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Southern Part of the Cascade Loop Part 2 – Leavenworth, Deceptive Falls, Index, and our Close Encounter with a Black Bear and Big Foot!

After visiting Wenatchee and its surroundings, we headed towards Leavenworth, WA.  If you haven't had the chance, read Exploring The Southern Part of the Cascade Loop Part 1.

Leavenworth is a Bavarian village nestled in the Cascade Mountains along the scenic route of Highway 2. Originally, this area was home to the Yakama, Chinook, and the Wenatchi Native American tribes since the land provided plenty of resources for hunting.  Eventually, settlers arrived in the late 1800s mainly due to mining and timber interests.  The town formerly known as Icicle Flats, was more of a wild west town, which started to die away due to the declining logging and sawmill business.  In the 1960’s, Leavenworth was revitalized by local leaders who came up with the idea to convert it into a Bavarian town to take advantage of its surrounding alpine scenery.  To find more information about the town’s history, visit the Leavenworth Museum.

I must say, the folks who came up with the idea of converting this place into a Bavarian village did a really good job!  The contrast is striking as we arrived at Leavenworth from Wenatchee, it felt like walking into an alpine town in Europe.  We have previously visited Bavarian towns in Germany, and other alpine towns in Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic, and even though is a fake Bavarian town, it looks amazingly legit!

Leavenworth, WA

We lucked out and found parking in one of the main streets of town due to visiting during a weekday.  The weekends get crowded, and traffic is really bad.  After parking, we strolled along Commercial Street, Front Street, and all the “Strassen” in between.  There are gift shops, boutiques, bakeries, ice cream shops, and restaurants.   During the summer river tubing is popular, but we opted to do some hiking due to the various hiking trail options in the area. I found what appeared to be good apple strudel, however my biased senses started to compare the pastry to the delicious apple strudel we tasted in the villages of Austria.  We decided to skip this tasty pastry to keep the magic going, however, the kids loved the ginger cookies at the Ginger Bread Factory, plus the ambiance of the bakery felt like a fairy tale. 

Ginger Bread Factory in Leavenworth, WA

Entrance of the
Ginger Bread Factory 

As we continued exploring, we stopped at the Nut Cracker Museum where Christmas ornaments can be purchased.  The ornaments seem to be imported, since these are pretty similar in craftsmanship and quality to the ornaments, we have purchased at Rothenburg ob der Tauber when visiting Germany. 

Throwback picture from a Christmas shop
in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Our son at the main square of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Around lunch time, we bought sausages at the Munchen Hause, which come with grilled hot-dog style bread buns.  We enjoyed the juicy sausages in the outdoor sitting area of the restaurant in the Front Street.  There are some cool murals in the shops, portraying German culture, such as the Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales.  The kids recognized some of those fairy tales from their bed time stories. 

Eating sausage outside Munchen Hause in Leavenworth, WA

Fairy Tale Murals of the Grimm Brothers, Leavenworth, WA

After lunch, we decided to take a hike at the Waterfront Park, and we walked the trails that run along the Wenatchee River.  We saw people tubing, swimming, and some diving from a bridge (yikes!). 

View from the bridge at the Waterfront Park in Leavenworth

Wenatchee River at the Waterfront Park in Leavenworth

As we hit the road to get to our next base, we stopped in the outskirts of Leavenworth along Highway 2, at the Old Pipeline Bed Trailhead.  This trailhead has awesome views of the Wenatchee River with alpine mountain views.  We stopped at the beach area for a couple of hours so the kids could play, then we walked along the trail for a bit, and crossed the Tumwater Canyon Bridge.  The views from the bridge are amazing and the sound of the roaring river is captivating. 

View of the Tumwater Canyon Bridge from the beach area.

Beach area of the Old Pipeline Bed Trail

Tumwater Canyon Bridge

View from the top of the Tumwater Canyon Bridge

As we headed towards our next base, the magical scenery of the cascade loop continued as we were driving through the curvy roads of Highway 2 from Leavenworth to Baring, transitioning from the Wenatchee National Forest to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  

Highway 2 going driving from Leavenworth to Baring, WA

The scenery is so nice, that it is too tempting not to stop at every single point of interest along the way.  We decided to keep going since it was getting late, however we couldn’t avoid the curiosity to stop at the Deception Falls past Steven’s Pass, prior to arriving at our cabin.  Now you might ask, are these falls really deceptive?  Ha! Read along!
Deceptive Falls, this is just the beginning.

