July 12-16, 2023
Growing up I never had long-term friends due to moving around a lot. From many places around Ohio to Arizona and California it is just challenging to establish friendships when you’re one to five years at a location. That all changed in 1998. Kate and I happened to cross paths in the most odd of circumstances at this particular time in the history of the universe. We both were from the same hometown, born at the same hospital, but did not share the same school districts or part of town. While my friends at that time lived close to where she and her family lived it would take until eight years after I left the town for good in order for this chance path crossing. While the connection may have not been immediate, the universe certainly kept working its magic. One epic trip to a British Columbian island and now we have a story.
Originally Kate and I lived in Perrysburg to be closer to Bowling Green for work, but then we decided to move to an apartment right across from the art museum in Toledo. Not long after we moved in another couple moved in that were set to get married about 6 months later after us. Needless to say, we bonded as couples and certainly it was over many adult beverages during those times. Eventually we bought a house in the same neighborhood, but remained close to the other couple since we essentially became the “godparents” to their large, goofy Golden Retreiver. After we moved into our house we ended up adopting the most loving rescue, Mac, which our dogs truly bonded just like their respective humans did. Eventually Patrick finished his PhD which led them to moving to Cleveland for his work. Our friendship still as strong as ever since we would visit them for various occasions or often doing a dog swap to watch each other’s dogs for trips. A few years after they had moved we found ourselves making the same move to Cleveland. In fact, we ended up buying a house just 14 houses away from them.
The friendship has continued to grow and basically we have become family by default. They had three kids to our two. We’ve continued to do dog swapping as well. With the exception of their eldest child, our kids are just 6-months apart in age. So you get the picture, we have been close friends for some time now (twenty-four years). This past fall I said to Patrick, we are not getting any younger and we need to go somewhere. He agreed and we hatched a plan to start doing stuff together while we still can. Another factor for doing this particular trip is that he turns 50 this in 2023 so I wanted to help initiate him into the club. One of the first suggestions I had was that with Alaska Airlines it has cheap companion airfare and since he had never been to the Pacific Northwest we can do a trip to Seattle or close by. He was in.
We started hashing out details soon after. Since I knew Washington, Seattle and the surrounding area well I started throwing out ideas. There are so many options, but the answer was clear as schnitzel! About two hours east of Seattle is the Bavarian town of Leavenworth tucked into the central Cascades. What is not to love about a Bavarian town even if it is a faux America version? Bier, Gören und Brezeln! Prost! While, yes, the appeal to travel to a Bavarian town without having to travel to Germany is great, but it is also the access to the mountains and wilderness of the Cascades. We finally settled on the where, but it was the when that would prove the most challenging. Much like a pretzel, our family obligations were deeply twisted into every seemingly possible week. There was one sliver of time where we each had a kid away at camp and so we settled for July 12 through the 16th. 5 days of beer, brats and pretzels!
Leading up to the big event I put a lot research into restaurants, hikes and things to do in and around Leavenworth. Patrick and I tried to get out for some conditioning hikes as much as we could, but the weather was not ideal and our schedules were constantly jammed. Now, it was just the waiting game. Waiting for the next several months for the moment to arrive.
Wednesday, July 12
It’s happening! Get up at 4:30 for a 5:20am pickup to the airport. We check our bags and get through security. Timed it so we didn’t have to sit around Cleveland airport for too long and it worked. We get on the plane (first row behind first class) and had to wait for some late arrival, but still left early. After some time we hit some decent turbulence which come to find out there was a tornado in the Chicago area. Eventually the flight smoothed out past Minneapolis. I watched some Black Mirror and then started taking in the landscape. I had preordered some signature Alaska Air fruit and cheese platters to enjoy a little snack on the way. We’re flying with style! We passed into Montana airspace and began noticing amusing named places and kept laughing the rest of the way. (This is no way making a joke of Native Americans and the naming.) Highwood Baldy!
