Update. Next Publication is: Under Strange Suns, available digitally August 2015, print version due December 2015, Twilight Times Books.

Leavenworth

IMG_0892A bit of travel talk in the web log today, maybe a note or two on beer. I’ve brought the family to Leavenworth, Washington this weekend to attend a wedding. This is my first visit to Leavenworth, a place worthy of comment. Accordingly, I will comment.

Leavenworth is a faux-Bavarian tourist town about midway between Seattle and Spokane, nestled along a river, below alpine peaks and above a stretch of pear and apple orchards. The locals have done an excellent job fabricating that idyllic Bavarian mountain-village look. No question about it. My snapshot description of Leavenworth, after a couple of days in town, is white-trash Aspen.

I considered not writing that. But that is the phrase that kept recurring in my mind. And if I can’t offer up the occasional helping of honesty in my own web log, where can I. I hope I haven’t offended anyone, locals or frequent visitors who love the place. That isn’t my intent. I actually mean the phrase with the broadest of all interpretations, including the most positive connotations. There is a populist, egalitarian atmosphere produced by the tattooed and tank-topped tourists, passing by the bric-a-brac shops, with their Alpine village facades, lining picturesque main drag. Every fourth tourist has a leashed dog trotting along beside him. A few Japanese tourists, cell-phone cameras at the ready, mingle easily. Everyone seems in a good mood, having a good time.

There is a ubiquitous tourist trap feel to the shops. Restaurants with German names serve food that doesn’t even bother trying fit thematically, a sausage plate or a Reuben sandwich (which does, after all, contain sauerkraut) the barest of nods to Germanic cuisine.

But it is what it is. The mountainous backdrop is gorgeous. Some of the shops are imaginatively stocked. One doesn’t feel that each store is interchangeable with every other. There’s a bookstore, a comics store, an over-the-top Christmas store. And let’s not forget a couple of brewpubs. I’d suggest there’s market room for one more, though the offerings of Icicle and Dog Haus are decent.

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Leavenworth also looks to offer a good jumping off point for outdoor activities. I don’t know first hand. But I did see several kayakers and a couple of whitewater rafts down river near Cashmere (where I searched in vain for a sweater but found only Aplets and Cotlets.)

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So come visit for a laid-back weekend in a gorgeous setting. Come as you are; no need to dress for dinner.

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