The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Beka Compton
The Times 

A glimpse at a new normal

A recent trip to Lewiston, Idaho offered a glimpse as to what the new normal may be


Courtesy Photo

The traveling nurse contingent at Harlem Hospital during Jenna Watts' work there included people from Florida, Brazil, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, New Jersey, and Walla Walla.

LEWISTON, Ida.-In our family, saying 'Idaho is a world of its own' is a long-running joke. My sister moved to Lewiston almost four years ago and last weekend she got married at Hell's Gate State Park. We never knew how much of its own world Idaho was in until we visited the state during a pandemic.

Washington has been in a four-phase reopening plan since the end of May with many counties still heavily restricted, Walla Walla County included. Idaho implemented a four-stage reopening plan, called Idaho Rebounds, however, they are about a month ahead of Washington, starting in early May.

Nez Perce County was in Stage Four while we were there and if it weren't for the 'Rock the Rebound' billboards and the plexiglass shields at Albertsons I'm not sure I would have known there was a novel virus changing our lives.

Stage four of the Idaho Rebound plan allows large gatherings of 50 or more people, as well as allowing restaurant dining, bars and lounges to reopen with limited capacity. Movie theaters and other large venues were also reopened while enforcing distancing and extra sanitation measures.

Nez Perce County was basically back to pre-pandemic happenings, just adding face masks, extra sanitation of public spaces, and social distancing.

We arrived Thursday at the Red Lion Hotel and were instantly met with familiar signage reminding people to wash their hands, cover their sneezes, etc., just like we see here in Walla Walla County.

The concierge at the front desk (and every employee we saw from that moment on) was wearing a cloth face mask and had a huge bottle of hand sanitizer available. One thing I really appreciated at the front desk was the separate containers for clean and used pens. Like cell phones, people don't really pause to consider who touched the shared pen before them, but the hotel staff did a wonderful job sanitizing each pen after it was used.

The hotel staff and my mother-in-law, Beth, were great about helping me unload 18 dozen cupcakes, a wedding cake, half of my wardrobe, and my daughter Gracie. The baked goods came down beautifully frosted the next morning, minus the vegan cupcakes whose buttercream frosting melted almost immediately in the heat. Talk about crying inside!

Friday morning was a whirlwind. My parents had their fifth-wheel camper at the wedding venue-Hell's Gate State Park. I stranded my mother-in-law back at the hotel with my daughter, while I delivered cakes to the park, got my hair and makeup done, and helped my parents set up for the wedding. I learned this weekend that a nearly three-year-old girl is not the best helper around 200 cupcakes and that my mother-in-law is a saint with my child.

Hell's Gate State Park is an absolute gem. Located in the south end of Lewiston, the waterfront park has tons of camper spaces, tent camping areas and cute little cabins for those who like to get away but still enjoy modern amenities like air conditioning.

My sister was able to get exclusive use of a large wooden gazebo that had power hookups, running water, and a great view of the river complete with a beach and swimming area.

My parents were very busy cooking up Hawaiian cuisine like Huli Huli chicken, Kahlua pork, the Hawaiian 'sushi' musubi (fried Spam, eggs, and rice rolled in seaweed) and nori maki. I can't say much about the musubi because I, personally, don't care for Spam... but the nori maki was amazing and makes me really excited for our upcoming trip to Hawaii.

The Hawaiian-themed wedding went off without a hitch. My sister looked beautiful with her hair pinned up, sporting her white dress and teal boots. Pastor Matt Wyatt officiated the ceremony, marking a special moment in our family. Pastor Matt officiated my ceremony in 2018.

The dinner, dancing, and drinks that took place afterward were wonderful. Not only did I forget to take a picture, but I also refused to eat any cupcakes after the heartache they caused me, but I think they turned out well enough.

Between date changes, venue struggles, and travel restrictions, many of the original guests were unable to make it. There were roughly 100 people in attendance, many of them grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The family my sister married into is very large and from the Moscow area, so a fair amount of his guests live nearby.

Even the honeymoon, which was supposed to be in Hawaii at a family condo, was changed due to travel restrictions.

The wedding aside, it was really interesting to get a glimpse of what our new Washington normal may look like. If you haven't already, I recommend picking out some cute cotton fabric and getting some face masks made, because they are here to stay, along with social distancing while grocery shopping, and scrubbing with hand sanitizer. Now, to lay low and hang out at home for a bit!


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