Story by Susan Lagsdin
Photos by Donna Cassidy
Bob and April Adamson love to tell the story of a critical friend who looked askance at the big prow front window wall of their new house. “But why? Why would you bother? You don’t even have a view.”
They beg to differ.
The Adamsons recently retired on 20 acres five miles up the Chiwawa Loop Road out of Plain, where far across a wide, grassy meadow a half mile stretch of old growth aspen grove delights them every day, every season, and the sun plays games with the colors of the clouds. “I guess they thought we didn’t have a view because it’s just a small mountain we face, not the ocean or the whole Cascade Range,” said April.
It gets better: no close-by human neighbors distract them; after just 18 months they know each resident buck deer by its signature horns, and they are familiar with the families of nesting flickers and woodpeckers. April said, straight-faced, “We’re still just fledgling birdwatchers…” (That hobby may take wing.)
Unlike many new residents, the Adamsons never did have a vacation cabin here that was swapped up or remodeled into a full-time home. They didn’t take weekend trips exploring east-side communities before they retired, calculating which one would give them the fullest outdoor and cultural life. Nor were they unexpectedly plunked down by a singular job opportunity. Nope, they had an even better reason to move here.
It is “home.”
It’s home in the most traditional sense of the word — inherited acreage in a little town that’s still alive with the several descendants of Bob’s pioneering great-grandfather W.W. Burgess. He originally homesteaded 160 acres in 1895, built a log house on Beaver Valley Road and raised five children.
One of his sons, Bob’s grandfather (his mother’s dad) went on to purchase 1,200 acres farther up the valley, and his four children inherited parts of that. Bob’s mother and father built a home next door on their share and now Bob has inherited his 21-acre portion.
They always knew they’d live in Plain, and they knew exactly where their house would be. Bob and April started sketching designs in 2012, and it was built to their specifications by One Way Construction.
The cathedral-ceiling living room with its distinctive windows dominates the ground floor, with a dining area and kitchen visually separated under a lower ceiling. The big loft guest bedroom and bath and the downstairs master suite and small bedroom serve them well; most guests are their son Matthew, his wife Liz, and their young sons Caleb and Ethan.
Some of their favorite choices — ones they see every day — are all the carefully chosen woods.
n The bath and kitchen cabinets. “The first hickory samples we saw were striped and too garish — but then we saw hickory heartwood and fell in love with it,” said April.
n The scraped-surface floors. Bob explained, “This is ‘engineered hardwood.’ There’s a plywood base with a hardwood top. It’s solid and easy to repair, and it costs less.” The cathedral ceiling, doors and trim are all warm, natural-finish knotty alder.
Some of the interior details of the 2,494-square-foot house are just plain sensible, not necessarily meant for stylishness, and offer them exactly the level of comfort and convenience they were hoping for. Most of the rooms, hallway and stairs are softened by plushy beige carpeting. The bathrooms feature conventional tub/shower combos, one with a fiberglass shell. Quartz countertops do the same job as granite.
They agonized over the placement and style of the fireplace, but went understated with El Dorado stone. Their walk-in closet was outfitted in a shipped and ready-to-install system that worked, down to the last quarter-inch. The big square tiles in bathrooms and kitchen (and a builder-suggested strip in front of the fireplace) are all the same variegated earth tone color.
One luxury they’ve learned to appreciate is instant hot water. “I always hated wasting water, watching a shower run cold for two minutes…” Bob said. He continued, “We have radiant heating in two places. In the master bathroom, it’s actually too warm, but in the utility room it’s perfect for drying out snow clothes in the winter.”
After living several seasons in the house, they realize they’d probably make a few changes — the entryway turns a little too abruptly from tile to carpet; the utility room could be a little wider for more drying space, the garage a little deeper for a workbench.
But they use the whole place well and happily: the huge deck on the sunny front of their living room, a shady back patio for summer days, plenty of storage room, and all in the perfect location. In the Chumstick Valley, in that town, on that road — there’s no place else they’d rather be.
Though Bob and April loved their careers in Yakima, hers in the elementary classroom and his as an elementary principal, they’ve left behind the stressors of work and gracefully segued into Plain life. They’re involved with the Lake Wenatchee Fire and Rescue Auxiliary (and its famous fundraising rummage sale) and in the Chumstick Valley’s chapter of FireWise.
Bob also proudly “inherited” a position once held by his father, Jim, on the Board of Directors of the Cascade Medical Center in Leavenworth, a cause that was dear to the elder Adamson. April knows if she gets a re-yearning to teach there are volunteer opportunities in the local school.
April hikes nearby woods and has learned to cross-country ski on trails that go almost the entire five miles from town to driveway.
Bob, a lifelong sledder, guides mountain snowmobile trips for nearby Mountain Springs Lodge, owned by a cousin.
April said, “We visited Plain a lot over the years — and we knew someday we’d be living here. There are cousins all over the place, and we’ve known them for a long time.”
They are secure amid an old and much-extended ring of relatives (dozens of cousins, by count) and their son’s family feels a special attachment to the house that mom and dad built. Some day in the future they will be owners and not guests, and their sons will… well, we know how that can go on.