Frontier Living with Patricia Belyea

frontier living

By Patricia Belyea

WAUCONDA WA  The US Census Bureau defines The Frontier as an area with a population density of less than 2 people per square mile. And that’s where I’m living these days—in Wauconda with the ground squirrels, deer, and bears. 

And down the road, the range is dotted with thousands of head of cattle.

Wauconda is located on State Route 20 in the Okanogan Highlands of eastern Washington. The hub of the town—a cafe, post office, convenience store, and gas station—is currently an abandoned collection of purple buildings. 

Wauconda WAThe range at Wauconda WAThe hub of Wauconda WA, now abandoned

Our log home, 10 miles north on Toroda Creek Road, is pretty remote by urban standards. The drive time to a grocery store is 35 minutes. If we go east, we shop in Republic; west, we shop in Tonasket.

Patricia Belyea’s home in Wauconda WA


A mining town, Republic looks like a set for a cowboy movie. It has a City Hall which seems a little grandiose for a population of 1000. 

I rent my teaching studio in Republic, driving over Wauconda Pass to get there on workshop days.

A great amenity in Republic is the high-speed internet so I can broadcast my workshops with ease. (At our Wauconda home, we have satellite internet which is spotty at times.)

Clark Street, Republic WACity Hall, Republic WAWauconda Pass, Washington


The very best thing about Tonasket is its Farmers Market. Smallholder farmers bring their fruits and vegetables into town on Thursday afternoons—from mid-May through October.

“I just picked that this morning” are words that make my heart sing. Shown here are Ton and Bodie of Leaping Sheep Farm with fresh flower bouquets and vegetables, and Ruay of Dharma Farms with her produce and delicious Thai tea.

Tonasket Farmers Market, Tonasket WATon and Bodie of Leaping Sheep Farm at the Tonasket Farmers MarketRuay of Dharma Farms at Tonasket Farmers Market


Each season is experienced fully in Wauconda: 

Winter is cold with Arctic winds blowing down from Canada, and lots of snow. 

That’s followed by the Season of Mud when the Big Melt turns everything into muck. 

The growing season of Summer is short. Between the frosts of early June and early September, three months are available to nurture tender indigo plants.

Fall comes early. The underbrush of the forest turns russet and a chill hangs in the air.

Winter in Wauconda WAThe Season of Mud at Wauconda WAIndigo crop at Okan Arts Farm in Wauconda WAGround squirrel at Wauconda WA

A New Adventure

Our rural home in Wauconda home was originally our getaway place when I worked in the city. Now, sixteen years later, it’s my full-time residence as we have sold our family home in Seattle.

Being a country mouse suits me right now. It may seem a little late in life to head away from all the amenities of an urban center. But, what better time to live life fully than today? (Don’t fret, I have flight insurance in case Michael or I need to be airlifted to a hospital for a medical emergency.)

Patricia Belyea’s home in Wauconda WAPretty Patty covered bridge in Wauconda WA

Where’s Okan Arts?

Victoria, my daughter and business partner, runs the Okan Arts Online Shop. She’s moving (destination soon to be revealed) and the shop will move with her. So Victoria is also embarking on a new adventure!

As already announced, our fabric shop is closed until early 2022. We appreciate everyone’s patience as Victoria relocates and sets up our shop again.

Wauconda WA

ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.