Kettle Falls, Washington
Population 1,640 people and one grouch.
My roots can be found here. And sometimes after you've branched out so far, you've got to make a visit back to where it all started to get grounded again.
And you can always go home.
My childhood years were spent on the banks of the Columbia River. Searching for arrowheads and fossils in the sand. Kettle Falls was a safe place kept alive by the logging industry. We rode our bikes up and down pot-holed roads until the street lights came on. That's when you knew it was time for dinner. A dinner made from fresh veggies grown in the garden and meat bought from the grocery store right past the one stop light that slowed HWY 395 as it rolled through town. Blue and gold everything, with Bulldog pride abounding in store front windows and the words "Welcome to Bulldog Country" painted on the cement barrier where Main street ended at the middle school, Mango Mountain towering in the distance. Times were simple. Everybody knew everybody. Looking back, even when things were hard...life was good.
I've been feeling incredibly nostalgic lately, and when that happens my heart typically finds its way back to those quiet streets and the crisp mountain air. I long for the sand and the sound of the wind blowing waves upon the shore. I crave home.
So yesterday the pup and I woke up early and hit the road. Every mile bringing back another memory. Simple thoughts you can't help but wonder why they weren't forgotten. Where my first boyfriend and I hit a deer in his Chevy Nova. Sneaking into the drive-in theater in the trunk of a car. Attempting to steal street signs with Dad. Running through sprinklers on the football field. Sledding down Devil's Dip and the friend who broke his arm doing it. Building forts in the woods below my house and sneaking out in the middle of the night to go there, Boone's Farm and friends waiting patiently for me to arrive. Car rides to school each morning in my friend's Cougar and trips at lunch to Sandy's to get marshmallow shakes. Ringing the victory bell after volleyball games and the way the gym smelled...of varnish and popcorn and rubber. The home I grew up in, now painted a different color, Mom's flower beds overgrown and Dad's garden replaced with a tree fort and swing set. The rock I sat on at the end of the driveway talking on the cordless phone even though it was fuzzy. Coyotes howling in the distance along Greenwood Loop. The way the warm sand felt on a cool summer night kissing the boy of my dreams at Carson Flats. Dreaming of sailing away in one of the boats moored at Rickey Point.
Every curve a memory. Fighting back tears of reliving those old glory days.
If I'd only known then what I know now. If I'd only appreciated what that little town had to offer me when all I could think about was how badly I wanted to grow up and get out.
So yesterday, I did just that. I appreciated every detail. Every memory. Every nook and cranny of the place I once called home. The place I still consider home today. Always welcoming me with open arms.