The Deceptive Falls

In all honesty, there is nothing here to be deceived about, on the contrary!  After parking, and going into the trailhead, the scenery changes dramatically.  Entering the trail feels like stepping into a different planet as if you arrived to another civilization of living organisms.  The trees are covered in green moss from the base of the trunk to the tips of branches. The forest is dark and damp, yet the colors in the forest are brighter and greener. 

Point of interest at the Deceptive Falls Interpretive Trail

The Deception Creek

Walking along the Deceptive Trail, which is not deceptive at all.

The water along the creek is crystalline clear, and the waterfalls, although smaller in size, show the amazing power of nature.  As one walks along the trail, one can witness the merging powers of two great forces as the Deception Creek. This creek originates in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and abruptly merges with the Tye River after making a 90 degree turn.  This power junction is amazing, yet scary.  

90 degree junction of the Deception Creek
and the Tye River

Deception Creek going towards the Tye River

We highly recommend this place; it is a hidden treasure overlooked by many travelers.  The trail is misty, so be careful when walking (it can be a bit slippery).  The trail is a half mile loop, accessible for everyone, fairy tale style, and family friendly. 
After visiting the Deception Falls, we headed to our next base camp over the next 7 days.  The base camp was a 30-year-old cabin sitting on the edge of the Skykomish River in Baring, WA.  Every morning, we prepared coffee and breakfast, and ate outside in the patio to enjoy the views of the river, and the mountains with pine trees.  After breakfast, I prepared snacks and lunch to go for the family, and then we would head to a trail nearby.  It was nice and relaxing to come back to the cabin, wash off, rest for a bit, prepare and eat dinner, play board games, and sit together to enjoy the sunsets.  I mostly enjoyed tracking the sunrays moving across the mountain peaks as these softly caressed and highlighted the geological colors of the rock slabs.  

The view from our cabin

We also enjoyed singing; our daughter played the ukulele, our son the harmonica, and I played the guitar while my husband sang along.  We are not trying to put a family band together, although at times it felt like the hills were alive by adding the element of music to the whole scenery.  No, we are not the Von Trapp family from the Sound of Music!  We are the Martinez-Ruiz Family, a Mexican-American Family from Texas, Si Señor! 

Singing outside the cabin

During our stay in Baring, we visited two small charming railroad towns; Skykomish, and Index.  These towns have small grocery stores, but we mostly shopped at the Gold Bar Family Grocery store in the town of Gold Bar.  In one of our trips to buy groceries, we decided to stop at the Espresso Chalet to buy iced coffee, and espresso.  The place is located at Mile Post 36 in Index (WA) at the Bridal Veil Falls and Mt. Index overlook/viewpoint area.  To our surprise, we saw Big Foot at this location!  Well, not really, although this is one of the film locations of Harry and the Henderson’s movie.  The kids enjoyed taking a picture with Harry, a 14 ft wood carved figure of Big Foot.  In addition, the green shack was used as the outside set for the North American Museum of anthropology where Dr. Wallace was doing his research on Big Foot.  The coffee drinks were great, there are movie souvenirs, and you can sit and relax in the place to catch a picturesque view of the Bridal Veil Falls from afar.  

Patio Area of the Espresso Chalet

View of the Bridal Veil Falls from the Espresso Chalet Patio

One of the Film Locations of Harry and the Henderson's

Hanging out with Harry

We hiked a few trails in the area, however, our favorite trails came down to the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Barclay Lake Trail.  We did not have a chance to hike other trails along Highway 2, but this just gives us an excuse to come back.  

The Barclay Lake Trail is 4.3 miles and was an easy hike for the most part.  The trail is pretty continuous without major inclines (little elevation) and we were glad it was not steep like the Bridal Veil Falls trail.  This trail is kid friendly, compared to the Bridal Veil Falls trail, where people gave us some “weird” looks for taking the kids with us.  One lady said as she was coming back from the trail “it is pretty rough, are you sure you want to keep going?” In all honesty, we were not expecting the trail to be hard and steep on the last 1/3 of the path, but we made it and the kids felt a big sense of accomplishment when making it to the waterfalls, besides marveling at the views of the valley from the top, and the noisy drop of the waterfalls. Stay tuned for the next blog post about our encounter with a Black Bear at the Bridal Veil Falls trailhead! 

