Leavenworth, Washington

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Sure, it felt like I had driven a long way from Seattle.  But when I stepped out of the car in Leavenworth, about two hours east of The Sound on US-2, I could swear I had somehow ended up in Germany.

Now, I know that the Bavarian theme, on which the town has been constructed, is a gimmick, meant to draw tourists.  But “gimmick” seems too harsh a word, because it’s been done so well.

Leavenworth’s Commercial Street begs to be walked at a leisurely pace.  During my visit in August, plenty of people were taking advantage of the clear, warm weather — in a town that looks like the inside of a snow globe for most of the year.  Once I finally found a parking spot, I strolled for a few minutes, determined to find a soft pretzel.  I did, and it was authentic, not the kind you get at the mall.

In the middle of everything, there’s a tall Maypole, which serves as the central figure for the town’s many festivals, including Maifest in May.  It gets decorated for the celebrations, but the rest of the year, it’s a bilingual reminder of the town’s faux German roots.

[tmt_info =””]Leavenworth began its transition into a Bavarian town in 1962, four years after a local business owner couple visited Solvang, California — a similarly themed town.[/tmt_info]

The streets aren’t only crowded with people, they’re also filled with flowers. Maybe it was especially amazing to me, since flowers like this don’t grow in my native Florida.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to explore the town.  I had to finish my long loop through the Cascades, and get back to Seattle by dusk.  US-2 provides a direct route, but in late afternoon the sun was in my eyes, blinding me to much of the beauty of this curvy route through one valley after another.

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Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive through Leavenworth, then west on US 2 to Skykomish:

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/AI6VLW8lFRg”]

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