After months and months of talking about making a blog to share my travels and general shenanigans with my peeps, my recent trip to Leavenworth, Washington finally put me over the edge. Armed with a general passion for the outdoors and a desire to meet new people (and try ALL THE FOOD), I will attempt to recount my adventures so you can explore these places for yourself.
The title of this blog was inspired by my frightening love for Taco Bell and trail banter exchanged with my friend, one of the funniest people I know, as we crushed a 21-mile hike in one day. But that’s a story for a future blog post. Live Moss is a spoof on my beloved Mexican fast food chain’s fairly odd slogan, giving it a nature-y twist. To tie it all together, I hope to review a Taco Bell that I visited during the featured trip at the end of each blog post. (Side note: Taco Bell’s sauces make fantastic toppings for any and all trail food. They can really bring an anything-filled tortilla to the next level, or can provide the heat for any meat food products.)
Now onto the good stuff. The stuff so good, I couldn’t put off writing blog posts anymore: Leavenworth, WA.
This past weekend my family held our annual reunion in a quant, little tourist town called Leavenworth. Set amongst the mountains, the Bavarian architecture, sausage shops and beer gardens suggest that you could be chilling in the Alps. I flew into Seattle Friday night, beelined for the nearest Taco Bell, and then drove the two and half hours to Leavenworth, arriving at 11:30pm.
The Morning Hike to Stuart Lake
I woke up at 7am on Saturday to start my whirlwind exploration of the area, and it was worth every second. My cousins and I loaded up into our rental car and headed to the Stuart Lake trailhead, a little ways out of downtown Leavenworth. It took us about 40 minutes from the “Wilkommen in Leavenworth” sign to the start of the trail. We had to drive for about 20 minutes on an unpaved road that did a number on our little rental car, but we finally arrived to the car park fresh-faced and ready to begin the 11 mile roundtrip hike to Stuart Lake. The parking fee for the hiking/camping area was $5/car, and the trail permits were free and self-issued.
The hike was absolutely stunning, with views of the snow-speckled Enchantments (mountains) and Stuart Lake. It was a hot day in Leavenworth, with temperatures reaching around 85 degrees, but the trail was quite cold due to its shaded nature and the altitude. I would recommend packing layers. One of my cousins and I braved the trek in just tank tops and shorts, and we lived to tell the tale, but you would be more comfortable being able to cover up. A little extra coverage would have also been nice as we had to deal with quite a few mosquitos along the way. Bring your bug spray!
On the way to Stuart Lake from the parking area, you will encounter two stretches of semi-intense uphill climb. One stretch of uphill within the first couple of miles and then another stretch a little over halfway to the lake. Totally doable, but this also means handling the steep downhill terrain on the way back. Especially since it can get pretty rocky. It took us about two hours to reach Stuart Lake, where we broke out our lunch and sat on the rocks admiring the serenity and vastness of the scene before us. The trip back to our car went a lot more quickly, as it was mostly downhill. If you’re in the area, you have to do this hike!
– Bring layers
– Bring plenty of snacks and water
– Bring your bug spray!
The Afternoon Hay Ride/Winery Tour
Arriving back to our cabin around 2:30pm, we were informed that most of our lady family members were signed up for a hay ride/winery tour nearby, at Wedge Mountain Winery. My cousin and I jumped at the opportunity to join them. The winery was located right outside of downtown Leavenworth, a less than five-minute drive. We paid $12/person for a glass of Chardonnay and the hay ride tour, and we sipped our glasses as the lovely winery owner drove us around his property on a hay trailer attached to his tractor.
We got to hear about the history of the winery, and their apple and pear orchards. The property was spectacular and seeing the grapevines with the surrounding mountains as a backdrop was unreal. The ride was around thirty minutes and then the owner took us into his cellar where the wine barrels were stored. I also highly recommend this tour if you visit Leavenworth. It was more than worth the price.
The Beer Garden and Shopping
What would a faux German town be without a good old-fashioned beer garden? After our winery tour, we headed over to the Munchen Haus beer garden, located on the main strip of downtown Leavenworth. We ordered pretzels at the stall near the front of the lot, where you can also order sausages, and then parked ourselves at one of the large communal tables in the outdoor “garden” area. I drank the Rasberry wheat beer from Icicle Brewing Co. and it was tasty as can be. That, along with the pretzel dips that included a thick cheese sauce and a dozen types of delicious mustard (including a beer mustard), made the beer garden a yummy experience. They also have live music performances that take place on an outdoor stage. Kick back with an ice-cold beer and pretzel, perfect for relaxing after a day of hiking and winery touring.
After our beer garden experience we quickly browsed some of the many boutique-type shops lining the main street. There are an assortment of ice cream, fudge and pastry shops mixed in with shops selling things like t-shirts with witty sayings (“I’m outdoorsy in that I like to get drunk on patios”), the incredibly large Kris Kringl Christmas store and a Nutcracker store. I think the area would certainly be fun to visit during Christmas-time, when they apparently go all-out with the town’s Christmas décor.
Because we were in Leavenworth on the weekend, we got to experience the height of the nightlife on Saturday night (which isn’t saying too much). After partaking in a home-cooked meal at our family cabin, we headed back to the main downtown Leavenworth area in the hopes of finding a place with fun music and a good crowd. We were drawn to the town’s main night hotspot, the Loft, after hearing the music blaring out of the entrance. There were three bachelorette parties getting wild in the bar, which we passed up for a quieter table in the corner. It was a fun crowd, with people getting fairly rowdy. A little bit of dancing picked up around 11:45pm, but we headed over to the Wok About Mongolian Grill, with a balcony overlooking the town, as our last stop of the night. It was nice to end the night looking over the lights of the town and people watching as the bachelorette parties made their way (read: stumbled) out of the Loft and made their way to their next destinations.
And there you have it. That was the end of my day in Leavenworth. Sunday, we woke up to pack up and made the drive back to Seattle to fly home.
Taco Bell Critique
And now, without further ado, here is my review of the Taco Bell that I visited before making the drive from Seattle to Leavenworth: the Taco Bell located at 15036 Tukwila International Blvd, Tukwila, WA, about 1 mile from the airport.
I arrived at Taco Bell around 8:30pm on a Friday night. There were two other groups already seated in the restaurant and one couple ahead of me in the process of ordering. I perused the wall menu, even though I’m already familiar with most, if not all, of Taco Bell’s offerings. I decided on a Crunchwrap Supreme, a bean and cheese burrito, and a red Doritos Loco crunchy taco. I was pretty unimpressed with the service here. After the couple in front of me had ordered, the two women working the counter proceeded to turn and talk, saying they’d be with me in a minute. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but there were other people working in the kitchen getting the couple’s food together, while the two women seemed to be pretending to organize sauces and paced around for a full five minutes. They also kept the sauces behind the counter, which I’m never a fan of. Firstly, I like to stock up so I can top future meals with that delicious nectar. Second, I feel like I have a right to stock up on sauces if I’m ordering a butt-ton of food, as I did in this case. The taco was also a bit soggy on the bottom, even though I ate it within 5 minutes of receiving it.
Overall Taco Bell Score: