When planning our trip to Washington my sister, Shannon, and I knew we would be overwhelmed with things to do, especially those involving the great outdoors. The state is home to so much natural beauty that it even contains three national parks. We were aching to visit at least one but couldn’t squeeze any into our schedule. I was especially bummed to be missing Olympic National Park – I so wanted to walk through its moss covered rainforests since there’s nothing like that in SoCal. But after visiting Bellingham our route took us east towards the town of Leavenworth instead of south towards the park.
Since Shannon and I are all about backroads we decided to avoid the interstate and instead travel along Highway 2 through the Cascade mountains. We always keep an eye out for interesting spots along the way and came across a sign for Deception Falls. Always game for a good waterfall, we decided to stop.
Located just off the highway we could hear the roar of the falls as soon as we got out of the car. We took the short trail from the parking lot and suddenly were confronted with a mass of rushing water.
Now, I’ve seen my fair share of waterfalls but I’ve never seen anything like this before. So. much. water. We stood on a bridge and gaped at the massive flood rushing toward and then under us. I then made my way around the corner and came to the mouth of the falls.
Wow. Just wow.
It was actually quite cold so I headed back and joined my sister in a walk along the nearby trails.
It meandered along the river offering striking vistas at nearly every turn.
And I learned I needn’t have worried about missing the Olympic Rainforest because here I was in one!
I know it’s nothing compared to the national park but it was the perfect taste of of this unique Washington landscape.
Soon, we made our way to the town of Leavenworth. The Bavarian village is essentially Washington’s Solvang. Think quaintly decorated buildings filled with shops catering to tourists.
Although ti is a tourist trap Shannon and I happen to have Bavarian heritage so we were eager to visit and grab some lunch.
Leavenworth has no shortage of sausage stands but we opted to have a sit down lunch at Andreas Keller. This quaint spot serves up all of our favorites – pretzels, bratwurst, schnitzel and spaetzle.
Nothing compares to my mom and grandma’s cooking but, I must say, our meal was quite delicious. We visited on a cold rainy day and the warm spaetzle covered a mushroom cream sauce was just the hearty dish we needed.
Leavenworth may be Solvang’s German cousin but it’s home to one spot you’ll never find in the Santa Ynez Valley – the Nutcracker Museum.
Founded in 1995 by George and Arlene Wagner it started as a way to showcase their collection. Now it encompasses over 3,000 square feet and houses thousands of nutcrackers of every shape and size.
I honestly never knew there were so many different kinds of nutcrackers. Or how much they would tickle my funny bone. But seeing numerous celebrities, athletes, heads of state and even the Y2K Bug in nutcracker form was pretty darn funny.
Honestly, I loved the Nutcracker Museum. Visiting quirky spots like it is my favorite part of traveling. Joined with a delicious meal and some stunning natural beauty it made our day in the Cascades a memorable one.