Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sauerkraut and sugar cones

You'd expect a man with time on his hands to be a bit more industrious with his blogging. If the truth be told, I am having way too much fun to sit down and write. Partly because this is an inside task and the weather has been so glorious, it is hard for me to be inside at all. I get up at sun rise and go to bed way after sunset. Sitting outside on our deck is only really possible a few days a month, on account of the cool northerly wind that pops up every afternoon about 4 o"clock, so I have been milking it for all its worth.
This weekend, we were invited over the Cascade Mnts to a place called Leavenworth, hence this blog. We haven't been this year yet, so we packed a few clothes, jumped in the car and left. 
In the early sixties, someone decided to turn the town into a Bavarian Village. They got the OK from the residents and got to work. Everything had a hollywood style face lift, and they changed all the names of the businesses to Das this or Der that. There is Das Autoparts, Das Pancake Haus, Der Market Platz and, oh you get the drift. 

Leavenworth is a strange place. Nestled in a cleft of the mountains alongside the gorgeous Icicle Creek and the Wenatchee River, it is a lesson in stark contrasts. It is a mecca for the outdoor action enthusiast, with kayaking, white water rafting, climbing and fly fishing in the summer, and skiing, sledding and snow shoeing in the Winter. It is also a mecca for the overweight, who flock there in the thousands to stuff themselves with ice cream, pancakes, waffles, pastries and bratwurst. You can hear the popping of Lederhosen buttons for miles. 

This is a picture of the old front street shortly after the logging industry collapsed, leaving the town to its fate.

and this is what you see now

The main street was stuffed full of overweight people who appeared to be squeezed into baggy shorts and Lycra tops (not a pretty sight). Christmas decoration shops, ice cream parlors, bratwurst concessions, and a smell of sugar cones and sauerkraut permeated the crisp clean Alpine air. This weekend, the temperature, always hotter in the summer than Seattle, topped the high nineties (in the shade). As soon as you left the shade, it was like stepping into a blast furnace. All thoughts of hiking and playing tennis evaporated in the heat. So we joined the throngs of happy visitors searching for that degustation delight. Actually, I went for a beer in Das Beer Garden, which was misting cold water from an overhead pipe and left the family to the ice cream throngs.
As the years have passed, with the help of an enforced building code, many of the hoky facades have disappeared and new alpine style buildings have taken their place. This is more noticeable outside of town, especially down the Icicle Creek. There is a resort a couple of miles out of town called "The Sleeping Lady. It hosts music concerts all year round and has become a must to play at for all genres of music. The beautiful wood cabins are all situated in peaceful locations amidst a large pine forest. It is fully catered so you don't have to go to town to eat or drink. The contrast between the two places is hard to take though. People either love Leavenworth or hate it. We sort of hover in the middle and love parts of it and suffer the rest. 
Surrounding the town are acres of apple and pear trees. As the market for apples and pears has decreased, many orchards have been replaced with mile after mile of wine grapes. No problem there then. You don't even have to travel very far to taste, as all the local wineries have opened tasting rooms in town. After a few, you might be tempted to do this.

Despite the hokyness of it all, you can get genuine Bavarian food, and one restaurant specializes in the Schweine Haxe, or roasted Pork Knuckle. If you want a pig and crackling fix, this is for you. 

Back home to dry out and fast. With more wine to bottle this week, there is as much chance of that happening as there is of me becoming Pope.


  1. What clever people to do such a thing - weird but clever. Hope the beer was good!

  2. We will be in Seattle Friday, and I simply cannot wait! Texas IS a blast furnace. Please pray for rain so our livestock & wildlife can have some relief. Don't know if I can handle too many "theme villages" and celebrations, but I know you must have had a bit of fun. Stay cool......

  3. How fascinating - very resourceful to reinvent the town like that. love the image of popping Lederhosen.

  4. I think that this could be Hestia's spiritual home. *pops her lederhosen*

    I need to get me a gypsy caravan!!!!

    Ali x

  5. oh sounds a little scarry....all very twin peaks!!

  6. Loving the sound of the pork knuckle and the hot weather,not sure if the location is for me,reminds me of Portmeirion but with bells on:)


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