Getting settled in Walla Walla, Washington, part 1
We are approaching the two-month mark since we arrived in Walla Walla, and we have enjoyed every minute of the experience thus far! Today, I will share some highlights, and observations of our experience. This started out as one entry, however, as I wrote about all the experiences we have had is quickly became really long. Therefor, I have split this into two parts. This week, I share our housing situation, the joy of driving in a small town, our search for a church home, faith in Walla Walla, the girl's school, and the return of plastic bag ghosts. Next week, I will share our adventures in cuisine, art, antiques, nature, and local events. So much to share, here we go...
We arrived in town the evening of April 23rd, and stayed at a local hotel because it was too late to get the keys to our apartment. Our house wasn't scheduled to be completed until July, so we rented an apartment while we waited. By the time we move into the house, it will be the fourth place we have lived in eight months! Fortunately, we live with the mindset that home is were is the heart is, and not the building you live in. That being said, I have a lot of stuff to move and too much to fit inside an apartment. Granted most of the items in storage are my tools and gardening equipment. We are looking forward to getting settled soon. We are getting the keys to house on the 28th this month, yipee!
That being said, the view from the apartment is wonderful, with an uninterrupted view of the Blue Mountains. There is nice park, Lion's Park, across the street for the girls to play in. Mill Creek runs along the south edge of the park, with a paved trail from hiking and riding our scooters. Willow, Stella, Sparrow, Smiley, and I enjoy walking out in the creek and exploring the creek habitat.
Before we left California, I would share with people that we were moving to Washington state. The most common response I got was, "Oh, it rains too much." We have seen some rain, much bigger than the typical Bay Area rain fall. And the storms included lightning and rumbling thunder that added much excitement, and a little fear for our daughters. We have also had really hot days. May was the hottest and driest May on record. Personally, I have enjoyed the varied weather and look forward to experiencing all four seasons.
Getting around town is a pleasurable experience. just about everything is 10 minutes away. In one conversation with a local person, they explained that some people even question going places because it is 10 minutes away! There is virtually no traffic, except on a few key intersections during rush hour. On the couple times we ran into this back up, it only added 5 minutes to our trip. Furthermore, compact car parking spaces do not exist. The parking spots have plenty of space to open our doors, and get in and out of our car. There is a high percentage of pickup trucks.
Finding a church community to connect with was a priority for us. Jennifer did most of the research online and narrowed down our choices to three promising churches. After visiting two of the three, we agreed that Blue Mountain Community Church was the right fit for us. The congregation was a good size, with a variety of ages, ethnicities, political views, and active children's ministry. The pastoral team is charismatic and welcoming. The music is contemporary, which allows me to sing my heart out in worship and memory of my mother. Most importantly, the message was inline with our perspective on Christianity. Community focused and a relationship with a loving and graceful Jesus Christ.
To learn more about the local community, I searched for Walla Walla based podcasts. There were a little more than a dozen results. All but three of them were produced by churches or ministries from the Walla Walla University, a seventh-day adventist college. One, from Whitman College only had one episode, the second was a motivational theme, the third is titled, "Walla Walla Podcast". Looking at the episodes, I saw that they covered different topics about the community and history of Walla Walla. So, I started at the oldest episode available, episode #5 - Klickers, a local, fourth-generation family farm stand. The episode was very informative, and the hosts had a lively conversation about the topic. As the episode continued I learned that the hosts are staff at the Walla Walla University. As the conversation continued the hosts tactfully wove in Christian life and a couple verses from the Bible. This did not turn me away. There wasn't a drum beat of doctrine, and the conversation was lighthearted and interesting. So, I have continued to bing on the remaining episodes, and have learned interesting tidbits about our community that I will share when hosting guests in the future.
Faith is prominent in Walla Walla. The neighboring city, College Place, is a seventh-day adventist community. Businesses in College Place are in large part closed on Saturday's in observation of the Sabbath. There is also a sizable Mennonite community. We have enjoyed bread from a group of Mennonite women at the farmer's market. On my search for employment, I have discovered that many businesses operate with a commitment to ministry. Klicker's, mentioned above, and Broetje Orchards are two examples. This brings a set of values to their business that goes beyond making a profit. This is in line with my belief that a business is most successful and sustainable when operating with a triple-bottom line: people, planet, and profits. I will explore and explain this way of business more in future posts.
The girls had the challenging experience of joining a class for the last month of the school year. They were at Green Park elementary. The school was established in 1905. The original building has been renovated and a number of expansions and updates have occurred, read the history here. Green Park is also the alma mater of Adam West and Drew Bledsoe! The teachers they had were amazing and very welcoming to each of our daughters. It was heart-warming to see our girls jump into activities, and making new friends. Zoë joined the school newspaper club, and got all of her sisters to join the Miles Club where they ran laps around the playground to accumulate miles. At the school talent show, Zoë performed, "Firefly's" by Owl City. She was also was one of the announcers for the show! Next year she moves on to middle school. I am glad she had a chance to make some friends before making this transition.
Something that was a bit weird for me was seeing plastic bags at check-out counters. Plastic waste has become a global problem, and has been reported on by scientists and media. The Bay Area had gotten rid of plastic bags a few years ago through legislation. Bring your own bags, or pay .10¢ for a paper bag had become the norm. Admittedly, I need to be better at bringing my reusable bags when I go grocery shopping. I make a point to decline bags when only getting a few items or less. If I don't say anything that lone item will automatically get slipped into a plastic bag. As a new-comer to town I do not believe I have the political footing to change this. However, as I watched plastic ghosts drift across the street this weekend, the need to do something is haunting me.
Thanks for reading this part of our story. Come back next week and read about: downtown Walla Walla, Walla Walla valley wine, local art, antiques, local food and restaurants, and the wide open nature spaces we are exploring!