Monday Musings: Change, change and more change

Pull up a chair and let me tell you some of the big things on the horizon that I’ve subtly alluded to over the past couple of months but never really talked about. Behind the scenes, we’ve been quietly working away at some big-time moving and shaking. It’s been exciting, exhausting, stressful and, at times, utterly overwhelming.  But mostly it’s exciting.

We are moving! To the Okanagan! The heart of wine country (in Canada, at least)! Lakes! Rolling hillsides! Slower pace of life! Yes!!!!!

I don’t even know when or how it all started. At some point while I was still on my work hiatus, we got the crazy thought “what if we sell our house and move to the Okanagan?” It seemed like a pipe dream at the time, but slowly we started investigating the situation. On a wine weekend, we hopped into an open house smack dab in the heart of wine country. While that particularly property wasn’t the right fit for us, it was the small action that set us off on a path to full-blown can-we-actually-do-this research.

Now, not even two months later:

  • I’ve started a new job for which I had to negotiate a trial period of working in a different region.  The jury’s still out on whether it will actually work, but we’re going to give it a whirl.
  • We’ve staged, listed and sold our current house and have to be out October 1st.
  • We bought a new house that won’t be ready until February 2018, which means…
  • We’ve been on the hunt for a temporary rental to carry us between our move-out and move-in dates.
  • My partner in crime has resigned from his job and will wrap up work in two short weeks, at which point he’ll start looking for work in our new ‘hood.

There have been a lot of stressful weekends driving up to the Okanagan on a moment’s notice. There’s been a lot of last minute cleaning in preparation for showings (thankfully the real estate market is ridiculous here and our house sold lightening fast). There’ve been a lot of mid-day phone conversations about upgrades and offers and counter-offers. There’ve been flurries of emails to mortgage brokers, realtors, relatives, rental agents, and prospective employers. So yeah, we’ve had a lot of stuff on the go in a short period of time.

Chances are things won’t slow down much for the foreseeable future. While it’s tiring a lot of the time, and certainly gets in the way of consistently blogging, it all feels like the right move (pun intended) and I couldn’t be more excited for the future.  Change is rarely easy, especially when you combine multiple major changes all at one time, and yet sometimes it’s exactly what you need to align your life with your priorities.

We’ve wanted a number of things to shift in our life. We’ve wanted a slower pace. We’ve wanted to have a life that doesn’t revolve around stressful jobs that pay well but don’t necessarily hold personal meaning.  We’ve wanted to be closer to some of the things we love (golf, wine, new trails for me to explore, etc.). We’ve wanted to get as close to mortgage free as possible so that we have more time and need less work to do more of the things we love. We couldn’t envision any of that happening here in the Lower Mainland. While the move isn’t going to instantly satisfy all of these wants, it will get us considerably closer in the short term. In the long term, it creates the ideal conditions for a life we’ll both love.

So for now, even in the midst of the stresses and annoyances of moving (ugh, moving, am I right?) I am trying to remind myself of all the positives on the other side.  Bring on the change!

Real Talk Thursday: things i’m unimpressed with this week

It feels like it’s been a doozy of a week over here. There’s been a lot bubbling up in the career and home arenas, which I hope to be able to talk about soon.  Though much is exciting, it’s also been exhausting and I’ve been a total grumpus.  So today is an airing of all my minor grievances for the week, because I’m a firm believer that if you voice your complaints you can let go of the negative feelings associated with them.  Here goes nothing. Let’s get rid of these grumpies!

Things I am Unimpressed with This Week

1. Allergies: Seriously allergies, are you done yet? Just when I think they’ve passed, I wake up to a series of ridiculously overpowering sneezes and never-ending congestion.  The bushes in the ravine behind our house have sprouted new blossoms and I blame them entirely for this allergy resurgence. Super uncool.

2. Price of parking downtown: At the risk of sounding like my father, who can rant about parking like the best of them, I’m going to rant about parking. I went downtown for an interview on Tuesday and had to pay $9 for 1.5 hours. I should be used to this. I’ve lived in Vancouver almost my whole life and it’s just the way parking is here. But somehow we’ve crossed even my threshold of acceptable parking prices. In my mind, $7 was reasonable for 1.5 hours.  The extra $2 was just not okay.

3. The new season of So You Think You Can Dance: Years ago, me and one of my best friends were roommates and we were addicted to watching SYTYCD. I remember amazing music and routines that stuck with me for days after watching. I was super pumped to realize the show is still on the air…until I watched it. Where was the dance? I think I saw about four routines in the entire hour of the audition episode. Most of the time was devoted to dancers’ dramatic backstories. I want the dance, not the filler! Give me the dance!

