"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Why we moved here

By on August 24, 2019 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

Earlier this summer, we asked readers why they moved here — for climate, for love, for work, for fun or for some other reasons. Here are some of our favorite responses:

Kathleen Miller and Terry Valdez at Ingalls Lake in 1982: Backpacking love.

Coming for love… and hiking; returning for hiking

By Kathleen A. Miller

I met Terry Valdez at a YMCA “Youth in Government” training in Olympia in 1982. Terry was a YMCA program director in Wenatchee while I was a YMCA program director in Seattle. 

For four days, I gazed across the table at Terry’s bedroom eyes. He was also a hiker. When it was time to leave, I pushed myself across the room and introduced myself to Terry, handing him my business card. “I’m looking forward to getting to know you in Olympia,” I said and left.

In Wenatchee, Terry drove around for four months looking at my business card taped to his Subaru ashtray.

At the Youth in Government program in April, Terry and I fell in love in front of 400 high school students. Highly unprofessional. 

Terry lied about being a runner and bought running shorts. We ran seven miles around Lake Olympia, talking and laughing. For two days, I laughed as Terry stiff-legged up the marble steps of the Capitol building.

Our first date was a backpacking trip to Domke Lake. Terry didn’t realize the Lake Chelan ferry started on Sunday. I arrived on Friday afternoon. So, Terry scrambled and hired a float plane to fly us from Chelan to Domke Lake. 

From the air, Domke Lake looked like an emerald surrounded by green ridges covered in evergreen trees. Wow!

I had put our food for the weekend in a large Ziploc bag, then into a stringed bag to hang high in a tree away from bears. Arriving at the lake, Terry loosely tied the food bag to a floating log to keep the food cool.

“Terry!” I called, alarmed. “The food bag is floating away in the lake!”

Terry couldn’t swim. (I taught him to swim later.) I zipped into the woods and found a branch long enough to reach the food if I hurried, stripping off small branches as I ran. I carefully walked the floating log and rescued our food for the weekend.

We did a cross-mountain romance. Terry sucked me over the mountains like a romantic vacuum cleaner. We were married in 1985. Our daughter was born in 1990.

 “What’s the point of killing yourself hiking to a high ridge or peak, and you can’t see squat in the fog, mist and rain?” I reply when people ask if I hike in Western Washington. 

Besides, Western WA trails are insanely overcrowded.

After our divorce and a few escapes, I returned to Wenatchee because I love the spectacular hiking here.

Esther Dalgas: “I cannot imagine anything more rewarding to me than being a link between books and people and helping people to access all that the library offers.”

Looking for orchard work, finding magic along the river

By Esther Dalgas

I remember well when our family first came to Entiat in the summer of 1981. 

Gary, my husband, and I with our two children, Geoffrey and Ruthie, were traveling with a group of young likeminded friends seeking adventure, camaraderie and work in the orchards. 

As our caravan of four or five vehicles including trailers, a converted bus, and vans pulled into the north end of the Entiat park, my heart felt a connection and sense of wonder at arriving at this most beautiful place along the Columbia River. It was likely the magic of my heart finding home. 

I am originally a Midwesterner but had met the love of my life, Gary Dalgas in Corvallis, Oregon. We had traveled with our friends from Corvallis, using CB radios to communicate along the way. 

Once past the magnificent giant bluffs of the Columbia River Gorge, we continued north on I-90. We stopped in Yakima finding ash still remaining from the explosion of Mount St. Helens from the previous late spring. 

Continuing north, we came over Blewett Pass on Hwy 97 and then turned towards Wenatchee on 2/97. At the juncture of Hwy 97 and 97A, we took 97 on the east side of the Columbia intending on finding orchard work in Brewster where our friends John and Lynn Bain had worked the previous summer. 

But because it was late in the day and we needed to find a spot to camp, or maybe we were confused about how to get to our destination of Brewster, we turned around, came up the west side of the river and ended up in Entiat. 

Entiat was not our long-term intended destination for sure. However, we were open to working in the orchards at any location with good camping.

That summer, when Gary and our fellow travelers were hired by Naumes Orchards to pick fruit we undoubtedly were considered questionable outsiders, living in our gypsy fashion. 

But I recall many very welcoming and friendly encounters. 

I recall visiting the small Entiat Library, then housed in the city hall building and run by Ruth Honey as a welcoming and friendly experience. 

 She surely took to heart the mission of all librarians to be a link to library resources for patrons of all walks of life. 

I later became a librarian, and after five years in Wenatchee, I leaped at the chance to work for NCRL as the Entiat librarian. For the next 23 years, I had the best job in the world. 

I had found my life’s work. I cannot imagine anything more rewarding to me than being a link between books and people and helping people to access all that the library offers.

Merry and Joe Roy are still traveling: This photo was taken on their Coast to Coast walk across England May and June 2018.

