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Westward Bound

Exploring the west, my new home

At 7:00 am on July 13th, I said goodbye to Minneapolis, a city that I’ve always known as home. I made certain my plants, dogs, snacks, and hand sanitizer were safe and secure in my car, and we were off! My partner and I packed up our lives into a 5’ x 8’ trailer and were moving west to a small town in eastern Washington. 

Moving across the country during a global pandemic has provided some obvious challenges. We moved to Washington, so that I could go to graduate school, and we didn’t anticipate Covid-19 to be another layer of change. It is much harder to meet new people and there are very limited options for getting out of the house. I really only want/need to visit businesses that offer groceries, gas, or take out. On the other hand, the pandemic has also made the move easier in some ways because we had already spent months practicing virtual hang-outs and spending everyday together.

Living out west has me exploring new hobbies (crocheting, paddle boarding). And my partner and I have also been motivated to get out of our small apartment and explore what Washington has to offer. We live on the Palouse, a geographic region defined by rolling hills that are typically sown with wheat. There are tons of car washes here because it is so dusty. It is picturesque and serene but, as Minnesotans, it’s hard not to miss trees and water. Nearly everyone in Washington has a Subaru and a dog, so we fit right in.

Every weekend (and some weeknights), we visit a new park, forest, hiking trail, or body of water. This is definitely not something I did in Minneapolis because I had so many other things going on. Here are some of my favorite discoveries:

Washington

Magpie Forest (Pullman, WA) \ A quaint little nature preserve that has beautiful views of the Palouse. You can meander on the hill tops for quite a ways or walk through the wooded area of the preserve. (view cover photo)

La Conner, WA \ We visited the coast for a weekend and were blown away by the views of the San Juan islands, rocky beaches, and copious amounts of greenery. We are looking forward to strolls along beaches like this one to be a regular occurrence. 

Palouse Falls State Park \ Washington’s state waterfall (who knew that was a thing?)! This park is a perfect picnic destination. There are a lot of look out spots near the parking lot and easy hiking trails.

Wawawai County Park (Colton, WA) \ We have come to this park multiple times! It is the perfect place to put up a hammock and enjoy some shade. The park is along the Snake River so we can also swim and paddle board. There is a huge grassy area with multiple covered picnic shelters and a one mile hiking trail.

Kamiak Butte County Park \ A super fun and moderately challenging hike! The whole loop took us 2 or 3 hours, and we were pretty tired. Perfect place to wear out your dogs and get some good wheat views. Going in the spring is apparently the best because of all the wild flowers.

Idaho

Dworshak Dam and Reservoir (Ahsahka, ID) \ You can visit the dam to admire a feat of engineering or go to the state park. This is our favorite place to paddle board and swim. We are repeat customers of the state park, so we are sad it is getting chilly now. There are tons of camping and picnic areas, plus there is ample space to spread out and enjoy the water (social distancing is easy peasy here).

Moscow Mountain (Moscow, ID) \ We come here for mountain biking and hiking among the evergreens. There is a seemingly endless amount of trails here, I don’t think we will have time to explore them all.

Covid-19, coupled with living in a small town where I don’t know a single person, has shown me that I am 100% in charge of my own happiness and fulfillment. I am learning a lot about myself, as I’m sure you are, too. And I’m trying to make the most out of this garbage year. For me, this mostly means cooking delicious food and hiding from other people in the woods. I miss my friends and family, but I’m thankful that I’m growing in a new part of the country. In January, we will move again, to the coast and near Seattle. We’ll keep exploring and using nature as a much-needed break from the world because that’s all we can do.