Autumn in the Cascade Mountains
brings jewel-toned fall leaves, crisp air . . . and gray skies packed with a steady supply of leaky rain clouds. Welcome to fall in the Northwest! On one of these typical, house-bound fall weekends, I gathered my husband, toddler and another couple with young children, and headed to the mountains for a weekend get-away. We went a bit reluctantly, envisioning unrelenting rain that would keep us stuck inside the cabin, boredom setting in as we made small talk or played round after round of Go-Fish with the kids.
How wrong we were!
Evening dusk was falling when we arrived at White Water Retreat
late in the day on Friday. Through the fading light, we spotted the white wooden cottage, charmingly nestled amongst the trees. After getting the front door unlocked and turning the heat up, I settled our belongings into the master bedroom (with attached sleeping den for the kiddos - score!), while our friends claimed the upstairs loft. My husband located the stereo and cranked up some party tunes. A quick peek out the living room’s large picture window gave us our first look outside, revealing a spacious wooden deck, 6-person hot tub, and a sweeping
view of the Skykomish River
rushing by. Groceries were unpacked, drinks were poured, and burgers and hot dogs were grilled for the kiddos on the gas BBQ (it is possible to grill in the rain with a little help from a plastic poncho!). Our first night at White Water Retreat
passed enjoyable in front of the electric fireplace playing board games and watching Old School on digital satellite television.
The next morning brought a break in the drizzle, and we grabbed some towels and headed to the deck for a dip in the hot tub. The postcard-like view of Skykomish River
, crisp autumn air and hot, bubbling water were the perfect combination, and in the blink of an eye two hours had passed lounging in the hot tub! Eventually the quiet relaxation turned into a game of Dare that escalated into the men taking a polar bear plunge into the river! Their less than manly shrieks and screams as they dipped into the icy water were captured on my phone's video camera for future blackmailing purposes.
After lunch and naps for the kiddos, we all piled into the car and headed toward the town of Leavenworth, WA
, located about 45 minutes east on Highway 2. The car ride passed quickly as we drove further into the mountains, admiring the snowy scenery and staring longingly at the chair lifts carrying skiers and snowboarders to the peaks of Stevens Pass Ski
area (looks like our next trip will be for the adults!). We arrived in Leavenworth, and were immediately swept into the festive atmosphere of the charming Bavarian mountain town. A trip into a store dedicated entirely to hats resulted in a crown for my daughter and a Viking hat with braids for my husband. We soon gathered more items; ice-cream cones, bags of fudge and a Nutcracker from the Nussknacker Haus
, a shop with over 800 Nutcrackers for
sale, one of the largest selections in the world. The shopping and browsing made everyone hungry so we headed to Munchen Haus
, an outdoor eatery specializing in Brats and Beer. The cool fall temperatures and mountain drizzle does nothing to keep visitors from filling up the outdoor rustic picnic benches, complete with covered over-hangings, umbrellas and outdoor heaters. We ended the day with hot chocolate from Starbucks and an impromptu dance party with the kiddos at the town’s covered Rotunda, where they pipe in festive Bavarian music that dares you not to stand up and dance.
That night after returning to White Water Retreat
, the men went outside and built a fire in the riverside Fire-Pit. The drizzle had returned, so they ignited the fire wi
th a little help from lighter fluid, and we covered up in rain jackets and hoods and enjoyed the warmth of the dancing flames. Sitting fireside in a thicket of pine trees as I listened to the river burbling nearby in the darkness was too delicious not to share with my friends on Facebook via the home’s wireless internet. Modern amenities amid breathtaking nature; the perfect mix for this nature loving city girl! Another dip in the hot tub, this time minus the children and plus a little red wine, and an evening watching a comedy DVD completed one of the best fall weekends in recent memory!
The next day it was time to leave our cozy mountain retreat. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast together around the large dining table, packed away our items and deposited the trash in the garbage bins next to the dog kennel (yes, they have a fully enclosed pet-run, so bring your furry friends!). As we drove away, we basked in the warm glow of memories made, and realized how lucky we are to live in the NW where every season brings its own unique brand of activities and adventures, and that escaping into nature is as easy as packing up the car up and heading to the nearby mountains.
Thanks White Water Retreat . . . we’ll be back!