Traveling to Whitman

Whitman is a bit off the beaten track, but Walla Walla is a well known wine producing region and travel destination so there are ways to get there that don’t involve a 5 hour drive from Seattle or a 4 1/2 hour drive from Portland, unless you really want to.

There is a small airport in Walla Walla, it’s a very quick hop on Alaska Airlines from Seattle. There is also a larger airport serving multiple airlines in Pasco, 1 hour from Walla Walla, with a shuttle (Grapeline) that runs from the airport to a stop 3 blocks from campus. Or, it’s easy to fly into Pasco and rent a car. I’ve done all of the above and, if I made travel plans a few weeks ahead of time, the cost was reasonable.

I should also mention that if you fly into Pasco, you don’t need to go to Seattle first. For example, if you flew from Pittsburg to Pasco, you’d likely change planes in Denver.

That said, the flights from most other regional airports directly to Pasco are few and most often very indirect, and it si still a drive from Pasco to WW. My guess, based on traveling to other Timbuktu towns, is that those flights aren’t cheap either.

There’s no getting around it: Walla Walla is close to absolutely nothing, and while there are some aspects of charm to the place, it is definitely small and in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and right behind the veneer of WW’s wine scene - the charming, clean and somewhat bucolic main street down town, is the “other” Walla Walla - not so nice. The most significant tenant in WW besides Whitman is the state pen.

You have to want this. I have a kid at Middlebury and a sibling who followed that kid. Kid #1 likes it and is still there; kid #2 did not and transferred. Isolation was the issue. In places like this, while people will strain to find the positive by pointing out that you can go do this or go do that, the truth seems to be that kids who last at these places have to be happy and content with what’s going on on campus.

Some good family friends went through the identical situation we went through with two kiddos at Grinnell: one lasted and one didn’t. The one who did, like ours at Midd, was happy with campus life. The other needed more.

Wow MiddleburyDad2, and how much time have you spent in Walla Walla recently? It’s close to nothing? Well that’s sort of a weird cultural bias you have. Let’s see, the town has it’s own theater groups, symphony, and arts council; there are museums and parks and two other colleges; there is the Columbia River, the Blue Mountains and the Wallowa National Forest… Yes, the state penitentiary is on the outskirts of town and employs quite a few people; yes there are poor people as well as prosperous ones, but underbelly? The biggest crime wave my son experienced was a bike theft ring that sweep through campus his junior year. My son was there 4 years and loved the town, we visited many times and saw a small town with beautiful old neighborhoods and a thriving agricultural economy. The town folks are very friendly and more than once it’s been voted as a top small town to visit by travel magazines.

It is not a metropolis, but it’s certainly not the wretched isolated place you suggest. There is a lot of action on campus, but the thing is a student needn’t be stuck on campus, they can walk 2 blocks and be in a nice little town, and for some kids that makes all the difference in the world. I’ve been to Colby and that’s a place where you are stranded on campus unless you have a car or friends who do. I agree if a kid wants to be near a big city, DO NOT go to Whitman, but it’s a darn good school in a very nice small town!

@bopambo , I’ve been on this forum for a long, long time, and I thus know you are a big Whitman booster. That’s ok, but reality is reality.

I’ve spent a TON of time in WW. Besides three kids considering it for college attendance, I have a partner who owns a partial interest in a winery there. Believe me, I’ve been there more times than I’d like.

It’s not a weird cultural bias. That’s a weird and ridiculous statement. It’s a geographical fact. The fact that you have to name forests and the Columbia river is all anyone needs to know. Forests? Really? Neah Bay and Forks are quite close to the Olympic National Park. Neah Bay and Forks, I’m sure you’d agree, are in the middle of nowhere. The Columbia River? Honestly? Your list makes my point rather nicely.

Yeah, WW has more than the average podunk town due in large measure to Whitman and the vineyards. The wine scene, for example, offers a few decent restaurants over the typical small town greasy spoon dive. But come on, a museum, wineries and a cute three block main street is about it. It is what it is. The other colleges are Walla Walla U and a CC.

And I don’t think the word “underbelly” is in my post. I didn’t suggest “wretched” either. You’re being defensive and your hyperbole demonstrates that quite clearly. But isolated? Oh, yeah, it’s isolated. And the entire town is not bucolic. Come on, you know exactly what I mean unless you never left campus or main street when you visited your son.

Yes, there are worse rural locations. But Whitman is super rural and super isolated. When anybody discusses St. Lawrence, they talk about the extreme isolation of Canton, which is also a cute little town. But it’s a cute little down 5 hours from practically anything. It’s 2 hours from Syracuse for God’s sake. It’s ISOLATED. It just is. So is Whitman. So is Middlebury. That’s why one of my kids left.

I think you do a disservice to readers to simply state, “If a kid wants to be near a big city, do not go to Whitman.” That’s how you would describe Middletown, CT, which is 1/2 from Hartford, 2 hours from Boston and 2 from Manhattan. Whitman is more in the St. Lawrence category.

