My darling husband got me a sweet blue tooth keyboard for my tablet, which means I can actually write blog posts without getting carpal tunnel from trying to swype everything. Lucky you?
They say that 30 is the new 20. While I’m not 100% convinced of that, I’m certainly not having a 30-induced crisis. Though I will admit that the approach of such a biiiiig rouuuund new decade of life has been giving me a small amount of heartburn since the start of September.
Fortunately, I was able to ease my transition to this brave new world of age and maturity by spending a lovely weekend in Leavenworth with friends and family. I love Leavenworth. Yes, it is a kitschy tourist town, but I enjoy the liederhosen, the beer steins, the oompa music, the wine tasting, the flavored mustards, the t-shirt shops, and the store that is all Christmas, all the time. It is a town surrounded by Alpine-looking mountains, where even the McDonalds and Starbucks are cloyingly Bavarian.
Starbucks image credit
We were joined in our Bavarian delight by Andrew’s brother Justin, his wife (and one of my best friends) Jen, and their imp of a daughter, Bekah. Two of our favorite people from vet school, Steph and Dave, drove up all the way from Astoria OR with their 9 month old, Oliver, to experience the touristy splendor. And a contingent of peeps from Yakima (Matt, Willie, and Emily) who took a day trip on Saturday to help guide my increasingly alcohol-soaked self from wine tasting to wine tasting.
I got off work right at 6 Friday night and dashed home like a mad person so we could drive right up to Leavenworth. Andrew surprised me by booking us at our favorite hotel, right at the end of the main drag, near Icicle Creek Brewery, in an honest to God suite! I tried to take pictures, but they didn’t do it justice. Suffice it to say, I’m pretty sure that this is what being royalty feels like. We were in the “Grand Suite.” And grand it was. I did a little happy dance when we walked in. We convened at Gustav’s for dinner and then turned in for the evening.
Saturday saw us beginning with a traditional breakfast and mimosas at Tumwater Inn which has not been redecorated in over 20 years. But it is an Oktoberfest tradition in the Brauer family to start getting our drunk on amongst the fake pumpkins and lace-covered light fixtures.
Then we took a tour through the hat shop. I must say I was sorely disappointed by their lack of princess crowns. I had grand plans of spending most of the weekend with an awesome birthday princess crown on my head, but ’twas not to be.
Next we went to the above-pictured Starbucks to satisfy the caffiene needs of half the party and I got to hold Oliver long enough to get head-butted in the throat (he’s in the bob-and-lunge stage). Then we went straight for the booze! First wine tasting of the weekend was at the always-delicious Kestrel Winery. This was our first wine tasting ever last year on our anniversary and it has served as the yard stick by which we judge all other wine tastings. Last year we were introduced to the magic that is good port. We were eager for whatever they might show us this time. Things got off to a bit of a weird start when the lady who greeted us seemed to be quite taken aback by my joke that the two kids wanted wine slushees in a sippy cup. I thought it was funny… She quickly ushered our large and uncouth party to a back room where we were seated around a large and serious looking table to start our tasting. Once the wine started coming, we were not disappointed. Many tasty whites and reds, some reds that even those immature souls who don’t like red wine (me) liked. Even though our wine tasting price covered 5 tastes per person, we ended up getting over 10 tastes each, in large part because we all started buying bottles of wine to take home so the nice man just kept filling our glasses with sangiovese while he rang us up. We brought home the sangiovese and a nice pinot gris.
The Yakima contingent arrived in time for lunch. Jen and Steph took the kiddos for mid-day naps while Andrew, Dave, Justin, Emily, Willie, Matt, and myself wandered semi-drunkenly through the kitchen store to make fun of all the truly bizarre items therein (an egg-cuber? That’s a thing? Dave pointed out that he is just so tired of dealing with egg-shaped eggs). Then Justin bought hoarhound candy (hint: it tastes like old people) and candy cigarettes (hint: it tastes like paper pretending to be bubble gum) and everyone decided they needed more beer at the Munchausen Beer Garden. We made a second brief stop in the hat shop for the benefit of Matt, who had never been there before.
This lead us to three more wineries for a whirlwind tasting tour. In spite of the recommendations for wineries given to us by the Kestrel guy, I stubbornly insisted on trying Matterhorn winery because the sign looked cool. I apologize to everyone for that suggestion, because although the labels were appealingly and the decor was sex-dungeon with bean bags, the wine was sadly just not good. Like at all. Sorry guys. Needless to say, we didn’t buy any wine there. Then we did what we should have done in the first place, and go to the wineries the Kestrel guy pointed out to us: Bergdorf and Baroness cellars. These tasting rooms are on two different floors of the same store, which was handy for those of us who were getting steadily unsteadier. Bergdorf was happily another win! I honestly enjoyed one of their reds (a double cab) and I was honestly having a really hard time deciding if I wanted to buy their Reisling or their Purple Paw Huckleberry when they brought out the Gluhwein: so called Christmas in a bottle, it is a heavily spiced wine served warm that made my eyes burn with the spicy vapors rising from the glass. It should come as no surprise that a bottle of this delight came back to Yakima with us. Then we ventured (stumbled) upstairs to try out Baroness. I don’t know if their wine just wasn’t as good or if I was too far gone to properly enjoy it. Though their dessert wine was like drinking syrup (aka amazing. I love sweet dessert wines) and the guy serving us was a microbiology student who was a dead ringer for Lenny Kravitz. Maybe I should try them again when I am sober-er. Fewer fruit flies in the air would also help; sadly, flies were the story of the weekend as they appeared to be taking over Leavenworth no matter where we were.
Our Yakima friends left us after this and the rest of us reeled off to dinner at a little burger joint with fantastic sweet potato fries. Then there was nothing left to do but lay around on the floor of our suite and chat. Sunday was fairly abbreviated because the Kingston contingent needed to get back home in time to watch the Seahawks game and Steph and Dave had a 6 hour drive ahead of them to get back to Astoria. But we managed to squeeze in an excellent breakfast at Pavs, the crepe place, where I was desperately jealous of all the egg dishes (stupid egg intolerance) in spite of how tasty my pear crepe was. I also got in some last minute baby fix with sweet little Oliver. And we bought some aged gouda, mango-ginger stilton, and coconut gouda at the Cheesemonger shop to help break in the world’s happiest cheese knives at my actual birthday dinner tomorrow!