West Coast Road Trip: Snohomish, Washington

Home Sweet Home Away From Home

… Continued from West Coast Road Trip – Part I

We arrived at Wanser Farm just before midnight on Thursday. The 100 year old farm was undergoing some updates, so we set up camp on the front lawn.  The next morning, I woke up to an alarm clock that went “cock-a-doodle-doo,” and I stepped outside to behold our little piece of country paradise.  The brown palm trees painted on the side of the trailer reminded me of how far we’d come.  And yet, I felt perfectly at home.

After breakfast, Jojo and I headed into town to buy fishing licenses and to explore a few antique shops.  We would have needed several days to cover all of the antique shops in downtown Snohomish, but we managed to do enough damage for one day.

Two fishing licenses, please!
Back on the farm, we joined the family for my very first fish fry.  The fresh-caught trout were coated in cornmeal and fried in oil.  I learned how to debone a fish the graceful way.
Fish Fry
Cherry Tree

For desert, we had vanilla ice cream topped with brandied cherries, picked from the orchard and canned the day we arrived.  I had the pleasure of bringing two jars home: Nicely Brandied Cherries and Quite Nicely Brandied Cherries.  I’m saving those for a special occasion and a very special occasion.

After dinner, we drove to Storm Lake for some fishin’.  Up north, the sun doesn’t set until almost 10PM during the summer, so we were able to fit in more activities.  I got to practice casting a line, but the fish just weren’t biting.

We hiked to a secret fishing spot…
It wasn’t easy to get to…
But the secret fishing spot was sinking….
…So we fished from a beach that wasn’t sinking.
This guy hadn’t caught a fish in this lake for over a year, even in his fancy boat!

On Saturday, I spent several hours cutting the lawn on the riding mower.  I felt like a Buddhist monk combing the sand in a zen garden.  I worked from the outside, creating concentric circles around the orchard and under the trees.

Zen Meditation
Baby Apple
The orchard after I mowed the lawn.

Once the sun went down, I stayed up to stargaze.  Standing barefoot in the grass, I stared up at the Milky Way stretched across the night sky.  I was exactly halfway into this journey, and I felt completely whole.

Star gazing (Snohomish, WA)

On Sunday morning, my zen gardening was rewarded with a new challenge.  I learned to mow the fields on the big tractor.  I worked my way from one field to the next, shifting gears and adjusting the forklift.  With my sleeves rolled up, I couldn’t stop grinning at the thought of getting my first real farmer’s tan.

Getting tractor driving lessons from Bill, the owner of this beautiful orange beast.
Getting a farmers tan is hard work.
Jojo and Olivia stayed busy while I mowed the fields.

After a couple of hours, I gave the tractor a break as we headed into the forest behind the farm to pick wild blackberries.  Dressed in jeans and long sleeves, we fought through the brush and bramble to pick the plumpest berries.  My hands and lips were stained red from collecting and taste testing.  Between the six of us, we collected enough blackberries for several pies.

Denim divas heading into the woods.
Walking sticks are great for standing naps.
Our buckets overflowed.
Better than gold!

We came out on the other side of the forest onto a road that led to a lake.  While Jojo went for a swim, the rest of us soaked our feet in the cool water.

When we got back to the farm, Mrs. Wanser, 93-years-old, made two blackberry pies with a recipe she kept in her head.  I watched closely as she rolled the dough and crimped the edges perfectly.  After dinner, we sat on the porch to enjoy Mrs. Wanser’s wild blackberry pie a-la-mode.  She said it tasted just “OK.”  To me, it tasted like warm sunshine with a hint of a cool breeze.  Each bite was a remedy for the scratches that covered our hands from the thorny bushes.

Mrs. Wanser, 93, making blackberry pie from scratch.
A lifetime of kitchen tools… I’m so jealous.
Mrs. Wanser’s Blackberry Pie A-La-Mode

The next morning, we had to be back on the road.  We left the farm with the pleasant aftertaste of country life.  Brandied cherries and blackberry pie mixed with the smell of dirt and freshly cut grass.  Take me back.

Special thanks to Bill and Pam for hosting me at Wanser Farm.  I had the most incredible experience, and I hope you’ll have me back again!



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