Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mrs. Anderson's Lodging House Leavenworth - staffed by Dead People

Mrs. Anderson's Lodging House, Leavenworth

staffed by Dead People 

So, it's Memorial Weekend, right? Leavenworth is jammed. The streets are full of traffic, every parking spot is taken.  And it's a heat wave.  Luckily we drove right to Mrs. Anderson's, and I jumped out and ran in there to ask them where their parking lot was. There was somebody at the counter already; I waited for a break in conversation then I said, "I'm supposed to stay here tonight-- can you tell me where the parking lot is?" They told me to wait a minute, so I waited, trying to be patient, while the previous people got finished. Then I stepped up to the desk and told him my name. He looked me up on the computer, and what do you know. I said, "I'm in there? So, can you tell me where the parking lot is? My husband's driving around the block right now because there's nowhere to park." He said, "We have to sign these forms first." I said, "We can do that afterwards, I want to know where the parking lot is first!" He got huffy. He put the papers down, braced his hands on the desk and looked me square in the eye, and said, "You're going to have to find somewhere ELSE to park, because we have to check you in FIRST. We have to see your photo ID!" I said, "I left my purse in the truck, which is driving around the block right now." No sympathy. So I went running out there. Ed had found a spot to stand, as they call it, where he could at least idle until I came out. He saw me and pulled out of his not-spot and started to drive towards me; I waved my hands to tell him to go back. I dashed across the street and got my bag. He said, "What's the problem?" I said, "There's no problem, I'm just going back in there and strangle that guy." So I went back in (didn't strangle the guy; didn't even want to try, after I noticed his long yellow fingernails!) and I showed my ID, signed this incredible list of penalties ($500 cleaning charge if I smuggle a dog in in my suitcase? Sheesh!)   We got through with all that.  I said with a lot of sarcasm, "NOW can I be permitted to know where the parking is?" I don't think this guy noticed the sarcasm. I don't know if he was alive, even. He said, "Yes, and I'll show you some other things--" and he told me where the parking lot was, then started telling me about the breakfast room and the door locks, yes, seriously!  I said, "I will be back in a minute WITH MY HUSBAND and get the tour!" He was miffed. I didn't care, I was miffed too. I left him standing there staring, and went out and hopped in the truck and we went around back and parked. We got an assigned spot and somebody was already in it... well, we took the spot next to it, and the codger actually adapted, which raised my opinion of him a little. A little.

We gathered our suitcases and went inside, and he was giving somebody else the tour, and he left us standing there for AT LEAST ten minutes. He acted like we were invisible. Left us standing in the narrow hall surrounded by all the antiques, while talking and being nice to the other guy, right in front of us. I guess I missed my one assigned chance for niceness or what? Would it have been too much to ask, that he show both of us at the same time, all this various stuff? Okay, that's asking too much, I guess. Would it have been too much to ask that he acknowledge our existence with his eyes if nothing else, each time he walked by us? There was only a little chain across the door that led to the upstairs, and since I already knew which room was ours, we toyed with the idea of just marching up there on our own. I walked back into the little room where the cash register was, where the woman was standing, and said, "Can YOU show us where our room is, or do we have to wait for him?"  She said, "Al will be back in a minute," and she stayed by her cash register, and we stayed in the hallway holding our suitcases.  I amused myself by mentally composing my review for expedia.com, hotels.com, Yahoo Travel, etc.  Just think, travelers used to have no recourse other than to tell their friends.  Now we have a bit more voice. 

Eventually Al got back-- from OUTSIDE, where he'd gone to "get something from a guy"-- a second guy-- all without saying a word to us! When he did get back to us, he seemed to notice nothing wrong, just took us under his wing and we got this cute little canned tour, without a hint of emotion, either apologetic or resentful. I think Al's dead. That must be it. He's the walking undead. He gave us two keys with tags on them with the combination to the door locks, which he said got locked at eight p.m. He showed us the breakfast room, then we walked up some extremely steep stairs to the upper floor. It really was charming and cozy in there. The common room had quilts and games and interesting stuff. Ed hates antiques and wasn't impressed. I like antiques for their history value, not the cutesyness. There was a lot of cutesyness going on in there. Old dresses and hats and dried flower bouquets. Later on I noticed a Britannica 11th edition; that was worth a look. There were some other old books but I never did get a chance. There was a back balcony that went down back stairs, so we could come and go that way, directly down to the truck and not have to walk past the front desk. That was a good thing, so we could come and go without looking at those people. 

