After a long week in the office, we hopped on the last flight to Seattle, WA in anticipation of the ninth annual Leavenworth Drive. Heavy rain slapped our Boeing 737 as we entered the Pacific Northwest. With a gloomy forecast for Saturday, it was looking unlikely that the record of 600 cars from last year's amazing turnout could be surpassed or even met.
Waking up the next morning, we were happy to find the precipitation had disappeared, so we embarked to Bellevue College; the start for the drive. The number of early morning risers was slim, however. But after a few hours had elapsed and the day brightened, over 680 European cars entered the premises. From Canada, Oregon and Washington came Audis, BMWs, Volvos and Volkswagens; the extent of this gathering was big - no, more like massive!
It's always admirable to see organizers and car communities get together to raise money for the less fortunate. And here, more than $6000 was raised for the local children's hospital thanks to driver contributions.
As the lunch hour approached, hundreds of engines started as the herd of cars made its way to the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, nestled in the Cascade Mountains. The length of the drive was a tad over 110 miles. With so many cars, we split into groups of 10 to 20 but when we arrived at the Steven's Pass mid-point location, we'd already missed the majority of cars. Thankfully, H&R Springs set up a welcoming tent to greet the drivers and give away 250 Tütes (German for bags), over 300 shirts and 500 bottles of water.
After a pit stop, we continued our journey. Within a few minutes of our final destination, the weather had warmed nearly 20° but cars were actually leaving as we were arriving! There were so many cars at this year's event that those who arrived to Leavenworth first had already eaten, returned to their cars and were on their way home.
Pulling into downtown, we noticed every parking stall and lot was full. So we continued down main street as cameras snapped and participants feasted on the local German cuisine. Plenty of tired drivers were relaxing with some good ol' German brew. We finally found parking several blocks outside the main strip and trekked back to share the enthusiasm and friendship of the Leavenworth Drive.
This event continues to be one of the most enjoyable events on the West Coast, having a laidback atmosphere, spirited cruise and enormous turnout. And where else can you sit back and enjoy a cold one as German accordion music plays in the background?