Monday, February 18, 2008

Kitsap Peninsula and Bainbridge Island

Curious to see the nature that surrounds Seattle, today we took a trip to the outskirts, to Kitsap Peninsula and to Bainbridge Island. We drove south, past Tacoma, and then onto the Kitsap Peninsula. Several trucks passed us, laden with giant reddish-brown tree trunks stacked in the long cab. We hadn’t gone more than 15 minutes outside of the city when a spooky and romantic mist covered the land, the trees grew thick and the ground was covered in dense and bright greenery – moss, ferns and undergrowth. We’d see much of that throughout the day, trees that grew in spindly shapes covered with moss, forests so green and thick they looked like rainforests. And of course there were the beautiful and frequent views of water – of bays, estuaries, inlets, harbors.

We stopped for lunch in the little town of Poulsbo. It’s nicknamed “Little Norway” for it’s resemblance to the Norwegian fjords. It also had a Sons of Norway clubhouse along the waterfront, Scandinavian shops and streets with names like King Olav 5thVei and NE Jacobson Road W.

We stopped for lunch in a wonderful little café, Magnolia, where we had a view of the fireplace. I enjoyed a fantastic salad, with spinach, sweet potatoes, goat cheese, candied walnuts and dried cranberries. As with many of the restaurants here, the menu is not fixed in stone. It changes based upon the ingredients that are fresh and available.

We saw many homes today in beautiful locations, overlooking calm blue waters, surrounded by dense green forest or privy to both foliage and water views. I think it would be a nice place to have a cabin. But it was hard to imagine living in a place like that. I’m too used to being able to walk to the local shops. It’s hard to imagine getting into a car anytime I’d need something.

We tried to visit some museums, including a Native American museum. They were closed due to President’s Day. But cars filled the parking lot and garage of the nearby casino.

We visited the tiny Fay Bainbridge State Park, where we scampered over pale draftwood and walked along the black sand and pebble beach, looking at the crab and scallop shells that lined the shore. I learned that the Puget Sound has the largest octopuses in the world, as well as the biggest and fastest sea stars. We looked out across the water at Seattle, a beautiful city view framed by a full moon overhead and a sky turning pink.

Poor little River had a tough day. Every time he’d fall asleep, we’d be on the move again. So we returned home by ferry in the early evening, enjoying the view of the sun setting over Seattle. Back at our hotel, River could get some interrupted rest, as could we.

Except for the fabulous lunch, I wasn’t wowed by anything I saw today. But it was pleasant and beautiful. I liked how the water and forests and the Scandanavian people reminded me of Minnesota. I appreciated the bounty of the vegetation and the fresh and delicious food of this region.

Looking at a map, Seattle is surrounded by greenery to explore – Vancouver to the north, the Cascade mountains, numerous islands and waterways, Mt. Rainier to the southeast. It would definitely be nice to come back with more time for outdoor adventures.

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