Ice Cream, Coffee and Cow Pie Bingo: A Return to the Once Rural Northwest

Ice Cream, Coffee and Cow Pie Bingo: A Return to the Once Rural Northwest

In a quest to reconvene the Redlands Bulldog with something fun, each editor reflected on their summer and what it’s like to return home after being away for college.


Welcome back, Bulldogs! If you don’t know me by now my name is Briana, I have a very high pitched sneeze, and I love bunnies and the outdoors. I am enthusiastic to be the editor for the News section for another season.


Growing up in Washington, being outdoors during the summer has always been part of the quintessential experience. Right before I left for college the very first time, trying to seek some clarity, I went on a camping trip to Mount Rainier with my friends trying to end our youthful moments with a bang. Looking up towards this grand mountain and smell of trees around me, I questioned why I would leave for the desert.


I spent the majority of my summer in my hometown, Duvall, which is about 25 miles north of Seattle in the Snoqualmie Valley (think Twin Peaks). Growing up, I often resented the smallness of this town as my first day of preschool and my last day high school included many of the same faces. However, I have grown to love it in the past two years, thanks to the separation that two years in sunny Southern California brought.


One year while growing up, there was massive downpour for weeks on end, and all the bridges and roads leading to Duvall flooded over. We were physically stuck there for over a week. Although Duvall has never been an island, it really felt that way living there through puberty and my teenage years. I wanted to live in Seattle with many of my friends and have the same opportunities and adventures that they did.  


Now when I go back, I have more autonomy in my days. I get to choose the parts of the valley I love, like my close friends, family, pastures of cows, and U-Pick Flower stands. I am no longer restrained to the same old high school hallways, hanging out at the same parks, or the Friday night football games that we could never seem to win. I used to resent being stopped in the street with the colloquial “Oh you’re the vet’s daughter,” remarks about how I have grown throughout the years when I could rarely recognize any of those people. But now, I can recognize that these people are kind enough to connect with my family and myself, despite not knowing me personally.


Duvall, a town with one main street, marked my childhood by pastures at every corner. The valley’s early roots were mixed with the valley’s farmer culture and a nest for hippies. Although my childhood in Duvall felt quaint, to put it in friendly terms, its cow pie bingo days are now challenged with a growing input of people. Microsoft headquarters are a mere 10 minutes away, and many people live in Duvall for close proximity to the workplace. Seattle housing prices are also rising fast, and people are looking for closeby places to live. When I was young, my cul de sac was surrounded by woods, but now only one wooded road still stands. With this, there is growing displacement of forested land for deer, bears, and bobcats, leading to many more urban planning issues for Duvall. It is election time here, and the main question seems to be how are we going to address the growth and retain our small town character. Many other towns near my own are facing the same plights of development.


My dad always tells me that people are coming to Duvall to seek that small town life, but by moving here they are eroding it. If you told me three years ago that Duvall would have traffic, I would laugh. There is not enough room for everyone trying to live in this tiny old logger town. So land is being developed at unbelievable rates, and it is devastating. Even if they cut down all of the trees, there still won’t be enough room on the roads for all of the cars to fit. For a very long time, my three person family only had one car. This isn’t the status quo for many American families. Although I resent the time spent through middle school and high school here, I wish all the kids in the valley could still experience the childhood I had, filled with the wonder of the forests and horse pastures. I want kids to know how to identify local flora and fauna and make huckleberry pies like I did. The first time I can remember a large development when I was little, I told my mom it looked like the Elephant Graveyard from the Lion King. Something felt wrong. And as Duvall grows, it continues to feel wrong for the Earth and for a community that isn’t quite ready for it yet.


One of my favorite stories to tell that encapsulates Duvall is about the Big Rock road lady. One day my parents were called at their veterinary clinic because someone hit a deer and they wanted my parents to come help. Being the concerned people they are, they headed up Big Rock road trying to help this deer. While looking, they stumbled upon this older women who lives on that street and commonly walks up and down guarding this wooded way. Funky as can be, with a walking stick in hand, she asked what they were doing there. They explained, and she responded, “Well if you can’t smell the coyote, you certainly won’t find the deer.” Although she serves as a punchline for many of our jokes, she holds a certain character to this town. Just as the Log Lady does in Twin Peaks. I want Duvall to be a place that is home that celebrates these quirky personalities.


