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.
On Friday evening, Rich and I moved my "stuff" into our Kirkland house. I had mixed feelings. First, I was thrilled that we were consolidating down to two residences instead of three. It was getting tiring packing clothes, food and tools every weekend to accommodate where we’d be spending our time.
On the other hand, I had grown fond of my tidy, compact apartment with its close proximity to Lake Sammamish, Microsoft, Uwajimaya (oriental grocery store), and the Belleveue Goodwill (great clothes and collectibles). Plus, my apartment building, with just eight one-bedroom apartments, is a short walk from the rest of the complex, across a footbridge that goes over a culvert. Another, larger culvert is opposite my apartment. When it rains, the water roars through the culverts into Lake Sammamish.
Plus, the apartment has a little gym with TV screens on the eliptical machines. It was my only opportunity to watch TV!
Nevertheless, it’s nice to be a house and starting to unpack my stuff, putting clothes in the closets, cooking in the kitchen, and planning other home improvements. In addition, we had Comcast installed last week, which means cable TV, Internet access, long-distance… the whole she-bang.
Last year, the first snow of the season was on Thanksgiving weekend. It waited an extra week this year. Saturday morning, we woke to a light dusting of snow in Mount Vernon; by the time we reached Kirkland, the dust had turned into flakes. A few hours later, the streets, trees, houses… everything was coated with several inches of snow.
We were toasty inside, having gotten a new furnace the day before and busily installing bamboo flooring in our third bedroom. Tomorrow, we’ll install flooring in our fourth bedroom, which will allow us to start putting furniture in the rooms. Yeah! Although, we still need to add molding, new closet doors… new plug covers, etc.
By the time we left Kirkland, at around 7 p.m., to eat dinner and go to my apartment in Redmond, the roads had gotten quite treacherous. Happily, Rich had driven down his truck, which has four-wheel drive.
My apartment, which is at a lower elevation than our Kirkland house, and is located on Lake Sammamish, had slushy snow, which is icky to walk in, but not dangerous for driving. Hopefully, it doesn’t freeze overnight, turning the slush into ice. And I’m hoping the snow will melt tomorrow afternoon so I can drive my FIT back to Redmond (it’s in the garage at Kirkland) and Rich and drive an hour north to Mount Vernon.
A couple of weeks ago, Rich’s son, Chris and his wife, Shawnie, visited us. It was a gorgeous day, slightly cool with screaming blue skies. Because parking is a challenge and expensive in downtown Seattle, we took the bus to Pike’s Market, the big tourist spots downtown.
Stacey, Rich’s daughter, along with her boyfriend, Jesse, took the ferry over from Bainbridge Island, and met us downtown. For the next few months, Stacey and Jesse are living and working on a tall ship, anchored in Port Townsend.
We had lunch at a "fast food" Thai restaurant, which provided huge portions at a great price. Afterwards, we walked through Pike’s Market then headed past the Ron Paul (Libertarian for President) event to Olympic Park. Opened in the past year, and part of the Seattle Art Museum, the park features huge art piece by prominent artists like Alexander Caldera and Claes Oldenburg.
Rich is helping me write this blog and he’d like to add that he’s bus-schedule challenged (we had to wait an extra half hour for a bus) and park-and-ride challenged (we went to the farthest possible park-and-ride in Kirkland, which added an additional 20 or more minutes to our ride).
Below are pictures from the day.