I knew we were getting close to it. And then, boom, there it is. Flying in from anywhere to Seattle is one of the best experiences because of that beautiful snow and glacier capped volcano. It will never get old for me. I picked the window seat for Patrick to take in the view. Even he couldn’t believe how much of a large presence it is. Tip: when flying from Cleveland pick a seat on the left side of the plane and when you leave Seattle pick the right side. Hello Washington, Tahoma (Rainier) and Seattle!
After de-boarding at N terminal I decided to take Patrick up to the signature Alaska Air Lounge at this terminal, mainly, to grab a beverage and some Peanut Butter & Company peanut butter packets for myself. These are perfect for submitting a peak (insert pointing at head meme gif)! We were in no hurry to get anywhere since check-in at the cottage in Leavenworth was not till 4pm. We left the lounge to go snag our bags to then get in the line for the rental car facility shuttle. Still do not like this setup.
Eventually, after waiting for another bus, we were packed in like sardines for the shuttle to the rental car facility. Tip: most people go to the left (north) for the shuttle, but if you go right (south) from terminal, pick up the shuttle there. It’s much less crowded and a shorter ride. Using Costco Travel I booked the rental way in advance. I did not realize it at the time, but Seattle was the host for MLB Allstar game the night before our arrival. I was wondering why the prices of rentals kept going up when I would check for better deals. Using Costco, you can cancel your booking at any time and also automatically includes a second driver without an up-charge. I selected an “intermediate SUV” through Alamo and set everything up for the “skip the counter” experience. You find your class of vehicle and then just get in. Super simple. We get to our selection and there were two available, a VW Tiguan and a Ford Bronco Sport. We were like, uh the Bronco-duh! We packed it in and headed to Pike Place Market.
Navigation took us on a route I had never taken before, up the 509/99. With the removal of the Alaska Way Viaduct there is still a lot of construction happening along the former highway. Since it was late morning traffic wasn’t too bad. The first parking garage we come to on Western Ave. on the other hand was practically full. Eventually at the very bottom of the garage we found a spot to park the Bronco.
I wanted to give Patrick a quick run-through of the market so he could witness how incredibly large and expansive the market is. Pointing out all of the major tourist spots such as the original Starbucks to the flying fish counter. I think he was feeling overwhelmed because every time I am here it is a lot to take in. I took him to a comic book store, Golden Age Collectibles, because of course. Took me a moment to recall how to get to it. I grabbed a couple of things for Maddog since there are reprints of classic Marvel pieces like the first showing of Wolverine and first Avengers.
Now it was time for some lunch!
I pointed out many places for lunch such as Pike Brewing (which I still love), Lowell’s and more, but it was Old Stove Brewing Co. that would win the selection. First of all, you cannot beat the view from their market location. Great outdoor terrace seating to watch the dynamic waterfront. So glad the highway is no longer obstructing the view and producing lots of noise. I’m glad we ended up going to Old Stove too because I had read that one of the best places to get fish and chips at the market was here. I would have to agree with the assessment. Very tender pieces of Pacific Cod prepared quite well. It also doesn’t hurt grabbing a flight of tasty brews to pair with it. One of our traditions visiting breweries is to grab t-shirts and that tradition carried on here too.
After lunch I had to show him the disgusting gum wall because of course. Another walk through the main market concourse and decided to head out. Next stop, REI.
Got back in the Bronco and set the course for the REI flagship store on Yale before heading east towards Leavenworth. REI is headquartered in Seattle and in fact just celebrated their 85th birthday. I drove by the Space Needle, which was not on a direct route to REI, but I figured Patrick had to at least see the iconic structure. We picked up some head nets and DEET because of the bug reports on the trails. This REI, since it is the flagship, is a destination in itself. A stream and waterfall runs through the campus like block in which it resides with a rock wall encased in a glass tower clearly visible from I5. Next stop, Twin Peaks.
