybe it had or maybe hadn't been shipped. . .or maybe it had gotten there, and no one recorded it. Bottom line, it was in a Black Hole somewhere.  Another 10 days and we'd have to start some sort of process to find it, he advised.

But what did it mean?

Its whereabouts got murkier when I checked on it this week and found signs of movement, I just wasn't sure what they meant. So back to Nikos I went. He frowned at the news of 'held in customs' because that could mean a hefty customs fee. 

Then he flashed a big smile and said, "Oh! My computer says it is here. Yes, it came Friday!"  He reached to a shelf a few feet from his chair and there it was - my taste of home!  As I've written before, getting mail in Greece is always an adventure.

Stirring the Italian travel bug

Besides taking me on a trip down Memory Lane, the book stirred our collective travel bug.

Borgo a Buggiano Italy

The family's culinary roots stretched back in time to a small village in Tuscany. 

 '. . .the family culinary skills were first showcased when, in 1800, the first Mario Gasperetti earned the praise of Pope Pius VII for his superior chicken cacciatore'.  

'In 1906,' the book continues, 'Mario's great-great-grandson Angelo Gasperetti arrived at Ellis Island in New York City from the small village of Borgo a Buggiano, northwest of Florence, Italy.'

The Gasperetti 'roots' in Borgo a Buggiano

'Near Florence!' I exclaimed as I was reading the passage to The Scout. 'Let's go visit that village the next time we are in Italy!' The Scout was already looking it up on a map of Italy. The village, it turns out, is between Lucca, where we now have friends living, and Florence, a favorite of ours! (Since we are less than a two-hour flight from Italy these days, a quick trip might just be in the offing!)

The Arno - Florence, Italy

Over the years of dining at the restaurant we came to know John and his sister Jean who operated 'The Restaurant' that opened in 1966 while I was still in elementary school. Their parents, Mario and Minnie, had operated the original Gasperetti's from 1943 until 1960 at another location.

John Gasperetti and his sister Jean Gasperetti Lemki

Let's Eat!

The cookbook is a tribute to an Italian family and the mark they've left on the culinary scene in Washington State. I know people who used to travel across the state from the Seattle area just to dine at this Yakima landmark.  A visit back to Yakima for us certainly wasn't complete without dinner at The Restaurant. 

The recipes, while predominantly Italian, also include those that spotlight Yakima's agricultural base, like the Broiled Yakima Pear Salad. Others carry names of restaurant patrons, friends and family.  Brad's Avocado and Dungeness Crabmeat Salad is named for John's husband, Brad Patterson, the restaurant's long-time creative culinary artist and chef. Brad joined the Gasperetti's team back in 1966 at age 19.

Note: Kalamata olives in this recipe!

As I was reading through the recipes, the one above stopped me in my tracks! Back in our Yakima days, I'd never have any more imagined Gasperetti's closing, than I'd have imagined us living in and growing Kalamata olives in Greece.  Yet, both have happened! I've decided this Chicken Cacciatore will be the first dish I make and will use our Greek home grown and oil-cured olives in in it. 

My homegrown and cured Kalamata olives

Thanks for indulging in my trip down memory lane and joining me for a taste of home. I will resume tales of Southeast Asia in my next post.  How about you? Any similar restaurants located on your Memory Lane?  Any cookbooks that sparked a taste of home?

And for those of you who want a copy of this book, they are available from Gasperetti's Floral Design, 5833 Summitview Ave., Yakima, Washington, 98908. Details and ordering information from: or the FB page, Gasperetti's Floral. 

Until next time. . .

Saturday, August 17, 2013

WAWeekend: The Old West ~ Fort Simcoe

Fort Simcoe in Central Washington State isn’t a place that you happen upon along the way to somewhere else.

It is an out-of-the-way place -- definitely a destination – surrounded by miles of undeveloped range land; so much so, that first-time visitors might wonder if they’d taken a wrong turn along the way.

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Fort Simcoe – now a 200-acre day use heritage park on the Yakama Indian Nation Reservation – was established in 1856 at the foot of the Simcoe Mountains on a route that linked the Yakima Valley and the Yakama Tribe’s traditional fishing area on the Columbia River. 

As a child growing up in Yakima, it was always a ‘far away’ adventure to visit this outpost that seemed from another world and as an adult far too many years had slipped past without a return to this sprawling testament to history. So one fine summer’s day we went back in time . . .

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Fort Simcoe was built on the site of the Indian’s campground, an area they called “Mool Mool” (‘bubbling water’) for the natural spring that existed in the area’s oak grove.

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The purpose of this United States Army post was to keep peace between the settlers and the Yakamas, although the Fort’s history includes the hanging of two Yakamas from a beam set in an oak tree because they had been implicated in the killing of an Indian agent. (Source:

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The original Commander’s house, as well as the houses of three captains (which were built at the upper end of the parade ground )and one blockhouse still stand; other buildings have been reconstructed. Several of the homes serve as interpretive areas and have been furnished as they might have been when lived in.

PicMonkey Collage

The supplies for the Fort were brought in by pack trains from the Columbia and Yakima Rivers because the transportation route, Satus Pass, (now a major cross-state route) hadn’t been completed.

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The Blockhouse

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Fort Simcoe, as such, lasted only three years. In 1859 the soldiers were dispatched elsewhere in the Territory (statehood didn’t arrive for another 30 years) – some to Colville and others to Walla Walla. The Fort became an Indian agency at that time.

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It became a state park in 1956 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. 

The place, we found, hadn’t lost its magic. It is well worth a visit, so pack a picnic lunch, get a Discover Pass and take a trip back into Washington history!


Fort Simcoe
5150 Fort Simcoe Road
White Swan, WA 98952
(509) 874-2372 Call for interpretive center hours of operation

Map picture

Fort Simcoe is about 40 miles southwest of Yakima, seven miles from the small town of White Swan as noted in the map above.   The drive is through cultivated truck gardens, hop yards, orchards and open range land. (Yakima is about a two-hour drive from Seattle and a less-than 45 minute flight from SeaTac airport).

Driving Directions:

From Yakima: Take the Hwy. 97 exit off of I-82 (south bound), and drive to the first traffic light (Lateral A). Turn right onto Lateral A. Drive to the second stop sign, about 12 miles (Fort Rd.) Turn right on Fort Road. Drive about 15 miles to the city of White Swan. In White Swan, watch for road signs to Fort Simcoe. The park is seven miles west of White Swan.

Note: A Washington State Park’s  Discover Pass  is required – for information on how to obtain a Pass, visit that website by clicking the blue link.

More Information for History Buffs:

Visit for more information on Fort Simcoe history.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

WAWeekend: On the Spirits and Ale Trail

A couple years ago I visited the Yakima Valley researching a Washington Ale Trail travel article for the Seattle Times and followed a customized ‘ale trail map’ I’d developed for myself. 

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That’s because the tourism folks in this cradle of Central Washington’s wide open spaces and agricultural lands didn’t have such a document. . .but, they promised, it was coming.

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They did have ‘wine road’ maps because those producers of the grapes and the makers of the vino are pretty much the headliners of the area – and have been for the past few decades. That wasn’t of much use because I was on the trail of ale. . .

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The hop – the basic ingredient of ales – has been grown in the Yakima Valley for decades. High school chums used to earn spending money by ‘stringing hops’; twirling those twisty little shoots around the strings that would lead the vine skyward as the summer continued. Hop kilns, those enormous bigger-than-barns wooden structures used to dry the hops at harvest time dotted the landscape.

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Hop Vineyards in the Yakima Valley
Here’s  the kicker: 78% of the hops grown in the United States are grown in the Yakima Valley!

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American Hop Museum - Toppenish, WA

International visitors make treks to the American Hop Museum in the small Lower Yakima Valley town of Toppenish but not a lot of folks on this side of the state or elsewhere, I suspect, even know of its existence. (It is well worth a visit if you’ve never been there!)

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Hop cluster

Back to those tourism folks and that map they promised. . .just this week I got a news release with a link to:

 The Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail website which has that promised map, a list of upcoming events, ‘sip spots’ and ‘guzzle and grub’.

Kudos to those folks because it’s an amazing piece of work and will serve any visitor well! Click the link above and check it out.