So we did our Leavenworth thing... we went shopping, came back and dropped our stuff in the room, went walking out for dinner and movie.  It was 11:45 when we got back to the room. We crept up the back stairs and into our room as quietly as we could so as not to disturb everybody else, but when we opened the door to the room, it hit us-- STUFFY.  As stuffy and closed-up as an old attic, when you walk up into Grandma's attic in the summertime.  They had an air conditioning vent in there, which earlier had been on and blowing, but was now OFF.  It was just a vent, without any controls, so we were at the mercy of whoever was in control of the whole system.  We headed for the windows to open them quick, and found them painted shut. Long since painted shut, as if they hadn't been opened for years.  And didn't have screens on them, anyway...  The only other way to get air was to open the balcony door, which turned out to Ed's disgust, to be a shared balcony with the next room, and nothing between them and us but a little chain. I pointed out that this is the kind of place patronized by senior citizens, not midnight slashers, so we weren't exactly in danger, but he wasn't impressed, and demanded that I phone that guy and tell him to turn the air back on.  I told him the lights were off downstairs. There were phone numbers on the door, so I called one of them, and woke poor Al up.  He told me the air conditioning was automatic, and if we wanted ventilation to open a window. The windows didn't have screens on them anyway, even if they hadn't been painted shut!  Ed got on the phone, and while he was talking I went over and pushed up as hard as I could on the window.  It started to groan, but in a bad way, and I visualized myself busting the top of the window frame so I gave it up.  Ed being on the phone, and it turned into a Guy Thing, as he said to "Turn the $#@! air on in here NOW!"  I kept shushing Ed so he wouldn't disturb the old ladies next door. Ed said, "Don't try to tell me the air conditioning is automatic, some human being has to set it!"  and to go turn it on.  Al told him it would be "inconsiderate" to turn it on in everybody's room and have people wake up cold, and Ed said it was inconsiderate to think we would be locked into a stuffy 10x12 room all night with no ventilation, and that he works with enclosed spaces and ventilation at work so he KNOWS about these things and there's no way he's spending the night in conditions like this.  Ed said he wanted a refund in the morning, and I guess Al must have thought we only qualified for a refund if we weren't actually there-- I don't know how that actually happened, hearing only Ed's side of the conversation.  But suddenly we had agreed to leave, in exchange for a refund.  At midnight? Well, that's it, that's what we're doing! 

It didn't even occur to me to argue, because I knew Ed wouldn't get any sleep because he'd lie awake and worry about the air, probably checking his consciousness level all the time or something, and what he'd be like in the morning, and what would happen at the front desk the next morning probably wouldn't be pretty.  So it was better to just get him out of there and go look for a NORMAL motel.

Anyway there were bugs at Mrs. Anderson's.  I kid you not.  Bugs, plural; I saw two.  One of those red-cross beetley-thingies crawling on the curtain, and some nasty black bug in the bathroom.  If there's bugs crawling around in the open, WHAT is there in the bed?  Probably nothing, but once you're creeped out, it's kinda hard to get un-creeped.

The next motel we stopped at was a new construction.  We were the very first people to sleep there, fancy that!  I even paid them for a room, then discovered when we entered it, that they didn't have ventilation either, and that their windows didn't have screens on them either, and they had a TAMED WILD BEAR that frequented the place.  So not happening.

Next motel, a sign said to wake the guy up, and he woke up, but he couldn't ASSURE me that his rooms had any ventilation and he wasn't in the mood to let me inspect the room before paying for it!   I took that as a sign and we kept driving.

Next motel, nobody there.  Next motel, full.  Next motel, nobody there.  Finally got back to CIVILIZATION, Monroe, Washington, you know, where the racetrack is?  Lots of nice, normal motels like Best Western, which were packed to the gills.  We stopped at one called Fairgrounds, I think it was, where the lady said somebody had just had an emergency phone call and had to leave, so she went in and made up the room and we slept there.  She gave us a nice discount for it being three in the morning, so that was good.

Motel adventure story not done yet!  Because the next morning, I phoned up Al the Undead to make sure he was really going to give us a refund (because we hadn't gotten anything in writing), and he said he already had.  I phoned my Visa card.  He had refunded all right, but only HALF of the price!

