Leavenworth Could Have Been a Ghost Town

Ruth and I spent one night is Leavenworth, WA and the experience changed our minds about Bavarian villages. I didn’t used to like towns like this, but now I’m a fan of them. Leavenworth seems less high than it actually is. It seems like a typical mountain village in the Cascade Mountains but is only slightly over 1,000 feet. When we were there, the smoke was fierce. It kept us from honoring a reasonable demand. We accessed the visitor center shortly after arriving, and the woman in charge suggested we walk along the river, She gave us directions and offered us smoke-trapping masks to make this walk OK. We declined her invite to see the town this way and felt better for it.

Leavenworth is on the Wenatchee River. We didn’t know anything about either the town or the river before arriving, but now we are savvy. The Wenatchee River turns out to be only 53 miles long. It flows from a lake in the Cascades to the Columbia River near the city of Wenatchee. This has always been one of my least favorite cities in my adopted state. Now I see it as the center of a national breadbasket. We were in ranch and farming country almost all the way to the city of Spokane the next day, and my impression of this town of nearly 32,000 people underwent a complete transformation.

The Wenatchee River is important to both Leavenworth and Cashmere. Both population centers are on this river. Kayaking, rafting and paddle wheeling take on new meaning if you stay in either town for more than 24 hours, and most visitors do because there is so much to see and do. One of our favorite activities turned out to be visiting fruit stands and learning about apples. Ruth talked for a long time to a woman from Seattle who comes to this area each summer to buy a variety of apples.

One of the Wenatchee River’s 4 tributaries is Icicle Creek. Icicle used to be the name of this town before it became a mock-Bavarian village of 2,300 people in the mountains in the 1960’s. That town founding was way back in the 1860s when a gold rush brought settlers here. Back then Leavenworth, called Icicle for good reason since it averages 95 inches of snow per winter, was a sawmill capital and fruit growing region. Yesterday I said that apples were its main crop, but that was only partially true. In the summer pears are another mainstay crop. Lake Wenatchee, the river’s source, is only 1,800 feet above sea level not too far from Leavenworth. The town is surrounded by conifer forests of Ponderosa pine, which accounted for the smoke that kept us from seeing either one or both of the in-town parks along the Wenatchee River called Enchantment and Waterfront.

What did we actually do in Leavenworth for 24 hours? We went to a completely unique museum featuring the world’s largest collections of Nutcrackers that was undeniably fascinating, and Ruth shopped for fudge and souvenirs. Neither activity would have happened if we hadn’t found a parking place that was unoccupied. We also visited several fruit stands with much to buy including huckleberry treats. Looking for a place to park is considered a sport in the town of Leavenworth, so be warned.


About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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