Looking for culture in all the low places

Downtown Leavenworth

By Laura Grimes

LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — “Is this a barbarian village?” the Small Large Smelly Boy piped up. “Do barbarians live here?”

He was jokingly referring to Leavenworth, Wash., the Bavarian village that screams for “quaint” to be added automatically to every reference. This is the place made for tourist buses and resorts.

I don’t consider myself a tourist in these parts. I can lay claim to family ties a few generations back. Great-grandma’s cabin wasn’t far from town, but it burned long ago and no one can remember quite where it was. We used to come here for uncles who had homes on Icicle Creek, not chalets with fake icicles.

On this day, The SLSB and I had serious business to tend to. Amazingly, we found a parking spot right near the gazebo in the center of downtown. As we climbed out of the Large Smelly Boymobile, the oompah music was just striking up. Such luck! I immediately dialed Mr. Scatter. I didn’t want him to miss this.

“GUESS WHERE WE ARE!” I held up the phone.

By his somewhat dismal, confused response, I could tell I had interrupted his reverie. I sweetly ignored it. “LET ME GET CLOSER!” As if on cue, the accordion cranked up and the yodeling kicked in. Excellent!


“Oh, you must be in Leavenworth.” He sounded so … astonishingly … unamused.

“Did I wake you up?” It was 11 a.m.

“No, I was reading The New York Times.”

“I didn’t want you to miss the oompah music!”

“Yeah. Um, thanks.”

We chatted more (I’m certain he wanted to), but I had to go. The SLSB and I had yet more serious business to tend to. Putt-putt golf.

I wanted to go to the place with the natural putting greens (as natural as golf courses go, that is). It had a real waterfall …

The putt-putt course with the real putting greens.

… and real goats on the hillside, just like in the Alps.

See! Real goats!

But, no. The SLSB insisted on going a little farther down the road to this place:

Love that indoor-outdoor carpet.

The one with water the color of blue Kool-Aid.

Trust me. It's blue Kool-Aid.

And the purdiest mini architecture, with just a subtle hint of commercialism.

Sweet little barfy houses.

I got all excited. I insisted I won by a stroke (I had two holes-in-one!) until the SLSB pointed out that the lowest score won. Why is golf so confusing like that? The highest score wins in every other sport.

While we were having lunch with relatives, Mr. Scatter sent me a note and a photo. Before The SLSB and I started on our journey, I had surprised Mr. Scatter with a shirt with a not-so-vague Hawaiian design. It was on clearance. Imagine that. Mr. Scatter’s note: “Look what I’m wearing today!”

The not-so-famous shirt with the not-so-vague Hawaiian design.

(To find out why a shirt with a not-so-vague Hawaiian design is so funny, read this.)

So I replied to Mr. Scatter with this:

The answers to just about everything can be found in the shop windows in Leavenworth.

David, Mr. Word Police? Where are you when we need you? What’s wrong with this sign?

In addition to the sign photo, I tried typing a reply to Mr. Scatter for nearly an hour. I was trying to type, showing the shirt picture to the SLSB, talking to my aunt, juggling my camera and turned a corner … to see four nuns sitting on a bench eating ice cream. (I am so sorry I couldn’t surreptitiously take a photo! It was all I could do not to gawk, I was so surprised.) It occurred to me the nuns might be appearing in The Sound of Music that was showing in town that night (which was sold out, btw), but they were too authentic for that.

Mr. Scatter sent a follow-up note to go with the not-so-vague Hawaiian shirt. It’s a little ditty he sings to me now and then:

Pineapple princess, I love you, you’re the sweetest one I’ve seen,
someday we’re gonna marry and you’ll be my pineapple queen.

Sickly sweet, yes?Do I hear a bunch of “AAAAHHHS!” about now? I know. Sweet, huh? Now that you’re in the mood, we’ll go straight for the syrup.

The SLSB and I spent the rest of the day on the lookout for the very best cultural artifacts so we could report back. It’s possible our delirium was caused by the fact that our lunch was too big, that the heat was too much, that a big blob of fudge was too rich. Whatever the cause, by the time we were done, we nearly had to race each other to the overused public restroom. What did our very serious sleuthing in Leavenworth uncover? Behold these gems:

About as culturally purrfect as you can get.

A sign that was about as incongruous as you can get:

Hard to imagine, huh?

With a window that looked like this:

Cram in a few more things why don't you?

JoJo and Bog insisted on getting in on the action:

JoJo and Bog/Small Large Smelly Boy

David, help again!

Larg Only???

The tails on these dogs wagged back and forth. I shot photo after photo trying to time it so the tail wouldn’t look like it was up the nose of the dog on top. No such luck, perhaps for the best.

Sorry that tail went up your nose, but it couldn't be helped.

Many of the T-shirts would put People of Walmart to shame. This is a family blog, so I picked very carefully.

You're kidding, right?

This one is for the Large Smelly Boys. Believe me, many were worse.

Can you imagine wearing this?

This one is for JoJo …

Kinda sweet in a gnomie sorta way.

… which goes well with these guys …

But they'd be so cute by your front door.

Now that you’ve seen our day’s booty, race you to the restroom.

One more thing. We hit the road today. What does that mean? (For the answer, put your cursor on the next photo and hold it there. It harks back to this post from way last summer about the goofy games we play in the car. The little cursor trick works for all the photos, btw, some funny, some not so much.)

Alvin and the Chipmunks!