Creech residence in Ellensburg
Flashback. Early years at Lawrence. The eighties. Tom joined an electronic discussion list, VWAR-L. Run by Dr. Lydia Fish, professor of anthropology at Buffalo State College, more affectionately known as "Dragon Lady", Lydia is also the director of the Vietnam Veterans Oral History and Folklore Project.
VWAR-L was designed to facilitate communication between scholars, teachers, veterans, and anyone else interested in the Vietnam War. "Communication": a polite word used to describe the frequent knockdown drag-out discussions that occurred, mainly between the Vietnam and Vietnam-era vets representing all branches of the military during the war.
Aside from a few reunions hosted by Lydia on the east coast, most of the VWAR-L participants never met in person. In 1994 during a trip to the Pacific Northwest, Tom attended a small gathering of VWAR-L members in Oregon, many who were meeting for the first time. Among those in attendance were John Creech and his wife Jane.
Fast forward to the present. John and Jane are now settled in Ellensburg, WA. Although it's been years since John and Tom met in person and have "graduated" from VWAR-L (as have most of the early members) they've managed to stay in touch. When our plans to travel west gelled, John extended an invite to visit. We accepted.
Mileage to Ellensburg from Twin River Canyon RV exceeded our daily ceiling of 200 miles and necessitated a stop somewhere in between. That turned out to be in Deer park, WA at the Spokane RV Resort. Nice park if you're ever in the area.
On July 3rd we drove into Ellensburg and following a bit of nifty backing-the-rig, we found ourselves settled in the Creech's yard. From the git-go it was evident creech and dhandler (short for "dog handler", Tom's VWAR-L nom de plume) picked up right where they had left off in 1994. Time and space had not diminished the bond. It's kind of that way between many of the former VWAR-L "lounge regulars".
Jane, John, Ryan, carol, Tom
Over the course of the 4th of July weekend we were treated like royalty. The Creech clan outdid themselves with their down home hospitality. Much time was spent in the kitchen where most social interactions take place in the majority of homes. John, Jane and son Ryan love to cook. And since we love to eat, the paring couldn't have been better.
John and Tom got caught up on a wide range of topics not-the-least of which included music, movies (by the way - that was Colleen Dewhurst), photography and a conference call with Pat McAfee. Don't know McAfee? then you haven't read "Slow Walk in A Sad Rain", a Vietnam War novel critics have acclaimed to be the Vietnam War era's "Catch-22".
John and now Ryan are accomplished guitarists, evidenced by a display of their playing ability one morning. Jane and Carol headed off into the world of botany and plant ID's. The Creech backyard is filled with plants, a veggie/herb garden, with plenty of room to roam for their four-footed companions, Tara and Lucy, who rein yard supreme.
hiking at Untanum
Juanito and Dhandler
Jane, Ryan and John
John and Jane introduced us to the Umtanum Canyon, a riparian ecosystem in the midst of a desert ecology zone. Lessons in ornithology and botany abounded. Breakfast out in Ellensburg one morning (The Palace Café), otherwise we pretty much stuck to home cooking with so many accomplished chefs. A piece de la résistance desert: homemade blueberry cheesecake ice cream thanks to Ryan Creech.
Tara and Lucy
The weekend slipped past quickly and it was time to leave. John and Jane, the younger pups that they are, both had to return to work. On the 6th we reluctantly pulled out headed toward Mt. Rainier. Who would have thought back when Tom electronically met John on VWAR-L that such a strong bond of friendship would have endured.
Elwood: "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses."
Jake: "Hit it."