We drive a short stretch of I5 south to get to I90, the same interstate that goes to and through Cleveland, passing over one of the infamous floating bridges over Lake Washington. I forgot to mention that the once cooler partly cloudy weather when we arrived in Seattle turned into a treat for us the rest of the trip. Gorgeous blue skies! Anyway, in planning this trip I knew that we were going to pass Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend so it was a no-brainer that we make an stop here because of Twin Peaks. The route took us by the Roadhouse (The Bang Bang Bar) in Fall City and then following the Snoqualmie River towards the falls. Grabbed some photos of the falls and by this time it got hot out! There were many people wading along the cool waters of Snoqualmie River and I don’t blame them. It’s very scenic and the water is super clear.
Back in the car, drove by many of the Twin Peaks icons like the Centennial Log, The Great Northern Hotel (really the Salish Lodge and Spa) before making it to the Double R Diner, Twede’s Cafe in North Bend, Washington. Had to stop here for the “damn fine coffee” and “the place where other pies go to die.” Agent Cooper would be proud. Grabbed a couple of photos before hitting the road again.
One observation Patrick and I had of this mountain pass highway of I90 is that it’s like driving on cobblestone at 70mph. Extremely coarse which I understand because of the snow and the use of chains on the tires in winter, but my word, my fillings felt like they were going to vibrate out. Not far from North Bend we made another stop at Snoqualmie Pass Visitor Center to pick up a Northwest Forest Pass which covers parking and recreation in the national forests in Oregon and Washington. There is a 24/7 kiosk at US Forest visitor center here to purchase the pass. Patrick grabbed a couple beverages and our next and final stop would be Leavenworth passing through Cle Elum and Peshastin. There was a stretch where it seemed like it was a downward slope for over 2 miles, but it was pretty driving through these mountain passes. We left the thick wilderness and entered the high desert style terrain for a short distance. And then, ROCKS! Not actual rocks, but the presence of the caution yellow diamond signs with simply the word ROCKS blazoned across. Saw these in Oregon in Tillamook State Park and now here in Washington. It will never not be funny to me.
The high desert style ended and returned to alpine wilderness style and as we approached US2 highway cherry and apple orchards everywhere you looked. Cherries were in season and everywhere. And then we approach Leavenworth and instantly the Bavarian style makes a grand presence. We passed the Safeway grocery store and a bridge over the Wenatchee River. We have arrived in Leavenworth, Washington. America’s cutest little Bavarian town surrounded by peaks and wonderful blue skies.
The cottage, while just a “stone’s throw” from town is actually accessed from the Public Library/Mayor’s office parking lot which provided a lot of cover and you would never know it is there solitude, yet just a minute walk to the heart of the downtown area. The main streets in the village are blocked off from vehicles allowing plenty of space to move about. While it does appear to be ghost town in some of the photos, I can assure you that it is very busy and even more so when the weekend approached. We dumped our luggage and headed to the grocery store for a few items like water, beer/cider, coffee and sunscreen.
We walked around for a bit and decided we should grab a bite to eat, many places have limited hours during the earlier days of the week which I get with a tourist destination small town. We ended up at Rein Haus and ordered giant mugs of beer, a giant pretzel and some brats enjoying the view from their biergarten. They were cleaning up so it was time to go. We walked around more of the village and went down to the river park and then back to the cottage for the hot tub! We had also picked up a some local drinks at the grocery. He grabbed Fremont’s Sky Kraken (Hazy IPA) and I went with Two Town’s The Bad Apple (Imperial Hard Cider). Perfect ending to a long first day of this trip.
