Creating a Touchstone Blog

When I was a child, we made ritual trips over to Eastern Washington to visit family and gather fruit from the many orchards. To or from, a stop at The Alps outside of Leavenworth, Washington, was a must.

When I was a child, the A-frame building was several decades old and home to the couple from Austria or wherever they were from near there. They lived upstairs, if memory serves, and the kitchen downstairs was where they made their famous fudge, penuche, and candies.

We’d race in for candy and sweets – well, the family would. I’d run through the store down the stairs to the play area in the back right along the river.

One visit we found a bathtub full of puppies as we dashed in for sweets, potty, and playing out in the play area. The owners recognized us and allowed us into the bathroom to pet the tiny puppies not long into the world.

It was a place of light and love and fantasy.

Then it burned down. Not just once but several times, rebuilding each time within the tiny triangle of a sandbar along the river.

Over the years and the rebuilding, the children turned it into a Christian knickknack store and the chocolate became secondary to the toys and plastic angels and porcelain Jesuses.

I returned this year, a tribute visit for me reminiscing over so many decades of visits and special moments at The Alps to find it in one of its new incarnations, returning back to its candy roots.

The original founders are now passed and the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have restored the place almost back to its original roots. The candy and food treats fill the main floor of an A-frame building, the kitchen downstairs, along with a few toys and souvenirs.

The place is sterile but welcoming, the focus on the handmade candies and goodies, which is refreshing for me to experience, taking me back to those early days. The playground area is gone, now a sanctuary or preserve for the small calm water and wetland created by the small dam downstream.

The Alps was always a touchstone place in my life, a spot I could count on to be there as I crossed the mountains of my home state. While we rarely spent more than an hour there, maybe two a year, it was a place I trusted to be there. I’m so proud of the community and the family for continuing to build and maintain The Alps for my generation and generations to come.

I was reading “I’m Over All That” by Shirley MacClaine recently and was delighted with her comment about driving down a highway and instantly being transported back to when this was just a street with homes and not a major freeway.

A blog is a place to revive old memories and preserve history, but it is also a place that may serve as a touchstone for others. The last time I changed the design on , the outrage and disruption came from around the world. One person told me they thought they’d gotten lost, and another person said it was like visiting an old friend after they’d gotten a dramatic hair cut. Their world felt rocked.

While I appreciated the sentiment, it was dramatic enough to delay changing the site design for many years.

Think back to a touchstone place in your life. How did it influence you? How did it change you? Is it important to keep it the same or appropriate for it to change over time?

Think of your blog as a touchstone place for others. How does it serve them? How does it help them, and influence them and their lives? When they come back, what do you think they will want to stay the same?

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