Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Leavenworth & Lake Chelan

On Labor Day Weekend, the weekend of Sept 1, hubby and I, along with my sis here in BC, her hubby, and my sis in Seattle, joined our mother in the annual excursion of her widows' association. The destination this year was Lake Chelan with a stopover at Leavenworth. For $20 per person, I thought that was a good deal! Can't miss that chance.

There were about 60 in this group of widows and their guests. My mother joined the association called FAWOW, short for Filipino American Widows of Washington, after my father passed away in 2004. Many of her friends from another seniors' group and in the Filipino Community are members as well. They have various activities throughout the year. In Seattle, Fil-Am widows don't have to be alone or lonely.

Although these senior women, who are mostly in their 70s and 80s, move slowly and have aches and pains, their minds and tongues remain sharp and active. They blabber a lot and tell jokes that can make you blush.

They know how to entertain themselves. During the trip to Leavenworth, they had a singing session using the mic that drivers or tour guides use at the front.

"Calling Emma...," someone--perhaps the association president--announced. Emma is my mother. She was being called to sing.

"Ayaw ng mga anak ko...(My children said no)," replied my mother seated near the back after my brother-in-law told her it was not safe to walk while the bus was in motion. So the president started singing, a capella.

After one song, my mother stood up anyway and walked slowly to the front. My mother loves to sing and is not shy about it. She sang 2 or 3 old Tagalog songs, then one by one other seniors followed suit. Occasionally, everybody joined in.

After about a 2.5-hour drive from Seattle, we arrived in Leavenworth at 10:30 am. The president announced that we should be back in the bus at 11 am, which meant we only had 30 minutes to go around. Protests, protests.

"Sabi sa iskedyul, isang oras (The schedule says 1 hour)," people complained.

"Pagbaba lang ng bus, 30 minutes na
(Going down the bus will already take 30 minutes), " others said.

After some time of disagreement and reconsideration, the written schedule prevailed. True enough, it took a while for everyone to get off the bus.

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-inspired village as you can see in the pictures below. We checked out several shops. I found the architecture just as interesting as the things for sale.


Wilkommen Leavenworth!



A part of our group



My mother, two sisters and I posing with a man in Bavarian costume, I suppose



Can you imagine us two decades from now?



With my sisters



One more time


Our next destination was Lake Chelan, an hour's drive away. We had lunch at the Lake Chelan Park.



Eating on picnic mats



With MrBlossoms. I preferred to sit in the sun. I felt cold
in the shade. "Parang di galing Canada (As if she's not from Canada)," they said.



With my sisters again


After lunch, the group headed for the casino not too far away. This was really the seniors' main purpose for going to this place. I think they were given a group deal. Not playing and with nothing else to do, MrBlossoms and I went to the apple orchard across the street. This was my first time to go to an apple orchard.



I imagined how Eve must have felt in the Garden of Eden,
except that the forbidden fruit wasn't really an apple. And
there was only one tree, not an orchard, that
bore this forbidden fruit.



It was so tempting to grab one. Nah... There's a name
for that -- stealing!!


We walked back to the lakeside park. It was a good thing we had a book and a mag to read and to cover my face with when I felt like sleeping on a bench. Buddy did some stretching and snoozed on the grass.



Very peaceful surrounding


Our group left Chelan at 6pm. I enjoyed the scenic landscape dotted with pear and apple orchards.

Nearing Seattle, the leader of my mother's cultural group went to the front, grabbed the mic and said some words of appreciation. Then she led the group in singing their usual anthems.

I love my own, my native land, Philippines my Philippines...

I don't hear the English version of this song anymore except from these seniors in Seattle. The Tagalog version is more popular to my generation.

After this nationalistic rendition, God Bless America routinely followed.

...From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, My home sweet hoooome....

Whatever you might say about the US, I believe it gives them a better quality of life than what they could ever enjoy as seniors back home. For many of them, Seattle is indeed home sweet home. They have a social network, and they get to be ambassadors of goodwill as they sing and dance at several cultural presentations in Seattle and surrounding cities too.

Next year, this group is planning to go on a day cruise to BC. What a fun way to grow old together. Widows, unite!

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