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Ellensburg was Empty

Hey, Where did everybody go?

sunny 75 °F

Over the river and into the woods we went, driving through the majestic mountains of Snoqualmie Pass, up and over into the high desert of Eastern Washington. Where the salt infused coastal region of Washington is packed with bustling harbor towns, the interior of Washington State could not be any more opposite. The towns found in Eastern Washington are few and far between with nothing but open fields and rolling prairies for seemingly endless miles between them. If it weren’t for the asphalt in front of me and a cage of metal traveling 70 miles per hour surrounding me, I could easily be transported to another era, where oxen led wagons pulled families to dreams of better lives on new frontiers.


Ellensburg sits almost directly in the center of Washington just two hours East of Seattle and boasts over 300 hundred days of sunshine and ten inches of rain per year. Knowing this I was ready to pack my bags and head for the country, but my inability to live anywhere outside of a 15 minute radius of a large body of water pulled me back to reality as I remembered my devotion to the Puget Sound. If someone can tell me where I can find a decently sized city, next to the ocean, with lots of snow capped mountains in the distance, plenty of green space to roam…and stays perfectly warm and sunny all year round, I will forever be indebted to you for this would be my dream home. But enough about that, because on this particular day I was headed to Ellensburg, home to the nearby Gorge Amphitheater, Seattle Central University, and yes, they have an airport! Recently, Ellensburg launched a campaign to boost tourism – check out this quirky commercial which may or may not entice you to explore the wonders of small town living in Ellensburg.


So my tour began in Ellensburg as my husband and I explored the historic downtown district. The town had a creaky, quietness to it and we felt like Lewis and Clark exploring uncharted territory. Not a soul was in sight and the few people we did come across quietly made their way around us as though we didn’t exist. Although we were walking the “main drag” things were oddly serene. Even the university campus had a ghost town vibe and I wouldn’t have been surprised if a tumble weed or two silently rolled across the campus square.


Come to find out, college students make up over half of the 15,000 person population in Ellensburg and this was the week of finals. Now, in my college town, finals week looked the same as any other week on campus as students filled bars, ate at local restaurants, or took up some prime beach towel real estate in the park. But apparently here in Ellensburg things are a little different. If there is no where to go or anything to do, maybe these kids were actually studying for their finals? Maybe, but just a guess. Or perhaps the subdued atmosphere was one of sadness as students prepared tear felt goodbyes to their new home, Ellensburg. Hmm… probably not. Whatever it was, Ellensburg gave off an oddly eerie vibe with it's endless emptiness.


We decided to move on to bigger and better frontiers as this one horse town was just one horse too small. Ellensburg really does have a unique charm, but with no around to enhance the landscape, it felt kind of lonely and desolate. Being the social creatures we are, we headed back over the pass, back to traffic jams, constant circling of parking lots looking for that one empty spot, and houses stacked literally on top of one another. I suddenly had the desire to be back in Eastern Washington with all that endless space. We took one look around at the craziness of modern, urban living and decided that at some point in our lives, we will move somewhere remote and live off the land. We'll see how long that lasts, after this day trip I realized I may be a little more dependent upon the city than I thought.

Posted by Jennylynn 22:12 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites

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by kristilloy

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