The Land of Super Size!

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He says:

Last weekend we felt like a change of scenery so we drove down to Washington, USA. We had no real agenda aside from the fact that we wanted to attend a Sock Hop dance in Waconda, population a hand full.

Just like most blue collar families, Kristin and I always try to assimilate the culture anywhere we travel. So this time being in the land of plenty and jumbo is not big enough, we decided to taste a few good American treats. We came back with some PopTarts and a few funky chocolate bars we had never heard of. While visiting our Southern neighbors, we stopped at a drive-in for a milkshake. Stupid me, I totally forgot where I was and asked for two large milkshakes… while I advanced to the pick up window I realized what I just did and thought to myself, wow, I hope that large is not too large. Well as it turns out it was a 32OZ of thick, rich really tasty old fashioned milkshake. I know now!

We did not need anything from Walmart but they had a super size one in a town of maybe 3000 people. So we stopped to go see what the fuss was about… It’s BIG, real BIG… we got tempted by an Artisan Bread, which was a notch higher than Wonder bread from when I was a kid, but it said Artisan on it so we had to taste it. Being in the USA, the cuts of meats were a bit different than our cuts up here. They were selling full beef briskets, un-cut full racks of ribs and beef tenderloins too. (Remember, this is the land of super size.) All in all, if this is the kind of store coming to the Westside, the small shops around should not worry too much… it’s only a giant version of the one in Kelowna, nothing to make you start changing your eating habits.

We did make it to the dance and we had a great time. It was like going back in time where kids ran around with no city worries. I strongly encourage anyone of you wanting a change of scenery to go and visit the towns across the border. There are about a dozen of them and all with a little something to offer. Little being the key words since some of them have only a general store.

She says:

You can tell we are foodies – when we go away, the first place we look to get our bearings is a grocery store! As much as it was fun to see the differences in the food and drink locals enjoy, the highlight besides the dance for me was the beautiful place we stayed in while we were away. It was a whole different kind of “super size” – the kind that speaks of spirit…

We thought we could just “wing it” and find a room that would suit us for the few nights we were away. Little did we know that every room for miles was taken. Luckily the lady at one place phoned around and managed to find us a room at a bed and breakfast, so we got directions for this country place and headed out.

You know how sometimes you just feel as though the universe has arranged things so that you are in exactly the place you are meant to be? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is magical. Our little hideaway was just that. A Thyme for Peace is a hidden gem where you can enjoy all Mother Nature has to offer with people who are happy to share their paradise.

Martin and I chatted outside with the owners for an hour as the sun slowly set and the dogs trotted about and the birds twittered on. We were spoiled with a suite that had a babbling fountain and a view of the garden and aspen grove, and the next morning we enjoyed fresh garden berries in a breakfast parfait. The following morning we were treated to homemade jams and Vermont maple syrup with abelskivers, a very cool Danish pancake that Cherise makes in a special pan. Then we toured the garden. (Can you tell we loved it? Visit their website to see more – we highly recommend them.

The whole weekend, we toodled around on country roads and saw vast expanses of rocky hills and scrub much like the southern Okanagan in Canada. There are no vines, but rather range cattle that dot the landscape along with the numerous old barns and homesteads from the turn of the last century. This was gold mining country then, but just for a little while, and so once the mining dried up many of the settlers moved away to fulfill their dreams and towns suffered. Some of them have hung on, and are quaint examples of Americana at its best, with a general store and maybe a café or saloon. Others are only on the map and in people’s memories, with maybe an old school or community hall still standing. Wauconda is one of those places.

The town of Wauconda has three buildings. The old school still stands and it looks like someone is fixing it up, but it has been empty for generations. The café and store has been in business since 1928 and is still the gathering place for people who live in the area. It is also the post office. The hall was built in 1917 and is host to the longest running annual Flag Day celebration in the county (how is that for patriotism?!) For our part, we couldn’t resist the chance to have a night of swing dancing with folks who really knew the moves (we are talking about original swingers here, from the 50’s!)

I pulled out my bobby socks and swishy skirt (no poodle, though) and tied up my pony tail so that I would fit in. We were easily the youngest couple dancing swing style, but it was a truly spectacular evening of family fun with kids and grandparents and lots of laughter. Lots of people were obviously were remembering old times, and many of them dressed up. I am sure I saw Fonzie! People spilled out into the field to cool off, and the ladies’ auxiliary was busy serving lemonade and homemade cherry pie. I felt as though I had entered a wonderful time warp where life was indeed simpler and everyone was happy.

It sounds corny but you know, it was magical to see such strength of spirit in a community of people. They were so proud that their little country event was a success. At one point one of the singers said to the crowd, “Do you think anyone in America is having as much fun as we are?” It made my heart swell to be a part of it all. That kind of spirit doesn’t belong to America, after all it belongs to a community.

(If you want to check out the date for next year, visit their website. If you look hard, you will see us in one of the photos…

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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