During the last week of July we went up into central Washington to return to one of our favorite places: Holden Village. You can read more about Holden Village in these posts from 10 years ago.
In short, it's an outdoor community experience, sort of like a family camp, in the valley of the North Cascade wilderness on the site of a former mining village. It's owned and operated by the ELCA Lutheran Church. It's occupied and accepts guests year round but the summer is the most popular time to visit. People come from all over the country to visit, probably contributing to the COVID! For us, it's a 5-hour drive to Wenatchee, overnight stay there, and an early morning ferry ride uptake on Lake Chelan. Then you take a school bus up into the mountains through a series of 20+ switchbacks. It's not easy to get to!
Our kids grew up going there, and we hadn't been since 2019 before the pandemic. It's extremely rustic, and unfortunately our week was the most difficult we'd spent there. Still, in spite of the difficulties, we had a lot of fun. Here are the A-Zs of our week! Photos follow at the end.
Arts and crafts
One of the things I love about Holden is learning new arts and crafts. I learned how to make soap in a two-part class, painted a silk scarf, and made a tie-dyed shirt.
Basement pool hall
The coolest place in the village, so we spent a lot of time playing pool and ping pong and listening to the jukebox. Unfortunately the set-up-your-own-pins bowling was shut down for the week because they were short-staffed.
Housing is in the old mining lodges, with shared bathrooms down the hall. Meals are served in the dining hall. Holden can be a hard place for reserved introverts, because there are people everywhere.
Vaccinations and testing were required, but somehow COVID got into the village the week before we arrived. We arrived on Monday, one of our group got it on Wednesday and another on Thursday. By Sunday another person had come down with it and another person suspected it (and was later confirmed). When we came home, many of their family members got it. We had meals with a few of these folks, so we were very lucky to escape it. I felt horrible that in many cases their time was either cut short (they went home early) or they were sick away from home.
I am obsessed with the enneagram and the excellent Holden library has a ton of great enneagram books. I read one and looked at a few others. Can you guess which number I am?
Friendship and family
Sometimes we've had upward of 60 people from our church go together. This year we had about 37, including friends who were working on short-term staff (and unfortunately were the first to get COVID).
I love this community time, playing games, singing, chatting, and learning together. I was especially delighted that our friends Ruth and David went for the first time this year. They were so much fun to have with us. And we have a tradition of meeting up with our friend Shelia and her kids, who live in Boise. The kids have grown up together, producing plays, trying on costumes, and exploring together. Now Kieran and her two daughters are all in college in New England, so they had a blast hiking, swimming, playing games, and taking nightly saunas together.
Granola and muesli
Fresh baked bread, peanut butter, jelly, fruit, cereal, coffee, tea, juice, etc. are always available around the clock in the dining hall. I think I ate my weight in cherries that week! And one of my favorite treats was mixing Holden's homemade muesli and granola together with rice milk. Yum!!
Hand washing and sanitizing
Holden did everything it could to keep COVID at bay. Masks were required in indoor buildings, and we washed our hands and sanitized when entering the dining hall for any reason.
A favorite place for kids and adults alike, the snack bar/ice cream shop is usually open in the afternoons and in the evenings, but this year it was only open in the afternoons (again, short staffing).
Holden's theme this year was JUBILEE, which is from the Bible. The Jubilee year, which occurs every 50 years, is an economic, cultural, environmental, and communal reset, when the land and people rest, and all those who are in slavery are set free. Holden brings in instructors to teach on the annual theme, and this year's were excellent. I attended daily contemplation sessions on interweaving spirituality and growth led by Felicia Murrell; sessions with Rabbi Samuel Klein, who talked about Jubilee and other Jewish topics; and my favorite, a series on music for the resistance led by Paul Vasile. They also had a wonderful music group there called GLOCAL, which led music most of the evenings at "Sacred Space."
At Holden, no one has locks on their doors. Mike and I had a room across the hall from Nick and Kieran's room. We found that the best way to cool off our rooms during the hot daytime was to leave the door wide open to the hallway while we were out and about. How many places can you go to where you can do that?
Gorgeous Lake Chelan! You cannot see the lake from Holden Village, but it's an anchor to the place. I love the ferry rides to get to and from the village, and the day we left I was delighted to sit at the dock and put my feet in the water.
Mosquitos and biting flies
The biting flies were even more plentiful than the mosquitos. The bugs have never been this bad. I guess it's worse later in the summer. And they LOVE Mike.
No air conditioning with 95 degree weather
We had extremely high temperatures for the mountains, in the 90s with a high of 95 one day, and no air conditioning. We survived somehow, with fans, the pool hall, and dipping our feet into the creek.
Off the grid
Holden is completely off the grid. There is no wifi. Until a few years ago, there was no way guests could communicate with the outside world. Now they have an extremely slow laptop in the library at a standing desk that you can use if you have to, but I didn't look at my email or the news ONCE! It is liberating to do that for a week!!
Pizza we never had
This was the refrain by Nick and our friend Shelia, and it appeared in one of our games, too! Usually they have pizza once a week, but the only pizza that appeared was leftover from the previous week, and Nick missed it entirely.
Quilts on every bed
Each bedroom has beds with iron-railed bed frames covered with handmade quilts. Some rooms have bunk beds, and others single or double beds. There's also a sink, desk, and closet in each room...just like the miners lived!
My favorite place in the village, by the creek, which actually feels more like a river! It was especially necessary for cooling off!
Singalongs on the ark
Although my jamming partner came down with COVID and I missed making music with him, Kieran agreed to play his guitar with my mandolin. We had a few singalongs on the ark, and this year I was prepared...I made song sheets beforehand and sent them out to our group so they had them on their phones!
The easiest hike near the village, just a two-mile round trip with a beautiful destination of a raging waterfall! Usually I get there a few times, but I only managed once this year, early one morning! Kieran and others took several long hikes in the hot sun. I guess I'm a wilting flower!
Have I said that it was hotter than hell? Thanks but no thanks, global warming.
Vegetables and lots of them!
Holden's food is very low on the food chain, which was a perfect fit for my new whole food, plant-based way of eating. It is not easy for everyone, though, to have meat only a couple of times per week. But it was perfect for me! It was nice not to have to cook for myself for a change. Being veggie and whole food based takes a lot more time to prepare food!
Wine on the porch
We've been going to Holden with many of the same folks for years. We take our boxed wine and hang out on one of the many porches in the evening, singing songs or playing games. It's one of my favorite things and even though I'm drinking way less wine, it was as fun as ever...especially because the evenings were the most pleasant times to be outside! The last evening we were there we took our games into the pool hall because we played past quiet time at 10:30.
Yes, I had a hard time coming up with an X-word. But I did have my sugar-free gum there, which I chewed every day! LOL!
Dang, it was hot!
Zen when I sat in my favorite place
You know those meditations, when the facilitator asks you to put yourself in your favorite place in your mind? My favorite place is sitting on the bridge over Railroad Creek. I didn't get as much time out there as I would have liked, thanks to the heat and flies...but I did get a few moments. Pure zen to listen to the gushing creek!
Here are some photos, unfortunately not all in order!