Here’s a couple of the events you’ll find listed there:

Annual Apple Valley Kiwanis Wine Country Trek Sat.– Sun., September 28 - 29

A scenic two-day, 120-mile bike ride, round-trip from Yakima to Prosser, through vineyards, hop fields and orchards. Start time from Yakima on Saturday is 8:00 a.m. returning Sunday at 6 p.m. Registration is $135 per cyclist with all proceeds going to Kiwanis community and youth service projects. This event coincides with the Hot Air Balloon Festival and the Harvest Festival in Prosser. Registration includes our famous gourmet dinner, the balloon glow, overnight camping (indoor and outdoor) in Prosser, Sunday morning breakfast, baggage transportation and break stops. For information, visit

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Finished product: ales

Attendees at the 11th Annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival can enjoy selections from numerous participating breweries in addition to brewing demonstrations, a cigar tent, food from local restaurants, live music and street dancing. The Festival begins at 5 p.m. and will continue until 10 p.m. Ticket prices are $30 if purchased in advance and $35 at the gate. All proceeds benefit Allied Arts of Yakima Valley which coordinates art programs, classes and events for the community. Pre-sale ($30) tickets are on sale at local businesses around the Yakima Valley during regular business hours through noon on Friday October 4. Plenty of tickets will also be available for $35 at the gate. Ticket price includes a commemorative beer glass and $6 scrip (used instead of cash for beer and wine, but note that food is cash only and that the event is 21+ only. ID is required for entry. For more information, visit

If  You Go:

Map picture

There are daily flights from SeaTac (Seattle Tacoma International) to  Yakima. Driving time from Seattle is about three hours to the Lower Valley;  little more than two hours to Yakima.

That’s it for this weekend’s focus on Washington State.  As always thanks for the time you spend with us. Hope you’ll tell friends to come along on our journeys together.  They can sign up to receive the posts  by going to the home page,

And a request to our Facebook followers:  if you have a post that you particularly like, please ‘share’ it on your page – that what keeps the page in circulation!
Happy and Safe Travels~

Saturday, March 9, 2013

WAWeekend: Girls, Guys, Getaways

We're taking a break from our ‘tales’ to suggest a few travel ‘tips’ because Spring’s arrival in the Pacific Northwest is filling our inbox with great getaway ideas.

Here are four that will shake awake the travel bug from his winter’s hibernation:

Easter 'Chicks' Night Out in Seattle (or Portland) 

CashmereVictoriaBC 263Thinking about a Girls Getaway? Then take a “Peep” at this sweet package at the Hotel Vintage Park* in downtown Seattle.

(Note: It’s good only March 28 – April 2, 2013, so don’t ponder this one too long.)

The deal:
· 15% off their Best Available Rate
· Valet Parking
· Box of ‘Peeps’ Marshmallow candies
· Complimentary nightly wine hour, where local wine makers pour their favorite bottles

Rate code: PPEEPS

CashmereVictoriaBC 261*(the deal isn’t limited to girls and can be had at the  Monaco and Alexis hotels in Seattle and Vintage Plaza, Monaco Portland and RiverPlace in Portland)

Another Girls Getaway . . .

Iron Springs Alderbrook 2012 114The spa at Alderbrook Inn and Spa on Hood Canal is having a Girls Night Out - an evening of food, wine and pampering - Friday, March 22nd at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $60 and include 2 petit treatments (Express Skin Refining Glow, Clarisonic Facial Cleanse, Petit Facial Exfoliation or Clarisonic Back Cleanse), wine and light spa snacks.

Space is limited, so call 360.898.5520 to reserve your ticket today!

See What’s Cookin’ in the Yakima Valley this Spring. . .

Thanks to our friends at the Yakima Valley Visitor’s and Convention Bureau who tipped us off to this one:

The Yakima Valley's  La Maison’ Exceptional Cooking Experiences. The French-style home, on a hill overlooking the Naches Valley, is where the culinary classes – each limited to 12 guests – are held.

Map picture

The menus are varied and always include wine and food pairings, as well as extra cooking tips.   Don’t like those hands-on classes? No problem! These are so relaxed that you can participate in the preparations or just sit back and enjoy the wine and ambiance.

Among the classes this spring are: a  Japanese menu on April 12, and Mexican Cinco de Mayo menu on May 10, all menus paired with wines from Alexandria Nicole Cellars.

Haven’t been to Naches?  High time you visited that area just northwest of Yakima.  Head to Naches Heights where you’ll find  Naches Heights Vineyards and Tasting Room Yakima.

The Orchard Inn Bed and Breakfast in the area is rated the number one B and B in Yakima by

Take the Washington Wine Road to Chelan . . .

Chelan Nouveau – Two weekends, April 20 - 21 AND  April 27 – 28, 2013 - mark your calendars!


The Lake Chelan Wine Valley’s 20 wineries will celebrate the release of "nouveau" white and rose wines. On the weekends listed noted above, you can sip and purchase the first of the spring releases including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Rose, Viognier and Riesling.

