Tag Archives: Leavenworth

Our Christmas Vacation

The theme of this holiday season for Alex and me has been family, friends and new traditions. While we still have a few more days left of the season, I’d say our Christmas surpassed my wildest expectations of new traditions and time with family.

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We just returned home from our Christmas vacation in Leavenworth, Washington with both of our parents and Alina and Alberto. We spent five days in the mountains, as well as a day on either side in Seattle. I found a cabin for us to rent that came with a huge kitchen meant for entertaining, a great big wood burning fireplace, a fabulous hot tub, a dining room table to accommodate us all, a shuffleboard table and a wine fridge.

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Our trip began in downtown Leavenworth where we stopped for lunch at Munchen Haus to enjoy a sausage, sauerkraut, as well as beer and mulled wine. We walked the streets of town and got our bearings before setting off to check into the lodge.

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While it was a little different than I expected, the lodge worked out really well for us. I wish there would have been two more bedrooms and bathrooms, but the three {of each} that were there sufficed pretty well. The layout was meant for entertaining, though was still a little sectioned off. I would definitely stay there again – the hot tub was awesome, there was a huge deck off the back overlooking the expansive property and onto the mountains. The kitchen was enormous and had a lot of space to set food out for all of us to indulge in. We brought our own Christmas tree and a few decorations, as we had been told that the lodge wasn’t decorated for Christmas. As it turned out, there was a huge artificial tree and tons of decor in the closet. I guess the property manager was just too lazy to decorate for us!

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The trip was a wonderful hodgepodge of cooking, eating, drinking, skiing, chatting and playing games. The first night we were treated to an Italian meal called Spetzatinna {or something similar}, which is a ragu with slow cooked beef served with polenta. It was divine!

Our first ski day was Christmas Eve. We woke up to find an early Christmas gift in the form of new snow! I think it’s safe to say we all enjoyed getting back on the slopes at Stevens Pass.

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Donna prepared our delicious Christmas Eve turkey dinner and we spent the evening playing the game called “Things” which is a new favorite.

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Christmas day started out with homemade cinnamon and orange rolls, opening our pajamas and gigantic stocking and just hanging out. We spent the day at the lodge and went in the hot tub, played Uchre, worked on the neverending puzzle and the ladies did Pilates. My mom arrived just in time for our prime rib dinner on Christmas night. She flew in late so she could spend Christmas morning with my brother back in Minnesota. Our night was finished with a grossly inappropriate game of Cards Against Humanity. Nothing like playing that game with your parents!

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The day after Christmas we all piled in the SUVs and headed back to the mountains for more skiing.

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We had planned on doing a sleigh ride that evening but there wasn’t enough snow for the sleigh so it got canceled. That meant we had more time in downtown Leavenworth to taste wine at Icicle River Winery and eat dinner at Gustav’s.

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On our final full day in Leavenworth the moms treated themselves to a day at the spa while the rest of us made our final turns at Stevens Pass in one last day of skiing. It snowed quite a few inches during the day, which conveniently provided us with free snow refills.

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We headed back to Seattle on Sunday with two very full SUVs, while my mom made her way slowly back to the airport. She went back home a day earlier than everyone else, and just as she was getting ready to leave the lodge we found out that chains were required to get through the mountain pass. Having a rental car meant she didn’t have chains, so she had to take the long way around through a different mountain pass. Of course less than 30 minutes after she left, the restriction was lifted so she could have gone the original route anyway. Oh well!

The rest of us packed up and headed back to our house since we still had one more night with the rest of the gang in Seattle. We spent quite a bit of time playing the game Fibbage on the Xbox before settling in for an evening of drinking wine at Bottlehouse.

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Our house is now empty and feels much too quiet. It was very sad to see our families leave today after such a wonderful Christmas vacation with everyone. We are so grateful that our family was willing to come out to Washington to celebrate Christmas with us in the mountains. We knew it was a lot to ask but now that we’ve had our first Christmas out here we hope it won’t be the last. This holiday will go down as a highlight of my Christmas memories from recent years.

