It was a later night than expected which resulted in a later wake up than desired. Last night, I wrote a post and worked on pictures in my outdoor office. Afterwards I placed my chair at the front of the car and enjoyed the star filled sky even though dulled by light pollution. The night was calm, and I appreciated the site’s hedged privacy as I simply enjoyed the evening. So, it was slow going in the morning, the heater providing a toasty interior for my lethargic movements.
Mabel and I went for a morning walk and found a small trail in the hills around the campground. It was steep in a few spots and wooded throughout with the morning dew wetting my shoes. I worked on another post, the morning warming after the sun rose higher in the sky, and we pulled out around 10:45. The campground was bigger than expected and the large lake, ringed by RVs was an emerald green.
Last night, I perused the website for today’s highlight, the Boeing Factory tour near Everette and had selected the souvenirs I wanted to see. I like airplanes, and this is the Taj Mahal of airplane manufacturing facilities, recognized by the Guinness Book of World records as the world’s largest manufacturing building by volume. It is here that they build the 747, 767, 777, & 787 airliners. We pulled into the parking lot after a 45-minute trip that saw us head North, only to back-track South once I realized we were going in the wrong direction. I made the trailer comfortable for Mabel and rushed through the parking lot, walking fast enough to keep ahead of the visitors exiting the recently arrived tour busses.
Once inside the Future of Flight Aviation Center, I made my way to the lineless ticket booth and bought my tour pass, receiving a military retiree discount. It pays to walk fast, and I was able to secure a spot in the next tour with very little waiting time. We gathered in a Boeing Blue hallway lined with historic photos and were herded into an auditorium after our tickets were scanned and an aging security guard gave us the once over. After a short film on Boeing history and a presentation from a highly polished tour guide, we boarded two tour busses for the short trip to the factory. The busses took us past a packed ramp with many aircraft waiting for transfer to new owners. I spotted the newest addition to the aircraft’s inventory, the dark KC-46 Pegasus sitting proudly amongst its louder colored cousins.
The factory is huge, and the tour restricted by design to take us where Boeing wants us to go. Cameras are strictly prohibited so no interior photos for my gallery. We viewed the manufacturing floor from high above, the observation decks providing a view of multiple aircraft in various stages of build. Our tour guide’s delivery, both in tone and inflection, would have been at home in Disney World. She knew her Boeing, and added pertinent information to what we were viewing.
The guide further outlined the process for building the aircraft and the design is amazing. I don’t know how they keep track of each part that is required for the final product. The large carcasses move along the floor with technicians adding parts until a completed air plane exits through the hangar doors. Each plane is customizable for interiors and engines with the price tag not inclusive of these additions.
The tour allowed us to see two manufacturing floors, one building the 767 and the other completing 787’s before we were brought back through the gift shop. Another Disney-like attraction which had the intended affect and I purchased my fair share of Boeing memorabilia.
The exhibit hall was disappointing as I wanted to see examples of Boeing aircraft but instead was greeted by science heavy displays. It was interesting to see the advancements in jet engine technology, but I would have been much happier looking at old airplanes. The snack bar called me as I craved spicy and bad-for-you bar type food but was instead greeted by expensive but healthy choices. A fajita type wrap filled the void and I was soon out in the parking lot to let Mabel out of the camper.
I have found out while travelling, the results of just walking over and saying “Hi”, both by myself and from strangers approaching. As I finished talking to my Aunt on the phone, a couple walked up and introduced themselves after admiring Arabella. It turns out they were high school sweet hearts many years ago and the man was visiting after they found each other on Facebook. He lives in Missouri and her in California with a son that lives in the area. They were heading out early in the morning to do some salmon fishing in a spot selected by her son. We talked for a while and I gave them the camper tour speech but couldn’t muster the courage to ask if the romance from high school had been rekindled.
The afternoon was getting short, I could tell by the sun, so we found HWY 2 and made our way East. The true beginning of the line back to home. The ride was beautiful and took us through the Cascade Mountain Range, large snowcapped peaks our distant view. Stevens Pass was awesome, but I was unable to snap pictures of the tall, rocky, and defiant peaks that sported few trees. There was just nowhere to pull off and I opted for safety rather than a cool collection of pixels.
We came across a well-maintained rest stop, the mountains a contrasting background to its green picnic areas. Outside the rest room doors stood a small booth with coffee and cookies manned by volunteers. I talked with them for a bit, telling them our story and finding out the booth is manned each weekend by a different group. They recommended I visit the small town of Leavenworth which was about an hour or so down HWY 2 and raved about the bratwurst and beer in what they claimed was an authentic Bavarian village. I was a little unsettled when they spoke of Leavenworth because any military member knows the significance of staying away from Leavenworth Kansas. But from their descriptions, Leavenworth Washington sounded like a place I shouldn’t miss, and I was in serious need of a good beer and brat.
We pulled off at a small picnic area on the Wenatchee River allowing Mabel to stretch her legs off the leash. We had beautiful views of the Cascades, bare from what could have been a fire. Mabel navigated the river trail sometimes getting a little too far from view but always coming back with a whistle. There weren’t many enjoying the view as the day’s light was rushing towards night, so we felt like it was our own private reserve. The air was cool, and the water looked cold defining a true mountain river experience. I was glad we stopped to do some exploring but survival mode kicked in and I needed a place for the night.
My, now dog-eared KOA campground listing, showed a campground just outside Leavenworth so we plotted a course to our next resting place. Following the river, we came through the town’s bypass which allowed for a view of Leavenworth’s main street. It was as the volunteers described it, all of the buildings looking more at home in Europe.
The campground was easy to find but closed so I broke into seasoned KOA Camper mode and started looking for that after-hours registration board. In about a minute a yellow shirted man walked by and said there was no need, he would set me up in a spot for the night. He was soon joined by a yellow shirted woman who helped guide me to a small spot on the dirt path’s corner that backed up to the play yard. In retrospect, I should have said thanks and just picked a spot, because this was not ideal. But brats and beer were on my mind, so judgment was clouded.
The campground sat on the Wenatchee River and we found the trail that lead to its boulder strewn sandy beach. The view was more of the amazing we saw at the picnic evident even with the light at almost darkness. Mabel enjoyed the walk, tethered to me by the leash, and was disappointed when we headed back to Arabella. She was served dinner as I unhitched the camper for the trip into town.
Leavenworth’s business district was five minutes up the road, but it took some time to find a parking spot. The campground staff told me of an outdoor bar that served local micro-brew beer and cooked decent brats. The restaurants were filled, and people strolled the sidewalks. I wished Sheri was with me, the warm lights spilling out from the store front windows made the town feel very Disney. It would have been nice to share the atmosphere with her.
I found the Munchen Haus on Front Street and ordered bratwurst from one window and then walked over to the bar to purchase my beer, a local heffe weizen. The seating was family style and I found a bench near a table warmed by a gas fireplace. The building is open in the front and the chilly evening provided a festive atmosphere for the mostly filled restaurant. The brat, topped by one of the many mustard choices, and beer were the perfect top off for the night.
Back at the KOA I walked Mabel and posted to the blog, thankful for seeing the village of Leavenworth.