Back to the Barclay Lake trail, it features a small lake where swimming, fishing, and camping is possible. Getting to the trail is a bit confusing, since you have to drive through a narrow gravel road for about 15-20 minutes. The road has a few large potholes and sections of rocky outcroppings, so be careful when driving on this road.  The road is narrow, shaded, and beautiful, so for a moment we thought it was probably the trail, until we started to see other cars driving back. Once we made it to the parking lot, our hike was about 1.5 hours to the lake (we take our time when hiking).

Driving to the Barclay Lake Trail

Parking lot at the Barclay Lake Trail

We enjoyed the views of Barclay Lake, and ate lunch there before heading back to the parking lot. The trail is pretty shaded with trees, there is bridge that goes over a stream about 1/3 of the way, and then the trees start to get scarce as you begin to approach the lake.  We noticed the water levels were pretty low in the stream along the trail, and the lake due to the high heated summer.  Unfortunately this was a pretty common scene for the lakes and rivers in the Cascades area. 

Crossing the bridge, 1/3 of the way to Barclay Lake

Barclay Lake

Barclay Lake

Due to the high summer temperatures, we went to the town of Index a couple of times to the swimming area of the Skykomish river.  The public beach is next to the bridge, on the left side of the Index Historical Society building.  

Under the Index Bridge

Down at the River in Index, WA

Index is another hidden gem, known as the smallest town in the State of Washington, with the biggest views.  It is located in the foothills of Cascade Mountain range, and it is a destination for rock climbers due to the Index Town Walls (granite cliffs on the north edge of the town).  

The BNFS railroad runs through the middle of the town, and it was cool to see passenger and freight trains chug along from below the bridge. We also heard the train from our cabin during the day and sometimes at night, adding to the mining town ambiance and RSR. 

Passenger train going through Index

Leaving the beach area under the bridge

Index General Store

Index Train Bridge

Index Historical Museum

Index and the granite cliffs in the background

It was impossible to visit everything in 2 weeks, but we truly enjoyed the places we explored.  At the end of the trip, we made our last stop at Kirkland, WA to attend mass at the Holy Family Church, and to witness another sunset of the west coast before going back to Houston.  Kirkland is not part of the Cascades Scenic Route, but it is a suburb of Seattle that was on our path to the airport, and it has a small town feel with beautiful views.  After church, we walked along Lake Street and enjoyed the sunset behind the Marina Park Pavilion.  The Marina Park is great for families, with views of Lake Washington.  It is very nice to walk the streets of downtown Kirkland with the kids, where one can find coffee shops, boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.  There are more parks to enjoy as well, such as Heritage Park, where we walked the trails to end our trip in Washington.

Sunset at the Marina Park, Kirkland, WA

Marina Park, Kirkland, WA

Walking in downtown Kirkland

Sunset in Lake Washington, Kirkland

The South Cascades route is like a collection of movie scenes along the way, where you can find small charming towns, views of different mountain ranges, plenty of outdoor activities, and a better perspective of the history and the different cultures of the region that have evolved over the years. The scenic road is a path that invites you to disconnect from your world, to find other worlds to connect to: nature, different people, God, and yourself.  We found disconnecting from our environment helped us find our center again, we really needed an adjustment to our GPS in these difficult pandemic times, and a renewed sense of our place in this world.  We are so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to visit these lands of the West Coast. 




Exploring the Southern Part of the Cascade Loop- Wenatchee, Cashmere, and Leavenworth

The kids are about to start school next week, and to end the summer with a nice adventure, we decided to travel to a place where we can enjoy the outdoors away from COVID-19, and that is not unbearably hot. The destination was the Cascade Loop at Washington State, a route that covers a diverse range of mountains and scenery. Since we only had 2 weeks, we decided to only explore a few parts of the southern part of The Cascade Loop, and we also decided to rent two cottages along the route to use as our base in order to explore the east and the west ends.  

Places we visited in the South East and South West of the Cascade Loop

On the first day of our trip, we flew from Houston to Seattle via United Airlines, and rented a car in the airport.  Along the way to Wenatchee, we bought some groceries at a Safeway to have breakfast for the next day at the cottage we rented in Wenatchee.  The drive from Seattle to Wenatchee is about a 2.5-hour drive (not counting stops). 