 

Third Annual Leavenworth Octoberfest Weekend

We just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Leavenworth, Washington for their Octoberfest celebration. This is our third year taking this trip and we keep saying every year we get better and better at it. For sure this one was the best!

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Our group changed a little bit from the last two years. This year we had Dave and Trish and their little dog Louis with us. We really enjoy the Hilliards {and loved meeting Louis!} and they were a welcome addition. We stayed in the same rental house as we did last year. This house was perfect for us – it had four bedrooms, a fenced in yard for the three dogs, a hot tub, and a really open kitchen/living area. Alex and I stay in a lot of vacation rentals and we really enjoy doing that, particularly with big groups of friends because then we can all help prepare meals and spread out and just spend more time together.

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One other thing that we modified from years’ past is that we all left Seattle by 1:00, which got us to the rental house by 3:30. We practically had another day there, it felt, because in the past we have always worked a full day and then headed out, fought traffic and arrived closer to 8:00.

{The Millers made sauerbraten for dinner on Friday - it had been marinading/brining for FIVE DAYS before our trip! It was awesome!}

{The Millers made sauerbraten for dinner on Friday – it had been marinading/brining for FIVE DAYS before our trip! It was awesome!}

The drive was simply stunning. The drive on highway 2 through Stevens Pass is always beautiful but with the bright yellow and orange leaves popping out all over the place against the backdrop of the rocky terrain and the river it is just breathtaking. In retrospect I should have stopped for a few photos…

Since we all arrived so early on Friday we had a lot of time to catch up and hang out. Alex brought his famous new shot ski, so we took shots of wine, beer and/or water. No one brought hard alcohol or anything particularly good to take a shot of, so we had to be creative just to put the shot ski to good use!

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Both evenings ended with some good old fashioned card games. Friday we busted out Cards Against Humanity, which is always a fun favorite, but we had a new addition this year. I got a brand new game called The Game of Things which was so fun! We all agreed that we liked it much better than Cards Against Humanity. It’s more interactive and you can be a lot more creative than Cards Against Humanity. It is still inappropriate {but could also be more innocent} and hilarious.

{Patrick is 6'6" and Dave is about 5'6", so it was fun to watch this...}

{Patrick is 6’6″ and Dave is about 5’6″, so it was fun to watch this…}

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Saturday was our big day in the town of Leavenworth. After a delicious breakfast and leisurely morning we drove into Leavenworth and parked ourselves at a table and ordered sausages, pretzels and giant steins of beer {well, the boys drank the beer…}. Carrie, being the studious student she is, took a couple hours to herself to go study for an upcoming nursing school test she had, so Trish, Mary and I walked around some of the shops.

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We popped into several wineries and did some tastings, we also did some olive oil and balsamic tastings, along with chocolate tastings. Needless to say we had our fair share of sugar! Leavenworth is such a cute town and it is just oozing with character on its own, but several of the shops are just adorable, so we had a great time dropping into them.

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While we were doing girlie things the boys were drinking more beer and then they found a random mini golf course, so they did some putting and hanging out. All in all, it was a great afternoon spent in Leavenworth. The weather held out and didn’t rain and we had a really fun time exploring some parts of the city that we had previously missed.

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We got back to the house just before dark and Carrie started to whip up our feast for dinner. We spent the rest of the evening eating, chatting and playing The Game of Things before retreating to bed.

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The last day of a vacation always seems to be one of the hardest. You know it’s coming to an end but you want to savor the rest of the trip… I made breakfast on Sunday and we were able to relax and read by the fire. Because we got a late check-out, Mary led a pilates class for 5 of us in their bedroom. I asked her to take a picture and she told me to take a mental picture, so sorry that I can’t provide a humorous image of 5 adults doing pilates in a very small space. It felt amazing to get a good stretch in after our fun weekend and before our drive home.

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{this photo was taken in the back yard of the house we stayed at. simply gorgeous!}

Thanks Millers, Buffingtons and Hilliards for the best Leavenworth weekend yet! Here’s to an even better one next year…

Ski Trip in Leavenworth with Alex’s Parents

After my parents’ repeat visits it was time to welcome Alex’s parents for their spring visit to Seattle. Donna and Stan came out to spend some time with us last weekend. They arrived on Friday morning and we had a quick lunch at the Hi Spot before we packed up the SUV and hit the road to head for the mountains.

