Getting my nose out of my books, for once, it suddenly occurred to me that in the six months I’ve lived in Walla Walla, I’ve only left town once, to go to Portland. That seemed plain silly, considering that there’s lovely countryside all around, just calling for a little road trip. With that in mind I inadvertently skipped an afternoon class and headed up to nearby Dayton, less than 30 miles yet light years away.
My excuse for being in Dayton was going out to lunch, although really I was craving a drive through the gently rolling fields, to see whether there were any signs of spring, and to rest my eyes from the omnipresence of grape vines by gazing at wheat fields stretching as far as the hilly horizon.
Inside the Weinhard café the ambience was cozy and the food much better than I had hoped for. Everything there is made from scratch, and fresh garlic aïoli and house-made pickles elevated a burger with a salad to something special. My server seemed to know the names of all the customers, and I imagine that by my third visit she’d know mine too.
There’s not a huge amount to do in Dayton, but I was content to stroll around it and act touristical, part of which which meant wandering through their Americana-laden antique mall.
It’s definitely an agricultural town, with the grain growers’ association having an office front and center on the main street.
Alas, the main drag also has lots of empty storefronts, some quite poignant.
On the brighter side, I enjoyed having a look at the historic train depot
and the rather grand the county courthouse.
On the way home I tried to visit this place, which appears to be a collective kitchen/workspace, but it was locked up tight. It’s hard to tell whether this is actually a going concern, and I’m very curious about it.
I did peek in the window and saw that someone is installing a distillery there, so I’ll have to go back again and try to find them open.
Paying a last homage to country life on my way back into town, I realized that there’s something about the sight of grain elevators that fills me with nostalgia, perhaps for the years I spent living in Saskatchewan. They’re such an emblematic sight, even for a person who eats no grain.
And now, back to the vines. Tomorrow we begin pruning, and I definitely don’t want to miss a minute of that, inadvertently or otherwise.