4. My upper body strength: Even after several days of rest, I continue to struggle with even 5 consecutive negative push ups. I don’t know if it’s the allergies, the stress, or just ebbs and flows in body energy, but I am now struggling to keep my form for more than 2-3 push ups. It’s ridiculous. I haven’t even attempted negative pull ups. Ugh.

5. Vacuuming stairs: I haven’t lived in a place with carpeted stairs and no-built in vacuum…ever. Granted, that’s because I’ve only had stairs in one of my rentals in the last almost twenty (!!!!) years. Using an upright vacuum in stairways is practically a death mission. I am constantly terrified that I will trip over a cord and fall either to my death or paralysis, not to mention it feels like a full-body workout dragging that thing from step to step.

Ahhhh, that does feel cathartic, doesn’t it? Things are looking sunnier already.

 

TWIR # 63: SI, allergies and errands, oh my!

Where did this week go? It’s something I’ve rarely wondered since I left my last job. I mean, when you’re able to take a lengthy work hiatus, I think it’s poor form to complain about time flying by. But I’m gonna do it anyways. This week felt short!  I spent most of it feeling like crap care of allergies and supposedly non-drowsy allergy medication, but I also felt like I was constantly either running from thing to thing or trying to get a whole bunch of life crap in order for some maybe-big-changes-that-I’m-not-ready-to-talk-about-yet-thank-you-very-much.  Translation: I’m glad it’s Friday. Let’s take a look at this week in workouts:

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: roadside bear sightings: one
Observations: We took a quick trip up to the Okanagan, complete with wildlife sightings. My main goal on Saturday was to hit Tickleberry’s for ice cream and fudge on the way to our destination. Sadly, I forgot that summer season is upon us, which turns this roadside ice cream stand into a hellish tourist trap. The lines were insane. I love me some ice cream and fudge, but not enough to wait for half an hour.  I walked away empty handed and sad. Don’t feel too sorry for me, though, there may have Dairy Queen later that afternoon. Even though it felt like sloppy seconds, it was still pretty damn tasty.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: sedentary, sedentary, sedentary
Observations: Well, Sunday was a day of very little motion. Aside from walking to and from restaurants and a seemingly never-ending mission to find healthy road snacks, I basically did nothing active. I sat in a car, then got home and sat on the couch. It was laziness at its finest and I regret nothing.

Monday
Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 11 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: Once again, a formerly easy hike felt like my own personal Everest. I was dying on the way up. My legs were tired, my lungs couldn’t get enough air. I wanted to turn around.  And then it all went to hell. Whatever allergens have been unleashed lately attacked me and I turned into a congested, snotty, sneezing disaster. Damn you, nature.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I barely got my ass out of bed for this session. Let’s just say that 5:45 am felt particularly awful while on allergy meds. Though the workout was still tough, my trainer gave me the most wonderful gift: I did not have to do negative pull ups or push ups.  She told me at most I’d get that once a month. I’ll take it! Just don’t tell her that I sort of missed having them as part of my workout…

Wednesday
Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 4.4 km, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: I braved the pollen and hit the trails for a short and steep jaunt up the Abby Grind. My energy felt moderately better than on Monday’s hike, though my legs still felt like they were trying to power through quicksand. On top of that, my SI was not loving this hike. By the time late afternoon rolled around, my lower back had stiffened up nicely and my SI was feeling some sharp pains with certain motions. Ugh.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 80 min.
Observations: In efforts to calm my SI, I focused on strength and stability. it seemed to help. I had a great strength workout, and even forced myself to do negative pull ups and push ups on my own. In hindsight, it was probably my trainer’s secret goal to make me feel so guilty about not having to do either exercise in our session that I would feel compelled to do them on my own. She’s a crafty one.

Friday
Activity: run + epic cleaning
Relevant Stats: 6 km test run + 3.5 hours of deep cleaning mode (yuck)
Observations: I’m calling today a test run because my SI hasn’t been happy with me the last week but it’s so off and on that I wasn’t sure if running would affect it.  The good news is that running felt fine, aside from it being brutally hard after yet another week a half without running. The bad news is the crouching over shower enclosures and scrubbing the crap out of them was not so kind on my SI. You win some, you lose some. Also, yes I know that cleaning isn’t really a workout, but I’m going to own it today because that scrubbing was hard work and lugging our giant vacuum up and down multiple flights of stairs also sucks.

