Yakima Field Trip, May 10-11, 2003

As reported by Mike Schuh
This is the revised edition, correcting some of the errors and omissions in what I sent out on May 20th. My thanks to team members who contributed to this edition (and to the original expedition!).

The original version (as posted to the seattlecontra e-mail list on May 20th) is available at http://www.farmdale.com/dance/yakima-2003-05.orig.shtml

Brian has placed some photos that he took on his web page http://www.connectivity1.net/yakima/. The last 11 photos are of the "insulator house" in Ellensburg, better known as "Dick and Jane's Art Spot".

The Seattle Contra Dance Expeditionary Force (aka Yakima Moving and Dance Associates) ventured to Yakima the weekend of May 10-11 to "assist" (the verb is used rather loosely) Tim Gojio in moving to the sunny side of the mountains and making himself known to the local dance community. We succeeded in the latter, of this there can be no doubt. We're not so sure how much assistance we provided with the former, but suspect that it was pert near zero (well, we did offer random and perhaps gratuitous advice on how to decorate his apartment). Besides, we knew in advance that Tim had arranged for strong bodies to load and unload the rental truck, so this made it safe for us to extend offers of assistance.

The SCDEF consisted of three teams: myself, Sally Dow, and Tracy Whelen (serving as Aide de Camp) were Team 1; Meg Wilkinson and Alan Cheetham were Team 2; and Amy Springer, Jeff Nystuen, and Brian Globerman were Team 3.

Team 1 left early with a short side trip near Cle Elum, followed by a pleasant drive down Yakima Canyon. We found Tim's new apartment without too much difficulty (drive around the subdivision, look for a large moving van). As we drove into Tim's new neighborhood, we noticed a Dairy Queen and a small amusement park/center with a miniature go-cart course. Clearly, Tim will not want for entertainment opportunities.

After checking in, Sally went to see Shelly Jenkins, the lead organizer of the Yakima contra dances, while Tracy and I hopped on bicycles to explore the neighborhood. Shortly after we returned to Tim's, we were joined by Team 3 (Team 2 was expected to be late, as they had other activities Saturday morning and then were going to go to Federal Way to pick up Tim's car and drive it over - Tim drove over in the rental truck). We all cleaned up and, after a brief stop at a nearby grocery store, we headed for the pre-dance potluck.

By the way, cell phones are a great invention. They proved very useful throughout the weekend.

Team 1 to Team 3: "Where are you?" ("Just around the corner, be there in a couple of minutes") SCDEF Interior Decorating Specialist Sally to Shelly: "Where's a good place to buy a shower curtain for Tim?"

The Yakima dances are held in the Broadway Grange, which is just east of the Yakima airport. It's a nice hall and is the right size for the dances. Like many such buildings, it has a dining room and kitchen downstairs, which is where we met Shelly and some of the locals. Upstairs, Alan Roberts and Eric Anderson were getting set up. Before the dance, caller Sandy Strand gave a brief beginner's workshop.

Team 2 arrived during the second dance, having ditched Tim's car at his new place. Alan did not wear a skirt during the dance, and it was the general consensus among SCDEF's members that, in Yakima, this was probably a Good Idea.

The dance was great! The locals ranged from first-timers to some rather skilled experienced dancers. Included in the crowd were several students from CWU, who made the half hour jaunt from Ellensburg for the evening.

At the break, Alan played a hambo and a schottis, dances that apparently don't get played very often in Yakima.

Sandy called a few challenging dances, including a four-face-four contra. As she was setting it up, I had my doubts about it working, but, by golly, it did and was a lot of fun (oh ye of little faith, etc.).

Outside, in the parking lot, SCDEF Astronomer Jeff set up a telescope and we marveled at the celestial clarity afforded by dry skies.

After the dance, the transient wetsiders munched on popovers and chocolate at Shelly's, where most of us (Team 1 and the performers) were staying for the night (Teams 2 & 3 stayed at Tim's).

Early the next morning, a small away team went birding, lead by SCDEF Ornithologist Jeff, returning to Tim's in time to join all of us for breakfast.

Following some silliness involving cell phones enroute, we descended upon Mel's Diner (good food, good service). During the meal, Tim thanked us for joining him for the weekend. We responded by threatening to "help" him move the next time.

By the way, cell phones are an amusing invention. They proved very entertaining in the hands of the mischievous members of the group.

As we left his apartment, Tim, driving his car with Alan, Brian, and me, called Sally to ask where we were going. After he hung up, Alan borrowed the cell phone, pushed "Redial" and asked Sally if he could talk to Meg with whom he then traded some mushy sentiments. From outside the restaurant, Meg called Tim (who was inside). Later Meg again called Tim, who was then pulling into his driveway - while she was standing in the aforementioned driveway.

By the way, unlimited weekend minutes are a great marketing innovation. They proved to be immune to abuse.

After breaking fast, we returned to Tim's to gather our stuff and load up for the trip home. Surprisingly, only a pair of shoes got left behind.

Brian transferred to Team 1 from Team 3, who were going to continue their ornithological pursuits. On our way out of Tim's subdivision, Team 1 stopped to buy some gift certificates for Tim, a combined thank you and house warming gift. Brian and I got tickets for the go-cart course (and other activities) at the amusement park, while Sally and Tracy did the DQ (a sexist division of duties perhaps, but hey...). We had mental images of Tim racing around the go-cart course while downing an Oreo Peanut Butter Blizzard.

Team 2 joined Team 3 for the birding and "saw an abundance of pretty butterflies, and 3 snakes (2 live non-rattlers, 1 [dead] rattlesnake)". Team 2's report, as filed with SCDEF Archivist (that'd be me) did not mention seeing anything avian. Members of Team 3 said they saw a few birds, but not very many. It seems that most birds, unlike the intrepid members of SCDEF, had probably retired for their afternoon nap (why? did they stay up longer after their dance than we did?). Team 2 later went hiking in Umtanum Canyon, discovering "an abundantly-blooming and intoxicatingly-scented lilac forest around an old homestead".

Our (Team 1's) route home was by way of I-82 (instead of Yakima Canyon - the time difference we discovered is only about 15-20 minutes) and some sight seeing in Ellensburg. There we stopped to see the "insulator house", (my name for it - it is better known as "Dick and Jane's Art Spot"). This "must see" landmark is a house (and yard and fence) covered with thousands of insulators and reflectors of all sizes and colors. A descriptive blurb posted on the fence tells a little of the background and how it started with a few reflectors here and a couple of insulators there and then just got "carried away". For those who have seen the "Walker Rock Garden", the "Art Spot" is vaguely similar, but covers all sides of the house and virtually every corner of the yard (and fence). After a careful inspection of the "Art Spot", SCDEF Aide de Camp and Art Critic Tracy declared "OK, this officially qualifies as 'carried away'".

(The Art Spot is at 101 N. Pearl St., one block east of the main north- south arterial and a bit south of "downtown" Ellensburg. Go see it.)

Leaving Ellensburg for Cle Elum, we took the Canyon Road (also recommended). Continuing west on I-90, we noticed fresh snow near the Stampede Pass exit that wasn't there the day before, and we hit some heavy rain showers (we also had some hail crossing Manatash Ridge south of Ellensburg). It was a nice, sunny day in Seattle when we got home, a nice end to a wonderful weekend.

We'd like to thank Shelly and the Yakima contra dance community for a fun evening; Sandy, Eric, and Alan for some great dances; and - of course - Tim for giving us an excuse to launch the expedition in the first place. Gladly, we'd do all of this again, especially the gratuitous advice.

SCDEF Photographer Brian has posted some pictures he took at:


The last 11 pictures are of the "Art Spot".

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A footnote: There are many regular contra dances in the "hinterlands" outside of Seattle. Like anything else in human affairs, they vary in character, size, and what not - but they all involve dancing. Most take place just once a month, and many live a tenuous existence. I encourage the many dancers who attend Seattle dances to consider venturing outside the city to these other dances. Your mere presence will help support them and, by extension, contra dancing in general. If you are a skilled dancer and have both the ability and willingness to teach, then please consider helping dancers at these dances - who typically don't see much dancing - to improve their skills. And (this might be a surprise to some), be ready to learn from them as well. There is a lot of dancing in this region - go find it and join in.

Matt Fisher's web page lists nearly all of these dances:


Last update: November 14, 2003 17:16:26 PST
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