But, thank goodness we used our Visa card, which does refunds for ripoffs like this  :-)

Spirit of Washington Dinner Train and Leavenworth Mini Vacation

When we dropped off our kids and went away by ourselves for the first time in, like, aeons. 

Spirit of Washington Dinner Train

Spirit of Washington Dinner Train on tracks with perspective

The dress I had was okay, at least I didn't feel totally underdressed.  When we first pulled up I saw a group of people crossing the street in evening gowns and tuxes and I started to worry. 

But luckily, there were also lots of people in t-shirts and cargo shorts  :-)  

Ed had a nifty multi-pocket shirt from Cabelas that he was going to wear, but at the last second he refused to wear it because it was too hot.  He wanted to wear a tank top but I thought that was a bit much.  Or rather, a bit too little. 

But, those white shoes-- I never want to see them again.  And I didn't even walk much of anywhere in them! 

Interior of Spirit of Washington dinner train dining car with tables and people eating

What I had for dinner was: 

Oven Roasted Breast of Chicken
"A Zesty Sun Dried Tomato Stuffing Blended with Ripened Black Olives and Swiss Cheese, and then Topped with a Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce. Served with white and wild rice pilaf."

Does it taste better if every word is capitalized?  Well, it tasted pretty decent. 

The seating worked out niftily.  When I made reservations they said we would be in the very front of the train on the car called Olympic, but when we got there the tickets said Seattle on them.  That's a crowded car in the middle.  We went to the table on the Seattle and found some people already in it; they were supposed to be in the next car, the Ste. Michelle, but they had already started eating the rolls and butter, so we said we'd take their seat instead.  They were in full sun, and Ed had said on the way over he hoped we weren't in the sun.  Their reserved seat turned out to be on the shady side.  So we all ended up happy. 

Spirit of Washington Dinner Train Cars Seating Chart"Ste. Michelle," the last car of the train, has only three people abreast instead of four, hence much more roomy.  It looked tiny on the diagram because it's only half a train car!  The back half of the train car was open with a railing.  Since it was in the very back, nobody had walked past it to board, so didn't know it was there, so only people from the Ste. Michelle actually went out there.  We could lean over the railing in the open air and listen to the train and feel the wind in our faces and wave at the stopped cars.  That was cool.  Much more fun than having to sit inside the train for an hour each way! 

That train car was built in 1937.  It's in lovely shape.  I actually couldn't wait to go to the potty (or whatever you call it on a train) to see what it would look like.  Everybody else avoided it, I don't know why.  It was tiny, all right, but totally cute and elegant, not like those horrible potties on airplanes.  I was just longing to take a picture of it, but I would have had to stand out in the aisle in view of everybody to take a picture looking in the door, and I didn't want them to think I was completely cracked. 

It had the cutest little toilet you ever saw, and a sink the size of a soup bowl.  I think those fixtures were new but I'm not sure, could they have been well-preserved since 1937?  It And a cool black marble countertop.  The paper towel dispenser was a new install.  But all the paneling, the wooden louvers on the door and window, the joints in the metal and stuff, were original.  I had a seat, and basked in the 1937-ness.

Here we are going over a 102 foot high wooden trestle that was built in 1891 by a company that went out of business in 1892.  When we were going over it the waiter said, "Don't worry, our company conducts two safety tests on this trestle every day.  The first one seems to be going very well..." 



Chateau Ste Michelle Winery 

Here's a BIG panorama picture I had to stitch together by hand!  My camera doesn't have "stitch assist", so I spent half an hour getting it just so. 

The train's along behind the parking lot on the right side there.  It looks wavy in the picture but IRL it was level hehe. 

Chateau Ste Michelle winery front panorama showing parking lot Spirit of Washington Dinner TrainShould I have been interested in the winery?  I really kind of wasn't. 

Everybody else was.  There was a huge stampede of elegant ladies in gowns waiting for the bathroom at the winery.  Ed had refused to use the "1937 pottie" so he joined the stampede, of course there was no line for the mens and all the men gathered around the waiting area watching the women's line slowly snake its way along into the door, smiling and feeling superior, and a couple funny ha ha ha jokes.  I went over and stood against the wall to wait for Ed to come out, and the men were giving me shocked looks like, Why aren't you in that line?  Don't you know where the end of the line is?  You're a female, how come you don't have to go? 

Too late, I realized that I might never see a winery again in my life and what's that saying about not missing opportunities to see things when you get the chance?  But luckily the tour had already left.

