We chose to spend the majority of our summer (2.5 months) in Walla Walla, Washington for several reasons. For one, neither of us had ever been to the Pacific Northwest, so we really wanted to get up here and check it out at the best time of year in this part of the US. Secondly, Barry did some research and determined that Walla Walla was much warmer and sunnier than western Washington (we'd also considered Seattle and Portland as possible summer destinations). He's all about hot weather, and we worried that the coast could be too overcast and chilly for us, even in the summer.
Another neat finding that turned up in his research: In 2011, Walla Walla was named the "friendliest small town in America" by Rand McNally and USA Today. Writers described it as “a town so nice they named it twice; a culturally diverse small town with happy faces everywhere you go.” After living in the very friendly country of Belize, we got a bit spoiled. We really enjoy being in places with friendly people who actually say "good morning" and smile when they see you.
And last but certainly not least, the road cycling here was reputed to be excellent, with miles and miles of lightly traveled rural roads. Since this year kind of evolved into the "year of cycling" for us after staying in warmer areas all winter long, Walla Walla was an easy choice.
We were able to find a really nice vacation rental townhouse (half a house) with a large, fully fenced yard for Paisley to play in and all the amenities we needed, including a washer-dryer, deck, and fully equipped kitchen. Perfect!
Since arriving here at the beginning of July, we've spent many of our waking hours exploring the rural roads by bike. It's sunny nearly every day, and even on hotter days, with the low humidity, the heat doesn't seem too stifling -- nothing like the drippy, humid southeast US (and Belize!) we were used to.
Just a couple of miles by bike leads us from the suburbs to pastoral countryside decorated primarily by farms. The landscape is a patchwork of every shade of gold and green. Fields of swaying wheat, Walla Walla onions, alfalfa, impossibly green corn, and a variety of farm animals are our constant companions. Striking hills dotted with wind farms and the Blue Mountains to the east provide a almost unreal-looking backdrop surrounding the verdant valley.
Oh, and there are birds -- lots of birds. From flycatchers to swallows to magpies to the most hawks we've ever seen, it is a birders paradise.
The farm animals are usually pretty interested in we strange creatures with wheels instead of hooves.
The city of Walla Walla boasts a charming downtown, and we've enjoyed riding to the farmer's market every Saturday and buying wonderful local produce. We got here in time for cherries -- both red and Rainier, though they are done now, but berries of every type, apricots, and peaches are everywhere; and locally grown apples can't be far behind -- we pass the orchards on every ride.
Since I managed to get so far behind on the blog while documenting our cross-country trip, I wanted to give you a little taste of what this area is like, but I have many more posts to write about areas we've visited -- and we've got a lot more to do before we leave as well. So stay tuned, and thanks for reading!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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