The Rise of New America: Life in Rural Washington State

The Rise of New America profile of Christian and Lea Andrade and their life in rural Washington State.

| March/April 1988

  • 110-074-01
    A new life making beds, breakfasts and useful trades. Proprietors of Olympic Lights, the Andrades now enjoy a slower pace.

  • 110-074-01

Land economist Jack Lessinger predicts that the dominant lifestyle and economy of the 21st Century will spring from certain rural counties. This Rise of New America profile follows Christian and Lea Andrade and their life in rural Washington State. 

The New America: Life in Rural Washington State

Every morning around 8:30, after feeding the chickens—Brahmas, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks—and human guests of assorted plumage, Christian Andrade drives his battered pickup five and a half miles to the ferry dock at Friday Harbor on sparsely populated San Juan Island off the northwest coast of rural Washington State to get the newspapers. Bundles of them, for he is the local distributor, dropping them off at a few key points around town, at the same time collecting those that went unsold the day before. He'll be back near 10:00, ready for housekeeping chores and phone calls at the Olympic Lights, a bed and breakfast overlooking the sea and the Olympic mountain range to the southwest.

Less than three years ago, Andrade and his wife, Lea, found themselves deeply engrossed in their jobs in San Francisco. She worked as graphic design director for a major bank, while he ran his own booking agency, setting up meetings and conferences around the country for corporate and institutional clients.

"It was as though we were obsessed," he recalls. "Wound up."

A vacation trip to the San Juans changed all that. Because along with another San Francisco couple—Bob and Sylvia Carrieri, textile representatives—the Andrades decided to leave, quitting their jobs to move to the San Juans to start a new life. Carrieri even went so far as to present his brother-in-law a parting gift: his prized collection of 150 neckties. "Take them," he urged. "I don't want them. I'll never use them again."

Together the foursome bought a rambling old Victorian on five acres of gently rolling meadow. After a year of renovation and repair—upgrading the well, redoing the kitchen and baths—they were finally able to hang out their shingle. Paying guests soon appeared, though not in droves, since San Juan Island is still off the beaten track. Lodging included a full breakfast—mostly wholegrain cereals, fruit and homemade yogurt—and a "guided morning stretch," during which it is sometimes possible to see, offshore, the exhalations of migrating whales.


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