Not Martha

Nearby and Unexpected

This post is in partnership with smartwater. smartwater, good taste travels well. Click here to learn more.

This is a story about a weekend that went from unexpected to unexpectedly wonderful. I only have pictures from my mobile phone because I wasn’t anticipating it to be so, well, interesting.

A few months back Scott and I decided we needed to seek out some sunshine. We found a bike trail and a hotel room in Yakima, packed our bicycles into our car and left. We made it about a half an hour before we ran over a piece of metal in the road which was unavoidable because the tire of a semi threw it right at our car. We pulled over to the side of the road safely but dragged the metal with us, hearing it thunk and fold beneath our car. Ouch. Here is the offending piece of metal:

We named him La Mala Suerte. He is currently relegated to being used to prop open our front door.

We had the car towed back to Seattle while we silently regarded the stoic tow truck driver as a superhero. We were dropped off at a garage a measly three blocks from our house, like we pulled the “Go Back to Start” card.

It was too late to cancel the hotel, it was still drizzling in Seattle, the promise of sunshine was tempting and I’m stubborn. So we rolled our luggage to the light rail and took it to the airport where we rented a car eerily similar to the one we’d just left behind. We took extra care when drove past the spot where the incident had happened just an hour earlier. It was all blue skies until we approached Yakima where the skies got dark and it rained so hard we actually had to pull over to the side of the road and wait it out. When we were able to keep going we saw a double rainbow. No, really:

When we (finally!) arrived it was too late to do anything but get dinner and a nightcap at a dive bar with a rather loud bachelorette party who were using the live DJ as their personal 80s music jukebox. It was the perfect end to a strange day.

The next morning we had breakfast outdoors in the sun which is all we really wanted when we set out for this. Then we ignored the many nearby wineries and instead took up the first of many excellent suggestions from Sprizee and went to check out The Teapot in Zillah.

Next we headed to Tieton, stopping for frozen asparagus tamales and a fast food bacon sundae (which was so good, I am not alone in this opinion) on the way. We drove out past fruit stands, where we scored some precious early local peaches, and then up out of the valley to the highlands. We passed orchards and industrial buildings and suddenly found ourselves in a classic American town with a square block park surrounded by local businesses and shady trees and parking spaces. There were people having a picnic in the park and letting their kids run wild and no traffic lights in site. It was like visiting my sets of grandparents or that little town in Pennsylvania that I lived in for a year as a kid. Forgive me for being naive but it was charming and immediately won me over.

We located the building for Mighty Tieton and when we entered we found ourselves in a big, dark warehouse space where lit chandeliers were hanging. They were likely part of the Chandelier Festival from last year and I am so wildly in love with idea of making your own light during the darkest part of the year that I’m already thinking about what I might do. We stood an marveled at a sculpture in that room that I later found was made by Trimpin and is probably his Shhh and I desperately hope I get to see and hear it in action someday.

We wandered into an adjoining huge warehouse space and found a massive piece of manually created felt. It was made by Janice Arnold, who happened to be packing up her car and took the time to tell us about the felt (was wet felted by people walking and then dancing on it the night before, it was about 20 feet by 12 feet, it was amazing). She was kind enough to open a big door to yet another adjoining warehouse space so we could see another one of her pieces, called Chthonic Tent. The door was huge and when we walked carefully into the dark room it slowly closed behind us:

Then we were alone in a large, cool, silent room with only one source of light, a single bulb inside a tent that was in the center of the room:

It was huge and creepy and exhilarating. Later Janice Arnold said that she didn’t mean for the door to close behind us, but I wouldn’t trade that experience. Thank you Janice!

Turns out what we found that day was only part of something pretty cool happening in Tieton. Thanks to a few flat bicycle tires an artist saw some potential in empty buildings, spread the word and now the town is being revitalized by small business that have bound together under the association of Mighty Tieton. Except for Paper Hammer not all the businesses are open to the public on a regular basis but they do have a gallery schedule and regularly participate in community events. I’ll be back. More specifically, I’ll be returning tomorrow to check out Highland Community Days and the 10x10x10xTieton Exhibition.

By the time we headed back home we had completely forgotten about our not-so-great previous day. Except for the fact that we were driving a car that was not the one we set out in.

A note: While this post is in partnership with smartwater all opinions, travel, expenses, misadventures and potentially futile ideas to leave the safety of my house in the first place were all my own. If you’d like to see more photos, including a shot of the bacon sundae rapidly melting while I’m forcing it to pose in the sun on our dashboard, please see my Flickr set.

Have you ever had a weekend that completely turned around? Or found something amazing in a spot you did not expect? Unearth any treasures while away from home? I’d love to hear about them!

· comments [10] · 08-24-2012 · categories:travel ·

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Seanna Lea // Aug 24, 2012 at 6:23 am

    We didn’t have quite so much luck the time a few years ago when we decided to go to the roller coaster park on the other side of the state. The car broke (it was an odometer issue that made it dangerous to drive anywhere, much less on the highway) and we cabbed to the closest town with a bus stop and took the bus home. I’m glad your adventure came out so much better than ours!

  • 2 Amanda // Aug 24, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Aren’t those Mighty Tieton people cool? I was born and raised in Yakima, later moving to Seattle for a while, but I love what they’re doing for the area. I especially want to move into the reclaimed loft spaces. Did you see any of those?

  • 3 megan // Aug 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Seanna Lea – That sounds like you had your very own National Lampoon experience!

  • 4 megan // Aug 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Amanda – It is, finding the Paper Hammer studio in the middle of a tiny town was so interesting. I saw the loft on the website and passed it when I drove through a few days ago. I should have stopped and peeked inside the windows. I hope that Mighty Tieton is successful and that they boost the entire community there.

  • 5 Willa // Aug 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Small world! I know Janice and my parents help her prep/lug around/set up her massive creations from time to time. I love the danced-on felt, it’s such a great idea.

  • 6 megan // Aug 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    What a neat coincidence! She was really sweet and took time out if getting ready to leave to speak with us.

  • 7 Kate // Aug 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I’m dying to know where it was in Pennsylvania you lived for a year!

  • 8 megan // Aug 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Kate – St. Mary’s, when I was a small child. The water from the tap had been filtered by running down the sides of the mountains and it tasted sweet. It was great.

  • 9 sprizee // Aug 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks you for posting this! I’m glad you had such a good time on your trip. It reminded me to publish the draft of my recentish trip to Yakima in June that had been sitting unpublished for months. Oops.

    By the way, all the credit for the tamales place goes to Amy W (aka @manxgirl10 on Twitter and argylestyle on Instagram) because she’s the one who first told me about the asparagus tamales.

    And I only knew about Mighty Tieton because my artist friend Stacy ( who’s been in multiple shows out there including 10x10x10. So fun!

  • 10 Michelle E Black // Aug 28, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I once was fleeing a broken heart and Valentines Day was to be on the weekend I had off. So a small voice in my head asked me, “What could you do that being in a relationship might prevent you to do.”
    I packed up my car and drove to the Grand Canyon. Not researching the route too carefully it turns out I took the long way through Friday night traffic crying to my selected Celene Dion CD. The next morning after spending the night in a shady little hotel off the highway I discovered Sidona, AZ. It so happened they were having an artist fair and I had my cards read, Native American ones at that. On the last card my teller told me, “You are like a wolf, loyal to your pack but will need to go off on your own now and again to center yourself.” Twenty years later these words are still true for me and I have been back to Sedona a few more times only with a happier heart.

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