On Thursday I was driving back from Portland to Seattle and passing through Kalama. Since I knew I was going to need gas at some point, I decided to stop in Kalama and do my part for the local economy… buying over priced “freeway” gas. I guess it’s the premium you pay for the easy off– easy on convenience of a freeway gas station. (But I digress).

As many of you know, I moved from Evergreen High School in Seattle to Kalama High School my senior year. Yes it was a culture shock and while some have said that when I moved the average IQ of both schools went up; I’m not sure that is true and would never want to take back my year in Kalama. (But I digress).

As I was driving into town I thought back to my first day of my senior year. I had moved to Kalama before my parents so I could participate in football. It had always been my dad’s dream to see his son play football and with only one year to go, it was either play or forever crush that dream. (I think I’m digressing again). During the weeks before school started, I would drive into town from the Kalama river twice a day for practice. Yes, even Kalama had “2 a days”. To give you an idea of the size of Kalama, there was a stop sign at one end of town and another at the other end… and I think I could throw a rock while standing next to one and hit the other. For electricity, I think they ran an extension cord in from Longview. Ok, it wasn’t that small, but coming from Seattle it felt like it.

So it’s the first day of school… I know, you thought I’d never get there didn’t you! And for lunch they had what was called an “open campus” meaning you could actually leave school and go somewhere for lunch. Not a concept I was familiar with. In Seattle if you left school and got caught; you could count on a few days suspension. (But I digress) So there we are in the parking lot and they are explaining this “open campus” thing and said “Let’s go into town for lunch”.

Now I have to tell you, when I first heard those words; I thought that I had some how completely missed the REAL City of Kalama… That the small town street I had always assumed was “town” was just an older run down section and the REAL town was just over the hill to the south… a hill I had never even considered going over… and just over that hill was the CITY of Kalama. So I eagerly jumped into the car and we headed down the hill and into “town”. Excitement was building as I wondered what this CITY of Kalama would look like.

Well we didn’t turn left and go over the hill to the south. We got to the edge of the freeway overpass, turned right on a frontage road and stopped in front of the Burger Bar. Not the one you see in this picture… this is the NEW Burger Bar with sit down tables and lots of parking. The old one is still there  next to the grocery store and it’s walk up window, although it’s all boarded up now. I made lots of good friends in Kalama and would spend my summers there during my college years, but I still laugh when I think back to that moment… and the realization that this “town” was now my home.

New Burger Bar - Kalama

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