Thursday, July 13
Our first full day and it’s hike day! The weather looks perfect. As I said to Patrick I had mapped out many trails, but there was one that I wanted to really do and it will be challenging and have a big payoff. I had done so much research on AllTrails (the best trail map app with up-to-date conditions), WTA (Washington Trail Association) and detailed searches for many hikes in the area and then just about a week before the trip I came across an app/website called PeakVisor that also uses AR (augmented reality) to identify peaks. There’s the super popular Colchuk & Stuart Lake of the Enchantments that was on the list and Mt. McCausland also on the list, but I just kept thinking about how much I wanted Patrick to have a damn fine view of Mt. Rainier (Tahoma). Neither of these other hikes were going to provide that. Reading about Colchuck, while I know is spectacular and beautiful, it is also super popular and the report is that it is swamped with bugs. We did buy head nets, but I just kept thinking I need to find that one hike that will have it all. So back to PeakVisor. After a few searches I realized the under 2,000 foot climbs are not going to give us that view I was expecting. I bumped up the search parameters and Black Jack Ridge Trail appeared. It went up Bootjack Mountain which sounded like it was fitting the description and this is when PeakVisor comes into play. On the website I typed in Bootjack and began the panning 360º to the south southwest and there it was in the app, Tahoma (Rainier). Not only Tahoma, but every dang on peak around as far you can see and anything tall enough of consequence. Tahoma is just 76 miles away by direct land from Bootjack so it really is a perfect shot of the majestic glacier and snow-capped peak. See for yourself on PeakVisor.
I woke up at 2:30 (of course), but did go back to sleep for a bit. I then got up at 5:00 to make some coffee and to start preparing for the hike. By 7 we were out the door. The trailhead was not that far from town. The road, paved, follows Icicle Creek and then you enter the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest where the paved road now turns into a dirt fire service road. When I say dirt, I mean dirt. Overgrown, ruts and used sparingly. You take this service road until almost where it dead ends at a horse camp. We set out on Black Jack Ridge Trail at 7:40am. 4 miles in and 4 miles back, 3,871 foot climb up to Bootjack Mountain peak at 6,785 feet tall.
The first few switchbacks were easy which provided a false hope that this is not going to be that bad and then bam, like Emeril, the switchbacks start increasing length and grade. SO MANY SWITCHBACKS! I suggested to Patrick that we should take a break every thousand feet in gain. I think this was the wise plan. I remember reading on AllTrails that this trail is great for running… 👀 Also, it stated that it was not well traveled. There were not any other cars around at all and we did not see a single person on the way up. We heard a stream and waterfall on one point and had to climb over a few downed trees. One thing for sure about this trail is that it is in tree cover so for warm days you’re going to be better off. Also, there were not any bugs to deal with. I think it’s due to not really any lakes or standing water because of the slope.
After what felt like the thousandth switchback we finally hit a clearing. There was a fire back in 2017, Jack Creek Fire. Even though it was six years ago, it’s amazing how much regrowth had occurred in short time. Many new sprouts of fir trees because of the amazing pine cone spreading seeds like popping popcorn, lots of wildflowers and tall grasses. It also provided amazing views for the first time including a view of Glacier Peak (a glacier capped peak at 10,525 feet tall). It is the second most active volcano in the Cascades right behind Mount Saint Helens. It is the most remote of the Cascade peaks without any road access which requires wilderness backpacking to get to it. Even though it is remote it is still only 70 miles from Seattle suburbs. On we went. Through this meadow we thought the peak was not much further. We were wrong. It did get a little difficult to see the trail at times because this a National Forest trail and not a National Park trail, but we carried on and figured it out.
The payoff! As soon as we hit the peak there it was, giant and majestic Tahoma (Rainier). —I will keep calling it Tahoma because that is the actual name of the mountain/volcano. Someday I hope they change the name back officially.— I could not believe my eyes. I may have screamed a few expletives upon seeing this, but there it is! Just as the PeakVisor app said it would be. Mountain is out for sure. I couldn’t believe it. I was speechless. The 3,781 foot climb over 4 miles of the most grueling hiking I have ever done in my life had paid off with some of the most spectacular views these eyes have seen. At that moment, I thanked Patrick for humoring me for this club/hike. I knew it would be hard with my calves barking at me on every switchback, but after seeing this all that pain went away (temporarily) and was replaced with joy.
