As you drive toward Walla Walla from the east, Highway 12 takes you past mile after mile of gently rolling wheat growing out of the rich chocolate-brown soil. It’s enough to make Midwest farmers drool. The strip-cropped patterns of plowed and fallow land look like cresting waves, with the Blue Mountains bordering the southeast horizon.
If you arrive in the pretty town of Walla Walla on a hot summer day, you’ll probably wonder, at least momentarily, if you took a wrong turn somewhere and drove to New England. Walla Walla (30,000 people, plus another 7,000 in neighboring College Place) is an oasis in arid eastern Washington.
Here, trees have been cultivated for decades and offer much-needed shade and visual relief from the sameness of the eastern Washington landscape. Walla Walla University , Whitman College, and Walla Walla Community College supply a strong youthful influence, while the big Washington State Penitentiary supplies the most jobs. This includes inmate work—they really do stamp license plates here.
Valley Transit (509/525-9140, www.valleytransit.com ) serves the Walla Walla/College Place area Monday–Saturday. The Greyhound depot is at 315 N. 2nd, 509/525-9313 or 800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com .
Walla Walla Regional Airport is at 310 A. Street and provides passenger terminals for Horizon Air (509/526-4876 or 800/547-9308, www.horizonair.com ) service to Seattle  and Portland. Blue Ridge Aircraft services is the local FBO. Info is available at 509/529-4243.