Rich and Mary Miller of Cedar Community in West Bend, Wisconsin, recently braved the early spring weather to visit Seattle through the Passport to Travel program, which brought them to a rather special “hotel” – Horizon House. The Passport to Travel program – created by United Church of Christ’s Council for Health and Human Services Ministries (CHHSM) – enables residents at CHHSM-related senior living communities to lodge free of charge at a sister community of their choice for up to two weeks.
We just returned from our amazing Passport to Travel visit to Seattle, Washington. Better even than the weather, which was surprisingly mild, was our Horizon House experience! From the moment we got our keys until, two weeks later, when the cab came to take us to the train station, we felt so welcomed and part of the fabric of Horizon House.
After a bit of initial exploring, we had breakfast with CEO Bob Anderson and Marketing and Community Relations Officer Jackie Claessens. It was fun to share our initial reactions to Horizon House and Seattle with them, like how we discovered the Monday Market, where I found a fantastic jacket and Rich met a new friend, Norm Sollie. Jackie quickly arranged a dinner in the Terrace Dining Room with the Sollies. After dinner, the four of us zipped down the hall just in time for a guitar and vocal concert performed by music students from the University of Washington.
We took the Monorail to the Space Needle, Chihuly Museum, and Science Museum, where we saw dinosaurs and butterflies and the “Hubble” film at IMAX – all in one continuous, eye-popping, and mind-boggling day! We rode the streetcar to Lake Union to see the Museum of History and Industry. A visit to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a ferry ride, and we sure enjoyed the harbor tour on the Argosy, as well as the Seattle Aquarium, which is next door to the Argosy dock.
Rich and I figured that we walked a minimum of four miles a day. We walked to Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square, where the city began in the mid-1800s. There, we took the “Underground Tour” and visited the Klondike Gold Rush National Park.
On a day trip to Mt. Rainier we were astounded by the lack of snow on the highest mountain in the state of Washington. The mild sunny weather may have been a problem for skiers, but it sure enhanced the beauty and grandeur of Mt. Rainier for us. Does it seem like everything is “the highlight of our trip”?
Norm and Carol found time in their busy lives to take us to the Museum of Flight where we saw aircraft on display from the beginnings of flight, to WWI and WWII, to today. We got to walk up and onto Boeing’s new Dreamliner and JFK’s Air Force One.
Folks we met wanted to know all about our Cedar Community and how it compared to Horizon House: Cedar Community is in West Bend, Wisconsin, a city that has one-twentieth the population of Seattle, so comparing the two campuses is tricky. Our campus occupies a
sprawling swath of Wisconsin’s beautiful Kettle Moraine, a geographical wonder built by the receding glaciers of the last ice age. Horizon House sits high above Puget Sound in the heart of downtown Seattle. It is a high-rise apartment building of significant proportions, with a nineteenth floor Sky Lounge that has floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. We could see Mt. Rainier to the South, the Sound and harbor to the West and Seattle’s skyline to the North. Stunning, day or night! Those are the significant differences of the “physical” properties.
Conservation is something close to our hearts at Cedar Community, but, it must be said that Seattle folks really “walk the talk.” Toilets are “green.” All garbage is sorted. Recyclables are put in separate bins, and organic refuse is placed in a special bin to be composted.
Similarities are many: Horizon House and Cedar Community have happy and engaging residents and dedicated employees. Each maintains the highest standard of care for the buildings and people who live there. Amenities know nearly no bounds – restaurant, bistro, gym, swimming pool, library, hobby spaces, comfortable living spaces, and gathering, worshipping, learning, and playing spaces. Resale shops contribute to each campus’ philanthropy. Horizon house has two “extras” that Cedar Community lacks: A Ping-Pong table, and a room dedicated to wrapping gifts. It’s really neat.
We, at Cedar Lake Campus, take walks to Big Cedar Lake. Horizon House residents enjoy Freeway Park, a lovely green and blooming city park that links the building to the Seattle Convention Center and midtown. The entire city is at their doorstep.
Thank you all for making our Passport to Travel experience so very memorable.
Rich and Mary Miller