Small Towns, Epic Adventures

Editorial director Rachel Hart reflects on the big discoveries we can make on even small side-trips

By Rachel Hart April 25, 2012


This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Seattle magazine.

Sometimes in the process of producing an issue, our editors inadvertently create a “word of the issue”—a word (or words) that we are suddenly, unintentionally in love with, so much so that it pops up repeatedly throughout a story (if not the entire issue). This especially happens in stories with multiple writers, such as this month’s cover feature. It’s become a bit of a ritual—dare I say sport?—of our editors to spot the over-used word and cull it from the issue as we finalize layouts.

This month, we issued multiple “word watches”: “idyllic,” “charming,” “oasis” and the unusual (but understandable when in context) “briny.” We get a good chuckle over this every month, but once you get a look at our cover story on small-town getaways, you’ll see why writers (and editors) got carried away. The places featured look like movie sets (scene: idyllic, charming oasis). Dang, there I go again.

I adore road trips to small towns within a couple of hours of home for the same reason I love our Urban Safari stories about neighborhoods and microneighborhoods in Seattle. These small places unabashedly celebrate their own style and people—quirks, oddities and all—and offer a singular sense of place. In Washington, with a little effort, you can feel a world away and experience random acts of discovery. If not for our friends Serena and Kevin, for example, we never would have taken the road less traveled to Lake Chelan and experienced the town that is barely a town, Orondo—where you will find the coolest (literally) and showiest scratch-made ice cream anywhere in a cider shop. On another trip last summer to eastern Washington with my extended family, we took a circuitous route back home for a couple of “power trips” to Grand Coulee Dam and the Wild Horse wind farm near Ellensburg. (My dad is a retired physics and astronomy professor; my brother is a rocket scientist; this is how we roll in my family.) I had seen the windmills from a distance, but to be up close to them on a beautiful sunny, windy day is breathtaking and eerie all at once. Cody Bay captures the experience—and the reason why you should put a trip there on your travel bucket list—beautifully.

As this issue was being produced, I was reminiscing with two of the three guys I used to road-trip with to superquirky small town festivals when we lived in Wisconsin. We are particularly fond of talking about the time they placed among the top ten finalists for the Cow Chip Throwing Championship (dried cow chips, of course, but yes, you read that right: cow chips) in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. I haven’t been to or heard about anything quite that awesomely bizarre here in Washington, but if you know of something, I’d love to hear about it. We’ll publish our favorites on the website at, under “travel.” Happy trails!

Until next month,

Rachel Hart



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