Our holiday travels this year consisted of a 2-day trip to the coast of Western Washington, specifically, the Kitsap Peninsula.
There was a reason for this trip other than needing a getaway after a very busy year. Bob’s brother Jack, planning ahead for retirement, bought a parcel of land outside of Belfair, on the Hood Canal. He’d been there in nicer weather and wanted to see it in the winter. When he asked us if we wanted to tag along on a short trip, of course we said yes! I love the Pacific Northwest, and have my own daydreams of settling in that part of the country. So we packed our carry-on bags and headed out, flying in to Seattle.
The rental 4-wheel drive SUV (I hate SUVs but in this case it seemed prudent), skillfully piloted by Bob, got us out of Seattle and over to the peninsula, where it was snowing! I grew up mostly in Georgia and California, so any amount of snow strikes me as wondrous and beautiful. And cold and wet, best viewed from indoors or on Christmas cards.
This is an area with a much larger population in the summer; in the winter off-season it is very quiet. Which is fine with me! But it would be fun to spend some time here in the summer too.
The route for the next day: morning in Poulsbo, then to Bainbridge Island, and finally the ferry back to Seattle for a night in the city.
Poulsbo is a charming town on Liberty Bay. Its historic downtown, referred to as Little Norway, is popular with summer tourists. On the way in, make sure and stop to see the 12-foot tall Norseman who stands at the intersection that leads into town.
First things first (well, second; seeing the Norseman was first), the search for coffee. I was not dissappointed. Viking Brew to the rescue!
A very welcoming town, Poulsbo, and quite proud of it’s Norwegian heritage.
And there is the beautiful view of the bay and a quite large marina.
Next up, Bainbridge Island, a place I’ve wanted to see for a while. Winslow Way seemed to be the main drag and center of all things commercial.
I’m not sure what the deal with frogs is, but like Chicago has its cows, San Francisco has its hearts, and Atlanta has its peaches, Bainbridge Island has its frogs.
I’m honestly not much of a shopper, but I can say shopping opportunities abound! We did make our way into a travel store, which included a great book section. I had no idea you could get Dr. Seuss in French. What happens with the anapestic tetrameter in which he wrote when translated?
We also made our way into one of the many art galleries, Roby King Galleries, to look at their show of contemporary works based on Alice in Wonderland in honor of its 150th anniversary. Some fun, some weird, some a little scary.
The highlight was a visit to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, a really beautiful space with several well-curated exhibitions on view.
The first exhibition you enter, on the ground level, is Steven Maslach: New Light. Maslach does amazing things with glass and color. The museum space, with its light, open spaces, makes a good backdrop for his work.
I was particularly struck by the display of his casting jacket and the burned arm; I am in awe of people who work with the heat and fire of glass.
Also on the ground floor is Nancy Thorne Chambers: A Story Place, a whimisical ceramic installation that I found to be quite lovely and nostalgia-provoking. I was transported back to a childhood of reading books like The Wind in the Willows and my lifelong love of books and animals.
Moving upstairs, the group exhibition Thought Patterns features regional artists working in an array of media but with a commonality of working in patterns and repetition.
Some of my favorites:
The most beautiful exhibition, to my eye, is the gallery of artist’s books. As an art form, these can be difficult to display and interpret for an audience. They can best be understood up close and personal (i.e., by handling) but are too fragile and vulnerable to allow this kind of contact. I think the specially fitted gallery allows for close viewing, safe exhibition, and a quiet, reflective space befitting this kind of collection. The particular exhibition on this visit: Artist’s Books: Chapter 6: Regarding nature…or disregarding it (Collection of Cynthia Sears).
The introductory wall includes this painting that a book-loving girl can’t bypass.
And as at all well-run museums, please exit through the gift shop!
There is a children’s museum next door that looks quite fun, but no time to stop other than for a bit of silliness.
Time for the ferry to Seattle.
We made it to the University District, but given that it’s winter break, not a lot was happening there. But the Hotel Deca was quite nice.
For dinner, we headed over to the Wallingford neighborhood, which reminded me a little of the East Bay with its Craftsman Homes. Through the guidance of Open Table, Bob found the restaurant Tilth, one of the restaurants of executive chef and James Beard award winner Maria Hines.
I don’t drink, but Bob was intrigued by the craft cocktail menu. I had a sarsparilla soda, which I didn’t know was a thing outside of cowboy movies. Bob’s not a vegan; he said the fish dishes were excellent.
I was pleased to see a vegan tasting menu. That’s not easy to find! I had the vegan cassoulet; it was delicious, smoky and mushroomy. And for dessert we shared the vegan cashew “cheesecake” with cranberry compote and pomegranate.
All good things must come to an end (must they, really?), so we were up early the next morning to get to the Seattle airport and home. I had no idea it got so cold in Seattle!
And now we are home, and it’s 2016. How did that happen? Happy New Year, everyone!