Camping our way West, looking for teaching jobs

By Merry Roy

In the second year of our marriage, Joe and I lived in the UK and Germany. We worked with Outward Bound Schools, ending up in Zurich at the Jung Institute before returning to the U.S. 

While in Zurich, we looked up U.S. towns that fit the description of where we thought we would like to live and teach — in the West, near mountains, dry climate, a small city but with access to a larger city — and wrote to their school districts. 

Out of 30 inquiries we received 15 responses, mostly saying ha-ha when you’re in the vicinity, contact us again. 

So that became our plan.

Back in the U.S., we packed everything we had into our VW square back and camped our way West, interviewing in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. 

Many districts in the early 1970s would not even consider hiring a married couple in the same district, let alone in the same school. Then we came to Wenatchee and camped for two weeks up the Icicle River, interviewing and exploring the area. 

Blessings on Wenatchee High School. Bob Bradford interviewed and hired us, Joe to teach social studies and me to teach English. To our delight, we were able to create our own curriculums in that era — mythology, poetry, mystical literature, anthropology, archeology, psychology and propaganda techniques.

But it was July and we wouldn’t be paid until the end of September. We found a basement apartment in the home of Mrs. Chin whose family owned the Mandarin restaurant, and she let us postpone our rent until the end of September. (She also would knock on the basement door and offer us REAL Chinese food from time to time.)

That left the rest of the summer to eke out a living. 

We picked cherries up on Stemilt. I was so slow I knew we would starve if I had to pick fruit for a living. 

After cherries were done, Joe volunteered to assist Lee Bofto in coaching football, and I walked from orchard to orchard along the Columbia River asking if they needed pickers. 

The orchardist who risked hiring me in spite of my inexperience became a family friend. I picked pears and came home every day covered with sticky pear psylla goo. This was our initiation into the culture of the Wenatchee Valley.

We loved teaching those last two years at the old Wenatchee High School and made many life-long friends. Now almost 50 years later, we’re still here.

‘Mold in my cowboy boots? We’re moving!’

By Joe St.Jean

Now this may sound like a funny reason to pick up a young family of three and move 250 miles away to find a locale that thrives on sunshine. But it is true…

My wife and I were both elementary teachers. We graduated from Central Washington University in Ellensburg in 1969 and had come to love the dry sunny climate that central Washington enjoys. But opportunity knocked and we both found teaching jobs in the middle of the Columbia Gorge area where we had grown up. 

While we both loved our students, we had forgotten during our four years in Ellensburg that the Columbia Gorge is second only to the Olympic Rain Forest in amount of annual rainfall. 

That fateful spring day when I found mold growing in my cowboy boots was the day that we vowed to move east of the mountains forever. 

During the ’60s and ’70s, teachers were required to take additional classes during the summer to earn either their Fifth Year certification or a Masters Degree. 

We chose Central Washington University again for our Summer School and moved there during the summer months. 

Once in Ellensburg we found ourselves spending the weekends touring familiar towns such as Granger, Walla Walla, Toppenish, Selah, Cashmere and Wenatchee looking for our forever home. 

Our criteria for selection included — besides 300 days of sunshine — the reputation of the schools, whether the area had large trees and parks, the cultural experiences available through a community college, and if they had grand older homes. 

Not wanting to leave an avenue unturned, we also listened to others in class and in the dorm “mess hall.” 

As a result of several of those conversations, it seemed Wenatchee would be a great place to relocate. 

So we set a plan in motion of getting to know as many Wenatchee teachers as possible who were also attending Summer School in Ellensburg, getting to know Wenatchee School administrators, and getting to know the community.

It took a year of returning to the rainy climate, but during that year we followed our plan. We spent spring vacation touring Wenatchee and making sure Wenatchee would fill the bill.

I am happy to report that Wenatchee completed our vision of a great place to live, grow and raise a family

… and, yes, after a year or so I was able to buy a new pair of Justin cowboy boots.

Joe St.Jean is a retired teacher and principal of the Wenatchee School District.

Susan Sampson dusted off her umbrella just for the sake of this photo — unlike her past home, she doesn’t have much use for it in Wenatchee.

It may be a hokey little town, but seldom does it rain

By Susan Sampson

“Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain.”

“Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head.”

“Here comes that rainy day feeling again.”

Nothing you can say or sing can convince my husband that rainfall is romantic. He was born to be a desert rat. 

Me? I’m from the Oregon coast, 100 inches of rain per year, where we grow webs between our toes and pretending we’re ducks. Rain doesn’t bother me a bit. 

When he and I got together, he relocated from the edge of the Mojave Desert to join me near Seattle. 

He kind of knew the area — he was a government brat (F.A.A.) and spent his last high school years in Des Moines, near SeaTac. His military papers said his home was Des Moines, WA. He hated the area in 1966, and he hated it all over again when he relocated in 2000. 