Cascade Mountains from Stevens Pass

Cascade Mountains from Stevens Pass

It was a beautiful day for a drive and we loved checking out the views through Snoqualmie Pass and Bluwett Pass as we approached our cabin in Peshastin, Washington, just outside the town of Leavenworth. It took us just over 2 hours to get there from our house, which was a nice and easy drive to get us out of town. Our rental cabin was so cute!! It was really in the middle of nowhere, situated on a huge lot. The cabin had a funny layout but it worked really well for us with a galley kitchen that opened up onto the dining room and living room. The view of the Cascade Mountains from the front of the cabin was incredible.

Our cute little rental cabin

Our cute little rental cabin

Jackson was in paradise the whole time we were at the cabin. The property allowed for him to go outside off leash and run around and roam free. He and Alex played ball for hours upon hours. Jackson has some pretty substantial anxiety issues, we’ve realized, so we were a bit nervous and unsure of how he would do in the new space. Much to our surprise he actually did do pretty well! At our last cabin weekend at Crystal Mountain we didn’t get any sleep at all the first night because Jackson was up crying all night from anxiety and restlessness. Thankfully he went to bed just fine both nights and was able to feel comfortable in the house and he didn’t feel the need to mark his territory in the house, either.

He was in absolute heaven.

He was in absolute heaven.

We didn’t have much on the agenda for our first night, other than to run into Leavenworth, check out the town and grab some groceries. We picked up some steaks, a lot of wine and some appetizers to enjoy back at the cabin. It was so nice to relax and catch up with Alex’s parents on our first night.

Jackson did such a good job of settling down in the cabin.

Jackson did such a good job of settling down in the cabin.

On Saturday we had a wonderfully relaxing morning at the cabin before packing up the car and driving about 45 minutes to Stevens Pass to go skiing for the day. Alex and I typically ski at Crystal Mountain and I have only skied at Stevens Pass once, while Alex has skied there a handful of times. Neither one of us is too familiar with the mountain so it was fun to explore some new terrain.

Ski tips up!

Ski tips up!

The weather on Saturday was wonderful! We enjoyed skiing in the sunshine – it was so warm that most of us ended up dropping a layer in a locker we rented. I always get a kick out of skiing with Donna and Stan because it is amazing to watch how much they improve from the start of the day to the end. The last time they had skied was in Breckenridge at Thanksgiving when they had their ski lesson. I think the pointers from ski instructor Rick really stuck with them! Stan, especially, showed drastic improvements – he truly looked like a different skier from the first run to the last.

Pro skiers!

Pro skiers!

After our fun ski day we headed back home to soak in the hot tub. It’s not a ski vacation unless there’s a hot tub! We had a wonderful dinner together before we all passed out on the comfy sectional in the living room.

My handsome hubby!

My handsome hubby!

One of the disappointing parts of great weekends is they always go too fast! We were all enjoying our time at the cabin so much that it was very sad when it was time to say goodbye on Sunday morning. It was such a relaxing environment for all of us, which was much needed. I wish we could have stayed longer!

Hanging out in Leavenworth

Hanging out in Leavenworth

On our way back to Seattle we decided to stop in Leavenworth again to spend a few hours perusing the town and grabbing lunch. Leavenworth is an adorable Bavarian-style town in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. It is really quite picturesque. Alex and I have spent more and more time here in the last few years and adore the town.

The four of us

The four of us

Since it was another gorgeous day Alex and Stan parked themselves at an outdoor beer garden and ordered a stein of beer to enjoy while Donna and I browsed in some of the shops and did a couple wine tastings. We met up with the boys for a lunch of sausage and pretzels at the Muchen Haus before getting back on the road to Seattle.

