It’s fall. The leaves are starting to change color. The temperature is dropping. And I’m down to my last two weeks here before returning to Mexico for the winter. This is always a bittersweet time of year. I love fall, but it’s getting harder and harder to leave. Friendships have grown over the years and so has my extended family.
I met friends in Leavenworth for one last Lions Club breakfast yesterday morning. The sun was shining and the smoke level was more tolerable than it’s been lately. We enjoyed a lovely meal of pancakes, sausages and eggs. Then we walked downtown to Front Street where Alpenfolk were performing at the gazebo. I have fond memories of the first time I ever saw them back in 2016 when I first discovered Leavenworth.
Next we walked up to the Senior Center where I saw friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Now that I live in East Wenatchee, I usually come back to Leavenworth twice a week to teach fitness classes. I no longer go to the Senior Center for lunches or to play bridge. Craft afternoons and music nights are history as well. Covid affected a lot of activities and I hope that maybe by next spring many of them will have resumed.
This weekend is also Autumn Leaf Festival. We enjoyed watching the Grand Parade from the shade of the veranda at the Senior Center. Some of the seniors who come to my fitness classes were on a float from Mountain Meadows and we waved at them enthusiastically as they passed by. I’m always amazed at all the high school bands who come from all over the state to play in the parade. There were also two small floats from Canada. One was from Penticton and the other from New Westminster. Beautiful flower arrangements adorned some of the horses in the parade.
I got a ride back to East Wenatchee from a friend who lives across the river in Wenatchee. Bob has lived in the valley for decades and I enjoy hearing his stories of what life was like before Highway 2 was built. Where stores and warehouses now line the road, vast empty fields once filled the land. The road to Wenatchee to Leavenworth meandered across both sides of what is now the new highway. We drove along the North Road to Peshastin before winding up on Highway 2, always a beautiful drive. And the high road up to East Wenatchee offers a picturesque view of Wenatchee.
I will miss Saturdays in Leavenworth. But I look forward to them again when I return in the spring.
Somehow I found the time yesterday to get my second booster. Glad I did. The latest version with the omicron protection is in short supply here in the valley and the demand is high. I was in Leavenworth promoting the SAIL program at the Senior Health Fair, had lunch with Connie at O’Grady’s at Sleeping Lady and then went to Cascade Medical before heading back to Wenatchee.
Lots of debate going around re all these vaccines. I have several friends who are Trumpers and can’t understand why I could possibly have even one dose, let alone four. Simple. I like to travel. Covid is here to stay. It was rampant when I was in Canada over the summer and I can only imagine what awaits me when I return to Mexico next month.
Yes. I booked my flights. I’ve decided to fly inland to Guadalajara. It’s still hurricane season. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami warning didn’t help any this week either. The bonus is I fly out of Pangborn and avoid the hassle of TSA screening at Sea-Tac.
The leaves are starting to change color as the cooler temperatures move in. I didn’t have time for pics today when I was in Cashmere, but I did notice that the leaves on my tree are starting to turn red. I need to find some time to go back later this week and take some pics. And I know I can rely on my friends to visit my tree and take pics while I’m gone.
Naturally a trip to Costco was in order yesterday. I always find the most insane things to buy there that I never thought I needed. The kicker is that I usually make good use of these whether it’s clothing, groceries or just stuff. I must admit that my packing cubes came from Marshalls. But the dark chocolate sea salt caramels are definitely from Costco.
On Sunday Clairesse and Katie introduced me to Legends, an extremely high end and gourmet ice cream shop here in East Wenatchee. Of course it’s quite conveniently located close to where I live here in East Wenatchee. And this comes on the heels of discovering Blue Spoon, a fabulous frozen yogurt place, also conveniently located close by.
Autumn Leaf Festival is coming up this weekend in Leavenworth. Apple Days are the following weekend in Cashmere at the Pioneer Museum. Then it will time to fly back to Mexico for the weekend. So I can’t figure out why it feels like I just got back to Washington from Mexico in the spring.