Telling people it’s fairly easy to get there by flying into WW or Pasco, if they haven’t tried to do that, is rather misleading too. With the same effort you can “fly” into or near most anyplace. That doesn’t make it easy.

Whitman is 5+ hours from Seattle, and almost 3 to Spokane and over 4 to Boise. The nearest town of any size is Pasco more than an hour away, and Pasco is … well, it’s Pasco. Hardly cosmopolitan.

I say again: to be happy at Whitman, the kid needs to be happy with the activities on campus.

@MiddleburyDad2, I am a booster, but on the opposite end of the pendulum arc, you are being overly negative. I named rivers and national forests because there are people who actually like having access to them, they are attractions. The Whitman Outdoor Program is lauded for its ability to get people out there. I never said traveling to Walla Walla is easy, or quick, I pointed out that there are other ways besides driving from Seattle or Portland. Pasco has long been the airport of choice for many Whitman students, from all over, and there is a lot ride sharing to and from the airport to campus. That’s a fact, and most people don’t know it, I’m hardly misrepresenting anything. Hyperbole cuts both ways.

I like Walla Walla, I don’t think having poor people and run down neighborhoods is the whole of the picture. there are also beautiful old neighborhoods and newer affluent areas. Not everybody needs cosmopolitan, or even wants it. Aside from the urban areas along the coast, the west is full of wide open spaces, big distances are a fact of life for many people. To tell you the truth, the distances don’t seem like that big a deal to me.

You are entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine.

@bopambo , let me change that: you are being very selective.

OF COURSE there are people who like those things. St. Lawrence is near 1,000 lakes and more woods than you can shake a stick at. It’s still in the middle of nowhere. Most places are near something, with something to do.

It’s one thing to say, “hey, one good thing about WW is that it’s in Washington State, and if you like outdoor recreation you’ll have great choices in WW.” It’s another thing to use those activities as some kind of rebuttal to the statement that Walla Walla is isolated and rural.

It’s ok that you like Walla Walla. I didn’t even imply there was anything wrong with liking it. And I didn’t say having poor people or run down neighborhoods in town was the entire picture. I didn’t even suggest it. You’re on quite the rhetoric roll here. The “other” WW is there. I just pointed that out. You are the one who tends to not give a complete picture of the place.

The fact remains, WW is relatively hard to get to and is extremely isolated. It’s great that there is all this cooperation among students to “connect the travel dots”. Again, that it exists and you feel compelled to point it out almost makes my point if you think about it. You can put lipstick on it if you choose; people will find out for themselves on a visit. They don’t need to listen to me.

“Not everybody needs cosmopolitan, or even wants it.” Obvious.

“Aside from the urban areas along the coast, the west is full of wide open spaces, big distances are a fact of life for many people.” Obvious and irrelevant. We’re talking about Whitman. Not the West.

“To tell you the truth, the distances don’t seem like that big a deal to me.” Yes, I’m getting that from you. But all we’re doing here is telling people what it’s like. That it worked for you is fine to mention, but it doesn’t change the facts.

Try and remember that I have a kid at Middlebury. I know what rural and isolated is all about.

Well, if you live in the west and are used to smaller cities and bigger distances, then all this hoopla about rural and isolated is less cogent. I had a kid at Whitman, he didn’t feel isolated, he liked the town and the area. There are others who feel the same way. Not everyone will want to go to Whitman. If someone wants to visit the campus, there are alternate ways to get there besides driving from Seattle or Portland. Yes, Whitman has a lot happening on campus and that is the primary way students occupy themselves.

You’ve made your point. I get that you like to parse your arguments. I’m done.

@bopambo , “parse your arguments”? That sounds like more rhetoric. I just don’t let people put words in my mouth and completely mischaracterize what I’ve written, which is what you were doing.

This is remarkably simple: my description of Walla Walla, Washington is pretty much objectively verifiable; while yours is more Pollyanna and Disney friendly.

Rural and isolated are adjectives, not hoopla. And the Northeastern US is 98% small town/city. There are a lot of places to attend college in the West that are neither rural nor isolated. So one doesn’t need to be from the East to want to know whether a college is in a very small town and hard to get to. I’ve been in Seattle for a long time, and getting to Middlebury, Vermont is sometimes enjoyable, and sometimes a pain in the rear. Rural and isolated. Rural and isolated.

We all get that there are people who like things that others do not. I don’t understand what that has to do with this.

Holy cow, I had to come back to address how you can keep saying Walla Walla is isolated when an hour away is the tri-city area of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco. Not very cosmopolitan, as you have observed, but with 194,000 people it is not uncivilized. Rural means outside the city or town, Whitman is smack dab in the middle of a small city of 30,000, so by definition, Whitman is neither rural nor isolated. Hard to get to, yes, there is no airport hub in the vicinity, that makes travel complicated. I was trying to make it less difficult for those who didn’t know all the possibilities.