Leavenworth photo opp with the mountains in the backdrop

Leavenworth photo opp with the mountains in the backdrop

The rest of our day kept in line with being very relaxing. We shared a bottle of wine on our front porch before walking up to the new restaurant in our neighborhood, Red Cow, for a delicious steak dinner. I haven’t been impressed with Red Cow’s dessert menu, so I suggested we walk across the street to Bottlehouse to see if they’re still open. Everything about Bottlehouse is impressive, including their dessert menu, so we were happy to see that they still allowed us to come in for a night cap even though they had already technically closed. One of the many perks of being regulars, I guess! Donna and Stan got to catch up with Henri, one of the owners, while Alex and I ordered a bottle of bubbly and some pots de creme, two of our favorites.

Wine tasting

Wine tasting

Monday meant back to work for Alex and me. Donna and Stan were feeling independent so they hopped on the city bus and headed downtown to do a little shopping before meeting Alex for lunch near his new office. Shortly thereafter it was time for me to take them to the airport before I had to go to work.

Alex and Stan

Alex and Stan

It’s hard to believe how quickly our time came and went with Alex’s parents! As always, it was wonderful to have them come and visit. We are so fortunate that although we live so far away from our parents they still come to see us in Seattle and we always have a great time!

 

Second Annual Leavenworth Octoberfest Trip

It has become an annual tradition with one of our groups of friends to make a pilgrimage to Leavenworth, Washington to partake in Oktoberfest shenanigans. This year marked our second trip together. Our group included the newlyweds {Carrie & Patrick}, Mary, Ryan, Sara and Carsten, and three dogs {Berkeley, Emma and Jackson}.

The group in Leavenworth

The group in Leavenworth

The Millers found a fantastic house for us to rent for the weekend. The house had a very open floor-plan with a huge kitchen, a bedroom for each couple, a hot tub and a fenced in backyard {perfect for the pups!}.

This was the only photo I took with the dogs... sorry guys :)

This was the only photo I took with the dogs… sorry guys 🙂

We all arrived on Friday evening. We had enough time to have a few bottles of wine, some snacks and some great conversations before hitting the hay for the night.

The girls.

The girls.

Saturday morning we woke up and took the dogs for a walk and had breakfast together {breakfast burritos, courtesy of Sara} before going into the town of Leavenworth for the afternoon. Last year we went to the official Oktoberfest celebration, which included a hefty entry fee, no drink tickets and a lot of chaos. This year we decided against the actual celebration and instead found a place to grab some lunch and then did some shopping around town.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth

The girls split up to pop into some shops while the boys found a great beer garden with food that was better {and over an hour faster} than the restaurant we had lunch at. If only we would have found that place first! While the boys were enjoying their beer steins us girls did a wine tasting, Mary and I tried on the “world’s best leggings” and we did some olive oil sampling before meeting up with the boys for beers and pretzels.

Yum pretzels!

Yum pretzels!

The weather was absolutely perfect. It was sunny, crisp and clear, so we got fabulous views of the mountains. Leavenworth is situated in the Cascade Mountains along the Wenatchee River. Given that it is currently fall, the colors were spectacular, which made the idyllic scene that much better.

View of the Cascades from Leavenworth.

View of the Cascades from Leavenworth.

On our way out we walked through an art fair and Alex and I bought a black and white picture of aspen trees that was taken outside of Aspen, Colorado. I think this picture will make its way to a wall down in the office. Mary and Ryan got a black and white image of Mount Rainier for their home.

Carsten enjoying his first stein.

Carsten enjoying his first stein.

We got back to the house around dusk and let the pups out to play while Carrie warmed up some hearty chili and cornbread for dinner. It was a pretty low-key night, but we all really enjoyed being able to relax so much. Alex and Patrick got a great fire going outside and then we all piled in the hot tub for a bit. I’m not sure how this happened, but we ended up watching Beauty and the Beast until we all fell asleep on the couch…

Cute little town.

Cute little town.

Sunday morning came way too fast and we had to pack up and get ready to go back to Seattle. Mary made a really good breakfast casserole with spinach, goat cheese and tomatoes, along with some rosemary roasted potatoes to fill our bellies up for the beautiful drive back home.