Early yesterday morning, my friend Judy and I climbed aboard a Hesselgrave tour bus for an all-day trip to Leavenworth, a pretend Bavarian village in the Cascades. The 49-passenger bus was almost full, and I had been warned that Leavenworth is pretty much of a tourist trap. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was a good thing to do once and experience... once.
We climbed through small towns with picturesque names like Grotto, Gold Bar, and Skykomish on our way over Stevens pass. This pass through the mountains is at just over 4,000 feet and had a ski lodge at the top, and lots of snow. When we arrived in Leavenworth and were shunted into a secondary parking lot for buses, I looked out and saw quaint Bavarian style houses and... people. Wall to wall people. Apparently they were all there for the final Saturday's lighting of the Christmas lights. Here's a picture of me after we arrived. The crowds grew from this point.
We had been given a tip to find a place for lunch off the main street, which would allow us not to fight the shoulder to shoulder crowds. We found a lovely little place called The Alley Cafe, and sat down to a beer (for Judy) and a glass of wine (for me) and a very good lunch. When we left our little cafe, we found that even MORE people had arrived, and there was little to do but follow from one shop to another, fighting to make your way through the crowds. It's worth enlarging the following picture just to capture the day's feeling.
We did find a bookstore, but even that was impossible to navigate. We thought we could just park ourselves at a bookstore and browse, but there were too many people everywhere to do that. So, after a few hours of difficult crowds, we made our way back to the Alley Cafe and parked ourselves there for a small snack. Once it got dark, we went outside to see the lighting of the town's buildings, listened to Christmas carols and made our way along with the rest of the cattle to our bus.
I left the house yesterday morning at 7:30 am and returned home at 9:30 pm, glad to finally be back home. I got another taste of how different the world is today than it was when I was young, just in sheer population numbers. I thought of an old science fiction movie called "Soylent Green" that showed people shuffling joylessly along from place to place, following the herds of people.
I did have the chance to spend the day with Judy and we talked and reminisced about the old days. All in all, I'm glad I went but I'm also glad I don't have to do that again.