I’ve been on a lot of mountains, but having worked to get to this view was more than I can express. I think about my family trip to Asheville going to Mt. Mitchell, the tallest mountain in Appalachia at 6,684 feet, but you drive up to the top. Just wild to think I climbed something that is just a little taller than it. Wicked. From mountains in British Columbia, Maine, Kentucky, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington there will never be another like this mountain for me. This is why I wanted to do a trip with a long time friend. I am very lucky to have a friend like Patrick to share this experience with. Again, I knew this hike would be hard, but I did know that the payoff would be worth it. It was.
We just sat there for some time taking it all in. There were a few annoying black flies, but manageable. I used an OFF anti-bug wipe and they stopped bothering me, but this is was the only time we really encountered any bugs. We ate some snacks and got hydrated. Took some glamour shots, as Kate described it, and I sent a couple of texts since we now had cell service. We lost cell service not for after leaving Leavenworth when approaching the National Forest entry. Not surprising since you’re in a deep gorge. Also, the amusement of Ohio State and Michigan hats was not lost on us. Patrick’s oldest son attends OSU and my old, faded Michigan hat has been with me everywhere.
We packed it up and started making the trek back. We thought it would be much easier than coming up, but instead found it more difficult. Instead of the calves barking it was the quad’s turn. Also, when you’re going down a 30% grade your feet smash up into the toebox and then you feel every single mile of that elevation climb.I really do think it was more difficult going down than it was coming up. And then, SO MANY SWITCHBACKS! Just when you thought you were just about done, there’s another switchback. We did, finally, pass a couple heading up. I still can’t believe that this is not a popular trail. Yes it is challenging, but if two old out of shape dudes from relatively flat (comparatively) Ohio can summit this peak then you can climb this trail as well. We eventually made it back to the Bronco. We went through the campground instead of hiking through thick brush at the start. It hits me hard. My legs felt just like I had ran a marathon. I should know since I ran the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati back in 2011. I’m really glad I bought the Keen NXIS EVO mids the year prior because they were like wearing sneakers on the mountain. I don’t think they are making it anymore and have moved to a new, lighter boot called Zionic. That feeling when you take off the shoes is the best though. I put on some flip-flops and just felt the entire hike. Patrick drove back to the cottage. Originally we thought about stopping along the way at Icicle Creek, but I think you could have stuck a fork in us. We were done!
–Update: I just looked up my last major hike (besides last year’s Skyline Trail in Rainier) twenty-five years ago (just before Kate and I met) in the Rockies. A 10.2 mile 2,493 foot elevation gain to Upper Cataract Lake.
We get back to the cottage and it was slow moving. Luckily there are only a couple of steps to the cottage, but it sure is challenging going down them. We chilled for a bit, made a couple of calls back home and then cleaned up to go get some well earned beverages and grub. Glad we don’t have to go far from the cottage.
Literally across the street from the cottage (across US2) is Gustav’s. I ordered a giant 32oz Tieton Huckleberry Cider because of course! We ordered some pretzel sticks (again, of course) and I ordered the Schnitzelburger! Breaded pork cutlet with German beer cheese sauce, red sauerkraut, grilled onions, Swiss cheese and Canadian bacon on a pretzel bun! Oh my, I earned these calories for sure. We enjoyed our meals and then it was time to, slowly, walk around the town some more. We milled about around town trying not to go down any stairs stopping into the gift shops and tchotchke shops. I found one place to get steins, but waited to see other places.
We eventually stopped at Doghaus Brewery for a pint because, dogs and beer. Great outdoor space with a nice mural along the sunken biergarten. Their space is super small on the inside so it’s best to have a pint outside. That is why beers come in a reusable plastic cup/jar. Very handy and we brought them home with us. Grabbed some more t-shirts and then wobbled our merry way back to the cottage. I was beginning to fade anyway. Besides, it was hot tub time! My legs were screaming for it.
