Reflections of Leavenworth

May 9th, 2014

We had a walk in Waterfront Park on a really lovely day in April. I think the photos say it all.

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Accidental Bavarians at Bavarian Lodge

May 3rd, 2014

What a fantastic long weekend we just spent in Leavenworth WA. There wasn’t a festival or a special occasion to celebrate, just a need to get away and a welcoming invitation.

Brooke at the Bavarian Lodge had invited us months ago to stay at the hotel for a weekend. We’ve had lots of family and work related circumstances that kept us from taking her up on her offer until now. It was definitely worth the wait to get away for a three night stay.

The Bavarian Lodge stands on US Highway 2, directly across from Front Street and the Gazebo in the park. It’s undergoing a major expansion, but don’t be put off by the scaffolding. We still found the hotel quiet and restful.

Our standard double queen room was lovely. It was well decorated. I especially appreciated the leather arm chair and the soft, warm throw. It was really nice to snuggle up under the throw while we watched movies from the Lodge’s extensive DVD collection. The room also had a microwave, fridge and coffee set-up. But if you don’t want to make coffee in your room, there’s a beverage station in the lobby where coffee, hot water and tea, chocolate and cider are available 24/7.

Despite looking out on US 2, our room was quiet when the window was closed. The only downside to our room was the noise of children in the room above us, running back and forth and jumping off of the beds above our heads. If they had not quieted down at 11 o’clock, Scotte may have had to complain to the front desk. We were glad he didn’t have to, but know that the desk would have dealt with it, had it been necessary. The Bavarian Lodge is a family hotel, so the noise of children is to be expected, though it did remind us to ask for a top floor room every time we plan a hotel stay.

We took a peek at the turret suite on our floor. It was beautifully luxurious. It would make a lovely romantic get-away. It includes a spa tub that looks out on the town center.

We have never encountered a friendlier hotel and front desk staff in our travels. (Well, except for Disney® Parks cast members, but that’s an extreme standard.) Every time we entered or exited the hotel, we were greeted with friendly hellos or offered restaurant and sightseeing advice. We also found the housekeeping and breakfast service staff very friendly and welcoming. Brooke told us it’s one of the things she likes most about working for the Bavarian Lodge. She said it’s really a family and she’s proud to be a part of it.

The breakfast buffet was what you’d expect, except that the attention to detail was quite high. The standard hotel waffle station was elevated by the addition of strawberries and whipped cream on Sunday. The weekday syrup and butter were plentiful as were the peanut butter and jam. There was cold cereal, fresh baked scones and muffins and a toaster with a variety of bread. Each morning a different egg dish, a breakfast meat and potatoes were available, as well as biscuits and gravy. The breakfast room is large and comfortably decorated. It was easy to linger over our newspaper and Starbucks® coffee and juice. Breakfast is available in the ground floor breakfast room 7-10am weekdays, 7-10:30am on Saturday and Sunday.

On the Monday morning of our stay, Brooke took us on a tour of the addition. We got to see just how much work and planning is going into the new, luxury rooms. Each of them will have a fireplace and a glass shower enclosure. City center facing rooms will each have a balcony from which you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Leavenworth’s many festivals. The rooms facing away from the city center will also have balconies and will look out on a new patio area. The remodeled hotel will also have a brand-new wine bar. The addition and wine bar will have the same comfortable lodge style design as the rest of the hotel. Reservations for the new rooms are being taken starting with August 15, 2014. If you don’t yet have a reservation for Oktoberfest or Christmas Lighting, call asap to see if you can snag one of the new rooms for Leavenworth’s busiest festivals.

While we stayed at the Bavarian Lodge as their guests, this post is our own opinion and not written in exchange for our stay.

Update: Romance in Leavenworth

February 4th, 2014

Snowy Mountains surround Leavenworth WA

Snowy Mountains surround Leavenworth WA

Valentines Day will be here and gone before you know it. Leavenworth WA is the best place to romance your sweetheart. This post is an update to a post from past years. I’ve refreshed it with some new dates and new links.

