Snow covered the mountains and decorated the evergreen trees. Colorful lights outlined each building and garnished every branch. The sign read ‘Wilkommen in Leavenworth’ as I drove into a true winter wonderland.
After a long year, my friend and I decided to take a weekend trip to a place we heard beautiful thoughts about, Leavenworth, Washington. Only five hours away from our home in Portland sat a small town known for its holiday light display and fairytale transformation during the winter season.
We started the weekend off with a hike on the Skyline Lake Trail that was covered in snow, went straight up the mountain, and turned out to be the hardest hike I have ever done. But wow, it was worth it. The trees were covered with snow in a way I had only seen in children’s books and Christmas movies and the sun hit the mountains to create a warm feeling in the dead of winter.
As evening came, we headed back to experience the lights and walk through a German-like town tucked between the snowy mountains. The buildings, lights, shops, and restaurants took my breath away. I could feel the immense cheer, joy, and awe in the air.
Every street I turned down, there was a snowy mountain staring back at me and each building had beautiful details painted on the sides with string lights twinkling against the dark night sky. I stood for a minute taking everything in and was grateful for the beauty that exists in this world.
Before making the drive back home, we of course had to stop at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. My friend and I checked our ticket reservations and received our complimentary apple cider and hot chocolate before going to see the reindeer. We were the only people there who were not five years old or a parent and had the time of our lives.
We sipped our warm drinks as we explored the farm, visited the clydesdales and kittens, and stood by the fire as we learned more about where reindeer live. Then it was time to visit and feed the reindeer. As we walked into the area where they lived, we were awestruck that this was reality. The reindeer were beautiful and so cute. Our winter wonderland adventure was more than anything I could have imagined.
As we finished up our time with the reindeer, determined not to spend any more money, we each walked away with a reindeer mug and drove home.
It is places and experiences like these that draw me back into the beauty of the holiday season that can easily be forgotten in the midst of the hustle of everyday life and family plans. I was reminded of the joy, cheer, and beauty that is all around us in the winter season. That even in the seemingly dark days, there is much light to be found.