Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Runnin' down a dream.

If you're reading this and you're under...let's say 35 or so, you might have a different view, but way back in the 70's when I was a newly married girl (and I think even before as far back as when my parents married in the 50's...) the "American dream" was to own a home. That was it.

Men (and lots of women) got a job out of school and worked till they retired, whether they liked the work or not, and end justified the means. There wasn't any a whole lot of emphasis on following your bliss, or your passion or whatever you'd like to call it.

Times have changed, and very much for the better I think. These days, a lot of us view success as being truly happy with what we're doing, and not simply saving life for the weekends. The folks out there that have realized what their passion is, and have fond their own personal sweet spot are living the new American dream. 

So...........last Saturday evening was spent with my Rock n' Roll buddy at what has become one of my most favorite places to visit; Birkenfeld Country Store. (which, by the way,  is now becoming much more commonly and fondly referred to as "The Birk")

To refresh your memory, (if you missed the post about the Birk, click here.) I kinda struggle when I try to put into words the feeling that being at this magical place conjures up. All I can say is it feels like coming home after being away for a while. You know that feeling...Warm and welcome, giving off a familiar and comfortable vibe, but with a sense of impending celebration.(I said before it was like a cross between  John Mellencamp's Little Pink Houses and the barn dance scene in Footloose...remember that?)
Yeah, just like that. (...except no one ever wears a ruffled tux shirt or a bow tie.) Friendly, genuine people who aren't afraid to let their hair down and have a good time, regardless of age, style sense, or the level of dance skill.

Okay, I got a bit side tracked there...(I just cant help myself. The atmosphere is unlike any other. I can't say this enough.)

Maybe it's my overly romantic view of life, but what I wanted to share in this post was a thought that struck me this past weekend about the evolution of the American dream and how it has morphed into something beautifully abstract, (and in many ways, so much bigger than ever before) as opposed to simply being the holder of a deed to a brick and mortar building.

At the very heart of the Birk, are owners Wendy and Mike Ingraham. Extraordinary hosts, these two Rock-n-roll-lovin'-Harley-riding-sweethearts-livin'-in-the-heart-of-small-town-America people make everyone feel like family from the moment you walk through the old wooden screen door at the Birk. With great food, (those burgers!) awesome music (the bands are all good, although I may be just a bit more partial to one three piece in particular...) and cold drinks flowing, the Ingrahams know how to throw a crazy good party.

Watching Mike and Wendy in action, you would think that they'd been doing this all of their lives, but you'd be wrong. You see, they have only owned the Birk for the past seven years or so. They both worked, and retired from the phone company before making the Birk into the jumpin', rockin' slice of heaven on earth that it is today. They are (to me, anyway) the epitome of living the new American dream. They are goal driven, (in a really good way) and they are passionate about what they do. They focused on their dream (and continue to do so) and it's paying off for them doing what they love. (which makes work not like work at all in my mind)

Their love of good music has even lead them to create their own event, a music festival coming up August 12th and 13th, called "Birkfest". It's going to be a two day outdoor show (kinda like a mini Woodstock, if you are old enough to remember...) with food, drinks, vendors and even a bike and hot rod show. (Wow, talk about following your bliss, and the new American dream!)

At some point in time Mike and Wendy plan to move to a less wet climate (Arizona?!) so they'll have a longer Harley riding season, and recreate what they are doing at the Birk here in the Pacific Northwest. In the meantime, they'll continue to do what they do best, runnin' down their dream, right here.


  1. WOW! I was recently thinking about everything you said (minus the stuff about the Birk, as I've never been there ;) ) and couldn't have said it better myself! I was thinking about my grandparents and how they work, work, worked all the time and how I see the importance of it, but even more I see the importance of following one's dreams in order to be truly happy.
    The *new* American's the one I want!!

  2. Well, I am in Arizona, so that looks like a great move for them/ME! Wish I could visit where they are now!

  3. Sounds good to me! I have family all over the place. My observations are it depends where you live what the American dream is. I live in Ohio and like the less hectic pace less traffic. I grew up on the East Coast. The DC area is very much money and status driven!! And NYC well you know what that is. I can only take it for a few days now. It's fun but I'm happy to be in my little world not out to impress anyone. I just wish we could fill in Lake Erie and get rid of the gray skies and SNOW!!


  4. So agree with you Tracey- the American dream now is to be able to enjoy what it is you do to make ends meet while you are doing it not just on the weekends. Great post thought provoking and so fun to watch the video.
    Enjoy the Birkfest!


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