We had to start with a few very particular parameters for this trip...
somewhere that we could walk-in camp to try out our new kit in anticipation of future adventures
somewhere close enough to only be gone for the weekend
somewhere we could get to without a car
somewhere with trees and a grocery store or farmer's market, allowing us to buy real food there rather than carry it all in
After a short search, we discovered just the spot: LEAVENWORTH, WASHINGTON. A tiny Bavarian-themed town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains, it also happens to be right on the route of the Empire Builder, an historic rail line that stretches from Seattle to Chicago. With Seattle's King Street Station just a bus away from our apartment, the whole route is open to us.
So how did the trip go?
After both of us working a full day at the bakery, we enjoyed the brief half an hour we had at home, grabbed our packs that we had filled the night before, and headed out the door. The sun warmed the tops of our heads as we slipped through Cal Anderson Park to the newest lightrail station and stuffed ourselves into a pair of seats as we coasted towards the train station.
Walking through King Street's double doors will always give me a thrill. The floor is drab and the time-hardened wooden benches are supplemented with plastic chairs, but the air in the room is filled with comings and goings. I'm sure my love for it is also wrapped up in the excitement of the latest adventure, but the beautiful ceilings and vintage touches certainly don't hurt.
Once on the train we wound our way up to the top floor of the car and settled down in our chosen seats. Moments after we had completed the necessary fiddling with our seats and gasping over how comfortable they were, the train began moving and the wonders never stopped.
A word to the wise: absolutely sit on the right side of the train going from Seattle to Chicago.
A few hours later after eating dinner on the train (leftover steak salads in our mason jar mugs), we hustled down to the lower level so as to not miss the Leavenworth stop. And we really could have. Less than two minutes after we hit the pavement, the train was on its way again.
After one short walk in the wrong direction, we headed towards Leavenworth (It's to the left). The walk to our campsite was along two lane roads and past the water treatment plant, but once we arrived and discovered that they had put us in the furthest campsite tucked up and away in its own corner, we couldn't be more delighted.
Ten minutes later the tent was up, we were in our pajamas, and ready for sleep.
Oh how I love waking up in a tent that first morning of camping. The sun was up, the air was frigid, and we already had everything we needed for breakfast.
Out came the coffee, tea, and pancake ingredients. Soon water was boiling on the stove, the smell of coffee wafted around the tent, and the cold air no longer mattered.
I have never tasted such delicious pancakes. We ate them as they came to keep them from getting cold. Yes, I accidentally melted the edge of the spatula on the first pancake (only use the orange side on hot pans...whoops)
Filled, warmed, and happy, we popped lunch into my pack and headed into town, once again walking on the side of a large two-lane road, this time enjoying the safety of sidewalks. Long low beige buildings and tall, snow-dusted peaks kept us company until about twenty minutes into our thirty minute walk when we found ourselves plunked down into the middle of a charming, if kitsch, Bavaria.
A whole new town filled with bobbles, shops, and wandering tourists often proves very overwhelming. To keep ourselves sane and relaxed, we spiraled around the entire town, slowly working our way inwards and noting where we wanted to stop by later. It is absolutely my new favorite way of settling into a new place and helped us immensely. Not only did we get to learn our way around, but we didn't miss the tiny bookstore way off in the corner or the local dive-bar (because who knew there was one in Leavenworth).
The next order of business was coffee (zero waste with our mugs) and a quick meal of avocado (hooray for pocket knives and lightweight sporks).
After wandering the town and charging the phone in that little dive bar, we headed back towards camp for an early afternoon and a dinner of fire-cooked canned salmon and chocolate mouse from home.
Some quiet, smoke, and warm sun later, we headed to bed.
The next morning we chased away the chill with an early fire. We settled into the day slowly with a rock as our kitchen table, a napkin table cloth, and the trees around us.
With one water bottle between us and the water faucet on the other end of the campsite, we got quite good at using every drop well. Water from the soft-boiled eggs for the next morning became coffee and tea. Save stove fuel, save water, eat breakfast, drink coffee.
Loitering back into town, we headed to our now-familiar coffee shop to bolster ourselves for puttering through the places we had scouted out the afternoon before. We popped in and out of a couple indie maker shops, Posy Handpicked being our favorite.
Soon it was time for lunch so we slipped into the Cheesemongers Shop and snagged some package free cheese PLUS a sugar-free pickle. Next door we grabbed a pretzel for Katie Jay and then headed out to the main square with our food and picnic basket in hand.
We wandered down to the river, through the little bookshop, into another tucked-away spot for an early dinner, and back to camp for early bed to catch the train in the morning.
The alarm clock dinged at four thirty and we tumbled out of our sleeping bags. Thirty minutes later with our packs only a little off-balance from packing in the dark, we found ourselves walking along the road once again enjoying the sunrise hit the tips of the mountains.
Hiding from the wind and watching the light strengthen, we ate our soft boiled eggs and the last orange left in our pack.
Once back on the train, we sat on the left and watched the mountains shuffle in and out of view as rolled back towards home.
It felt like minutes later that we arrived back in Seattle, snagging coffee at Elm, and walking back through our dear apartment's door again.
two log straps // unwrapped logs were nowhere to be found
one plastic bag // the gifted cantaloupe came in a plastic ziplock
one small condiments container // it came with stone ground mustard for the pretzel