Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Leavenworth Washington

Leavenworth is about two hundred miles from where we are parked. Despite the distance, John wanted to see Snoqualmie Pass and the town of Leavenworth. It was a beautiful mountain drive with the usual scenic vistas. On our way out toward the town we went over Steven's Pass on Highway 2. Returning home we took a different route over Snoqualmie Pass on Highway 97. There was some snow present in the higher elevations. The town of Leavenworth is nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It is a perfect setting for a Bavarian village. The railroad moved its tracks away from Leavenworth and the logging industry left the town in the early 20th century. Life was slow in this town until the1960s when the people of Leavenworth decided to "go Alpine" and committed to a Bavarian theme. The town is now famous for its Bavarian shops and restaurants. I had an excellent lunch at King Ludwig restaurant of beef rouladen and spaetzle, John had jagerschnitzle.
 After lunch we headed to the town park of Blackbird Island.  A bridge in the park leads to nature trails, which we started to hike over until some sprinkles of rain started coming down. Walking back into town we decided to tour the nutcracker museum. We almost passed it up, being uncertain as to whether it would be worth our time. I am so thankful now that we decided to step into the building!
The owner of the museum, Arlene Wagner, happened to be there at the time we were and was very eager to discuss their collection.. She and her husband have collected over 5,000 nutcrackers from some 40 countries. There is one metal nutcracker from Roman ruins (dating back to about 200 B.C.) and many others including some which are used to crack betel nuts in Asia.  The Wagners started buying them primarily from the workshops of Erzebirge Germany. The colorfully decorated soldiers and kings are the ones I am more familiar with. The reason figures of soldiers and kings were carved into nutcrackers was that the Germans liked the idea of using those figures of authority to do the labor of cracking nuts! I also had the impression nutcrackers were just a Christmas decoration. But many in the collection celebrated other festival times of the year, for example, Fashing which in Germany is equivalent to our Halloween. There were also sets of them which had a theme as the Wizard of Oz and the Nutcracker Suite. The Wagners certainly have an impressive collection. .Before we left Leavenworth we were determined to find an authentic German bakery. After inquiring around we did find one on the outskirts of town . We purchased a very hardy rye bread which was quite delicious.

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