Several downtown Leavenworth hotels and inns offer romance packages with options like couples’ massages, in-room champagne service, and late check out. Icicle Village Resort has a Sweet Indulgence Getaway that includes plush bathrobes to take home with you.

Dream House Suites sometimes has limited availability for Valentine’s Day but they often have last minute availability, so call if you’re still looking for accommodations. If you can snag a suite here, do it. We’ve stayed here and loved the clean and comfortable room. With only four suites you’ll enjoy your privacy. The service was friendly but non-intrusive. Every suite offers mountain or Front Street views.

Alpen Rose Inn has customizable romance packages. The Wine Country Tour includes a guided tasting tour, by limousine, to three lovely wineries. This Valentine’s Day you can ask about booking a snowmobile tour or a romantic sleigh ride.

Or check your favorite hotels for their romance packages. Some with packages include: Bavarian Lodge and Obertal Inn.

Pine River Ranch is the ultimate in luxurious romance. Featured in The Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest: A Romantic Travel Guide the beautiful suites have fireplaces and Jacuzzi spas. The hosts deliver a gourmet breakfast to your suite for the ultimate romantic breakfast in bed. It’s 14 miles outside of Leavenworth for a true getaway. As of this writing, Pine River Ranch has a few openings for Sunday and Monday of Valentine’s Day weekend. They offer several winter packages that include romantic sleigh rides, and activities like snowshoeing and skiing. Pine River Ranch is also a beautiful and romantic wedding destination.

We have several favorite romantic dining spots in Leavenworth. The Alley Cafe has been featured in “Best Places to Kiss.” It’s intimate Italian dining.

SOUTH is fun, fresh Mexican dining. They offer a casual atmosphere and original recipe cocktails that change with the season. They’re now offering breakfast on the weekends. Try the Molé sauce. It’s fantastic.

What’s a romantic getaway without delightful sweets? Looking for chocolate? (And really, who isn’t?) Try lovely hand made Belgian chocolates at Schocolat. Fresh and unique flavors such as ginger, pink sea salt, and rum raisin along with lovely caramels and fruit creams.
Or stop at Visconte’s Via Dolce for gelato and espresso. Mix the two and you have an affogato. Yum! You’ll think you’re in Europe again.

Take time for a romantic walk after dinner. The crowds of Christmas Lighting Festival have passed but the glorious lights still decorate Front Street.
You’ll want to have your cross-country skis or snowshoes along. If the snow is fresh and deep, find your way to Blackbird Island in Waterfront Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise, just two blocks from the shops of Front Street. Hiking boots will usually do if snowshoeing is not your thing. Don’t forget your camera.
If you’re staying at one of our favorite hotels, the very romantic Enzian Inn, you’ll enjoy complimentary use of their Nordic skis, boots and poles. Take the air all around Leavenworth, then come back to your room at Enzian Inn to warm up in your jetted tub or walk-in shower. Snuggle by your own fireplace or join other guests in the lobby next to the roaring fire and antique grand piano. The next morning you can sleep in and stroll to the 4th floor breakfast room for a delicious breakfast with made-to-order omelets and freshly baked pastries and bread. Enjoy your breakfast with brewed Starbucks coffee and an amazing view of the surrounding mountains.
Valentine’s Day Weekend, February 14-17, 2014 is the date for the Leavenworth Wine and Chocolate Festival. Wineries throughout the Wenatchee Valley will celebrate the wonderful pairing of local red wine and fine chocolate. Check back with our TNBT page to find out the latest on this new Festival for Leavenworth.
For more ideas for your romantic getaway visit our Romance page. We’ve listed a lot of ideas for couples. You’ll also find links to many more places to stay.

Trip Advisor Ten Romantic Leavenworth Hotels

Leavenworth is only a short drive or train ride away from all major cities in Washington State. So close and yet it seems so far from your everyday life.