At this point, I want to say a big TGIF and dive  into a bottle of wine. I feel it’s worth noting I won’t drink the entire bottle myself.  I could, mind you, but I won’t.  All in all, and pardon the language, this week gets a big:

I mean, any excuse to use a picture of an alpaca, right?

TWIR #58: It’s the Wine Weekend’s Fault

I have had a lazy kind of week and I blame lingering effects of the wine weekend. Excuse making at its finest. Let’s get this shameful summary over with.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: 4 wineries visited but less than one bottle of wine consumed (impressive!)
Observations:  There is no way around this: I sat on my ass pretty much from 8 am to 6 pm.  We were in the car, then having lunch, then wine tasting (during which, technically speaking, I was standing), then driving again.  We went for a forty minute walk but that was about as much motion as this poor body saw.  But I think I deserve major kudos for being in wine country and not even polishing off a bottle of wine between the two of us.

Sunday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: The resort we stayed at had a gym so I had big plans to work out during our trip.  However, as many resort gyms are, it was fairly light on equipment. In fact, the weights situation was pretty tragic and there was barely any space to move around. There was at least a spin bike, on which I tried to fit in a decent workout, I really did! Hear me out. The spin bike was about eight feet away from a mirrored wall and all I had to look at was me, way too close for comfort. It wasn’t the view I had in mind for my workout and I just couldn’t handle it for more than thirty minutes. Or maybe it was just that I was anxious to get started with the day’s wine tastings….You be the judge.

Monday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: epic ass sitting
Observations: If I thought Saturday was bad, I was even more sedentary on Monday. I didn’t even attempt to work out in the morning after finding the previous day’s gym adventure so depressing.  Instead, all day my sitting was interrupted only by the occasional stop for wine tastings or food. But man that wine was good.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session + cardio
Relevant Stats: 60 min. training session + 20 min. spin
Observations: There was no hiding from exercise after a weekend of laziness. My training sessions are a surefire way to ensure that. My trainer was back to her old tricks of trying to work me up towards pull ups (as if I’ve ever had the desire to do pull ups) and full-on tricep pushups (also something I’ve no desire to do). I followed up with a very brief cardio session at the gym, you know, to kill time before meeting a friend for savoury waffles. If you must know, mine was topped with smoked salmon, hollandaise, and poached eggs. Pretty sure the workouts didn’t come close to burning the calories in that deliciousness.

Wednesday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: Nashville episodes watched, 4; naps taken, 2
Observations: I’m not sure how I can reasonably blame the weekend wine trip for this monstrosity of laziness, but I sure do. I planned to run but it was disgusting outside so I contemplated the gym instead.  The only problem was that I stopped at contemplation and failed to move action. Before I knew it, I had spent all day on the couch alternating between naps and episodes of Nashville and I had not a speck of exercise to show for it. Total sloth.

Thursday
Activity: Abby Grind (hike)
Relevant Stats: 4 km
Observations: The sunshine returned! And it was also forecast to be our warmest day of the year so far. If you live in Vancouver and experienced our rainy/snowy/sort-of-cold winter, you’ll know this was a big deal. I planned a bigger hike out in Chilliwack but spent 2.5 hours cursing iTunes for refusing to sync songs to my iPhone (a perplexing issue I still haven’t resolved!!!!!) and opted for something far closer and far shorter instead. Though not as challenging a hike as I’d hoped for, at least being among the trees calmed my iTunes rage.

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 85 min.
Observations:  Does one good workout in a week make up for the rest of this crap pile of exercise? I think so. Today I killed it with the strength training, and trust me when I say my glutes are still reeling from the experience. I upped my weights on everything, and even reintroduced single leg squats even though my ankle was very unhappy with those movements.

Even though most of the workouts this week were pitiful, the fact that I ended on a high note means I’ll feel good while cramming my face with Cinco de Mayo tacos tonight.  That’s my flawed logic at work.  As for the rest of the week:

Mid-Week Tangent: Disney Treat Fail

As you may know from Monday’s post, I spent a few days in Disney World (aka the dark side) last week. Normally, one of my favourite things about Disney parks is the opportunity to jam countless treats into my face. There are so many deliciously different ways to dramatically exceed your daily recommended caloric intake. Despite this, I completely failed to take advantage of the multitude of sinful options at my fingertips and I am already deeply regretful. I managed only one Mickey Mouse pretzel and about eight white chocolate chip cookies. That may sound like a big accomplishment, but it is such a minuscule representation of what was available. Sigh. What was I thinking?

