Monthly Archives: September 2016

This Weekend In Leavenworth

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This Weekend In Leavenworth

This has been a busy weekend. It’s both Homecoming Week and Autumn Leaf Festival. For a Canadian living here now, these have been exciting events for me. Homecoming Week was non-existent where I grew up. And the Autumn Leaf Festival is unique to Leavenworth.

On Friday night we drove out to Peshastin. The high school football stadium is located at the Dryden Elementary School located there. Our local team, Cascade Kodiaks, were playing the Sultan Turks. The first quarter saw our team down 40-7, but they rallied and the final score was 48-41, although not in our favor.

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The stands were packed. It seemed like the whole town was there. A great many people there, like us, didn’t have kids in high school but had come out to support and cheer on the team. The enthusiasm was contagious, and every time a touchdown was scored and the fireworks went off, I was right in there with the crowd. A friend was sitting nearby, and his son was one of the star players on the team, so that added to the football fever around us.

At half-time, the lights were dimmed and a makeshift stage was bathed in floodlights where the homecoming royalty were introduced. I thoroughly enjoyed the speeches the students made, and wondered why we never had anything like this back when I was a teenager in Winnipeg. Homecoming Week is definitely a huge celebration down here.

When this part of the program ended, there was a spectacular fireworks display. In all honesty, it put Winnipeg’s Canada Day celebrations to shame. And this is only a high school football game! I was so totally mesmerized by the display that I only took a handful of pictures, very unusual for me.

Vendors in the stands came around with hot dogs, popcorn and candy. I opted for the hot chocolate, as up here in the mountains the temperature drops quickly once the sun sets. I had dressed for the occasion in a long-sleeve turtleneck, a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket on top. Of course I had also brought along a blanket.

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Saturday dawned clear and sunny. The temperatures were rising and we headed downtown to watch the Autumn Leaf Festival parade. I was completely overwhelmed by the number of floats and the incredibly huge marching bands. The parade went on for an hour and a half. There were floats and bands from all over the state of Washington. Canadians were also represented by floats from Kelowna, Penticton and White Rock in British Columbia. I took 348 photos, but I will share only a few here.

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After the parade we headed downtown to Front Street. Blocked off to traffic, the streets were crowded with pedestrians. The shops, restaurants and bars were all packed. Some of the people were dressed up in traditional leiderhausen. Different bands provided entertainment at the gazebo.

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We were able to find a table at Munchausen and enjoyed a cold and refreshing beer. Afterwards we were treated to a gymnastics display a little further down the street.

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Our final stop was at King Ludwig’s, a popular German restaurant that has become my favorite. A great band serenaded us with lively tunes as we ate dinner. Pictured below is a house specialty of sauerbraten.

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Of course all the locals are amused by my excitement over these events and keep telling me to just wait for Octoberfest next month. That happens for THREE weekends!!!!!

 

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I Don’t Know

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I Don’t Know

I have met quite a few people here in Leavenworth. They are intrigued by my past and are delighted that I have chosen to visit Leavenworth. I arrived here at the end of July. I welcomed the heat and the dry climate, a far cry from the heat and humidity that I left behind in Mazatlan. I was overwhelmed at the majestic beauty of the mountains and the quaintness of this Bavarian village. And I readily understood why this is such a popular tourist haven. Indeed, when I go to Wenatchee, a mere twenty minutes away, people there are in awe when I tell them I live in Leavenworth.

But the big question now that I am constantly asked by people here is “When will you go back to Mexico?”

My friends back in Canada were surprised that I chose Leavenworth over Winnipeg for my summer escape. I still find it hard to adjust to the term “summer escape.” Having lived in Winnipeg all my life, it was the winter escape that I had always sought.

The big question that they are all asking is “Are you coming back here before you go back to Mexico?”

Then there are my friends in Mexico. They are all curious as to what I’m doing here in Washington although they see my Facebook posts and read my blog. They know that I have told them countless times that my heart now lies in Mexico.

The big question they ask is “When are you coming back to Mexico?”

I have one simple answer for all three questions. “I don’t know.”

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Karen, surely you have some plans? Some long term goals? Some idea?

Nope. Not a clue. It’s all a part of my living in the moment and my living life to the fullest philosophy. I can’t change the past, I can’t predict the future, but I sure can embrace and enjoy the present.

It’s September and the leaves are starting to change color. I love fall and I miss it terribly when I’m in Mexico. I’m actually looking forward to the leaves falling off of the trees and crunching underfoot as I trudge along the streets here. Pine cones litter the ground and the only downside is the threat of wildfires around here. There has been minimal rainfall in the two months I’ve been here.

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This coming weekend there is the Autumn Leaf Festival, complete with a parade down the main street downtown. People here speak excitedly of Octoberfest next month. Halloween follows and the stores are already crammed with costumes, decorations and pumpkins.

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I’m also told that in November there is usually a dusting of snow on the mountaintops. That will definitely be a time for photos. And then I’m told about the tree-lighting ceremony in December. I think Leavenworth is a virtual Christmas fairyland even now, but everyone tells me to just wait until December.

My one concern is the cold temperatures and the snow. Other than over a year ago in May when I was in Winnipeg, I haven’t seen snow in a very long time. And my heaviest jacket that I own is just a fleece, and I’m already wearing it occasionally at night. So I may have to check out some ski jackets. 

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I just extended my travel health insurance for another month, so that much is in place. I will continue to explore Washington state and of course focus on my writing. I’ve also joined the Bavarian Book Club at the library, attend a Life Group, have joined a Women’s Bible Study Group and attend some of the Rotary Club meetings and events. I will also be volunteering at a Halloween event at the church here as well. And I am also delighted at the availability of ingredients here and that that I have a decent kitchen so that I am able to pursue my two favorite pastimes of cooking and baking.  