We looked at the gift shop.  Everything was wine-related of course.  There were some t-shirts about "70 Years Aged to Perfection" which I thought about buying to save for when I'm 70, but that was a depressing thought.  Nothing else jumped out at me.  I looked at some chocolate... wine, no, chocolate, yesssss.  But we were supposed to have chocolate for dessert and I figured I'd better have a little decency. 

On the way back in we glimpsed our dessert being got ready in the galley segment of the train.  Ed commented about how small it was.  He said it was the size of cake he'd give to Mike.  But it wasn't chocolate cake, it was chocolate dessert, with a kind of mousse in the middle, thick smooth chocolate-with-nuts stuff on the bottom and a layer of dark chocolate frosting on top, with raspberry stuff on the plate and whipped cream on the side, and it was "enough". 

Next Day:  Leavenworth 

Ed had wanted this trip planned, so I planned it down to the last detail.  I made a list of where we were going to eat, and what stores we were going to shop at and what we were going to buy there.  For lunch, we were going to go to The Gingerbread House and get a big gingerbread man, and then walk through the park eating it.  But Ed bought a chicken pie and we sat inside and ate, and he didn't want to go to the park. 

Adorable folkish storefront of The Gingerbread House bakery in Leavenworth WashingtonWhat good's a plan if we're not going to do what's on it? 

The gingerbread was nice but not as thick and homemade-like as I had hoped for, nothing as good as the stuff I make at home.  The chicken pies were delicious, though.

We wandered down the concrete in the cutesy tourist trap. 

Storefronts of German themed businesses at Leavenworth, Washington One of these places just down from here is a toy store that managed to separate us from at least fifty of our bucks for a lot of imported junk, like a mirror-kaleidoscope (I love those things), and Magic Rocks, and suction-cup arrows.  A board puzzle with a fairy on it... and some other overpriced crapola.
Das Meisterstuck storefront in Leavenworth, Washington, with a wooden carved bear on the sidewalk, parked cars and towering mountains in the background
Janel in a patchwork dress with the German tourist town of Leavenworth in the background
 Okay, there's me again.  Notice what you *can't* see in this picture?  It's the shoes.  It's a good thing you can't see them, because they're UGLY!  They're huge, black river-rafting-guide footgear that Ed mail-ordered for himself about ten years ago, and found them to be too small to even get his feet into.  I tried them on for fun and walked across the room, and just tightened the straps all the way down and wouldn't part with them since.  They're like walking barefoot on plush carpet, even after hours and hours of tramping around a tourist trap.  I march around all day and then smile at everyone else as they complain about their feet.

Leavenworth, a lady wearing a dirndl drives a cart pulled by a Percheron
Horsey ride!  That wasn't on the plan either but the dirndl lady with her Percheron pulled up to the curb at just the right moment.  $25 to clip-clop lazily two blocks down and around and two blocks back.

Russian finift silver jewelry earrings and a Leavenworth fridge magnet

What I bought.
That was totally in the plan.
The plan was to go to The Russian Store and buy some finift earrings, and any gift shop and buy a magnet, and The Bavarian Clothing Company and buy a dirndl, not a cutsey costumey one like all these people had, but maybe something more conservative that an American church lady type can get away with actually wearing. I found one, very nice, blue and yellow flowers and blue piping, that fit well, but it was designed so that the apron had to be worn over it to cover the skirt closure, and an apron's back to being too much.  What a pity! 

Then we want to King Ludwig's and Ed had Wiener Schnitzel and I had a garden burger.  Ed insisted I get fries also so he wouldn't be embarrassed with a big tray while I sat there with one little burger!  Fine, I paid extra for fries I didn't eat.  Then we went to a candy store with "Chocolate" in the name, where Ed got a big white chocolate and peanut butter swirl thing, and I got a chocolate-covered graham cracker, and something that was supposed to be chocolate over "honeycomb", but it wasn't honeycomb it was some honey-flavored candy that was too hard to even bite into!  I wanted to go back and switch it for another graham cracker but we had already tramped half of the mile that it was down to Icicle Junction Family Fun Center (I kid you not!) to see a movie.

After that movie it was dark and cool outside, so we had a lovely long walk back to the room-- thank God for ugly shoes!  There were only a few groups of people around on the streets by that time, most of them suspiciously too jolly. 

We got back to the room at eleven and that was a big disaster, which is a separate story.  It's actually great when vacations end badly, it makes you even happier to get back  :-)

Ivars on the way home.