And so, in honour of my failure and perhaps to serve as a motivator for you to take full advantage of any of your future Disney adventures, I present to you a list of all the things that I did not eat but sorely wish that I had:

1. About five more Mickey Mouse pretzels: Let’s face it, one pretzel is not enough, particularly when accompanied by the completely-wrong-yet-somehow-oh-so-right artificial cheese dip. I am the person who uses the entire container of cheese dip and wishes she had more (as opposed to my boyfriend, who barely makes a dent in his, a feat that I cannot at all comprehend but which greatly benefits me as I get his extras). Though the Mickey Mouse pretzels are nowhere near as good as most soft pretzels I’ve consumed virtually anywhere else, they do somehow taste more magical. I fully regret not consuming them daily.

2. Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Sandwiches: These are just Oreo ice cream cookie sandwiches, something that I can buy on any given day in my local grocery store. Still, they somehow taste better and more magical in the parks. It has been years since I’ve had one. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t have one. If you read Monday’s post, you know that it was what can only be described as f’ing cold the entire time we were in the parks. I wish that I were the person who could put aside being cold for long enough to eat ice cream, but I’m usually not. I was uncomfortably cold and made the (foolish and wrong, in hindsight) decision to forego ice cream in favour of warmth. Rookie mistake.

3. Churros: Unlike ice cream, churros are warm and comforting on a cold day. I have no idea why I did not consume a single churro, except that I was under some misguided notion that I should be hungry in order to snack. I have no idea why I sometimes stick to such ridiculous principles. I am ashamed of myself.

4. Dole Whip: Who doesn’t love a good Dole Whip? The answer to that question can only be someone whose soul is dead. It is a miraculous feat of food engineering. How else can you explain a product that is largely the result of food thickeners and a slew of artificial ingredients that is, surprisingly, low in actual pineapple? Still, it is delicious. Similar to my Mickey Mouse ice cream cookie sandwich rationale, it was simply too cold for me to contemplate such a treat. Now that I am back in Vancouver, where it is not only cold but also rainy and grey, I can truly see the error of my ways. At least in Florida it was sunny and there was the illusion of warmth. I can barely forgive myself for this oversight.

5. Frozen Banana: I know, I know, no one really likes the frozen banana. It’s frozen fruit on a stick. It has a paper-thin simulated chocolate shellac that gives you the false impression you’re indulging when you are actually not. They are quite repugnant. I wanted to eat one only to pay homage to Arrested Development (“there’s always money in the banana stand”). Also, see rationale for numbers 2 and 4 (i.e. it was freaking cold).

6. Daily Cupcake: I have no interest in commercially produced cupcakes, whatsoever. They are always a let-down. The cake is almost always either dry, flavourless, spongey or some combination thereof. Frosting, however, is single-handedly worth the cupcake investment. I am only somewhat ashamed to admit that I have been known to eat just the frosting, sometimes accompanied by a tiny portion of the cupcake if only to stave off social judgements. I saw countless cupcakes crowned with an ice cream scoop sized mound of frosting and yet, somehow, I showed uncharacteristic restraint by never ordering one. Similar to the churro rationale, my cupcake fail was largely due to feeling as though I should be hungry in order to eat one.  As a result of my poor decision making, I have no choice but to delude myself into believing that the frosting was likely wretched shortening-based frosting instead of a true buttercream.  But even I know I am just lying to myself.

7. Ice cream cookie sandwich from Scoops in Hollywood Studios: Ever since I had the dreamiest and most insanely delicious ice cream cookie sandwich at Hello Robin in Seattle, I have been on the hunt for more. When I was forced to stand in a ride line behind a girl eating a Scoops ice cream cookie sandwich for the better part of 45 minutes, my poor boyfriend had to listen to me go on and on about how I was going to get one as soon as humanly possible. And yet I did not. Ever. I have no good excuse for my failure here, and instead offer up two piss-poor ones: I assumed the ice cream wouldn’t be as delicious as the ice cream at Hello Robin (which turned out to be true as I did try Scoops ice cream sans cookie) and I feared my boyfriend would silently judge me for eating an ungodly thick layer of ice cream wedged between two giant cookies as a mid-day snack. He claims he wouldn’t have, but I could see the look of incredulity, or perhaps even mild repulsion, in his eyes when I first suggested it.

