Washington is Nice Too

When we lived in Sacramento, we would head to Apple Hill every year to get our fill of fresh apples and baked goods at the apple farms.  I found a similar area in Washington outside of Spokane.  In Green Bluff, in addition to apples, they grow peaches, cherries, berries, plums, and pears.  We visited a few of the farms today for some you-pick peaches and apples.  It turns out we are at the end of late season peaches and the beginning of early season apples, but we couldn’t pass up peaches for $1.10/pound and apples for $0.75/pound.

We learned the proper way to pick a peach.  Pull down and it should come right off if ripe.  Do not twist!  Put the peaches in the box stem end down.  The farmer’s 88-year-old sister-in-law was adamant about this process.  I hope to be so opinionated and vibrant at 88.  Now I need to figure out what to do with 18 pounds of peaches (aside from biting straight into them and letting the juice run down my chin).

We also toured the Strawberry Hill Nutrition Farm.  It is a “nutrition” farm because it is beyond organic, focusing on healthy chemical-free soil.  Verne gave us a tour of his 4-acre fruit and vegetable farm and he gave us tips of growing healthy produce.  He plants nasturtium flowers with his squash to keep the bugs away.  He said marigolds will make the squash bitter.  He also had red painted rocks sprinkled throughout his strawberry field.  He said the birds will peck on the rocks and be unhappy with what they find, so they will leave your strawberries alone.  And his last tip:  play classical music for your garden.  It creates a stress-free environment for you, the plants, the birds, and the bees.  And yes, there was classical music playing as we wandered through the garden and I was completely stress-free.

Arches of green beans

One of many greenhouses

On our way out of Green Bluff, we saw this house flying three flags.  The flag on the right says “Come and Take It.”  I had not seen the black, white and blue flag before, so I looked up the meaning.  It is the Thin Blue Line Flag.

The Blue represents the officer and the courage they find deep inside when faced with insurmountable odds. The Black background was designed as a constant reminder of our fallen brother and sister officers. The Line is what police officers protect, the barrier between anarchy and a civilized society, between order and chaos, between respect for decency and lawlessness. Together they symbolize the camaraderie law enforcement officers all share, a brotherhood like none other.

In Spokane, we visited Michlitch’s spice shop.  As the sign indicates, they have everything but the meat.  We sampled a few spice blends and left with two for making sausage (German and Jalapeno) and two lemon blends for chicken.

We ended our afternoon at the Iron Goat Brewery in Spokane.  We learned that the brewery is named after the garbage eating goat sculpture in Spokane’s Riverbend Park.  The metal goat sculpture has a vacuum inside that allows the goat to “eat” small pieces of garbage as part of a creative solution to eliminating litter. The statue will inhale just about any piece of refuse that will fit into its mouth.  It was built for the World’s Fair in 1974 by Sister Paula Turnbull.

The beer was good!

Not a bad way to spend your Wednesday.


Thursday, June 21, was the longest day of the year.  The sun rose at 4:51 AM and set at 8:51 PM giving us 16 hours of light in Worley, Idaho.  As you can see from the chart below, we actually get more light than that because the Civil Twilight is the first and last light.  If I look out the window at 4:00 in the morning, I can clearly see everything in the yard.

Unfortunately, on the summer solstice, we had a storm so it was a bit darker than I was hoping for the longest day of the year.  This was the wildest storm I have experienced here in Worley.  I stood on the deck and watched and heard the storm approach.  I could hear the rain in the trees as it got nearer and the thunder was thunderous, to say the least.  Lightning filled the sky a few times per minute.

The edge of the storm approaches
The downpour (see Instagram for the video)

Shawn had driven to Sacramento to pick up our grandson, Malcolm, so this was my first experience staying by myself in our new house.  The power went off and on three times as I ran around looking for flashlights and wondering how long my phone battery would last.  Without wi-fi, my Grey’s Anatomy binge watch was ruined.

