Leavenworth & Icicle Gorge Nature Loop

At this point—over a month later—the goal here is to get something posted. For memory sake, when we look back in five years. Maybe eight years. Perhaps never. Who knows. Realistically, I’ll look back in like 20 years and wish the kids were young again, forgetting all the nonsense of this Leavenworth trip. The bickering over who sat where in the car, who slept where in the cabin, who didn’t want to eat whatever we were having, who fought over which bike or scooter they could use, who took off to see their friend without asking or telling us where they were going… times five. Haha. Nah, it wasn’t all bad. It was a good trip. But there are moments when I question why we do all that we do, when at times it feels like it’s not worth the memories with all the nonsense.

Leavenworth was first checked off the list back in December 2018. And the plan was to go back again in December 2019. I had even booked the same cabin. But that all changed when the bonus, Maive, made an appearance in late October 2019. We could have gone with a newborn but we decided to skip it at the time, and stay home for the holidays to enjoy our time as a new family of seven. And then in 2020, Covid. We booked again for December 2021 but cancelled last minute because Brian was on-call for work. Plus, a massive snow storm was set to hit while we’d be there—and it sure did! I remember seeing social media posts of Leavenworth when we were supposed to be there, snow galore! I don’t know the actual numbers but I do remember that Leavenworth declared a state of emergency about a week later, thanks to the snow. It was snow galore here at home then also.

Needless to say, the plan to go back in December never happened. Instead or trying again for this December, I decided I’d book for August instead. And bonus, we could get a hike in without any concern of cold or snow, or closed roads. I booked a cabin at the KOA for late August. The last week before everything school and activities started. Three other families we spend time with ended up booking campsites at the KOA also, bringing the total amount of camping kiddos to 14. Well, they all camped. We stayed in a cabin, which is camping in my book. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that before kiddos I called anything fewer than three stars camping. Haha, my before kiddos mindset. Now, I’ll happily stay in a cabin or yurt—even without a private bathroom. Except I need electricity. And a door.

We left Monday around noon, heading east to Leavenworth via the 2. It’s a pretty drive that way. And it was fairly quiet. For the last week of summer, there weren’t many travelers on the road. We passed the Iron Goat Trail on the way. I didn’t realize how close it is to Leavenworth. We were maybe 45 minutes away the day we hiked there.

Check in was at 3pm and we arrived close to then. Maybe 2:50pm. The KOA was also quiet for the last week of summer. I’m not complaining. I had expected it to be busier though. The cabin was ready for us and we quickly unloaded everything. The KOA cabins are really nice. At least the one we always book. It’s like a tiny house, with an open kitchen and living room, bathroom, small bunk room, small primary bedroom, and a loft for sleeping—the kids can stand up there, their heads barely miss the ceiling. The cabin even has two televisions, air conditioning, and comes with kitchen items and linens. That I totally forgot about—we took sleeping bags and pillows for all. That was pointless. Oh well.

KOA kiddos.

All unloaded and each kiddo situated where they would sleep, it was time to explore. The other three families had arrived also, and we set off down from the cabins to the campsites. Two families were next to each other; the third family was a few campsites away. All relatively close. We were the outliers. Thankfully we brought bikes and scooters that made it easy for the kiddos to get around. It was a warm day, summer and all. Swimming was first on tap. Everyone suited up and the kids jumped into the pool after meeting up with their friends.

I’ll admit, when I first learned about KOAs, I didn’t think positive things. I do now. Having been to a few. But before, I put KOAs in the I’m an American lifestyle category. The people who make being an American their whole personality. Big trucks, guns, flags, football, Budweiser… camping. But this is the PNW. And, I was waaaaay off with that awful stereotype. Kind of like how before we homeschooled, my stereotype of homeschoolers was long skirts and bibles at the kitchen table. Wrong on both accounts. I’ll admit when I was wrong. Not that those stereotypes don’t exist, it’s just not all whom do either are that way. And, hey, if those stereotypes work for some, more power to them.

My point being, after rambling, that KOAs are really great. They are super family-friendly and offer a fabulous experience. They’re almost like mini-resorts—swimming pool, kiddo activities, ice cream/coffee store, a retail store with anything and everything, firewood delivery service, and so on, all enclosed in KOA property. And the property in Leavenworth happens to be on the Wenatchee River, with private access from the campground.

Swimming, check. It was time to eat dinner and then explore a bit before sundown. Brian went back to the cabin and made burgers while I stayed with Maive and Baby at the playground. The other three kiddos were all over the place, on bikes and scooters roaming around the KOA. At one point there were kids in our cabin playing a board game, and then they were at a campsite doing who knows what, and then they were playing gaga ball. Eventually we all managed to come together and decided to walk down to the river before it was dark. It was already dusk and the light was fading quickly.

Monday afternoon and evening.

Crazy Baby. This is totally her. She NEVER stops.

Lion King Baby?! I’m not sure of Disney films. She’s crazy, in a fun way.

Dark now, it was time for s’mores. All the kiddos gathered outside our cabin and the gang started a fire. There were so many marshmallows eaten this first night. Maive took advantage of the chaos and ate several. With the s’mores supplies dwindling, we cut off the kids. The younger ones all went to their respective beds and called it a night. I put Maive down and she was out in minutes. It’s tough keeping up with 13 other kiddos! Some of the big kids sat around the fire a bit before calling it a night close to 10pm. With our five in bed, Brian and I enjoyed quiet time next to the fire. It was really nice.

The plan Tuesday was to hike. I had my sights set on Icicle Gorge Nature Loop. Somewhere along the line someone told me about this hike, knowing I’d be in Leavenworth with a bunch of kids. It’s a relatively flat hike, just over four miles. Easy enough. We woke up and had breakfast, and loaded in the car for the 45-minute drive. It’s not that it’s far, it’s that half of the road up to the hike isn’t paved. We all made it up there and set off on the trail.

