When I was very young, probably around eight or nine years old, the Peterson’s packed up the family station wagon and headed west. Destination (the first one anyway): Seattle-ish. Honestly, it’s this trips fault why I love the PNW so very much.
Now, I will be the first to admit that large chunks of this trip is fuzzy. What I DO remember is that this was my first huge road trip and here’s how Lynda Peterson (mom) prepares her kids for a huge road trip…
Prizes. Yup, prizes. She bought various dollar items (or less), wrapped them up in real wrapping paper and put a post-it note on each one labeling when we could open them. For example, prize #1 can be opened when we leave Minnesota. Cool. My brother and I kept our eyes peeled for that “Welcome to South Dakota” sign the entire 3-4 hours it took to see it. Cross the border, open a prize. Now, we didn’t have a lot of money so prizes were never anything big. Animal Crackers; Car Bingo; Bubbles; a Comic Book or new Crayons,anything that’s fun. They didn’t always match either. Sometimes Jerry got something a little bit cooler and sometimes I did but it never mattered. We kept our eyes on the road, a map, and how big the next prize looked in Mom’s grocery bag (she’d pack up the daily prizes in a grocery bag and put it by her feet for the day. In hindsight, probably not the most comfy for her. Things mom’s do for kids.)
Sometimes prizes would be quick. For example, once into South Dakota the next prize would be when you saw the first WALL DRUG sign. Well, anyone who’s traveled I-90 knows it takes about 18 seconds to see the first WALL DRUG sign. Next prize! But then the following prize may not be for hours and hours and looking back, that was probably “you kids go to sleep and shut up for a while and give us peace” time because she always promised that if we went to sleep she’d wake us up if prize time got close. My mom was wicked smaat. (By the way, I should state for the record now that I can’t even remember if my little sister came on this trip. For some reason I don’t think she did, she would have been around 2 years old and I recall it being a big deal that we’d be away from her for so long but again, I could be completely wrong. It was 40 years ago, cut a girl some slack!)
Having run out of prizes, we knew we were “there.” We didn’t know what “there” meant but I remember having to head to a place near the water to catch a ferry (a Ferry, a real Ferry ride for an 8 year old is a pretty big deal) and then catch an old rickety school bus that rumbled along a road with many switch backs that was both terrifying and invigorating, to our final destination, Holden Village.
Holden Village is church camp. In paradise.
Woods. Mountains. The tallest trees I’d ever seen. The smell of campfire and goodness, everything perfect in the world all rolled up in one little mountainside retreat. And it got even better.
This particular week at Holden Village was ‘Lutheran Church of the Master’ week which meant so many of our favorite friends from home were there too. To this day, I get a kick out of traveling to places and running into people I know. To just be roaming down a street in Scotland and BOOM! there’s Merl Lawless and his lovely wife or Dawn Higgins’ daughter flying up a nearby stairwell or waiting at a stoplight near the Inverness Castle to cross the street and BOOM! there’s Terri and Larry Ventress in a car at the light, I love it!
One of the women from church (there were lots of non Church of the Master there too) was Phyllis Aho. She was shorter (okay, she was really short) and though not a huge person (short people got it tough YO!) she was solid and had ginormous boobs that 70’s bras made look like something Madonna wore 20 years later TRYING to give bulk to her boobs.) True story.
Anyways. Every morning, Phyllis seemed to be the first one awake in our cabin (the cabin’s were huge, probably more like a hotel but shared bathrooms. However, my brother and I had our own sink in our room we could use to wash up and brush our teeth, etc. To that point in my life, it was the most luxurious thing I had ever experienced.)
Back to the story, “early to rise Phyllis “would run up and down the hallway in her house coat, long black hair flying (boobs too) singing (more screaming) the Vacation Bible School song “Rise and Shine.” Once she started singing, you could hear my dad across the hall in their room laughing. (Pastor John has a very distinctive laugh. If you know him, you know it. That’s all I can say but to illustrate, when I was very young and wanted to find dad in a pot lucked crowded gymnasium filled with a couple of hundred people, all I had to do was stay still and wait for his laugh. BOOM! There it is and there HE was. True story.)
And those were our first moments every morning at Holden Village. A (what I would call her today) crazy woman with big boobs scream singing and my dad’s laugh. Is it no wonder the PNW has a piece of my heart?
Above is pretty much one of the most bizarre video’s I’ve seen in a while but it has Rise and Shine and the other version available was creepy kids lip syncing it. People fishing from clouds won out.
A very vivid memory was upon arrival to Holden Village. Having survived the bus ride, we unloaded and my dad disappeared for a bit, I assume to check us in or something. He came running back to the bus saying there’s a mountain hike leaving RIGHT NOW and he’s taking me and my brother leaving mom to unpack and get settled. We literally got off the bus and headed right into the woods. Look! I grew up in a northern suburb of Minneapolis, I didn’t even KNOW you could do such things as get off a bus and head into the mountains! And here we were, doing it!!
I don’t remember how many of us there were but there was another brother sister pair and we made friends. It was amazing. I also found a pretty fine walking stick that stayed with me for most of the trip until it disappeared. I assume my brother took it and hid it, big brothers are a pain in the ass sometimes. But he’s cool now so that’s nice.We hiked to a small mountain lake and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. Clear and blue, surrounded by sounds of birds and leaves and far away streams and NOTHING ELSE! How could anywhere on earth be as peaceful as this? (I still think that when I’m there.)
Holden Village is still there. Today at least. They are right in the middle of the Wolverine fire and it’s closing in. They have been working with crews for weeks trying to protect it but it’s hot and it’s dry and each passing day brings flames closer and closer. Will it make it? I don’t know. I hope so but these fires are spreading devastation over almost 58 square miles and this is just one fire out of many. If it makes it, does that mean God saved it? If it doesn’t, does that mean it’s just “part of his plan”? Dunno. Things people say to make their present predicament livable are of no interest to me.
All I know is that this place is very special. The trip instilled a love for this land in my heart that, when coupled with all the amazing people we now know out there, makes me believe it’s just a matter of time before a move would be made (or at least an extended stay.) So if you feel led to send some good energy the way of Holden Village and Lake Chelan residents, I’m sure they’ll take it. And I appreciate it.
OH! When we left, I was very sad. We got off the ferry and packed up our waiting station wagon and headed out. Along the way, my dad noticed some Peach trees and pulled over. We loaded up one of mom’s empty grocery bags that once held our prizes with Peaches stolen from someone’s orchard. Mom was screaming at dad that this was ‘NOT COOL JOHN!’ and my brother and I thought it was actually very cool. Heh.
Happy Friday. Enjoy the weekend.
I went on a road trip with my cat, Cap’n. I would have let him drive, but he was drunk.
Jarod Kintz ($3.33)