Friday, June 17th, marks the end of my twice daily round trips from one end of the upper Snoqualmie Valley to the other – all in the name of school and family.
In 2010, when both Snoqualmie elementary schools ran out of room, we were part of a school boundary change that relocated my daughter to school in neighboring North Bend. I won’t lie. It was a big adjustment. You see, when you attend a school, you develop a community… both the student and the family.
So it’s not just changing a physical location, or that your child’s education is negatively impacted. It’s often a whole reset on your community – and it can be hard.
BUT… we did it. There were plenty of tears in 3rd grade. It was stressful. I would say the adjustment took her a few months and me a bit longer. You see, I drive my child to school. Yes, I am one of “those moms” who are at the school a lot.
My daughter suffers from life-threatening, touch sensitive food allergies. I drive daily because it’s the safest option. A school bus driver has enough to worry about without piling on the responsibility of knowing where the kid with food allergies is at all times just in case they need to pull over and fish an epi-pen out of her crammed full backpack.
So I drove. And drove. And drove.
First to North Bend Elementary as I became familiar with all the side roads and areas I hadn’t explored during my previous nine years in Snoqualmie because I had become what I like to call ‘bubblized’ on the Ridge. I watched as North Bend started building again after its water rights were regained. I started doing my errands in North Bend, no longer really needing to head west to Issaquah. I found new favorite shops in downtown North Bend.
Next, things went a step farther – or a few long steps farther – to Truck Town and Twin Falls Middle School. Again, driving each day. Exploring more North Bend areas. Watching more homes go up. Learning about political issues facing my “neighboring hometown.” Watching Snoqualmie Police cars start patrolling North Bend streets – and seeing Twin Peaks come back to town.
It’s been six years of driving. I will admit, sometimes I hate my car. But, most days I don’t… because let’s face it, if you have to do a daily drive – you can’t beat mine.
The scenery is impeccable. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunrises over Mount Si and Mailbox Peak. I’ve watched the leaves turn the most brilliant colors. I’ve driven through three different microclimates in one 12 mile stretch – rain, snow and then howling, blowing snow as you hit exit 34. I was also provided dedicated time each day to hear how my daughter’s day went.
The trips weren’t wasted on me.
But most importantly, I learned to know and appreciate more of the Snoqualmie Valley by getting in my [sometimes dreaded] car twice a day and heading toward what came to feel like a second hometown. My favorite grocery store changed, my bank changed, my coffee pit stop changed – each boasting wonderful employees who always made me feel welcome.
But, our time is coming to an end. For the first time since 2nd grade, my daughter will attend school in the city where she resides. It’s going to be an adjustment. I mean what will I do with the extra hour in my day not spent in the car? My SUV may go into inactivity shock.
North Bend – I’ll still be around. There’s always more to explore. I’ll still be driving through…. just maybe not so much as I give my car a temporary mileage vacation.
I really just wanted to say “Thank You.”
Thank you to all the friends I met during this journey. Thank you to NBE and its wonderful staff who took such great care of a scared little girl (okay, and her mom). Thank you Twin Falls, where teachers and staff helped grow my now teenager into a strong young lady not scared to speak up.
The change wasn’t wasted on me. That much I know. I couldn’t ask for a better neighboring hometown.