Since Shawn was gone, I also got chicken duty.  The layers are living outside under the walnut tree, but they need to be put to bed at night in case there are any predators out there looking to dine on them.    They are very in tune with the sun and go into the coop on their own at sunset.  I looked out the window and noticed they had gone in early.  I assumed this was due to the storm, so I went out to latch the door on the coop.  As soon as I approached the gate, they all ran out and the little buggers wouldn’t go back in until it was officially sunset.

Roosting in the walnut tree
Large and in charge
In bed for the night

We got a second batch of Frankenchicks a couple weeks ago.  I was asked why we need so many chickens.  We figured we need about 50 chickens for the year.  One chicken gives us 2-3 meals in a week and then we make about 4 quarts of chicken stock from the carcass.

Return of the Frankenchicks

Before Shawn left for Sacramento, we went to a few new places in town.  First, we went to the container store in Athol for food grade buckets, barrels and a tote for the new pig enclosure.  Next, we explored the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  We acquired a stainless steel sink and solid wood door for $30.  Shawn is going to repurpose these as a chicken butchering station.  We also tried out the burgers at Paul Bunyan Famous Burgers.

To amuse myself in Shawn’s absence, I visited a couple of the local quilt shops.  The ladies at Bear Paw Quilting in Coeur d’Alene are very friendly and they have a nice selection of fabrics, patterns, and notions.  In Spokane Valley, Washington, I visited The Quilting Bee.  Aside from Hancock’s in Paducah and Fabric Depot in Portland, I think this is the biggest quilt shop I’ve ever seen.  Between these two shops, I think all my quilting needs will be easily met.  I also picked up their 2018 Row-by-Row kits.

It is huge!

Between storm watch, quilt shops and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, I pulled out my DSLR camera and took pictures around the yard.  The macro lens improved my flower photos, and the zoom lens allowed me to catch a few birds stealing our cherries.


Chuck Norris
Sophie in her bird watching window

Shawn returned with Malcolm on Saturday, and now we have almost three weeks to view Idaho through the eyes of a five-year-old.

First cherry harvest
The birds left us a few cherries
Driving the tractor with Papa

World’s biggest dandelion

Day 2 – House Hunting in Washington

Today we ventured north of Spokane to Colville, Chewelah, Deer Park and Chattaroy to look at five properties.  It was definitely more scenic as there were more trees.  Temps were in the 37-44 range and there was still snow on the ground for the first few houses.

House #1 – 738 Applegate Road, Colville, WA

This house was better than anything we had seen the day before.  It had a nice updated kitchen and open floor plan and four outbuildings: a shop decked out with heating and wired for sound, a 2-car garage, another huge shop that would fit multiple RVs and toys, and a barn.  The 30-acre property had a nice mix of trees and suitable farmland for Shawn’s planting desires.  The major drawback was no cell service.  We want to be remote, but still connected!

House #2 – 2660 Burnt Valley Road, Chewelah, WA

When we arrived at this house the owners were there and it started out a bit awkward but turned out to be quite informative.  The 80-year old gentleman was quite spry and took us on a tour of the 30 acres up and down hills and through the snow.  The house needed a lot of work and wasn’t quite what we were looking for but it was fun to traipse around the property…until I saw the bear tracks.

House #3 – 4935 W Casberg Burroughs Road, Deer Park, WA

I wasn’t feeling good about this house as we drove up, and touring the house didn’t improve my impression.  The house had a crazy layout including the laundry room looking down on the living room…seriously, it only had half walls like a loft and you could see it from below.  Spent about 5 minutes here and didn’t even take pictures before moving on.

House #4 – 36104 N Milan Elk Road, Chattaroy, WA

This was a beautifully maintained 20-acre parcel with 2 houses.  The main house was an A-frame built by the owner in the 70’s.  He was 80 and decided it was time to sell so he could spend more time traveling and with his girlfriend.  The house definitely needed updating but it had great windows and views.  There was also a cute little log cabin where grandma used to live (she probably died there too).  While it was a very pretty property, it wasn’t quite what we are looking for.