I took a Friday off work so we could hike to an alpine lake in the Cascades. We were almost rained out. 

Instead of returning home, we dropped over the east side of the mountains and got a motel room in East Wenatchee. We were almost shut out — there was a little league baseball tournament in town, and nearly every room in town was taken.

We awakened early Saturday to sunshine and saw the pedestrian bridge across the Columbia just outside our window. 

We crossed under ospreys glaring at us from the bridge trusses, and noticed the sign marking the height of flood water the last time the tunnel under the railroad had flooded. 

Downtown was quiet — nothing was open yet, and there were parking places everywhere. We admired the remnants of an ad for Swift’s Premium Ham painted on old brick and spotted a deco-era museum in an old post office with ’30s mural and all. 

“What a hokey little town” he said, and we decided to shop for a house in Wenatchee. 

The week we signed our closing papers, newspapers ran stories about Wenatchee being one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, thanks to “equity-rich retirees from Seattle.” 

That described us. 

Teri and Lee McGarr: She moved from Scotland to a sunny and bonny life in Wenatchee.

Teenage crush had to survive time and an ocean of distance

By Teri McGarr

In 1980, I met and had a major teenage crush on my mom’s friend’s son, Lee, who was two years older than I. We became best friends until he went to college in ’83, and we lost touch. 

By 1990, I was living in the UK, in the cold and damp climate of The Lake District of northwest England. 

Fast forward to 2008, I had moved to Aberdeen, Scotland to be near my family. 

Every time I logged on to my PC I was trying to find my old friend Lee. I had joined all the social media platforms, Friends Reunited, and myspace and now I had joined Facebook,

One day, there it was, Lee’s profile! I couldn’t contain my excitement!

So I sent him a message — did he remember me? It had been well over 20 years, and life had gone on, 

He said yes he did, and asked if I was who I said I was, what kind of car did he have in high school? 

I replied, “A 1976 Chevy Nova, and the license plate was ******.” 

He knew for sure I was who I said I was — and he was impressed I’d remembered the license. 

A year or two went by then he came over to visit, and all the old feelings came back as soon as I set eyes on him. 

He told me he was living in Wenatchee and had been since ’99. And that I should come visit — which I did several times.

I grew to love Wenatchee and him, more every time I came over, and it got harder to go back each time. 

In November 2011, he came to Scotland to visit and attend my sister’s wedding. 

In December 2012 he proposed long distance, of course I said, “Yes!” In 2014, we married at the Chelan County courthouse.

Why did I move here? 

Simply put: I moved here for the love of a good man. I had compared every man I came across to him over the years. None held a candle to him. 

He is “home,” and I’m sure glad it’s Wenatchee, where the sun shines most days, and if it doesn’t, you know it will the next day.

And the people are wonderful here, I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. 

Government error worked out in our favor, naturally

By Wayne Christensen

Two things happened in 1974 that brought us to Wenatchee. The first was an error on the part of the Federal Government. The second was a good decision on our part.

We were living in Vernal, Utah, and I was working for the U.S. Forest Service. There was a proposed organizational upheaval in that region that would cost many of the Forest Service employees their jobs. They encouraged anyone that could to apply for a transfer to another region, regardless of whether their jobs were actually threatened. 

We had already moved back and forth across the country 10 times. Another move would not have been a big thing, so I applied. 

We had lived in the Pacific Northwest before, so that was the region I applied for. 

And then, SURPRISE, the threat of upheaval went away, the applications were supposed to have been shredded, and life was back to normal. Somehow, though, my application was not shredded (the government error), and for over a year it was moving around the Pacific Northwest Region. 

When an opening for the leader of an engineering group in Leavenworth, Washington became available, my application floated to the top, and I was selected. I was offered the job. 

We don’t exactly remember why — we hadn’t moved for a few years, we needed a new adventure, there was a promotion attached — but we accepted the job (our good decision). 

Our introduction to Wenatchee was bad. 

We came on a house-hunting trip and were given the bad advice to fly into Yakima and drive to Wenatchee rather than fly directly into Wenatchee. 

It was a hot, windy August day as we entered the valley from the south. We saw the apple trees down by Spanish Castle growing at a 45-degree angle because of the wind. Many of the businesses in the south end of Wenatchee were closed and boarded up at that time, and the wind was blowing the garbage around. Had we made a big mistake? 

We purchased a house in Wenatchee (the houses we looked at in Leavenworth and Cashmere are another story for another day). We settled in and life was good. 

Much of my work was driving and hiking around in the forest. Many people pay to be able to do that. After about five years, I started looking at vacancy announcements and applied for a couple positions with no success. Then one day I was filling out an application for a position in Missoula, Montana. 