The rental cottage in Wenatchee had all the essentials; a kitchen to cook, a washer and dryer to wash clothes, free wi-fi, board games, and a TV with other apps to keep the kids entertained while my husband and I both worked remotely during business hours.  In the evenings, after work, we went out to venture and explore the area. The best part of the place we rented, was the amazing view of the Wenatchee Valley.  

View of Wenatchee after sunset from our rental cottage

Outside patio of the cottage with view of the mountains and the Wenatchee Valley

While staying at Wenatchee, we bought groceries, cooked breakfast and lunch at the rental place, and ate dinner somewhere in town each day.  The first few days, we took a stroll along the Columbia River and explored downtown Wenatchee.  A neat place to visit is the Pybus PublicMarket; it is basically a much smaller version of Pike Place Market in Seattle, but without the crowds. Here you can find organic fruits and vegetables, a local butchery and fishery, restaurants, and gift shops.  

Pybus Public Market parking lot

Inside the Pybus Public Market

Eating Pizza at the Pybus Public Market

Take a few steps down the Market across the street to the Wenatchee River Front Park, where you will find a nice garden, sculptures, and the Apple Capital Loop Trail, after all, Wenatchee is known as the Apple Capital of the World. The trail is 22 miles long, it loops along the Columbia River, and you can walk-it or rent a bike to see it all.  Along the way, you can find parks, and spots to fish and have a picnic.  We walked a couple of miles to explore, and besides exploring the River Front Park, we took a walk down the Moorage to be closer to the river.  


Sculptures at the River Front Park

River Front Park

Walking along the Apple Loop Trail

Moorage at the River Front Park

On another occasion, we walked towards the Wenatchee Hale Park to see the Old Bridge.  You can cross the Columbia River by foot or by bike through the old bridge, and get a glimpse of Wenatchee and the river from the top with some pretty amazing views of the river and the valley.

Old Bridge, Wenatchee Hale Park

View of the Columbia River from the Old Bridge

Wenatchee Hale Park

Towards the end of the week, we visited the Ohme Gardens and the town of Cashmere on different days.  The Ohme Gardens are a beautiful hidden gem at the top of a hill with amazing panoramic views of the Wenatchee valley.  This place is basically a humanmade forest, resembling a set for the movie E.T. The owners of the gardens transplanted evergreens and boulders from the Cascade Mountains, and built paths to resemble hiking trails and an alpine paradise. This mini-forest is perfect for families with kids, the forest is big enough for a fun exploring.  Our kids hiked the trails happily motivated by a scavenger hunt as they ventured around the forest with a map, looking for gnomes and fairies (ask for a map at the front desk). You can also borrow hiking sticks at the front desk. 

Ohme Gardens trails in Wenatchee, WA

Looking for gnomes and fairies at the Ohme Gardens

Transplanted rocks and boulders at the Ohme Gardens

View of Wenatchee from the Ohme Gardens

Our Family Picture at Picture Lawne in Ohme Gardens

The other town we visited towards the end of the week was Cashmere. It is a town along the Wenatchee River, about 20 min NW of Wenatchee.  Besides walking along the charming and historical downtown, we visited the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village.  The museum has a pretty good collection of Native American objects and artifacts used by the local tribes, and provides information about the Native American tribes in the area, including the Wenatchi.  The museum was pretty educational and eye opening for the kids, specially after learning the peaceful Wenatchi tribe were removed from their land by white settlers, were rounded up by the government, and forced to live in existing Indian reservations.  There is a documented story in the museum about a Chief who died from sadness after fighting for his people, and their land was taken away.  Sad, but true, so much pain has been inflicted on our Native American brothers and sisters!   

Native American art at the Cashmere Museum

Native American objects, clothing and accessories at the Cashmere Museum

As the kids were pondering on the pictures of some of the tribe members, they mentioned the elderly women reminded them of Mama Susana (their Great-Great Grandma who died at the age of 109), and who was an indigenous Native American of Mexico from the region of Matehuala, in San Luis Potosi (not sure if she was part of the negritos or huachiciles (wachichile) tribes, but her birth registration indicated she was indigenous).  Yes, we do have indigenous Native American blood too, and we are very proud of this heritage!


