A Connecticut Yankee moves to Enumclaw | A Yankee in Enumclaw

Kevin Keane is from Connecticut — but has fallen in love with Washington.

Editor’s note: Kevin Keane’s new column series, “A Yankee in Wonderland”, is part of the Courier-Herald’s ongoing community columnist initiative. His columns will be published the first edition of every month.

I’m a newcomer to Washington.

There are lots of us, as you know. The state Office of Financial Management says that about a quarter of a million other people are new to Washington since I moved here in 2019. My wife and I moved from Connecticut, a part of New England.

To us, Washington seems huge. You could drive all the way across Connecticut in a little more than an hour and a half. On a bad day here, a drive to the airport takes that long. The drive to Spokane seems almost endless. According to Wikipedia, the six states that are together called New England are just about the same size as our new home state.

The scenery in New England has great variety. There are miles of sandy beaches on Cape Cod, while the picturesque coast of Maine is rocky. In Newport, Rhode Island you can tour incredible mansions from the Gilded age of the 1890s. In Connecticut, close to New York City, the mansions along Long Island Sound are numerous, but they are definitely not open for tours. There are some beautiful mountains in Maine and New Hampshire, and perfectly picturesque dairy farms in Vermont – especially between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain. Most famously, every October, the trees put on a dazzling light show as the hillsides turn red, orange and yellow. I love it all — but I don’t miss it. Washington is spectacular.

I never thought I would get to live in a place with scenery like we have here. We have three national parks and two national monuments! The snowcapped volcanoes are breathtaking sights for me, and the Cascades have beauty beyond anything I was used to having close by.

The seacoast has the same kind of variety as New England, with big, beautiful homes along Puget Sound, sandy beaches and rocky beaches. Even in Acadia National Park on the rocky coast of Maine, the one national park in New England, there are no sea stacks like you see at Rialto Beach. I have to say that the ocean scenery here is better. I wish the water was warmer, though.

And the trees! You may not notice it if you have always lived here, your trees are humungous. In Connecticut there is a small area called the Cathedral Pines, owned by The Nature Conservancy, where you can see several Eastern White Pines that are about 120 feet tall. Trees taller than that are common in Western Washington. A sign in Mount Rainier National Park says Douglas firs grow to 250 feet. There is no place in New England where you can see the dramatic changes in landscape you see when you cross over the Cascades and head into Eastern Washington. The changes you will see in ten miles as you cross any of our mountain passes are greater than the changes you would see in 510 miles between northern Maine and southern Connecticut. Yes, Washington is huge.

Even the sky here is fascinating. Sitting here on the Plateau, with the prevailing winds blowing in from Puget Sound and meeting the mountains, there is tremendous action in the clouds. They form in different layers and different shapes, change by the minute, and provide spectacular sunsets routinely.

My wife and I started visiting Washington in 2008, when our daughter and her husband moved here – first to Bellevue, and then to Issaquah. We visited twice a year. When grandkids and retirement were added to the equation, it was an easy choice to pack up, move here, and find a new house. We looked as far west as Sequim, and as far east as Ellensburg (more on our real estate hunt in a later column).

We had never seen Enumclaw when we started looking for a new hometown. A real estate agent in Auburn told us not to bother looking in this town – there was nothing for sale. So we got a new agent.

It was love at first sight when we got here and had lunch at The Mint. Enumclaw has a lot of similarities to our old hometown. Both places are rural, but becoming more suburban. Both are red towns in blue states. The access to health care is better here, and downtown Enumclaw is a swinging place compared to the tired downtowns near our old home. When we discovered Headworks, Il Siciliano and Griffin and Wells, we grew more certain. The big sky views on the Plateau, and the stunning views of the mountains sealed the deal.

Recently, we drove up to the lookout on Suntop Mountain and were amazed at the fantastic views and the flowers. We asked each other, “Why haven’t we been here yet?” A neighbor had suggested it a year earlier.

Also recently, a therapist at Aspire Physical Therapy suggested that we take a walk at the O’Grady Trail to the Green River. We enjoyed that, too.

Maybe Courier-Herald readers will have more suggestions for me. If you’d like to recommend your favorite local places to go, let me know where and why you love it in an email sent to editor@courierherald.

I hope you will enjoy reading some of the perspectives of a recent arrival. My wife and I love it here – from downtown to the mountains, we love it all. The only disappointment was finding that Flaming Geyser State Park doesn’t exactly have a flaming geyser anymore, although it does have some nice walking trails and a beautiful river.

Life in Enumclaw is terrific.