Home is the nicest word there is.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

We’re home tonight after the concert we planned to attend was cancelled due to Covid-19. This is all a bit unnerving and scary, but hopefully drastic measures will help the medical community get control of things.

Frankly, I don’t mind a little social distancing at home. Richard and I still have a few more tasks to take care of on the voice recording booth. But first, we walked hand-in-hand to the local market, the evening clear and brisk with no snow on the ground as winter gives way to spring. We then put every Billy Joel album we own on the stereo, one after the other, singing loudly to our favorites as we sawed and glued. Home is a good place, especially when you have love, memories and hobbies surrounding you.

It made me think of meeting Sam Risjord last summer, a man who moved back to his home in Southern Washington when he really could have lived anywhere. He likes it in Stevenson, a place his family has called home for generations. Somehow its sweetness was more acute after being gone for so long.

I had just checked off my first state on the Pacific Crest Trail, and decided to take a break in the sleepy little touristy town on the banks of the Columbia River. Nestled in the crotch of the V created when Rock Creek Drive peels away from the Lewis and Clark Highway, is Sam’s Used Cars. Sprawling over an acre or so are cars fat and rounded, vintage and in mint condition parked along some less-so, wildflowers poking right through their busted out windows.

Used cars at Sam's in Stevenson, Washington.
Rounded edges of 1950’s cars appear like faces crowding the lot on a summer’s eve.

I’m really not much of a car person, owning exactly three Honda Civics in my life that I ran until they died only switching to Subaru when I couldn’t stomach the look of the latest Civics. And yet, here I was in a kind of reverie, inspecting each vehicle and wondering the stories they might tell.

Watching me as I peered into one windshield was Sam, himself, a stern, but friendly enough man, seemingly used to hikers drifting through with no intention of making an offer. As it turns out, his biggest sales happen less on site and more through the web, so it’s here – in his hometown – that he’s able to pursue his life’s dream, quietly watching the world go by from his front porch.

Sam sits happily on his porch on a busy street in his hometown, returning to live out his dream.
Sam sits happily on his porch on a busy street in his hometown, returning to live out his dream.


  1. So beautifully put Alison and good to focus on what we DO have in spite of the tough choices we all have ahead. We’ll ALL get through this. Sending love xxx

  2. Curtis Hottinger

    I moved back home almost 2 years ago after being in The Cities for 38 years. It’s sweet to get in a boat and go back to where I fished 50 years ago…. instantly I’m a kid again.

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