The day before Christmas, we took the ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island, one of the largest in the Puget Sound, about five miles wide and ten miles long. We sailed on the M/V Wenatchee, a huge ferry, capable of carrying up to 2,500 passengers, 202 vehicles and 60 commercial vehicles. Being mid-morning, traffic was light with a hundred or so cars, an ambulance, a UPS truck, a lone bicyclist, several motorcycles, and a couple dozen walk-on passengers. It’s a pleasant and very scenic half hour ride, especially from cushy seats overlooking the bow from the passenger deck.
After getting off, we stopped in the "big town" on the island, Winslow. Hip and upscale, Winslow is comprised of trendy gift, clothing, home decorating, floral, furniture, and kitchenware shops. It feels like Brentwood, California with the beautiful people zipping down the streets in their BMWs, Lexus’ and Volvos in search of just the right placemat or table setting for their holiday dinner.
Our next stop was Poulsbo, located on the east side of the Puget Sound, and a short bridge ride off Bainbridge Island. Founded by Jorgen Eliason from Fordefjord, Norway, Poulsbo is known as the Viking City. Its majestic snow-peaked mountains and fjords attracted others from Norway and other Scandinavian countries. For many years, Norwegian was the only language spoken by the citizens.
The city has retained its Norwegian charm with many quaint art galleries, restaurants, and boutique stores located a block or two from the spectacular waterfront. We enjoyed a tasty lunch of clam chowder, fish and chips (Rich) and lox, capers and sliced red onions on flat bread (Julie) at a crowded seafood restaurant.
The east side of the Puget Sound is sparsely populated and very scenic making it an ideal place to live… if you can find employment.
With some daylight remaining, we headed north to Port Gamble, a 120-acre National Historical Landmark situated on the shores of the scenic Hood Canal. Founded in 1853 by Maine businessmen Andrew Pope and William Talbot (Pope and Talbot), Port Gamble was the longest continuously operating mill town in North America.
Its New England-style houses and turn-of-the-century buildings have been meticulously restored and are now shops and rentals. I think most of the area is owned and managed by Pope Resources and has few permanent residents. The day we visited, we saw only four or five people. All of the shops were beautifully decorated, but disappointingly closed for Christmas Eve. It was like visiting an amusement park before it opened. The lawns and landscaping was perfectly manicured, every house carefully painted and the sidewalks swept clean, ready for visitors.
Rich and I plan on visiting Port Gamble again… this time when it’s open for business!
With the sun setting on the snow-covered mountains and over the Puget Sound, we headed back to Bainbridge Island and the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort where we meet Stacey (Rich’s daughter) and her boyfriend, Jesse, Chris (Rich’s son), June (Stacey’s and Chris’ mother) and her husband Gary, Chiemi (June and Gary’s daughter), June’s sister Gail and her husband Ed along with their son Justin and his girlfriend Tomei.
It was a nice get-together. We exchanged gifts and ate at the casino buffet before boarding a ferry back to Seattle.
The weather was perfect all day. Traveling across the smooth water, the lights of Seattle got brighter, welcoming us to home to the Emerald City.