Do yourself a favour and do not follow my lead in eating your way through Disney Parks. Instead of returning full of magic and sugar and a few extra pounds, I have returned full only of my own regret. No one should have to live in regret, so please go forth and eat all of the things.

RWIR #47: Snowpocalypse

Well, the snow returned to the Vancouver area with a vengeance.  Don’t even get me started on what it’s been like to try to drive when it snows in this town…No, let’s just focus on the task at hand–this week’s workouts. I can’t say it was a great week. I seriously lacked motivation and, therefore, seriously didn’t push myself. We can’t always be good examples, though, can we?

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day/snow shovelling
Relevant Stats: 30 minutes shovelling, 4 hours sitting on my ass watching golf
Observations: I don’t really consider snow shovelling exercise as a rule. That is, until I stumbled upon an article that told me otherwise. So since it was an overall lazy week, I’ll slip that snow shovelling in to demonstrate a modicum of activity on an otherwise sloth-like day.

Sunday
Activity: SNOW RUN!!!!
Relevant Stats: 35 minutes
Observations: I love, love, love snow runs and this was the first snow run I’ve had in BC that was reminiscent of Alberta. The snow was deep and soft, and brought a stillness and quiet to the world around me.  It was a magical run and I was in my happy place despite knowing the whole time that my SI really shouldn’t have been running. Sunday afternoon the snow really descended in a big way, and I witnessed four minor car accidents all on my way home from a friends. Once again, don’t even get me started on how people drive in snow here…

Monday
Activity: strength
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: Well, I had no desire to drive anywhere on Monday, partly to avoid other drivers but partly due to low motivation in general. My concession was to work out at home with some weights and resistance bands. For a home workout, it certainly wasn’t bad, but since all I own are two, 8 pound dumbbells, I sure wasn’t pushing it in terms of weight resistance.

Tuesday
Activity: stairs + strength
Relevant Stats: 30 min. stairs + 30 min. strength
Observations: Hallelujah, the sun came out. I was actually really wanting one more snow run, but the SI wasn’t letting me have it. Just walking to the exit from our complex was painful.  I was sad to have to go to the gym on such a stellar day, but at least the sun meant roads were clear.  All in all, this was one of my better workouts of the week.

Wednesday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 40 minutes
Observations: This was my first early morning workout in almost a week, and it felt like it. Start to finish, I had no interest in the workout. I promised myself I could stop if I just made it to 40 minutes. I tried to rationalize it by saying it would get me to work earlier, which was important since heaps more snow was supposed to come our way in the afternoon and I anticipated I would be leaving work early. Truthfully, if we call it what it was, it was me slacking off.

Thursday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: ugh
Observations: I really meant to workout. I had cancelled my personal training session because everyone was saying it was going to be snowmageddon, which it really wasn’t.  However, there was some lingering ice and slush out in my neck of the woods, so I did go into the office later, which got in the way of my morning workout. That meant I’d have to work out at the office gym.  I packed my gym clothes and had good intentions. I tried at 3pm but there was someone else in the gym and the idea of working out in front of colleagues (who were also blasting bad rock) was unappealing. I then thought I’d go for a run instead but realized I had no running jacket. I was going to regroup at 5pm with a friend of mine but it turns out there’s a group fitness class in our office gym at that time.  What you’re seeing is excuse after excuse that all added up to my not working out.

Friday 
Activity: Run + Strength
Relevant Stats: 20 min. run + 40 min. strength
Observations: In the suburbs, the deep slush and puddle struggles are real. I opted for a gym day complete with a (failed) attempt at a run and a (reasonably) successful strength training session. My sciatic is not in a bad place, but I feel nerve tingly-ness (my highly medical term for it) down my leg. A couple of times, on foot strike, it actually felt like my foot was asleep. I figured that was a bad sign and cut the treadmill run short, which at least spared me the boredom of a treadmill run. I focused on shoulders and glutes in my strength session and found the shoulders to be in fine form today, but the glutes to be resistant to everything. I suspect the sciatica was at the root of that resistance.

All in all, this was clearly not my finest week. I may be in a need of a visit to physio in the near future. I’ve been hoping whatever went out of whack last week would just sort itself out with a bit of extra rest and abstinence from running, but it has not.  Even as I type this my foot is tingling in a trippy kind of way.  Alas, I will worry about that next week. For now, it’s time to pack and get ready for my Leavenworth weekend getaway–that is, if the highways all stay open for the weekend. At this point, that seems highly uncertain…

This week gets a big, old:

snow

Throwback Thursday: Pretzels! Schnitzel! Snowshoeing! Oh my!

