Hi there from Leavenworth (or as some locals unfairly say ‘Worth Leaving), which took us by surprise somewhat in that here, 100 miles or so east from Seattle, is a town completely made up to look Bavarian. I’m not talking a couple of token goat herder hats either, I’m talking ornate wooden houses, farming scenes painted on walls, bratwurst for lunch and Erdinger for dinner kind of Bavaria. It’s very surreal, especially as the surrounding scenery is most definitely not Bavaria. It’s orange trees and craggy rocks Washington. A woman we met hiking today told us that after the lumber trade died back in the 1920s and the railway line got redirected after one too many deadly avalanches, the place had become a ghost town. Then some bright sparks decided to dolly up their new shack to look like a ski chalet. It made the Seattle press and people came from all around to visit it. The Leavenworth locals took notice, a vote was held (“Do you want your town to look like The Sound of Music?”), the town said yes and the rest as they say in Bavaria, ist Geschichte.
Zie German Hitchhiker was very happy indeed. (We were meant to say goodbye to her in Vancouver but it appears that has been postponed until Portland). That is until she ordered her favourite Bavarian dish Kaesespaetzle and they didn’t put any onions in it, which according to her was like omitting cheese from a cheeseburger. The bloke in lederhosen playing the accordion next to us cheered her up, even if he did look a bit like an S & M Jeffrey Archer.
Washington has been very kind to us so far though. When you’re on the road for a while, there are definite peaks and troughs, and moods can be deeply affected by what hindsight might call “trifling matters.” Vancouver, with its expensive hostels, expensive bars, expensive transport, expensive parking and expansive range of homeless folk presented our collective mood with a few challenges. Don’t get me wrong, it’s clearly a great city, with a wealth of stuff to do, trendy people, good music (battle of the bands and Seth Troxler were huge highlights), it perhaps dawned on us that with the freedom we’d previously had with Gina on the open road, we perhaps weren’t quite ready or appreciative of The Big City. It was great to catch up with some old buddies (hello Hugh and Doug!) and the Grouse Grind was a grand achievement (go up Grouse mountain as quick as you can – scores on the doors: Zabrina – 59 minutes, G – 53 mins, Alex ‘Mobot’ Thurlow – 49 mins) but with wallets draining and a mechanic informing us Gina needed a new tail-pipe (exhaust) and muffler (muffler), we didn’t really leave Canada in the highest of spirits. So it was with great relief that we whizzed south to Washington’s vast open spaces, farmsteads out of Smallville, drive-thru espresso stands and most importantly CHEAP BEER.
We halted in Everett for the night (depleted of our garlic cloves and cumin seeds courtesy of US customs – go figure) and happened upon a WHL hockey match between the local side (the Silvertips) and their bitter rivals from Seattle. What followed was a dramatic winner in overtime, pandemonium in the stands and more waving neon sticks than a jedi orgy.
The next day we visited the Boeing factory, which proudly proclaims to be The Biggest Building In The World (by volume). We saw the gigantic production lines they ripped off Henry Ford and magnified a few hundred times, the new Dreamliner crafts with flexing albatross wings and even one of their four Dreamlifter aircraft, which transport various jumbo fuselages to the plant. The Dreamlifters look pretty cumbersome and oversized if you ask me – like an anaconda that’s tried to digest a hippo.