Like I’ve said thousands of times before, we live in a beautiful area. And this hike made that clear. Nature galore. Pictures are best. Bonus, there are bridges on the hike. I love bridges. The kids all did great. I think others may not be used to four miles, what I consider a kiddo-friendly hike. But everyone rallied and I think in the end were happy with the hike?! It was getting warm there in the end. Eh, it was mostly shaded.

Hiker kiddos.

It was just past lunchtime when we finished, and I had planned on grabbing pizza in town as a family. We like this one pizza place, maybe the pizza is good or maybe we’re just creatures of habit. Either way, they opened at 2pm and we were waiting outside when they unlocked the door. The other families joined us, and we all overtook most of the indoor dining space. Everyone ate before heading back to the KOA.

Tuesday afternoon was spent swimming and then putzing around the KOA. The kids were almost manic—here, there, and everywhere. On top of being tired from staying up later the night before and then hiking that morning. The KOA had a kid activity, painting ceramic magnets that all 14 kids—no 13 because the youngest was 11 months at the time—partook in doing. Maive was all about this. She still shows me her magnet a month later. The KOA also had an adult-only alcoholic cider tasting, happening next to the magnet painting. The idea being kids could paint while adults drink. I’m not a fan of alcohol, let alone cider, so Brian and one of the other moms got their cider on. Brian wasn’t very impressed with the cider but it was an experience. I personally liked the ’80s music they were playing. Chicago. I’ve noticed this, now that I’m getting older, that several kid things have music from my youth. I’m not sure if they do this intentionally to cater towards us parents or if the creators of whatever (event or show) select the music because it reminds them of their youth. I still listen to a few Chicago songs while I run. Haha. Although these days I’m all about Mickey Avalon and Yung Gravy. I was running on the trail one day, and timing happened to be perfect that I said, “Hey, Siri. Play ‘my dick’ by Mickey Avalon,” RIGHT when Karann texted me. Siri, in his Australian accent, says, “Your response to Karann says, ‘play my dick by Mickey Avalon’ ready to send?” Or whatever he says. I was like, NO. Haha. Karann wouldn’t have cared but that timing was impeccable.

Tuesday afternoon.

Biker Blaise.

After cidering and painting, it was more gaga balling. I was so over my kids at this point. They were maniacs. One was here, the other was there, another said they’d be here but they were there, another was doing something totally different that what they said they were going to do. And they all kept taking off on bikes and scooters without any regard to Brian and me. I’m not very particular about what they want to do, and I mostly say yes, but that they kept just taking off without asking or telling—I’d be fine with telling. I was incredibly frustrated with all of them. On top of Maive being super tired, and myself. I hadn’t slept well the night before.

It was getting to be dusk. The KOA was having a movie night. I wasn’t game. The big kids said they weren’t game. I was under the impression we’d go back to our cabin and have a fire, and the kids—our kids—would roast marshmallows and we’d do our own thing. Until the big kids wanted to go to the movie. Which was fine except none of our kids would stay in one place long enough to figure out who was doing what, and where. I was sitting at one of the campsites when all the indecision started. I was over it all. I took Maive and started walking back to our cabin. I didn’t want to be involved with whatever would be decided. Brian sorted out all the kids. Blaise and Laine went to the movie; the younger three went back to our cabin. It was almost 9pm at this point.

Brian started a fire for the girls to roast marshmallows. Not long after, Blaise and Laine were back at our cabin. They weren’t into the movie. Which I totally knew would be the case. Also part of my frustration because I know my kids, and I knew they wouldn’t last long. Eh, whatever. It was the seven of us around the fire and it was really nice. And much needed after a full day spent with loads of people. All wonderful people whom I thoroughly enjoy spending time with, but I was peopled out. I didn’t realize this until we were home, reflecting back on the trip.

The younger gals eventually went to bed, leaving the big kids and Brian and me around the fire. Laine called it a night soon after. When it was only Blaise with us, he commented how he was glad they didn’t stay for the movie and how it was nice to be just us finally. I think he may have been peopled out also. He read for quite some time before we called it a night for him after 10:30pm. Then it was Brian and me, and the fire again. I really enjoyed the two nights with just Brian and the fire. It was a nice change from our evening routine at home. We petered out after 11pm. Brian put out the fire and we hit the hay.

Wednesday was a busy morning. We were up and moving early. Brian started on breakfast while I took the kiddos down to the river. After everyone ate, it was time to pack and load up the car to head home. We had to be out by 11am. It was a Wednesday and Brian was on tap to take the four older kiddos to Camp Orkila on Friday. But work got in the way. I had bad luck over summer, booking trips when his work calendar was clear, only for all trips to have work conflicts. While we were in Leavenworth, Brian made the call to cancel the Camp Orkila trip. Big bummer. Not only were the kiddos looking forward to going, I was looking forward to having a quiet weekend—almost kiddo-free. In the midst of getting ready to check out, Brian and I dealt with all the cancellations for Camp Orkila. It’s always something. Our saying around here.

Wenatchee River kiddos.

All checked out and on the road, we were heading home. I had considered hitting up a hike on the way home. Barclay Lake. But the presvious trip report when I looked mentioned car break ins, windows smashed and all. And since we had a ton of stuff packed in the car, I decided to pass on the hike. It’s still on the list. Hopefully when the Bolt Creek Fire eventually ends.

Going home always feel quicker than heading to whatever destination. Same this Wednesday. It felt like we made it home in record time. It was nice to get home with the entire afternoon and evening with nothing to do but unpack and relax. And that’s what we did after yet another successful trip. For memories.

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