To view a complete list of wineries, wine releases, tasting room hours and special event activities planned at each winery click this link to Lake Chelan Wine Valley.

That’s it for this WAWeekend!  Let us know if you have been tempted by any of the four outings above. And if these types of ideas are helpful, let us know, and we will keep them coming. Come back soon for another Tuesday Travel Classic.

Have a great weekend – happy travels!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

WAWeekend: Wine ‘Tasting and Toting’

Tasting and toting in Washington Wine Country just got easier thanks to a new program announced yesterday.

Tourism Walla Walla, Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau, Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau, and Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance announced the launch of a new collaborative effort with Alaska Airlines and Enterprise Rent-A-Car to promote Washington Wine Country.

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Launching September 2012, Washington Wine Country Taste and Tote will make it easier and more affordable to taste and travel the Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Valley wine regions.

DCVegasSeville2011 157As part of this new partnership, Alaska Airlines will expand its existing wine check-in program Taste and Tote to the Yakima and Pasco/Tri-Cities airports.

Originating in the Walla Walla Valley in late 2011, this program allows outbound passengers to check their first case of wine free on their return flight. In addition, Enterprise Rent-A-Car will waive car drop-off fees for visitors flying on Alaska Airlines into Yakima, Pasco or Walla Walla regional airports who wish to fly out of one of the other two airports.

WARoadTrip2012 198"The Taste and Tote program has been a big success in Walla Walla and we feel our expansion to the Pasco and Yakima airports shows our dedication to being Washington Wine Country's airline of choice," said Clint Ostler, Alaska Airlines' manager of retail advertising and sponsorships. "Washington State's tourism and wine industries are so closely connected and we are committed to making it easier for travelers to visit our award-winning vineyards."
(Photo: Marcus Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla)

Other features of the new program will allow travelers to sample wines at participating wineries and pay no tasting fees when they show a current Alaska Airlines boarding pass from one of the three airports.

WARoadTrip2012 215The majority of visitors to Walla Walla Valley, Tri-Cities region and Yakima Valley wineries come from the Seattle and Portland metropolitan areas. Organizers hope that with these added incentives, visitors from these destinations and others served by Alaska Airlines will utilize air service for their trip to Washington Wine Country.
(Photo: Walla Walla).

For more information on the Taste and Tote program:

Note:  Thanks to Seattle’s GreenRubino PR for providing today’s news. The photos are mine, (the planes flown to these destinations are smaller than the one pictured above).

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Washington Wednesday: Yakima’s Fruit Loops

We’ve spent a good deal of time in my hometown in recent weeks because I had a number of reunions to attend this summer.  And they couldn’t have been held at a better time. It meant we were in Yakima, during harvest season – the absolute best time of the year to visit.
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August’s 90-degree days allow us to open the car windows, and breathe the heady scents of tree-ripened produce when driving on one of what I call my favorite ‘Fruit Loops’. They are those winding two-lane roads that lead through orchards heavy with peaches and apricots, and past sprawling truck gardens where vegetables are grown and then sold at mom-and-pop stands along the roadway. 

washington wednesdays 026Saturday morning we drove a ‘Fruit Loop’ northwest of town through the orchards in the West Valley area, into Peck’s Canyon and toward Tieton, another small agricultural town a stone’s throw from Yakima. 

washington wednesdays 037 Sunday morning we headed south from Yakima on Highway 97 to Lateral A in the Lower Yakima Valley.  We followed it to Kyles Korner, where produce and fruit stands can be found on nearly every corner.  Temptations were great – how much can one load into a car?  Well, we weren’t as bad as the photo implies, but we did stock up on fruits and vegetables.

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If You Go:  The Yakima Valley Visitor’s Center has a map of the valley’s agricultural areas and can tell you what crops are in season.  Just click the word Yakima in the post to get to their website.  Or drop us an email, and we’ll tell you where we shopped.

Oh, in case you’re wondering about that helicopter. The pilot was spraying crops and swept so low over us that I thought he was going to crash into the car.

Friday, April 22, 2011

“Where the Boys Are. . .”

If you were a youngster in the early 60’s then the title alone should spark a memory of  that dark-haired beauty, Connie Francis, singing and searching for romance on Florida's beaches during a spring break romp in a movie named, what else? “Where the Boys Are”.

Movies --for a kid like me growing up in Yakima, Washington – were an introduction to the world; a time travel to places I hoped to visit when I grew up.  I’ve already told you how Hayley Mills in Disney’s “Moonspinners” kicked off what was to be my adult-life love affair with Greece.

