It's been a while. I even don't remember what retreat it is. I feel that it should be something about religious, yet it's about inner spiritual connections. Jasmin and I encountered one another as we walked at Kelsey Creek Farm in Bellevue, WA; Jasmin comes from Columbia, and she is bilingual like me. We quickly felt super-connected, so much so that she invited her American boyfriend Steven to join my dream vacation to Leavenworth, a German town. Taking my coworker's recommendation, we picked the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort lodging for the trip. I don't even know what the resort looks like, but we decided to take my coworker’s idea and just GO.
The three of us together, Jasmin, Steven, and I, created an enjoyable trip from our cross-cultural friendship. Steven is an innovative software engineer workings for a Chinese company in Bellevue, and he is learning and experiencing the collectivist culture that I grew up within Taiwanese culture. Jasmin has her vision to be a graphic designer soon, and she plans to join the art school in Bellevue. Her vision was mine when I was in my earlier 20s. I graduated from Art and craft school. My studies and experience in the state have greatly influenced me to be a different person. After moving to the USA, I am working an HR system job after graduating with MBA and human resources management. Currently, I work on an implementation project for the government. Most of my team are white; Steven and I are opposite in similar situations as a minority in the group.
Leavenworth is about a 2-hour drive from Bellevue. The sporadically crazy springtime weather along the drive was not surprising to us from the rain, snow, sun, and clouds all happening in one day. Steven’s great driving navigated us safely through the unpredictable weather conditions, and we finally arrived at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort’s gift shop. We walked inside the store to see the local handicrafts and get information on how to get to the resort’s check-in office. We were excited to get our trip started and head to the resort’s entrance when I; suddenly heard Steven “my God, what the hell is this?” he walked toward him; he stood in front of his car, looking down at the front license plate, we couldn’t believe that there was a dying bird with its body facing right up towards us.
We felt so troubled about the dying bird, Steven peacefully laid it to rest with an Amen- “may the bird rest in peace!”
With somber hearts, we arrived at the check-in office; soon, our collective sadness dramatically changed to the excitement, however, as we couldn't help but embrace the tranquil ambiance. The front desk gave us a detailed guide on having the perfect getaway at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, including walking directions to our cabin. They also informed us about needing the luggage cart to get our bags to our enchanting cabin. It was fun to see Steven pushing the cart. He suddenly looked like a farmer: Jasmin made the cart behind Steven with giggles along the way, and I walked them to help them record the video. We saw ample land with many different cabins on the site, along the walking path, and many other artistic sculptures around the resort. We heard the birds and frog sounds, the great outdoors that instantly calmed our tired bodies.
“Alright, this is our cabin number 149,” Steven said. He took the key and pushed hard to open the door. I immediately checked the room and gasped. “This is a native American cabin. I ‘ve always dreamed about living in a house!; I love it so much; I wish I could have a home like this!” Suddenly, just like the little children, we three lay down on the bed; it was comfortable, just the right firmness. My bed was on the side of the wall, and I could see the green tree from the side window; it seemed like this sleeping area would be ideal for a family with a child. It’s finally time to relax after 2 hours of driving to the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Still, Jasmin and I had so much energy that we decided to walk around the resort and let Steven enjoy some quiet time in the cabin alone.
Jasmin and I walked and smiled ear to ear since we both loved to be in nature. As fate had it, we passed by the resort gardener, who told us that we could walk along the trail to the other side of the land, where we could find a river sounded like the perfect adventure for us to discover the hidden gems we so desired. However, there was no “trail” up the mountain; it was, instead, broken trees and many small rocks on the ground. We strolled across the broken trees and miraculously avoided falling through the mess of rocks. Jasmin and I finally made it to the top’s incredible view beaming with excitement like little children. We looked over the mountain and saw a little red cabin on the far side, and we looked down into the valley and saw the river running as clear crystal. “Jasmin, go and stand on the big rock. I think it will be a stunning picture with the sunlight’s reflection. “Jasmin said, “Totally!” We helped one another shoot the sunlight reflection pictures at just the right angle. Dancing along also records a few videos. I never felt so free as when the wind blew on our face’s feelings of nature’s true healing and blessings.
