On Saturday, I posted on Instagram a picture from the latest stop on my work-related world tour. It was a shot from inside a diner that has been created inside an old railcar – Frank’s Diner – in downtown Spokane, Wash. It got 18 likes – and thank goodness for that; it’s the basis of my self-worth – and one comment from a friend. Actually, the comment was a hashtag: #Spokompton.
I was floored. That’s a thing?
This was my third trip to Spokane, a city of about 200,000 people set on the western edge of Washington. Seattle is in the Pacific Northwest; Spokane is part of the Inland Northwest. That’s something I learned during my second trip there to cover a basketball game at nearby Washington State. The first stop was to Gonzaga; the third to Eastern Washington.
So there’s no shortage of college sports in the area. It’s also picturesque. A shot I snapped from the freeway while driving to downtown from the airport included evergreens, a mountain and a gully.
Yet, sure enough, a quick check of the Google Machines revealed that Spokane sometimes is referred to as Spokompton. According to Urban Dictionary, the name references either a relatively high crime rate (that might not even be accurate) or a general dirtiness.
I didn’t see it coming. I really like the downtown. There’s a river, a couple of arenas, a mall with a giant Christmas tree and an unending number of restaurants, pubs and coffee shops. It’s sort of edgy and independent, but without being snobby.
Frankly, I dig the bulk of the Northwest – Seattle, Portland, Eugene and Spokane – in a genuine way. It’s different than, say, my attraction to California, where the weather is amazing, but the traffic is stifling. The Northwest seems good in a more reasonable or attainable way. I’m even OK with the brooding. In fact, I kind of like that, too; it comes pretty natural to me anyway.
The scenery is majestic. The winters are less harsh than they are in the Dakotas despite the same proximity to Canada. The snow can be pleasant, falling in sheets and then melting over the next couple of days, leaving behind a bright green that perhaps makes up for the frequent lack of sunshine.
The people seem independent, smart, adventurous.
But here’s the thing: I could be completely wrong. Three days in one place does not a lifetime make. Then again, I could be mostly right. There’s no way to know the motives of the Spokompton crowd. Maybe it thinks the grass is greener elsewhere, that raging against their hometown is hip or that the place really is a dump.
Either way, I’ll gladly go back even as I’m in no hurry to leave my current home. That’s one of the perks of travel – you get to pretend to live anywhere and everywhere for short periods of time without the hassle of commitment.