The older I get the more I enjoy hot tubs. Had another cider and just relaxed for awhile before exhaustion set in. Did not want to fall asleep in the hot tub. Came close to it.
It was a great first full day. I think when we set out to do this trip I think this is exactly what we had in mind. A chance to just enjoy things in life. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my wife and kids. 23 years of marriage and two great kids make me super proud of how my life is turning out. It’s just that sometimes you need to decompress and just not be “on” all the time. I think Patrick feels the same way. He has never done a thing like this before. I’m honored that I can initiate him into the 50 club, but also as a long time friend to be able to share in these moments in our mid-lives.
Good night Leavenworth. I shall feel every switchback tomorrow.
Friday, July 14
Wake up a little stiff, which is to be expected, but the more I got moving the better I felt. Today was going to be an easy day. As in, easy hikes, wineries, beer, pretzels and shopping. We were running low on water so I went to the grocery store to pick up some more. While in the grocery store I remembered that just before I left for this trip Tillamook announced a special edition ice cream, Campfire Peanut Butter Cup! I checked for availability around home, but it looks like it is only available out west. I looked up Leavenworth and wouldn’t you know it? It is at the Safeway in Leavenworth. I grabbed some along with the water because priorities. For the record, the ice cream is legit.
On the agenda is taking it easy with some less elevation gaining hikes. As in none. There were a couple of places that fit the bill, trails at Lake Wenatchee State Park and Old Pipeline Bed Trail. We took the drive up following US2 that follows the Wenatchee River. There are a couple of ways to get to the lake from Leavenworth and using US2 is the quickest route. Since the mountain edge is right next to the roadway there were instances of people rock climbing. Continuing on US2 we pass Tumwater Dam that, apparently, has a fish ladder and a window to count the fish. You can stop at the dam to see the fish ladder and towards the end of the lake there is a candy and fudge store (Alps Fudge/Candy). Such a peculiar thing and location.
We eventually pull into the state park and make our way hiking. First heading towards the Wenatchee River. Follow the river stopping to take a few photos and then eventually made it to the lake and a little beach. It’s been pointed out to me by a couple of people that the pictures I took from the beach looking out over the water reminded them of The Bubbles at Jordan Pond of Arcadia National Park. There are several rock outcroppings all around the lake so the only boats were kayaks and paddle boards on this end. Also, lots of commotion coming from a dock area which after looking it up is a Y Camp. We continued on the hike and came to, and the only one, a steep slope up a hill. Grumble. We slowly made our way and continued on. We did come across a cute little squirrel that I imagine was expecting some food because it started squawking at us loudly. So loud for a little creature. It was a nice, easy hike even with a little bit of hill. Hop back in the Bronco and decided to stop at another trail on the way back to town.
Off of US2, just before you enter town, is Old Pipeline Bed Trail. This used to be a location of a large hydroelectric water pipe to power another electric plant for locomotives. The pipe was cut and left on the bridge that went to the plant and the trail follows the pipe location in a little gully. Nice, easy hiking. There was rocky bits, but not challenging. Great views of the Wenatchee River and the Tumwater Mountain range on the other side of the river and US2. We hiked to the end and then headed back to the Bronco. There is a little sandy beach with less rocky, calmer water by the bridge which some taking to cooling off in. We headed back to the cottage.
We get back to the cottage and drop off gear and now it was time for some lunch! We make our way to town. Made a stop at Danish Bakery where I grabbed a Bossche Bollen, like an eclair, for a quick snack. Walked into a winery/cider house, Goose Ridge, since Leavenworth Cider House was not open yet (noon). One thing is for sure about this little Bavarian tourist town, there is something for everyone to eat, drink and do. It’s a cute town.