Even when most of my hometown seems to be taken over by unfamiliar faces, I always know I can take refuge with my lifeline: coffee. When I was growing up, my favorite local coffee joint was owned by my mom’s friend Paula. I would crawl and play on the floor that was swirling with painted stars and moons. I looked forward to trips with my mom for a bite of quiche and a hot chocolate. When I won the Valley Art Fair for my age category, my painting was hung there. Now it is known as the Duvall Coffee House where Heather knows to make my coffee extra strong.


The coffee house is the kind of place where you are a regular, they know what you like  to order, and you don’t pay until you’re about to leave. Stepping into this building is stepping into old timer Duvall territory. The locals all sit together wearing funky clothing and sharing conversations with folks who have been their neighbors since the the 70s.  And I know that when I walk in with my dad, our excursion may take a while because everyone knows him, and I love that. Even when the world around me is rapidly changing,  I am always welcomed back into my nest of a coffee house.


One afternoon spent in the coffee shop, I received a phone call to come in to interview at one of the summer jobs I had applied. Through my search of ethical businesses that I could work with, I got hired at Molly Moon’s ice cream shop in Redmond. So, I spent my summer scooping delicious ice cream with locally sourced ingredients for a company that strives to value community, its employees, and sustainability.


Scooping ice cream isn’t easy. At first, my scoops were slow, sloppy and not instagram worthy. I evan had to ice my wrist after work to subside the pain and swelling.  Slowly but surely, I was scooping away those famed generous scoops. And let me tell you- that ice cream is good. Some of my favorite flavors are honey lavender, salted caramel, and vegan cherry chunk. Working in an ice cream shop, you encounter all kinds of people: young and old, eager and apathetic, needy and straightforward. Going to work was typically pretty fun because I was spending my time scooping and dancing away with all of my energetic coworkers.


The chain of eight stores is incredibly popular, and the Redmond location is the only one east of Seattle. Throughout the busy shifts and slow shifts, I came to a realization that years ago Redmond was not the trendy place that would attract a Molly Moon’s shop, neither could the Columbia City location, a neighborhood in Seattle. Although issues with Redmond and Columbia City’s development contrast, as one struggles with city planning while the other experiences gentrification. Molly Moons does a lot of good work within the communities it is located through food banks and using ethical ingredients, but I am questioning if that is it enough to combat these rapid changes.


Along with icing my wrists and binge drinking coffee, I also had sinus surgery, which is a really big deal for me. The recovery process was much slower than my inpatient self had predicted. I imagined by the end of the week, I would be off climbing mountains like never before. Instead, I was stuck with a pad on my nose to catch the bleeding and a slew of medical complications. I missed being outside in the beautiful weather and just being out and about. I guess this responsibility is what growing up is all about though.


I spent my last week of summer cramming in those last work hours, fitting in doctors appointments, cuddling up my cats, and trying to stretch out those last moments with long time friends. I was prepared to leave on a Friday to head back to the beloved U of R when it came to my attention that I was actually scheduled to leave on Thursday afternoon.  With little to no packing done, I decided to take off to Mount Rainier with one of my friends for a final hurrah. Maybe it was the nostalgia of leaving, but I swear Washington was absolutely beautiful that day. We drove up the mountain jamming our hearts out to the new Tyler and Lana albums. With every turn that the mountain presented, I was continually awed. We drove up to Sunrise which is the highest point you can reach by car on the mountain (and one of my favorite places to visit). We climbed up the dusty Sourdough Ridge Trail and spotted a marmot along the way. I tried my hand at my new DSLR camera, and although they all didn’t turn out great, it was pretty exciting. Having a beautiful day outdoors was the perfect goodbye to my favorite state. This time I kissed the mountain goodbye with a stronger sense of identity and confidence in myself. Before, I was hopeful for my college experience to bring a new me. Two years later on this trail I have found myself to be stronger, inspired and bursting with energy. A better version of myself.


photo and story by Briana Weekes, News Editor