Monday, July 13, 2009

Bavarian Float Trip

Before leaving Arizona a friend suggested we visit Leavenworth Washington. He described the place as a replica of a town from the Swiss Alps. The architecture was designed to remind people of a Bavarian town. I had never been in the Swiss Alps or Bavarian Germany so I was fascinated to see what that would be like. I began, before we left Arizona, to request a visit to Leavenworth. Traci did not understand my curiosities but she planned a trip to the area. She recognized the limited appeal the town would have for our young children and she booked a float trip on the local rivers to coincide with our visit to Leavenworth. The float trip was an exercise in pure summer relaxation and adventure for the whole family.

We arrived in the town a little before the float trip was to begin and checked in to a cabin situated just above the rocky back of the Wenatchee river. The one room cabin had two queen sized beds, a bathroom, a microwave and a television with the old style manual channel dial. Savannah was fascinated with this antiquated technology and immediately turned the dial around several times to see what would happen. She successfully changed the channel off the one channel designed to work with the cable box and the whole rig was rendered useless. We hadn't driven there to watch t.v. so this little exercise had no impact on activities for the day.

We ate our packed lunch of turkey and cheddar sandwiches for the adults and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids. We filled our water bottles and headed for the river.

We had a little confusion at the landing area as we failed to make a reservation for a specific time. The staff were friendly and helpful rounding up a few extra inner tubes and shuffling us on a bus. The bus ride was fifteen minutes and we piled out of the bus gathered our inner tubes and frisbee paddles and launched from the banks of the river into the icy cold mountain run off river named icicle river.

We floated past mountain peaks. We sailed over large rainbow trout idling in the current. Shane and Traci spotted raccoons. We shot the rapids. Savannah and I dipped our bodies into the frigid water. The temperature was 90 degrees in the air and 40 degrees in the water. The whole day floated leisurely by with sporadic water fights and aimless bank stops to pan for gold.

We left the river vowing to return one day. We went back to the cabin, showered the sand and grit off our bodies and went into the small burg for an evening meal. We landed at the Baron Haus, a local restaurant serving some traditional German foods. Traci went with the schnitzel while I had the currywurst and apple bratwurst combo plate. They were served with sauerkraut and another kraut dish with a cinnamon flavor and German fried potatoes. The children had chicken or hot dogs or burgers I can't remember which.

After the hearty meal we joined a crowd at the gazebo for the evening oom pa pa. The band was an accordion and a drum and the music was lively. The grassy area to the side of the gazebo featured several children chasing and rolling down the hill. It was an enjoyable way to end the day.

I tried to teach Savannah the polka and after a good effort she decided to join the crowd in front of the band for the chicken dance. We never mastered the polka. Sophia danced with a little friend around the stage. Shane made races out of rolling down the hill and running back up. It had cooled to the low seventies and there were puffy white clouds in the sky to reflect some of the changing colors of the setting sun. We topped the evening off with ice cream.

The next day we tried to hike in the mountains. We had not prepared well for a day of hiking. The scenery was amazing with wildflowers in bloom at every step. We started uphill and the limits of our footwear and our emotional endurance were telling us to turn around and pack it in.

We drove home. What took two hours to go east was taking four hours to go west. The kids managed the trip well. We had a great weekend.