Why the chief of Fire District 22 loves Snohomish County

Why I Love It Here is an occasional series in The Herald. Today’s essay is written by Travis Hots.

Travis Hots is the fire chief of Snohomish County Fire District No. 22 in Getchell. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Travis Hots is the fire chief of Snohomish County Fire District No. 22 in Getchell. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Why I Love It Here is an occasional series in The Daily Herald in which local residents share why Snohomish County is a special place to them.

Today’s essay was written by Travis Hots, the fire chief of Snohomish County Fire District No. 22 in Getchell. Travis serves as a volunteer rescue helicopter pilot with Snohomish County Search & Rescue. He lives in the Marysville area with his wife, Aimee, and their two children, Lydia, 14, and Caden, 10.

I’m from the fifth generation of the Hots family that was born and raised in Marysville. When I was growing up, it was still a small town with a population of less than 5,000. Cruising around town with friends on bicycles, playing baseball, fishing off the bulkhead on Ebey Slough and an occasional visit to the Thunderbird Drive Inn or the Marysville Skate Inn were all the recreational activities we had back then.

Times were simple growing up in Marysville in the 1980s. Everyone knew everybody and we had an enormous amount of pride in our community.

You couldn’t walk into the B&M Grocery Store for a gallon of milk without talking to people for an hour. Locals looked out for each other, and that included kids on bicycles.

I knew at a young age that I would someday raise Hots generation No. 6 in Marysville. I wanted my kids to experience the Mayberry setting that I had come to love: The Strawberry Festival, the fire siren wailing to signal noon, the freshly cut smell of cedar at the Welco Mill, Santa visiting all the neighborhoods via fire engine at Christmas, fishing for trout at Jennings Park and swimming for golf balls in the ponds at Cedarcrest Golf Course to earn money.

I was certain that my kids would someday experience all of this. However, as our town grew into a city, it became glaringly obvious that the next generation wouldn’t enjoy the same small-town life that I had. Things would be very different going forward. The lumber mills, dairy farms, old downtown core, and even the many strawberry fields that had once made Marysville famous, would all give way to progress and development.

Today our family enjoys a spacious backyard garden where we grow lots of vegetables and, of course, strawberries. I also keep honey bees and a small flock of laying hens. We don’t sell our farm-raised products; we only trade them. I have found that you establish better relationships with those you trade with, than if you were to just sell the product for cash. It’s an old-school way that my kids are learning to appreciate.

We also like to go saltwater fishing. We spend a considerable amount of time harvesting Puget Sound spot prawns, Dungeness crab, cochle and steamer clams, halibut, ling cod, rock fish and salmon.

As a rated commercial pilot, I enjoy the many aviation activities this area has to offer, including the Boeing Co., aviation museums and air shows held throughout the year. I also enjoy taking friends and family up for a thrilling scenic bird’s-eye view of our beautiful community.

Even though the Mayberry feel of Marysville has faded away, now there are new things to do and see that make our community special. The Tulalip Tribes offer a beautiful destination resort where shopping and entertainment abounds, as well as opportunities to experience Coast Salish culture at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve.

Marysville has done a wonderful job of expanding city parks and creating recreational opportunities. I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for the new Ebey Slough Waterfront Park, where my kids might someday fish from a modern bulkhead.

This is a great community in which to live and work, and I’m very proud to say I was born and raised here.

That’s why I love it here.

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