My description of Walla Walla isn’t any less verifiable than yours, I just happen to have often visited someone I know who lived there for 4 years and actually experienced it. If I’ve been there and seen it and liked it, then I’m Pollyanna and you’re the objective one? Really?

My daughter and I have been to Walla Walla three times of late and frankly it’s a breeze to get to. We fly into SEATAC then hop on the short Horizon flight directly to Walla Walla. It’s quite painless and relatively quick. There are only two or three flights per day into and out of Walla Walla so it’s a good idea to book in advance. She will be a freshman there in the fall so will likely opt for that option to get home or fly on a direct flight out of Pasco. Either way the location is an advantage in so many ways, the extra hop to get there is well worth it.

BTW, I attended college in a large East Coast city and loved it. We also live the fairly cosmopolitan Bay Area, but my daughter loves Whitman and Walla Walla. Some kids may be drawn to more urban areas, but I think the relative isolation of Whitman is what makes it such a strong (and vibrant) community. At least that is the feeling my daughter has come away with after visits there. She really likes Walla Walla. There are any number of U.S. colleges situated in more rural locations. Whitman happens to be one of them. It’s all about fit.

As for pain to get to…I have to say I experienced more delays in taking cross-country flights to my college than I’ve experienced getting to Walla Walla. Sure I’ve only done it three times, but in talking to a number of others who make the trip regularly it’s not that big of a deal…Heck, a couple weeks ago it took me longer to get from the East Bay to SF than it took me to get to Walla Walla from here. :slight_smile:

Holy cow is right.

You are pushing such a bad position here it’s unbelievable. 30,000 people describes the Aberdeen/Hoquiam area too. Terrific. The tri-cities are small cities of people spread out over miles and miles - Hanford, agriculture and a little wine. That’s the tri-cities, and they’re an hour away. Not isolated? It is in the far southeastern corner of the state of Washington - a part of the state known for being particularly isolated. You may be the only human being in the state of Washington to maintain that line. It’s not as isolated as Joseph, OR, but it is damn isolated.

I am absolutely certain that any person who reads this and then makes that trek for the first time will actually laugh out loud in the car remembering this debate.

You keep adding words to the thread like “uncivilized”, “underbelly” and “wretched”. You keep bringing things up like “friendly town folk”, what people in the West are used to, on no basis you accuse me of having a weird cultural bias, you bring up the crime rate, and point out ad nauseum that different people like different things. With all of those things being entirely irrelevant and/or inaccurate, you’ve now decided to redefine “rural” to get to the answer you want.

What happened to “it’s a darn good school in a very nice small town.”? Pick another word then. I’m not married to “rural”. I certainly wasn’t representing that the campus sits on a farm. For Pete’s sake.

Going in circles with you. I’m not going to keep repeating myself, nor continue to chase you around as you dodge, deflect, mislead, mischaracterize and redefine the debate.

I have no skin in the Whitman game, so I’m truly done here.


Whatever. Immature response.

@mediamaverick ,

“the relative isolation of Whitman is what makes it such a strong (and vibrant) community” - that may be. but isolated it is.

and I think you’re being a bit generous calling it a breeze. you have to take two flights, or one indirect and drive. yes, there are worse. I didn’t say it was the worst. But it’s not convenient, and it is in an isolated location.

some like it; some don’t. some mind; some don’t mind.

There is a direct flight (or at least there was one last year when we visited Whitman) from San Francisco Bay Area to Pasco, and it really was very simple to go and visit. Walla Walla didn’t feel isolated or extremely hard to travel to.

ETA: Also, the campus is just a block or so from Main Street in Walla Walla, where we found plenty of dining options, shops, etc. While Whitman is not in a big city, it’s also not in the middle of nowhere. I’ve seen campuses where you can’t walk to anything interesting… Whitman is in the middle of Walla Walla and it doesn’t feel isolated.

@MamaBear16 , there are direct flights to a lot of places; that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’m in Seattle again, and most people here think it’s isolated, and we don’t have to make the first leg of the journey.

It’s a great school, but I think it’s misleading for people to come on here and suggest getting there is no big deal. It’s bigger deal than it is for a lot of schools. Whether it’s a problem or not is a subjective matter. There’s easy - school is in the same city as a major hub (Boston College); there’s more involved - school is some distance from major hub (Dartmouth); there’s much more involved - school is super far from major hub (Whitman); and there’s “oh sh**” involved - school is not practically near any major hub and it’s a long drive from any regional destination (St. Lawrence).

This is all I’m saying. Catching flights to Pasco is not the same is being able to fly into Boston for the reasons we all know and understand.

As for Whitman itself … great school, andI stand by my statement, which I know would be supported by a lot of Whitties I know: to be happy at Whitman is to be happy at Whitman proper. If there’s not enough going on for you on campus, you’re not going to be saved by main street or Pasco, and getting there, while not horrible, is hardly a convenient matter. Myself, I’ve found the campus to be plenty busy when we’ve been there, and for me it would have been fine. For 2 of my kids, not so much. The one at Middlebury now would have been fine there.