Mama Susana sitting next to our daughter, and me in Mexico.
To the right, a Wenatchi woman with GGGrandma's resemblance.

After going through the Native American section, take the stairs down to the bottom floor to see the 2nd part of the exhibit comprised of settler objects and memorabilia.  When exiting the bottom floor, you will see the Pioneer Village.  The pioneer village is comprised of 20 original structures that take you back in time to the way of living of the first pioneer-settlers.  Amongst the structures, one can see a school, a doctor’s office, a general store, a saloon, a mission church, and family cabins. 


Pioneer town at the Cashmere Museum

Water Mill behind the Cashmere Museum

Pioneer Town in Cashmere, WA

Railroad Tracks in Pioneer Town, Cashmere, WA

While in Cashmere, we also visited the Apple Annie Antique Gallery, home to one of the largest collections of antiques and collectibles in the West, and we went to the Cashmere Riverside Park next to the Wenatchee River.  You can basically walk around the town exploring the streets, mainly Cottage and Mission Avenues. 


The Wenatchee River from Cashmere, WA

Antiques Store in Cashmere, WA

Burger Drive-In in Cashmere, WA

On our last day at Wenatchee, we went to the Wenatchee RiverCounty Park to have a picnic and to see if maybe we could get in the river, however, the water was too low, and not too good for swimming.  As we drove by, I couldn’t help to notice the Migrant Worker Camp in the park.  The camp has tents, public restrooms, and bathrooms for the migrant workers of the area.  This scene took me to my childhood days, when we used to stay in similar migrant worker campgrounds in Yakima, Washington to work for local cherry farmers. Definitely, the economy of the apple picking valley would not survive without the hard-working hands of migrant workers in the area.  I noticed some migrant workers have assimilated well into the local culture, and are now permanently residing in the small towns in the area, with some being business owners, and others working in restaurants, grocery stores, retail, etc. 


Chicken mole oaxaqueño at Fonda Oaxaqueña

Tlayuda at Fonda Oaxaqueña

The south part of downtown Wenatchee (old part of town), has local Mexican and Central American stores and restaurants.  Since there is a significant population of migrant workers from Oaxaca, I noticed a few Oaxacan restaurants in the area.  After asking around for a recommended place, we crossed the bridge to go to the East side of Wenatchee to eat at the Fonda Oaxaqueña.  Locals also recommended Caadxi Oaxaca, and other restaurants with Oaxacan food, but we did not have time to visit each.  I wish we did!   We decided to eat at Fonda Oaxaqueña, a small restaurant on the East side.  We opted for this choice since we needed to buy a few more groceries nearby. I ordered the tlayuda, and my husband ordered mole with chicken.  The tlayuda was pretty big, enough for 4 people.  It is basically like a medium size pizza, but the bread is a big corn tortilla or flat corn tostada.  The tortilla is toasted over the grill, and it is usually made out of blue corn.  A black bean paste is spread over the tostada, and then other food ingredients are added, such as meat, tomatoes, oaxacan string cheese, lettuce, etc.  Top it with lime, and salsa, and your mouth will start watering! Ay! The food was actually pretty good, it tasted pretty authentic, almost like the food in Oaxaca (almost).  The service was great, and the waitresses were nice and friendly. 


Pear Orchards in Wenatchee, WA

On our last evening in Wenatchee, we spent time driving around some roads with apple, cherry, and pear orchards to see the valley and the views from the top of the hills.  It was beautiful to see the contrasting colors of the green orchards on top of golden valleys.  We also spent time watching the sunset in the park near the Old Wenatchee Bridge.

Old Wenatchee Bridge from Hale Park

Climbing towards the sun, Hale Park

Sunset from Hale Park

As the sun was setting, I thought about the history of the area, the way of life of the local peaceful tribes living near the edges of the rivers, the pioneers settling and displacing the natives from their land, and how this area evolved into the apple capital of the world, thanks to the local farmers, the sustaining water of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers, and the hard-working migrants from Mexico and Central America.  The irony here is, the Native Americans might have been driven away from their lands, but now the local economy depends on Native Americans from other lands to pick the fruit that makes it to your kitchen. 

Wenatchee, WA - View from our rental place

The next morning, after checking out from our rental place, which had a beautiful view of the Wenatchee valley, we drove to the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, to start the 2nd part of our journey. 

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this journey….













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