In much the same way,  Where the Boys Are, created a magical image of  Fort Lauderdale; actually, anything, Florida.
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Now  decades later, I’ve been to to Fort Lauderdale a few times; usually a late-night arrival to catch a cruise ship the next morning.

We’ll soon be heading there to catch our Celebrity cruise.  This time, though, we are spending a few days on the Florida coast.

Unlike those dreamy, starry-eyed teen years, I am  no longer hoping to find my true love there as Connie so skillfully planted the seeds of hope so long ago - he’s coming with me. 

But at some point under that Floridian sun, I’ll be humming that song, thinking of Connie and back to a time that my friends and I watched. . .and watched . . .and watched that film over and over again.

Connie and others like her in those movies planted the seeds for our futures: romance and travel, success and happiness. Isn't it funny how just hearing a song from one of them now can take me time traveling back through the decades to the time my friends and I were lost in the land of movie magic?

Note:  If you don’t recall the movie or need a refresher course, click on the link above, as it will take you to a great video posted by glamourous888 on YouTube. Happy Memories!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

2010 Memory Lane, Yakima, Washington:

Yes! You can go home again.  Earlier this week I speculated about my trip to Yakima and the claim made by someone long before me, "you can't go home again".  Wrong. You can.  I did. I recommend it to anyone who has been putting off  making that personalized trip down memory lane. 

In my case it was as simple as sending a few emails and making a few phone calls to friends I'd stayed in touch with over the years, a couple of whom I hadn't seen in 20 years. We set a date, planned an itinerary and carried through -- despite Mother Nature giving us a few tense hours as a late season storm swept through the state closing Snoqualmie Pass twice on Thursday and leaving in its wake blowing snow and slush on the roadway Friday. This is how the pass looked at 9 a.m.

And this is how it looked at 5 p.m.:

The time spent between 9 and 5 was better than I could have imagined.  Mary, with whom I had shared my childhood, and I traveled down memory lane slowly driving up and down the roads that made up our old neighborhood.  We remarked on the changes, laughed at memories and challenged each other's brain cells with names from the past.

Our lunch gathering of college girlfriends was one we will remember for years to come.  The photo albums filled with somewhat fading photos prompted shrieks of laughter and puzzled looks as we tried to recall associations we had with faces of many in the photos.  Old photos mixed with new ones as we were introduced to adult children - grandchildren! - homes and recent travels. The conversation never stopped, food got cold, the years between college and the present seemed but a blip.  We've vowed to stay in touch: next gathering this fall in our college town, Ellensburg.

For those who read the earlier post, Mary and I did ride the elevator to the top of the Larson Building for old times' sake.  This time I'd read up on it and knew that it had been built during the Depression and the designer had designated that several floors be equipped for medical and dental offices (no wonder our dentist had been there).  The lobby of this Art Deco building is incredibly beautiful with its black marble and brass.  The building is on the National Register of Historic Places - definitely worth a visit if you are in Yakima. 

(Tip: Ride to the 11th floor, head to the left and from the window to the north side of the elevators you'll have a sweeping western view of the Yakima Valley.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Yakima, Washington: Going Home

So can you go home again? I am going to find out this week.

Yakima, in Central Washington, just a bit over two hours drive from Kirkland, is where I was born and spent my first 33 years.  Joel and I usually get back there a few times each year as it now the Gateway to Central Washington Wine Country.  I even wrote an article about Yakima and its growing popularity with tourists for the Seattle Times a couple years ago. But this trip is different because I am traveling through history - my own.

While I look forward to every trip, this one has me so excited that I'm in a near frenzy state as I fret over whether Washington's late spring storms will dump snow on Snoqualmie Pass preventing me from my rendezvous with Mary, my sister-like-friend with whom I shared the joys of childhood.

After realizing we had let 20 precious years get away since we were last together, we set our our itinerary: Mary will drive from Pasco, in the southern part of Washington on the Columbia River and I'll come from Puget Sound. We will return to the neighborhood where we grew up and other places that make no sense to anyone else; such as riding the elevator in the now-historic Larson Building where our dentist once had his office. See? Makes no sense; except to us who share those long ago memories that make such a simple act something special.

Lunch will be at a long-time favorite Miner's Drive-In with college roommates (our other sister-like-friends) we've rounded up for the occasion. I'll report back on our trip but in the meantime would love to hear from you about similar journeys you've taken.


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