I often wonder what my kids will think about or remember about the area they grew up in. For now, and we expect for at least the next five years, we have no plans to leave the area.
When I was their age I lived in Casper, Wyoming. I was born in Casper, Wyoming and lived there until I was about 13. I loved Wyoming and truth be told, I still think back fondly on Wyoming and find it interesting that it is now becoming a destination. I loved the mountains, the open plains, the antelope and deer everywhere, the quiet, the ease to get away to places like Thermopolis, Jackson Hole, Sheridan and Cody and Yellowstone National Park.
Wyoming shaped me as being an outdoor, nature loving person. Our vacations as a kid were usually to outdoor destinations like camping at Alcova and Pathfinder with occasional shopping and zoo trips down to Denver – a long 6 hour car ride and my sister would usually puke on the car ride there. I was on cross country skis doing treks with my parents at age five and was finally allowed to downhill ski at Hogadon when I was 12. We fished and my dad hunted on occasion. I lived about 2 miles from my grandmother’s house where I spent a lot of time with her and Pa, we went to the fair and rodeo every summer. I played t-ball and hung out at my local YMCA where my mom worked when I was about 10.
We floated the North Platte in canoes and for fun played “whack a mole” with the paddles and the giant carp in the shallow sections, we caught frogs while on breaks to have lunch on the bank and grasshoppers to use while fishing. My dad once tipped the canoe with my mom, sister and I in it… my mom used to accuse him of not paddling as she paddled in the front and this time it was true – he had my sister standing up so he could retrieve a beer from the cooler she was sitting on when suddenly we were all dumped into the water.
I lived here until I was about 12.
I mourned Wyoming when we left for Colorado when I was 13.
Colorado was a different place. Something you notice when you cross the border from Wyoming to Colorado is the sudden green out the window. A transition from brown dusty plains to green fields. In Colorado my life was different. I didn’t ski so much because the drive to ski areas was long, and my mom and stepdad did not downhill ski. We spent a lot of time outside within the city of Fort Collins, which was a fabulous place to grow up.
Fort Collins, when I was there had the largest number of restaurants and breweries per capita. I passed my driver’s test there (after three attempts) and ran around town in my little 1979 Mazda RX-7. I remember saying I would never leave Colorado. When I did leave everyone expected I would come back, but Colorado hasn’t been my home in 14 years. I have found since leaving that when I tell people I grew up in Colorado many people tend to ask, “why would you leave?” or they tell me they are jealous, or the like. But things happen and life leads us down paths we don’t expect and it was my career that brought us to SE Washington state.
My region now is actually a lot like Casper geographically. Brown, dry and windy. I have noticed that since leaving life at altitude that my rice turns out well and my cakes rise differently. My kids know this area as home and it is rare that we go somewhere in town and don’t run into someone we know. While I wouldn’t say we love it here, we are awfully fond of it.
I think both AB and I get cases of wanderlust pretty regularly because we continue to bring up the topic of whether we will stay or leave between the two of us. Obviously we aren’t diehard Tri-Citians who never want to leave. We do enjoy our community and feel that we are a part of it and have things to offer back to our community. I hope that our children grow up and leave the region for college – my hope is that they will follow in AB’s and my, their Uncle Scott, Aunt Angie and Grandpa John’s footsteps and will attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. And then I hope that they will see the world at their toes with opportunities abound.
Of course I say this as a mom of a 5.5 and nearly 3 year old where the prospect of them striking out to discover the world on their own is more than a decade away. That’s forever!
AB and I are lucky that we can pretty effectively combat our boredom with the area and our wanderlust needs with weekend getaways. Weekend trips to Seattle satisfy (for now) our shopping, dining and culture needs (whereby we can usually expect Skadi to puke on the car ride, just like my sister only now I have a lot more compassion as her mommy). We are trying to make more habits out of getting to the mountains on the weekends and possibly justify a mountain land purchase in the next year or two with plans to build a cabin eventually. And we have identified our favorite family getaway. Then there are our trips to Colorado and Alaska fairly regularly that usually pre-empt any “big vacations”. But like I said before, we emanate from destination cities, so going to our roots for vacations isn’t always a bad deal.
I wonder what my children will look back remembering as they grow up in Southeast Washington? What do you remember about where you grew up?