This is the first time in five years I’ve been in Mexico in late September. It feels strange.
Autumn Leaf Festival is happening this weekend in Leavenworth. I’m usually sitting out on the verandah of the Senior Center with friends watching the parade.
Instead, today I went to the park at the end of my street. I worked on some Spanish grammar for a while. I was about to leave when a man approached and asked if I knew the name of the park. And I don’t know the name of the park. It’s just always been the park next to the bull ring or in front of Expoplaza.
Anyways, a long conversation followed, all in Spanish of course. While we talked he kept a watchful eye on his children, ages 9 and 6, who were taking advantage of the playground structures.
He told me they had moved to Aguascalientes from Zacatecas two years ago. Zacatecas had become very dangerous because of cartel activity and was not a good place to live anymore.
He was curious as to why I had come to Aguascalientes. When I told him I was Canadian he admitted he knew next to nothing about Canada and had never even met a Canadian before.
He also told me he had never traveled outside of Mexico and didn’t speak any English at all. But he wants his children to learn English. He wanted to know if I still taught English even though I was retired. I told him Covid had put an end to that for the time being, although I have occasionally taken on private students in the past five years.
After close to an hour of conversation, he left with his kids and I headed for home. I was really pleased that my Spanish skills had improved so much that I didn’t have to ask him to speak slower or repeat himself. Not once did I say “no entiendo. “
I’m into the home stretch. Saying goodbye to people and places.
My Tree. This spectacular red maple captured my heart back in 2016. Right now it’s still very green and I will miss the vibrant red leaves this year. I’m counting on my friends to send me pics. I know they will. After all, they visit my tree when I’m away for the winter.
Something else I will miss is the 9/11 service at Spirit of America. This is always a highlight of my time in Washington and sadly I will be far away in another country on September 11th.
The Chelan County Fair in Cashmere and the Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth are two more favorite events I will miss this year.
Yes I will be thousands of miles away but I will be in time for Independence Day celebrations.
Two weeks from today I’ll be on the Wenatchee Valley Shuttle headed for Sea-Tac. It feels like only yesterday it was the reverse. The past few months have passed by in a blur. The older I get the faster the time flies by.
Just the other day I told one of my friends that I don’t want to leave yet because there is still so much I want to do here. But the Reindeer Farm and an Amtrak trip will have to wait until next summer.
October is one of my favorite months here. The leaves on the trees are a glorious sight as they change color. The Autumn Leaf Festival and Apple Days are most enjoyable. Three weekends of Octoberfest are a bit much for my liking but are good for the tourism industry.
I’d like to share some of the beautiful fall colors here in Leavenworth.
Autumn has long been my favorite season of the year. Trees and bushes show their glorious fall foliage. Once they fall to the ground they make a crunching sound under my feet as I walk along the street.
When my son was a toddler, we would head for Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg where we would collect leaves. He would squeal gleefully as he darted about looking for different colors and shapes. We would take our treasures home, wrap them in saran, and place them carefully in one of my heaviest cookbooks to preserve them. I actually saved that one cookbook with the last leaves we collected and it’s hidden beneath some photo albums in a bin stored at my son’s house. A beautiful memory.
Two years ago I spent a couple of days in Toronto. My friend Deborah lived by the lake and I recall our wonderful walk among the colorful trees in the neighborhood. I hadn’t experienced fall in a while as Mexico has a totally different climate and vegetation.
Last summer I discovered Washington state and I returned again this year to enjoy the summer and fall. Busloads of tourists come to Leavenworth to admire the amazing display of color at this time of year. The Autumn Leaf Festival held two weekends ago attracted hundreds of tourists. The Salmon Festival also happened recently. But we are now in the midst of three weekends of Oktoberfest, which means thousands of people flocking to Leavenworth.
