Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Leavenworth, Washington

En route to Seattle, we stopped by Leavenworth, Washington (not to be confused with the penitentiary in Kansas). Leavenworth once had a booming logging industry, but fell on hard times when the railway which brought in business was re-routed to bypass it.  In the 1960s, in an effort to save the town (reminds you of an old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movie), it was converted to a Bavarian village, inspired by the Cascade Mountains which would stand in for the Alps.  Today it is a bustling tourist stop and even the mainstream businesses such as Starbucks and Subway Sandwiches are housed under Bavarian styled decor.

On a kitschy scale of 1-10, Leavenworth is an 11. Everywhere you turned, you found statues and images of goat herders or lederhosen/alpine hat clad dwarfs, children, animals.  Even some of the store keepers are dressed like they stepped out of the Sound of Music.

 A year round Christmas store called Kris Kringle (similar to one in Niagara on the Lake) featured all sorts of festive ornaments, decorations and trees including a 5ft tall plastic revolving Christmas tree that sprays fake snow into the air.

Another cool store is "The Hat Shop" which featured any kooky thing you could image putting on your head.  It was more like a costume shop than a hat store.  I could have spent the whole day trying on hats but Rich would only indulge me for so long, and only for one photo (see the faked forced smile that is more of a grimace?)

There is a Nutcracker museum dedicated to nutcrackers of every size, shape and form including an entire set of Wizard of Oz nutcrackers.  Over 5000 different nutcrackers were on display.

You can't be in a Bavarian town without eating bratwurst and schnitzel, so we had one for lunch and the other for dinner.  The bratwurst was deliciously seasoned and juicy and came with a wide selection of mustard including various ale infused ones, curry, apricot ginger, chipotle, jalapeno, etc. as well as heated sauerkraut.  The schnitzel was just ok but the atmosphere of the restaurant made up for it.  We sat in a cozy wooden alcove and were serenaded by accordion music.  We finished off the evening with some freshly made struedel from the bakery.

On the way to our motel, we came across a strange sight... a goat seeming to be standing right next to the busy highway into town.  Upon closer inspection and after talking to some townspeople, we found out that the goats were mascots of the neighbouring inn who owned the golf course down in the valley that the goats (there were more than one!) overlooked.

The next day, we drove over the Cascade Mountains heading west towards Seattle.  Before scaling the mountains, it was a chilly 14 degrees Celsius and drizzling.  As we climbed higher and higher, the temperature dipped lower and lower until it hit zero degrees and suddenly the rain had turned to snow and we found ourselves in a mini "snow storm".  Luckily we soon started to descend and before long, we were back to a balmy 14 degrees again!  Funny how quickly your perspective can change.


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