24 hours in Leavenworth, WA

We went to Leavenworth, WA this weekend for a spur-of-the-moment 24 hour overnight. – Larry, who is turning into quite the summer trip planner, had a friend visiting from Boston, and so we went out to Leavenworth with them, Shawn and Sanna for wine tasting and the scenery.

It was about a 2.5 hour drive out. The first 40 minutes are sprawl, then farmland (with lots of alpacas and horses), and then you hit the mountains. The Cascades on the drives in and out were amazing. The snow is finally melting in earnest after a very late spring, so we rarely went a quarter mile without seeing a waterfall. The 2-lane highway runs next to railroads and a glacier stream (lots of rapids), and I can never get over that grey-green glacier water — it’s amazing.

(Excuse the photos taken from a 65 mph car!) The pass was amazing with mountains leaping up on all sides.

All of the trees were barely beginning to bud (almost two months behind Seattle) and I loved all of the 1800s town and viewpoint names: Startup, Deception Falls, GoldBar. All of it was particularly striking after an early summer weekend in Providence – all of the west coast settling is almost painfully recent to me, and the outdoors exist on such a larger, wilder scale.

No photos of the pass on the way home — there was extremely heavy fog, and we had about 15 feet of visibility. Creepy and daunting.

Leavenworth was something else – even the Bank of America had balconies with carved hearts and tulips, and lovely murals. Kevin and I were enjoying the Ye Olde Starbucks, Ye Olde Jiffy Lube, Ye Olde MacDonalds, etc. 🙂 Apparently the town was struggling in the 60’s and decided to convert all of the architecture to model a Bavarian village theme. I talked for while with the manager of the restaurant we had dinner at, and she said that they had a Memorial Day festival, rest the week after, and then have about a festival a week all the way until the nonstop December festival (they have a very large nutcracker museum in town). Sounds exhausting, but she said it does good things for the town.

We started by going wine tasting at an estate in Peshastin (Icycle Ridge). It was quite impressive. Apparently, it’s a family operation, and they ended up converting the lodge house that the patriarch built in the eighties into a tasting room and event center. Here you can see the enormous stone fireplace and some of the animals that adorned the place.

(I wouldn’t exactly label myself a hunting afficianado, but there’s something majestic about a bull elk’s head that’s as big as you are, even if it’s stuffed.)

His son in law manages all of the wine making — he spent an hour and a half dropping in on our tasting and then showing us around their cellar. Very fun. They don’t sell the wines in stores, so if you want them, you have to join the wine club and receive them by mail or go to their tasting rooms. We also went to Kestral – I’m not a fan at all of the labels, but the wines are awesome. Here’s Larry, in his own shirt and shades, plus a borrowed “wine diva” hat, enjoying the cocoa-crusted almonds that were given with the Cabernet Sauvignon (I think?) at Kestral.

And, here’s Michelle, Larry and Shawn with the post-tasting haul.

Then, we went back to our hotel to check in and drop off bags, then went tasting down the main street of town for the rest of the afternoon. We ate dinner at Visconti’s (quite yummy Italian food, a little fancy, and awesome rooftop seats with heat lamps nearby) – a great meal.

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