Once Leavenworth Cider House opened we quickly made our way back across the street. Looking over their big board, 25 ciders and 5 beers, I first went with the Snowdrift Dry and Patrick went with One Tree Huckleberry. We also ordered the Ziggy Zaggy, a giant Bavarian salted garlic ranch buttered crust served with two sliced Bavarian bratwursts (spicy), cheese, kraut and house stone ground mustard. This is one of the best pretzels I have ever had. Perfect in every way. The place is super chill. They have couches to sit and relax while enjoying your cider and pretzels. We then devoured the pretzel and then ordered flights of cider. I highly recommend this place. It was the highlight dining spot for us. We head out and made our way for some wine tasting.
Before diving into the wine, one of the other great things about Alaska Air is that wine flies free! In participating airports in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington Alaska Air will fly your (up to) first case of wine free. Also, select tasting rooms wine tastings are free or discounted. This airline is the best.
Our first winery tasting room was that of Obelisco Estate. There are other wineries in the “Wine Cellar” of this building, but we just stuck to this winery in this location. I immediately took to their 2019 Nefur III, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This one checks all the boxes for my red wine palette. This is a very fine wine. There was a group that came in, very loud, which Patrick and I enjoyed listening to as entertainment. They apologized up front, but was not necessary. They were out enjoying the town without their kids too so we understood it. Next stop, Ryan Patrick/Millbrandt Tasting Room.
Ryan Patrick/Millbrandt Tasting Room, is winery with many brands. This tasting facility is below the Rhein Haus biergarten. We had great conversations with the hosts and went through the wine. Got the story of this winery and all of their brands. I actually liked the Ryan Patrick Rosé and also the 2017 Millbrandt Clifton Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. We headed out, arms full of wine bottles. We didn’t get a case, but we managed to grab 6 bottles between us.
We stopped into the Nutcracker Museum for their gift shop. Yes, Leavenworth really does have a Nutcracker Museum. Kate requested I get her a real nutcracker for her collection. As in a German made nutcracker and this is the place to get them. I grabbed myself a German made stein as well. After this, hands full, we decided to take our goods back to the cottage. So nice not having to walk far.
With the time approaching happy hour Patrick had noticed that Stein had a decent Happy Hour menu and tons of merch so we made it our next destination. We grabbed another pretzel, of course, some burgers and some brews. We didn’t get the 32oz this time around. Ate up our meals and then grabbed some groovy swag. I mean Sasquatch holding a stein of beer! Brilliant!
Off to the next stop. We ended going to another cider place that was more than a cider place, Bushel & Bee Taproom. Another incredibly awesome place. Great variety of ciders on taps (beers and meads too) and a huge selection of bottles to go. Nice comfortable couches and a relaxing decor make for a great way to enjoy fermented apples (or honey). We had a couple of rounds and then it was time to head back to the cottage for a hot tub session.
Saturday, July 15
Our last full day of the trip, sadly.
We were still feeling tight from the awesome hike and it was set to be a warmer day (90s) so we decided another easy day. There’s an old outpost viewpoint I had mapped out. Of course should have known that with fire service roads it’s a mixed bag. The Bronco handled the other stuff just fine… This location was up by Lake Wenatchee where we were the day before. Another paved road ending into dirt roads. Today we noticed lots of little black squirrels just darting across the road a lot. Like the little buggers had a death wish. We finally get to the fire service road to take us up to the viewpoint. Not far up this road we come to a giant drainage rut cut diagonally across the road. Patrick got out to check to make sure we had clearance. We did. Then a second one not far after that. And then a third one. After that it was an eroded channel for some distance back and forth across the road. Then downed trees. Then brush growing with very little space to drive through without it scratching the side of the vehicle. The further we got, the further the path degraded. We were still a mile out from the actual viewpoint. I didn’t want to chance it. So very Austin Powers like turned the Bronco around. That took some maneuvering. Had it been my car I may have driven further, but with a rental why chance it? It was still a fun off-roading adventure.