I guess I was doing some serious thinking and came up with a good question. Why would we want to move to Missoula? Is it a better place to live? Not close. Would the position offer more prestige? By that time in my career I had decided that prestige was overrated. Did I need a new challenge? I had plenty of challenges. Why go looking for more? Was it more money? Yes, but didn’t we have enough to live comfortably? I tore up the application and never applied for another job until I applied for a part time job after my retirement.

So why did we think Wenatchee was a better place to live? 

Was it the mountains, the hills, the valleys, the rivers, streams and lakes? Was it the weather, the seasons, the loop trail and the parks, the camping or hunting opportunities? Was it the orchards and the available fruit? Was it the towns, the people, the schools our children attended, the church we attend or the businesses? Was it the Apple Blossom Festival with the parades, the food and the arts and crafts in the park? 

Was it the performances of the Music Theater of Wenatchee, Wenatchee High School and Leavenworth Summer Theater? 

Or was it all of these things and many others mixed together in one great valley? 

Is it perfect? No — the traffic in Wenatchee gets worse every year and my vote on the roundabouts is still out — but Wenatchee is still perfect for us. 

Steve and Cheryl Bishop: Area’s beauty still sparkles.

Beauty of Wenatchee Valley just sung to young couple

By Cheryl Bishop

I was born and raised not too far from here, in the community of Moses Lake. It was there I met my future husband Steve on the first day of my junior year in high school — his senior year. 

Steve was born in El Reno, Oklahoma. His father served in the military in both the Air Force and the Army. They moved every couple of years and saw many, many places in this amazing country and world, including three stints at Larson Air Force Base in Moses Lake.

Steve’s dad fell in love with the unique beauty of Moses Lake: The gorgeous sunsets, the hunting and fishing, the people and community. So, after he finished his stint in Vietnam, he completed his 20-year career at Fort Lewis and then retired to Moses Lake.

Steve and I found we had several classes together that year, one being select choir. In the spring of 1973, our choir came to Wenatchee for a competition of sorts — “The battle of the choirs” or something like that. So, we piled in the buses and drove to Wenatchee to the old high school. 

During a break, I remember so clearly standing on the steps of the school with Steve and a few other friends, looking out at the green velvet hills and talking about the incredible beauty of this valley. 

We each have previous separate memories of this valley but that was the moment that truly etched the beauty of this place in my memory. 

Steve and I married in the spring of 1974 and by the fall of 1975 we found out that we not only had one baby in our arms but were already expecting number two. 

Steve had switched from working at the U&I sugar factory to the Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake as a supply clerk. We realized quickly we needed more education.

Steve applied to Wenatchee Valley Community College for the Respiratory Therapy program. He was accepted and we moved to Wenatchee in the fall of 1975. 

Once Steve was done with the program, he landed a job here at Deaconess Hospital beginning his first career. It was at that point that I was accepted into the nursing program here at WVCC and began my career at Central Washington Hospital as an R.N. 

After a few years, Steve’s feet were getting restless. He had never been in one spot this long and it felt strange to him. Yet, he started sensing a deeper community than he had ever felt before. 

We have raised our family here. We have enjoyed a rich sense of community through the kid’s schools and sports programs, our church family and within our employment. We are now privileged to watch many of our grandchildren in varies school programs, sports and community plays. 

We have both traveled and have seen many places. The world is filled with beauty, both similar and unique. 

But here, I love the sound of the train, the mighty river that runs through, the rim rocks at sunset that glow of purple to pink to orange, reminding me of the Grand Canyon. 

Then there are the green velvet mountains in spring with their crown of balsamroot and the incredible majestic mountains with their snowcapped peaks.

We enjoy walks on the waterfront, the recreation opportunities and the people of this valley. 

I never tire or lose my love of the beauty that we have right here. 

This is home. 

Michelle McNiel, third from left, and her siblings: Three out of four of them either stayed in Wenatchee or returned to their home town.

Seeking someplace close to Canada with jobs available

By Michelle McNiel

My mom is from Kamloops, B.C., and my dad is from L.A. 

When they got married, they lived in southern California and drove all the way to Kamloops to visit my mom’s parents every year. 

After the third kid came along (me), the long road trips got a little more challenging. 

So my parents loaded up their 1968 station wagon with three kids, a dog and a 50-gallon fish tank, and filled their camper with all the worldly possessions they could fit, and headed toward Canada with no destination in mind. Their goal: find a place to live as close to the Canadian border as they could find where my dad could also find work. 

They tried Yakima first, but he couldn’t find a job, so they continued on to Wenatchee. Long story short, he found a job, they bought a house, and stayed. 

Instead of a multi-day trip to visit family, it was now an eight-hour drive. We all liked it so much that three of us four kids stayed or came back after college, and raised/are raising our kids here now. 

Our parents may have chosen Wenatchee out of necessity, but they stayed because they loved the area — and now we do too! 

Our parents chose well.

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