As we flew closer to our destination I could see from my window seat the vast expanses of agricultural fields. The patchwork layout and the colors were just beautiful. I couldn't help but fill with pride as I looked onto the landscapes where I had grown up. I didn't grow up in the country per se, but it was a small town. The airport is surrounded by wheat fields, but the city is right there. As we were touching down I noticed that these wheat fields began (or ended) right at the runway. There was even a coyote hanging out there as we taxied in. (A fat coyote compared to the ones we have in Arizona!)
Usually, I dread going back to the small town. I vowed I would never live somewhere like that once I escaped to the big city of Seattle. That is how I felt, as if I escaped Walla Walla. I saw a lot of people that had stayed behind. They hung out with the same people in high school, did the same things every weekend at the same places, and married people that went to the same school. That's all fine, but that's not what I wanted. I wanted to get out and see the world. This visit was different. For the first time I could see myself moving back here and raising my family. My mom would love this as well so she could be involved in her grandchildrens' lives. There are things that are lacking there, such as a lack of a mall and no Target (this is a HUGE deal since Jon and I go there at least once a week), but those are things that are just 45 minutes away in the Tri-Cities. I could go live in Tri-Cities, but it's just not as pretty. Here's what I mean
Just a short drive from my old elementary school.
Continuing on the road. Every time I go out for a drive out in the country I go on a whim, accepting the fact that I just may get lost with the convoluted roads that seemingly lead to nowhere. It's been years, but I always find a way back into town.
Walla Walla had always been a sleepy town. That is, until it was discovered as the newest destination for wine tasting. Since then, every spring it awakens into a tourist town. I still don't know how I feel about this. It has changed so much since I lived there and I don't want it to! While I'm glad that the wine industry has brought in a lot of money and has cleaned the place up a bunch, I always roll my eyes every time we pass a new winery. Our wheat fields have been replaced by vineyards.
On to the balloons!
Every year on Mother's Day weekend balloons from everywhere converge in Walla Walla for the Balloon Stampede. We used to always go when I was young. I remember waking up at the crack of dawn, throwing on some long pants and a heavy jacket, and piling in the car to watch the balloons take off. That ritual stopped when we got older and lost interest, but it had been so long since I last went that I wanted to see it again. I missed the first launch since it was the morning after I arrived and I was exhausted. I was able to wake up in time to watch them fly over my house, however. The next day it was rained out (and too windy), but I did get to run in the annual Balloonsday run. It's a 5K and I did it in 28:03! Not bad for me. There was a Nite Glow on Saturday night where the balloons stay tethered to the ground and "light up" to music, but we ate too much and drank too much wine so we missed that too. Finally, on Mother's Day we made it! I was a little late getting there and about a third of the balloons had already taken off, but I got some pictures.
The Spirit of Walla Walla taking off.
Sometimes when the balloons got up they would have to move them because they'd be bumping into each other.
Not quite upright yet. There's an interesting shape of a balloon in the background. Never seen anything like it.
Balloon chase vehicle. I always wanted to do this when I was little. Now I just want a hot air balloon!
I have so many more pictures, but this post is already getting too long as it is!