It’s been a while since I wrote a Throwback Thursday edition but, since I’m going to Leavenworth this weekend, I thought it only made sense to share a throwback to last year’s Leavenworth getaway, partly because I’m super excited (!!!) and partly because you need to go there.

You may be asking yourself, what is Leavenworth? Well, friends, it only happens to be a charming, Bavarian-themed village nestled in Washington’s cascade mountains.  It is quaint, absolutely over-the-top kitschy, and delightfully scenic.  If you are contemplating a weekend getaway, and live near the west coast, I think I can sell you on the Leavenworth experience.

Outdoor Activities:
If you’re looking for an active weekend, there’s a variety of ways to get your caloric burn on. If you’re a skier, the Stevens Pass ski area is nearby. I can’t vouch for whether it’s good skiing since I am terrified of downhill skiing and have no desire to hurl myself down a mountain on thin slats of whatever-the-hell-skis-are-made-of-these-days.

For winter hikers/snowshoers there are ample trails both around the town and towards Stevens Pass. There’s everything from easy strolls to more advanced routes. Many are well-travelled and do-able with spikes if you don’t own snowshoes (of course, depending on what snowfall is like at the time you visit). There’s also trails for all skill levels, so you can casually stroll or give yourself a killer cardio workout.

There’s even tubing/toboganning options, not that I consider it exercise, but I guess that depends on how many times you walk up the hill before sliding down. I’m sure you could turn it into windsprints for an extra boost of exertion.

Food & Beverage Scene
Let’s be honest, outdoor activities are great, but the real fun is in the food and drink. All the suggested outdoor activities are really just creating space for you to ingest more calories. I’ve only been to Leavenworth once so I can’t say this is a definitive list of food and drink hotspots, but I can tell you that I had good experiences in all of these places. And I eat a lot, so I know food, and I drink…a reasonable and appropriate amount, so I know my drinks.

Andreas Keller: If you aren’t interested in schnitzel, you probably don’t want to go here. But it’s also possible you’ve just never had good schnitzel so maybe just verify your stance on meaty delights by dining here before giving up on it entirely. Also, get the giant pretzel. Oh, and Fridays and Saturdays feature live accordion music.  If that’s not a selling feature to you, this restaurant is probably not your jam in general. You may also, in fact, be no fun.

Icicle Brewing Company: The fun of this place is winter outdoor seating (don’t worry, there are heat lamps). It’s got great energy. I had a flight with two great beers, one mediocre beer and one passably drinkable beer.  But, hey, you can get good beer anywhere these days. Pick places for ambiance. Arrive early on a weekend if you want prime outdoor seating (i.e. near the heat lamps).

Los Camperos: I can’t say whether this was at all authentic Mexican but, quite honestly, when it comes to Mexican-style food I’m easy to please. What I can say is this place had a home-cooked feel, absolutely ginormous portions, and one of the tastiest seafood enchiladas I’ve ever stuffed into my face.

Kitsch Factor
Second only to food, the highlight of a themed village is embracing the kitschy-ness of a themed village. If you like to roll your eyes at over-the-top, largely inauthentic stereotypes, don’t even bother reading on…and probably don’t go to Leavenworth. If you share my love for the unabashed cheese factor, this town will steal a place in your heart.

Kris Kringl: A year round Christmas makes my heart swoon. I love Christmas, not so much so that I want to celebrate it year round, but enough that I willingly stroll through giant Christmas stores even in the dead of summer. If you don’t agree, you may actually be dead inside.

Village of Lights(!!!!!): I also love magical Christmas lights. I don’t believe the village of lights has anything to do with Christmas, but it certainly creates a festive magic. Lights. Are. Everywhere. I mean it. Everywhere.

Nussknacker Haus: This suggestion will make no sense. I hate nutcrakers. I find them terrifying. Somehow, an entire store of nothing but nutcrackers is so oddly fascinating that I simply must walk through it even though I solemnly swear that I will never allow one into my home.

So there you have it. If you’re looking for weekend adventures in the mountains with a healthy side of kitsch, look no further. Can’t wait to get back and dive into faux-Bavarian fun!

*It probably goes without saying, but I am in no way affiliated with the town of Leavenworth, nor did they pay me to write this. I just love themed towns, schnitzel and snow.