House #5 – 37010 N Rabe Road, Chattaroy, WA

I was a bit skeptical on this one after looking at it on Zillow and it was even worse than pictured.  When it said it had a few updates, it meant they replaced the closet doors in the master with sliding barn doors a la Chip & Joanna Gaines and put a new sink in the bathroom.  The rest of this house and land was very run down.  We were out of there in 5 minutes.

The first house was the most promising, but we aren’t in love with it.  Tomorrow we are off to Idaho to meet our realtor Tony and check out 10 more properties.

For dinner in Spokane, we came across a charcuterie a few blocks from our hotel.  It was a great find and we ended up sitting next to the chef’s parents who were there to celebrate their 31st anniversary.  We started with cocktails and a fresh beet salad with bacon and local creamy blue cheese.  I had a bowl of chicken and black bean soup and Shawn had one of the best steaks I’ve ever tasted.  We finished with ice cream topped with dried condensed milk crumbles.  Salty and sweet, you can’t go wrong.

Day 1 – House Hunting in Washington

We are in search of the perfect home for retirement and have decided to look in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.  We’re looking for some land, about 20 acres, with a combination of timber and flat land for a bit of farming. I’d like a house with views of this lovely land and a nice kitchen.  Should be simple, right?

We flew into Spokane this morning and met up with our Washington realtor Chris.  We have spent months on Zillow looking for just the right place and we sent Chris a list of our favorites.  Unfortunately, our number one pick is no longer on the market, but we did visit four houses today.  It’s funny we have been dogging the pictures people post on Zillow thinking they could do better.  After today, I thought “damn, those pictures made the house look at lot better than it really is.”  Of course, most of the photos were taken in the spring when everything is green and lush.  Today it is raining, foggy and there is an inch or two of snow on the dried up tundra.

House 1 – 15611 S Madison, Valleyford, WA

A big old house on 30 acres of rolling farmland with a ramshackle red barn.  The house was really dark inside but it had potential.  Unfortunately, its price is at the top of our budget and does not allow us to bring that potential to life.  It had a cistern in the basement which is something I’ve never seen before.  There was also an atrium that ran up through the middle of the house where Shawn said we could grow fig trees and pot.

House 2 – 324 W Gibbs, Spokane, WA

This was a tri-level house on 32 acres.  The parcel was long and skinny.  For the same price as house #1, it seemed like the better deal but still too expensive for the work that I would want done.  You know it’s bad when your first thought is “we could remove that wall.”

House #3 – 47793 E Hampton, Edwall, WA

This house looked so darn cute on Zillow and for the most part it was, but it also had some real issues.  For example, there was a beautifully remodeled bathroom on the first floor, but the master bedroom was around the corner through the kitchen and living room, and the closet was 8 inches deep.  Upstairs there were 2 bedrooms, but only a half bath.  It had a great kitchen, but the rest of the house just didn’t flow.  Across the street, it had the most picturesque classic red barn, but there was very little usable farmland.

House #4 – 20407 W Indiana Lane, Medical Lake, WA

First off, Medical Lake is a weird name for a town.  This house was hecka cute (do I have to quit saying hecka if I leave California?) on Zillow but kinda odd in person.  There was a Murphy bed in the living room.  The world’s skinniest spiral staircase led up the master which had so many nooks and crannies that there would be no place for a California King size bed, but maybe two twins.  It had some nice looking farmland according to Shawn.

So bottom line, no dream house on day one.  Tomorrow we are going northeast of Spokane where there are more trees.  Hopefully one of the six houses we are seeing will be more inspiring.

The receptionist at our hotel recommended a good Italian restaurant for dinner.  Europa is a quaint,  family-owned restaurant.  I had chicken Gorgonzola fettuccini and Shawn had manicotti with creamy pesto sauce and lasagne.  For dessert, carrot cake and pumpkin roulade cake both with cream cheese frosting.  I would definitely go back for date night.