On the way back to Leavenworth, as I had mentioned before, we took the “back” way so we could drive through Plain (quite the story how the village got that name) and Chumstick, Washington. It actually took us up and over a mountain and had some great overlooks, but no place to stop for pictures. We get back into town and realized we forgot to get packing boxes for the wine. For the record, you can not use FedEx, Postal Service or UPS to ship your own alcohol. Only if you have a liquor license. We stopped at Ryan Patrick wine and they have the correct boxing materials for wine. Next we had to find tape. Patrick said on the way into town as we pass by a 76 gas station with a convenience store, “that looks like a place that would have packing tape.” And would you believe it, they actually did. So do a little packing and then by this time we were hungry for lunch.
While I think having pretzels, sausages and beer is always a great idea we both were like done with it for the moment. We decided to go for Mexican. Yes, even this little American Bavarian village has Mexican restaurants. We hit up Los Camperos. Not a bad Mex place. First time I’ve been to one that not only provides chips and salsa it also came with a Mex slaw. It was all great.
After some more packing, we headed over to The Loft for one final meal and a beer. Then back to the cottage for the last dip in the hot tub. This time we had a deer laying down not far from us watching.
I think at this point we were tired and ready to come back home. While the trip had been everything we wanted it to be, there’s only so much two old guys can get away with. Truly, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. I am so glad we did this. I think we have started a cool thing and look to continue it in the coming years. Leavenworth, Washington is a very cool town. I would love to come back.
Sunday, July 16
Sadly our trip has come to an end and it’s time to go home. We packed most of our stuff the night before so that it would not be a mad scramble in the morning. I got up at 4 with Patrick not much after that. We followed the check-out list for the cottage and hopped into the Bronco and on the road by 4:30. With SeaTac being a busy airport and Patrick does not have PreCheck and also having to drop off the rental at the off-airport facility we decided to leave a little earlier than planned. Instead of driving the way we came into Leavenworth we opted to take the US2/Stevens Pass Highway. I was a little concerned about deer at this early hour which we did come across one spooked deer dart out, but I saw it and anticipated it bolting. From about the Nordic Center and Stevens Pass to Skynomish it turns into a very scenic drive. A long valley with walls of peaks surrounding it and with the sun rising it was quite lovely. Somewhere around Skynomish a coyote (may have been looking for a roadrunner) was just walking down the highway just without a care in the world. We passed through a few small towns and nothing more amusing than the “drive-thru” cannabis store we passed in Gold Bar. I say drive-thru because we could smell it as we were driving by.
It’s just about a two hour drive in total from Leavenworth to the airport (and that cussing rental care facility).
Now we had plenty of time to enjoy an Alaska Lounge. Our gate was at D Concourse and this Alaska Lounge had just recently been renovated. We enter and order coffees from the barista and then grab some food on the first floor of this two level lounge. I, of course, had pancakes and smothered them with peanut butter. Got our fill of food and headed up a level for the bar. We started with some mimosas and then followed it up with some ciders. Took in the view until it was time to board the plane.
The plane leaves early and thanks to a hefty tail wind we were back in Cleveland early. No turbulence. Had a wonderful view of the Cascades, as you can see, heading out. Kate picked us up. Back to reality.
Interestingly enough, our plane flew very close to Bootjack Mountain where we made the big hike. We did hear jets flying close by a couple of times while on the peak. Now, when I fly to Seattle I will know to look down if I’m on that side of the plane and will be able to say “I climbed that.”
I think I’ve rambled on long enough now. It was an insanely awesome trip. I am rather fortunate to be able to do these things. I hope I can continue doing these things in the years ahead. Thanks to my buddy Patrick for sharing in this moment with me. I would not have been able to make this trek, and that hike, possible without you.
P.S. the name Brosquatch was what we took to calling this trip. The obvious “bro” designation combined with the Sasquatch influence that abounds everywhere here in the PNW made it an obvious choice.
Leavenworth has Live Webcams so you can see for yourself what Leavenworth is like without leaving your home.