Monday, July 9, 2012

Where It's Christmas Every Day. God Help Us.

Another one in the books.

Hopefully, I'm not boring you to distraction with tales of family vacations. I've expounded on so many—Vegas, Disneyworld, San Diego—yet each trip drips with the newness of a thawing icicle teetering over an exposed cornea.

Yep, these trips continue to evolve.

Each excursion we embark upon with our kids drains a few more grains from the vacation hourglass. Every "cargument" (I've begun abbreviating this term since we've engaged in so many) marks one less time we'll yell at each other over who gets the last Red Vine.

Who knows? Before long, I may be pulling those pre-frozen Ensure-sickles out of the Playmate to stay relevant while my grandchildren dig into their double brownie fudge waffle cones.

Papa needs his calcium.

This time, we paired up. Since my wife and I, after calculating that our kids' average getting-along time amounted to the length of our driveway, allowed one BFF per daughter. Sure, it cost a little more, but anything which prevents my ears from absorbing the E above double C from the backseat is worth at least four figures.

When the girls were little, family vacations were a lot like hosting Thanksgiving. The main differences were that the preparation was harder, we slept less and there were two turkeys. Ultimately, the little darlings outgrow the need for constant stops, snacks and that pink medicine, and thus their amusement quest turned outward.

That's why they were allowed to bring friends on this one.

Leavenworth, Washington was a struggling mill town prior to 1962, when Project Life (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) revitalized the city's economy by transforming it into a mock Bavarian village. Nestled on the eastern slope of the Cascade range, this quaint hamlet is all German, all the time.

Hankerin' for some polka tunes? Check. Burstin' for some Bavarian baked buns? Check. Lookin' for more sausage selection than the Downtown Seattle YMCA? Done and done.

And corporate branding be damned, you're in Leavenfreakingworth now. If you want to set up shoppe here, you'd better strap on some leder or consider yourself hosened. Here's what Safeway looks like:












 And Wells Fargo:


Kind of reminds me of Dick Cheney in a Barney costume.

Most of Leavenworth's shops peddle either ice cream, candy or Christmas goods. Is it just me, or is there something inherently evil about walking into a place called "Kris Kringl" on a ninety-degree July day?

But let me tell you, this Kringl joint would even seem sinister on December 24. You see, it's filled with open-mouthed trolls, all shapes and sizes.

I think they're supposed to appear smiling, but they look more like the death sneers of third day possum road kill. Trolls in baseball uniforms, trolls riding unicorns, trolls wearing watering cans on their heads like drunken uncles at a toddler's birthday party.

And then, there are Santas—Santa looking casual in a nice sweater, Santa crushing grapes in bare feet—even "Level Three Santa" barely peeking out from behind a Christmas tree.

Okay, maybe he's just holding it. Well, you know what I mean.

I'd have to brand our Leavenworth trip a success, due in part to the substantial kitsch factor of this Alpine Christmas town which is neither in the Alps nor celebrating Christmas. And when your biggest concern is where you'll eat dinner or which flavor of truffle sounds the best, all the rest is gravy...

...ladled thickly over some curry wurst.

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