“Walla Walla, Washington. The town the loved so much they named it twice.”
That’s what my father told me the day he announced our family was moving from Seattle to Walla Walla.
Seattle had high rises, urban jungles, lush forests, rugged mountains, the Pacific Ocean, Pike’s Place, the Space Needle, temperate weather, and everything in between.
Walla Walla offered wheat fields, combines, leafy trees, rolling hills, horses, rodeos, cowboys & cowgirls, four distinct seasons, and small-town living with moderate living conveniences.
I remember the first time I saw Walla Walla. I’d said a tearful good-bye to my best friend of 11 years, watched the skyscrapers and ocean slip from my view. I fell asleep somewhere before we hit Snoqualmie Pass, which was filled with miles upon miles of deep green pine trees, lush vegetation, mountains, and waterfalls alongside the freeway.
Several hours later, I woke up in an entirely different world. The mountains were replaced by golden rolling hills (yes, wheat ready to harvest is actually golden in color). I could see for miles without a house in sight. Giant combines kicked dust into the air, creating a brown haze, and workers hunched over acres of crops that couldn’t be harvested by a machine. I cried. Again. How was a 14-year-old girl who knew nothing about being a cowboy going to handle living in the middle of nowhere? Was I going to learn how to ride a horse and buck hay?
Then my mother drove past a guy walking along the highway, shirt off, tanned back glistening in the sun. My neck nearly had whiplash as our car passed him. Hmm. Kinda cute. Maybe Walla Walla had potential after all.
Fast Forward twenty five years. As I began forming Unleashed!’s world in my mind, I wanted someplace unique, but familiar to me. Lots of people write about Seattle. Meh. Spokane is the second largest city in Washington State, but I didn’t like that location either. At least not for Unleashed!.
I knew Walla Walla would provide everything I needed for a good story. Variety, culture, beauty, and lots of room to move (and fight).
I took my daughter, Elisha, to Walla Walla a few years ago and she fell in LOVE with the city. It was then that I knew I’d chosen the right location.
If ever you have a chance, I highly recommend visiting Walla Walla, Washington. It is absolutely breathtaking.
While you’re there, I’d recommend checking out:
Pioneer Park (especially the gazebo and the pond)
The Balloon Stampede (not mentioned in the book but uh-maz-ing!)