Oktoberfest! This quaint Bavarian village is synonymous with the Oktoberfest celebration. Lederhosen and dirndls are worn by many. Entertainment abounds at three different venues. Bratwurst on a bun is just one of the many items on the menu. And of course there are numerous types of beer to choose from. Hotels and campgrounds are booked solid. Driving through town is more like a congested parking lot.
This weekend Apple Days was held at the Pioneer Museum in Cashmere. Yours truly got caught up in the spirit and volunteered in the vintage railroad ticket station. Entertainment varied from gymnasts to mariachi and more. Shoot outs were held on the hour. And of course an apple pie baking contest was featured. This gentleman was serving up sarsaparilla in the bar.
A wind blew in yesterday and a shower of pine needles has covered the ground. The aroma is heavenly. And my favorite tree in Cashmere has begun to change color.
Fall has arrived and the annual Autumn Leaf Festival took place on the weekend. This is the longest running festival in Leavenworth and celebrates the turning colors of the autumn leaves. It originated in 1964 when the town adopted the Bavarian theme. The parade is a highlight where floats as well as bands come from all over Washington state as well as British Columbia. Hundreds of people crowd the streets to view this spectacle and Highway 2 is closed down for several hours. Restaurants and shops are filled to overflowing, and parking spaces are at a premium. Indeed Icicle Road has become a parking lot all the way down to the golf course.
This has been a busy weekend. It’s both Homecoming Week and Autumn Leaf Festival. For a Canadian living here now, these have been exciting events for me. Homecoming Week was non-existent where I grew up. And the Autumn Leaf Festival is unique to Leavenworth.
On Friday night we drove out to Peshastin. The high school football stadium is located at the Dryden Elementary School located there. Our local team, Cascade Kodiaks, were playing the Sultan Turks. The first quarter saw our team down 40-7, but they rallied and the final score was 48-41, although not in our favor.
The stands were packed. It seemed like the whole town was there. A great many people there, like us, didn’t have kids in high school but had come out to support and cheer on the team. The enthusiasm was contagious, and every time a touchdown was scored and the fireworks went off, I was right in there with the crowd. A friend was sitting nearby, and his son was one of the star players on the team, so that added to the football fever around us.
At half-time, the lights were dimmed and a makeshift stage was bathed in floodlights where the homecoming royalty were introduced. I thoroughly enjoyed the speeches the students made, and wondered why we never had anything like this back when I was a teenager in Winnipeg. Homecoming Week is definitely a huge celebration down here.
When this part of the program ended, there was a spectacular fireworks display. In all honesty, it put Winnipeg’s Canada Day celebrations to shame. And this is only a high school football game! I was so totally mesmerized by the display that I only took a handful of pictures, very unusual for me.
Vendors in the stands came around with hot dogs, popcorn and candy. I opted for the hot chocolate, as up here in the mountains the temperature drops quickly once the sun sets. I had dressed for the occasion in a long-sleeve turtleneck, a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket on top. Of course I had also brought along a blanket.
Saturday dawned clear and sunny. The temperatures were rising and we headed downtown to watch the Autumn Leaf Festival parade. I was completely overwhelmed by the number of floats and the incredibly huge marching bands. The parade went on for an hour and a half. There were floats and bands from all over the state of Washington. Canadians were also represented by floats from Kelowna, Penticton and White Rock in British Columbia. I took 348 photos, but I will share only a few here.
After the parade we headed downtown to Front Street. Blocked off to traffic, the streets were crowded with pedestrians. The shops, restaurants and bars were all packed. Some of the people were dressed up in traditional leiderhausen. Different bands provided entertainment at the gazebo.
We were able to find a table at Munchausen and enjoyed a cold and refreshing beer. Afterwards we were treated to a gymnastics display a little further down the street.
Our final stop was at King Ludwig’s, a popular German restaurant that has become my favorite. A great band serenaded us with lively tunes as we ate dinner. Pictured below is a house specialty of sauerbraten.
Of course all the locals are amused by my excitement over these events and keep telling me to just wait for Octoberfest next month. That happens for THREE weekends!!!!!