What will I be doing next month at this time?

I don’t know.

Gingerbread House, Kris Kringle and Nutcracker Haus

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Gingerbread House, Kris Kringle and Nutcracker Haus

It always feels like Christmas here in Leavenworth. I recall the night I arrived here vividly. We had driven in from Seattle after a long day of traveling, and I was totally mesmerized by what I viewed as Christmas lights twinkling from rooftops everywhere. Steve explained that these were merely the regular lights. Christmas lights were definitely another sight to behold come December. Leavenworth is known as a Bavarian village in Washington and tourists flock here year round.

This past week I meandered through some of the shops in the downtown area. They are quaint and very touristy. They are nestled among bars, restaurants and wine-tasting places. Their products range from souvenirs to leather and everything in between.

Gingerbread House is a delightful bakery tucked away on a back street near the hospital. It is crowded with tourists and has tables inside and out on a terrace. The aroma of coffee and fresh baking wafts throughout the small shop. Display cases resplendent with gingerbread men and other delicious pastries line one side of the shop. I intend to go back to sample their cinnamon roll bread pudding which unfortunately was sold out that day. Impressive products appealing to Seahawks fans were popular items as well.

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I had intended to visit the Nutcracker Museum and was disappointed to find that it was closed. However I did check out Nutcracker Haus and was greatly surprised at the unbelievably huge collection of nutcrackers I found here. This is just one of the many shelves that line the walls in this shop.

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Kris Kringle is the most interesting and exciting Christmas store I have ever seen in my life. Two levels of displays absolutely took my breath away. Nativity scenes, trees, ornaments, miniature villages and lights are found on two levels. Jostling the crowds here was a challenge. Here are a few of the treasures I found:

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Although I’ve been here for almost two months, I know that there is a great deal more to explore in this fairyland called Leavenworth, a Bavarian town. However I was delighted to have found Christmas in September this past week, with an added bonus of no snow on the ground.

It’s Fall…………My Favorite Season

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It’s Fall…………My Favorite Season

Until a few years ago, I lived in Winnipeg all my life and always took fall for granted. Summer was such a short season and I never really looked forward to fall. In fact, fall just meant that the warm weather had ended and that the snow was on its way all too soon. I never really took the time to appreciate the beautiful colors of the leaves. Last October I was in Toronto for a couple of days and it was absolutely delightful to hear the crunching of the leaves underfoot once again, a sound I hadn’t realized I had missed so much. 

Now that I’m in Leavenworth, I am taking the time to admire the magnificent colors as they change daily. Back in Mexico the vegetation is completely different and the only season that stands out is hurricane season due to the torrential rain. There are no gorgeous displays of colorful leaves. I am so mesmerized that I keep taking photo after photo of these beautiful leaves.

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I realize that summer has come to an end and I am determined to enjoy the fall season as I don’t know when I may have the opportunity to experience another one like this again. As for the snow, I hope to be back in Mexico before that arrives.

Cashmere Museum & Pioneer Village

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Cashmere Museum & Pioneer Village

The Cashmere Museum & Pioneer Village is operated by The Chelan County Historical Society,  a non-profit organization. The 13,000 square foot museum features two levels. The upper level houses the Willis Carey Wing and the Congdon Wing. The lower level contains displays of natural history as well as pioneer history. An optional audio tour is available and group tours are most welcome.

I began my exploration in the William Carey Wing where I was delighted with the displays of beadwork, basketry, jewelry as well as artwork by local artists.

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I then moved on to the Congdon Wing to view the tools.

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Next I headed downstairs and was completely overwhelmed by this gallery containing everything from nature to artifacts to petrified wood.

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Now it was time to venture outside. The Pioneer Village contains more than twenty original pioneer structures, most over 100 years old. These buildings house antiques, artifacts and furniture of the era.

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The railroad was also represented. I walked through both the caboose and the station.

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About three hours and some 400 photos later I arrived back at the gift shop at the entrance. My fervent hope is that I will somehow find the time to view this treasure again before returning to Mexico for the winter. 

Wandering Around Wenatchee

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Wandering Around Wenatchee

It’s Friday and the beginning of the Labor Day weekend here in Washington. It’s also been raining most of the day and it’s quite dreary out there. Instead of going for a long walk to the library I stayed in and baked chocolate chip cookies. Last week at this time it was hot and sunny. I used to think that Winnipeg was the only place where it rained on the weekends.

But the rain is much needed around here as it helps to contain the wildfires that are a big threat at this time of year. The one burning near Peshastin affected over 250 acres of land and destroyed one home. Hundreds of people were evacuated. And that’s just a few miles down the highway from Leavenworth.

The other day I was in Wenatchee and wandered through the historical district. I passed churches, the courthouse, other government buildings and a couple of parks. I came across these statues:

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It was quite a dull day as well. The sun needs to return and the clouds need to disappear. Chelan County Fair is coming up next weekend in Cashmere. I’ve never been to a county fair and am looking forward to this one, but not in the rain. Along with the rain the temperature has plummeted. But I’d still rather be here right now than in Mazatlan with the soaring temperatures and the torrential rainstorms.

In my stroll along Wenatchee Avenue in the downtown area I found other interesting statues:

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I checked out some of the shops along the way. An old movie theater has been converted into a spacious thrift store.

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As election time draws near this was a prominent storefront:

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Here is the performing arts center:

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There were a variety of other shops with everything from clothing to antiques. Restaurants ranged from a Mongolian barbecue to burgers and everything in between This quaint little soda fountain caught my eye.

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I look forward to my next visit downtown to explore more of this historic area.