Leavenworth WA represented at 2014 Winter Games

January 28th, 2014

Cross country ski tracks in the snow

Cross country ski tracks in the snow

When the 2014 Winter Games open on February 7, the northwest will be well represented. Athletes from around the northwest will compete on the short speed skate track, in snowboard and free-style events and on the cross-country ski course.

Leavenworth Washington native, Torin Koos, was named to the US Olympic Ski Team in January after winning the US Sprint championship. Koos is an Olympic veteran, having competed in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, where he finished 26th in the individual sprint classic.

Torin lists his hometown as Leavenworth WA. He was a member of Leavenworth Sports Club (still listed as his home club in some press sites) and began competing at the age of 12. He’s still active in the Washington State nordic ski scene. You can view a an instructional video filmed by Icicle TV, wherein Koos demonstrates his signature double polling technique known as a kangaroo hop with local youth athletes. Torin has also been involved with the Icicle Middle School running program as a volunteer coach.

Koos is active with the community outreach program In the Arena which has a vision “to leverage the uplifting power of sport to effect lasting and meaningful change in today’s youth, with the aim of giving all young Americans equal access to the highest caliber role models and the best chance at success in the long-term.”

You can read Torin Koos’ blog here.

Check out some video from Icicle TV featuring Torin.

You can find out more about Torin Koos at these links:

Team USA profile

NBC Athlete’s profile

Torin’s Facebook page

Video US Sprint Championship from Jan 6, 2014

Joining Torin Koos on the USA Ski Team are siblings Erik Bjornsen and Sadie Bjornsen from Winthrop in the Methow Valley.

You can meet the entire USA Olympic Cross-Country Team and follow their progress at the NBC Olympics website.

Congratulations, Torin!
Go Team USA!

Christmas in the Rockies

January 10th, 2014

We love the mountains! With both of us having grown up in the mountainous northwest, the mountains are our favorite place to be. (Right up there with Walt Disney World and home!) This year we had added incentive to travel to the Colorado Rockies for Christmas: our third grandchild, Alan Hollister Meredith, arrived in mid-December. We flew to Denver International Airport early on Christmas Day where we were met by our son, Andrew. It was good to see him. Our last time with him having been in August for Scotte’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

Andrew and his wife, Patricia, make their home in the small Colorado town of Buena Vista in the Collegiate Mountains of central Colorado. It’s a three hour drive from Denver. In spite of his new-parent sleep deprivation, Andrew was cheerful and talkative. A great chauffeur.

It seemed no time at all and we were arriving at Spring Canyon Camp where Andrew lives and works. Spring Canyon is an Officer’s Christian Fellowship Camp. Located in the heart of the Collegiates at 9200′ elevation. The camp serves military families from all branches. In the winter and summer, families gather at Spring Canyon to reconnect and restore. The camp is beautiful, situated as it is at the foot of several “fourteeners”.

The highlight of the trip was, of course, seeing our kids and meeting baby Alan. We spent loads of time holding the cuddly little bundle, changing diapers (at least Renae did), burping him, comforting him and just getting to know his sweet little self.

As a family we played games (including one that Andrew is developing), watched Christmas movies, ate wonderful cheese fondue, got caught up on Sherlock, and shared dinners with the military families at camp. New Year’s Eve dinner was corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and black eyed peas. The incredible dessert buffet was prepared by Andrew’s sister-in-law, a CIA (Culinary Institute of America, NY) trained pastry chef and a baker in downtown Seattle, at Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co. Catie served up cannoli, peppermint bark cheese cake and a gluten free cake with caramel Italian cream icing.

Our week with Andrew, Tricia and Alan was wonderful, but too short. Too soon we had to leave for Denver and our Southwest flight home. Before he took us to the airport, Andrew wanted to make sure we had a great lunch. Neither of us have eaten at Chick-fil-A®. Our son was on a mission to make sure we did before we left for the Chick-fil-A desert of Washington State (our nearest is 282 miles away in Meridian ID.) I have to say, “When, oh when, will Chick-fil-A® come to Eastern Washington?”


We’re home now, looking back on our photos and our memories of time shared with family over Christmas in the Rockies.