When Sidney and I took Sloan and Beau to Walla Walla this past weekend, I was just as excited for the time we would spend in the car as the memories we would make once in town. You see, sometimes the journey is just as satisfying as the destination.
As a youngster, I loved making the trip from Spokane to Walla Walla to see my grandparents and relatives. With anticipation sky high, we would zip through the curvy roads lined with wheat fields and livestock. Quirky towns, a coveted drive-in with delicious milkshakes, incredible colors, and competitive games of travel Bingo made these family drives special. But there was always one thing that especially stood out.
About 120 miles into the 160-mile-drive is an all-American small town called Dayton. Once you blink you are already on the outskirts of town but that is fine because that is where he is. Look out your right window and glance up at the hill…
Did you know the Jolly Green Giant lives in southeastern Washington? Well, his likeness does at least. It gave my siblings and I the greatest joy to see the outline of this mythical creature depicted on the hill. I am talking an almost concerning amount of joy. “Green Giant! Green Giant!” we would chant as we drove by. Distracted or asleep when our vehicle exited Dayton for the next sleepy town? We might be in tears by the time we reached grandma’s house.
As you can imagine, I was excited for Sloan to get her first glimpse of the Green Giant. Little did I know that my expectations would be exceeded. As we passed by, Sidney asked about the green cutout that was on the roadside. Um, what cutout? I was so fixated at the outline on the hill that I didn’t notice what she was talking about. You better believe we made a sharp U-turn.
Much to my surprise and glee, the Jolly Green Giant is now a bonafide roadside attraction. I flung out of the car and approached the exhibit. Right in the middle was a mini replica of the giant himself. Pinch me please.
To my left was a display that detailed how the Jolly Green Giant outline came to be. In 1993, local volunteers brought to life the 300-foot-tall legend by maneuvering painted paving blocks. Although successful at completing the outline, work on the vest had to cease because of landslide concerns. Yes, his toga is definitely lacking a bit.
On the right was a 70-year synopsis of the Green Giant Cannery. Oh wait, did I miss that part? The reason why a seemingly random outline of the Jolly Green Giant exists outside of Dayton, Washington, is because a fully functioning cannery once sustained a major part of the town’s economy. From 1934 through 2005, a plant or cannery of some sort thrived in the area. Although different companies controlled operations over the years, with the last one being the Seneca Company, the Green Giant has remained.
And let me tell you, I am glad it has. The Green Giant has always added some extra personality to an already charming drive and I am pleased to see that there is now some historical context in place. Don’t Blink.