Being born and raised in California, it’s a shock to remember that other states are surrounding this heavenly place. It’s even harder to imagine that these states would have anything fun to do because it feels like we have everything here in the Golden State.
Despite this elitist mindset, I took a big leap out of my comfort zone earlier this year and traveled to Spokane to visit my boyfriend at his university. Located in Eastern Washington, Spokane is home to the 111 miles-long Spokane River, Gonzaga University, the Pavilion at Riverfront Park and much more.
Without a car, we had to use our legs as our transportation. The most walking we were willing to do was around one to two miles, so we stuck to exploring downtown. Not used to weather below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, I went full out in bundling myself up. I looked like a marshmallow, but at least I would be a warm marshmallow. We began our one-mile adventure in the 30-degree weather. At first, it straight up sucked, but, shockingly, my body got used to it pretty fast, and it was a pleasant walk.
Downtown Spokane is typical of any downtown area but less chaotic than it would be in a big, populated city. The beautiful thing about Spokane is that it’s not so overpopulated, which means very little traffic, very affordable housing and very friendly people. We went to see the new “The Fast and the Furious” movie, and by the time it was over, it was already dark. (Gotta love daylight savings ending the day at 5 p.m.) It was almost eerie walking around downtown at night and seeing practically no one else out and about.
We strolled over to this eye-catching, grand pyramid of lights known as the Pavilion. Originally a gift from the United States government to Spokane for Expo ’74, the Pavilion is a magnificent structure that performs nightly light shows. There are stairs connected to a platform that allowed us to experience the light show from a closer level, but it’s so big that we were still pretty far from being close to the tip of it. It’s hard to look away from the bright, multi-colored lights. It felt like the lights were flashing just for us, as no one else was there.
The next time I visited Spokane a few months later, it was February, so it was a little warmer. This time we had access to a car (shoutout to Zipcar), so we ventured out only a few miles more to Riverside State Park. We ventured to hike around the Bowl and Pitcher area of the river. Although it was foggy and cold, the river was beautiful and far from quiet. We crossed a wooden bridge, where my boyfriend thought it’d be fun to scare me by jumping on it until it swung.
Two paths diverged, and stupidly, we took the one less traveled. In my sneakers that had no grip, we stumbled upon a path covered in big rocks. We kept going until we reached a vantage point of the river. The contrast between the trees on the banks and the river was beautiful, and it felt like we were in “Twilight.”
We decided we didn’t want rocks in our shoes, so we turned around and tried the other path. It was muddy but way more manageable. We passed by fellow hikers, who all surprised me by saying “Hello.” We reached a bench with a missing plank, which was awkward to sit on, but we bravely sat and listened to the roaring river while talking. After about two hours of nature immersion, we headed home.
Honestly, I’ve never heard of Spokane before my boyfriend went out there for college. I thought that when I visited there’d be nothing to do so we’d have to sit inside all day. It’s good to be proven wrong. It was such a lovely time seeing the nature and unique city culture that Spokane has to offer. I’m very excited to explore more of it in the years to come!
P.S. If you don’t think you can handle the cold as I did, you’re playing yourself. You just need to find the right jacket, beanie, gloves and double up on your pants. Plus, the red nose from the cold is kind of adorable.
Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].