When we returned to our cabin, we saw “vacation Steven” relaxing in bed; Feeling rejuvenated from our afternoons, we decided to drive back downtown to Leavenworth to have dinner. We parked outside of the downtown because we wanted to walk around to see more of where we were. We picked the best Italian restaurant in town called “Larch” Not only did the waiters and waitresses look so lovely, but the customers too. The food was super delicious, so we knew we picked the good one!
We discovered that Leavenworth is not just a famous German town. It is also a multicultural place. We found the shop’s souvenirs and gifts, making Leavenworth colorful, welcoming, and attractive. Steven shared that he grew up in a monocultural background, but he’s luckily had a chance to work for a Chinese company where he has started learning about a different culture. He shared how he earned respect from his Chinese boss and coworkers as he is a minority in the company. On the flip side, I am a minority in my team. However, I have extensive traveling experience and have lived in many different places and countries. My multicultural background is rare to most Asians who work with an entire white/black team. I told Steven that he is learning about the collectivist culture. If he wants to learn more, I can help!
Ha! Immediately, Steven shows interest in wanting to learn how to speak Mandarin; exciting, right? I turned my head back to Jasmin and said, “Hasta luego and Hola, “phrases she uses in her home language of Colombian Spanish. I knew that Jasmine’s Columbian culture is like my Taiwanese culture in that we both belong to collectivist communities. We are group-oriented, yet I am more individualistic since I have lived in the USA for a long time.
When Individuals live in other countries for a long time, they assimilate in that the local culture influences their lifestyle and mindset. Cultural influence can change people’s lives forever. I am an example of that and how it has positively impacted my life.
Back to our cabin and relaxed again, we discussed how to spend the rest of our night at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort; we only booked one night there, so we knew that we should not go to bed early. We planned and decided to go to their outdoor natural hot tub bath. We eagerly changed into our swimsuits and sleepy-time robes. The outside air was chill, still in early April. We walked quickly to the pool area still under construction; it didn’t look like a fancy place; there were no chairs and tables, just a tiny hot tub. We turned it on and immediately hopped in. The warm, luxurious water flowed through our bodies, eliminating all the day’s exhaustion. We suddenly heard talking voices and the closing gate door, noticing an Asian family coming to join us. It was nice to see their harmonious family relationship. We extended our welcome to help them turn on another 15 minutes of water flow before leaving.
It was another adventure to walk back to our cabin from the pool. It was very dark, but we eventually saw yellow lighting surrounding the trees in front of the house. It was a night bar club in the resort. After passing the bar, the rest of the walk back was dark, we couldn’t see anything, and we only heard frogs buzzing and other nature noises. Once we made it back to the cabin safely. I turned my head around to look at the blackness we had just walked through. I was thankful to be with friends because I know I would have felt scared if I had to do that walk alone.
The next day, we awoke the most beautiful morning; surprise, light, white snow was falling slowly. We were so excited to open the door and see the luscious snow covering the resort’s grounds. Jasmin asked, “if we wanted to go to the hot tub once more before leaving.” I think we all had some desire to go, but Steven said that “we probably needed to go downtown to get a chain.” He didn’t know it was safe to drive back home because it would be too hazardous to drive without proper snow equipment. I was so relieved to have such as intelligent guy as Steven traveling with us. Steven suggested, “Let’s have crepes for breakfast before going to the auto shop.” Although crepes aren’t usually my favorite, I was happy to try them for my friends.
Well, it’s finally time to say goodbye to the lovely Sleeping Lady Resort. We packed all our stuff into the truck, ready to go home. It was, again, not surprising to us to have such weather craziness from raining snow, sunshine, and everything in between. Our dream trip ended after the beautiful scenic drive that turned our departure into another vacation adventure of m own!
Note: The book of Cultures (In the process...) has complied with various cultural subject stories to readers interested in exploring the cultures that might change your life after traveling, work, relationships, etc. " Unexpected Retreat" is one of the chapters in the book!