I’m never really sure what to say when people ask me where I’m from. The short answer is always, Orting, Washington. This answer used to get a couple of pauses and a brief, “awe, where is it located exactly?” Like I frequently do after receiving a puzzled look, let me give you my Orting pitch to help you understand this little town nestled arguably dangerously close to Mount Rainier.
Orting is a picturesque town in a lot of ways. As it was once described to me it’s an island of sorts which sits between two major rivers – the Puyallup and Carbon. Both flow down from Mount Rainier. On clear days the mountain will take your breath away with its scale and varying colors which change with the sun and weather conditions.
As a former rail stop between a few mining towns further east, Orting has a distinctive “downtown” core which spans a few blocks located near the old station. While no urban metropolis, it offers up a mix of amenities including a local drug store, library (my name is actually engraved on a clock located here), Mexican restaurant, and a few other small shops. The downtown is split in half by the City Park. When I was growing up the park was the place to be during Orting’s few city specific festivals such as Red Hat Day, Summer in the Park, and the yearly Daffodil Festival.
My favorite part of the town is the extensive bike trail which runs all the way from Puyallupto South Prairie. When my older brother and I became farm hands one summer on a local raspberry farm we used the trail to commute. In the early mornings after we were done picking berries my brother and I would race down the trail back home and then eventually to Blockbuster to rent video games.Past the town parts of Orting the rail reaches back into the woods and runs adjacent to the Puyallup River for miles along an old railroad track. The calming nature of the woods is enough to make even the most stressed person relax.
And I can’t forget about the Lion’s Club field located just on the outskirts of town. It’s not much more than a giant patch of grass with a few lines setup for soccer but it’s an amazing place to be during the Fourth of July. The whole town usually comes out for the event and you start to ask yourself, “is this town really so small?”
While I spent my high school years in Orting it’s not my original home. Throughout childhood my family lived in many places along the Puget Sound including Seattle, Federal Way, and Kent. Orting was our final destination. While I often hate to admit it at times, wishing I was from somewhere “cooler,” more “cosmopolitan,” or “famous,” Orting is where I hang my hat and call home.It’s the place I became a “track star,” my father achieved his dream of becoming a city councilmen, and my family established a name for itself. Like many things in this world, meaning is derived from context; for me that means where I’m from has varying degrees of complexity but the short of it is, I’m from Orting.