A rare gem revealed.


Bainbridge Island in October

Should your travels include landing at the Seattle airport, do yourself a favor and go to Bainbridge Island, a paradise just 5 miles wide and 10 miles long. The 25,000 residents of the island enjoy the unmatched natural beauty typical of the Pacific Northwest. The beauty of this spot is a tribute to a community that is successfully preserving this along with controlling overdevelopment.

A July 2005 edition of CNN Money and Management magazine cited it as the best place to live in the United States. The island ferry is a mere 20-minute drive from the airport. At Pier 52, you board the ferry that carries 2500 passengers and 202 cars making the half hour crossing over Puget Sound to the island.

The boat ride itself is your first treat. You can settle into an upholstered lounge chair or gather around a table or booth for from two to eight people. For sightseeing there isn’t a bad seat in the house. On a clear day magnificent Mount Rainier dwarfs the Seattle skyline challenging your sense of proportion.

When you land at the modest Harbor town of Winslow, first stop is the Bainbridge Island Museum. Housed in a restored schoolhouse built in 1908 the museum is just three blocks away. Understanding the past often leads to appreciation of the present. There are displays of the past shipbuilding and lumbering industries which 150 years ago created great three-masted sailing ships from the forest of cedars.

It is hard to believe, but by the turn of the 19th century the island was essentially denuded of pine trees. Only field upon field of stumps remained. Today’s lush natural landscape of a second growth stands in astonishing contrast. Today many roads on the island pass through a virtual tunnel beneath the canopy of 200-foot resplendent evergreens.

A rare community treasure is found about 10 miles north. Follow route 305 to signage directing you to the beautiful Blodel Reserve. The New York Times cited these 150 acres of fields and forests surrounding the modest French Chateau of Prentice Bloedel as one of the best botanical gardens in America. In this spot, natural beauty has been enhanced in some areas by professional landscape artists.

For example, one area on the hiking path through pine groves is carpeted by beautiful lush green moss, looking like a scene from Brigadoon. In 1952 Bloedel planted 275,000 plugs of Irish Moss here, after visiting serenity gardens in Japan. Horticulture and design is by The Ross Garden. Today it thrives as just one of the modest treasures among many grander dimensions found in this idyllic landscaping and gardens that overlook the sound.

Heading back toward the ferry on 305 you’ll have noticed by now the refreshing absence of billboards, megastores, apartment complexes, or even mom and pop corner convenience stores. Turn left after a few miles to find Miller Road which runs parallel to route 305. Turn into any side street for a picturesque view of some of the seaside homes along the 53 miles of coastline.

When the Squamish Indian tribes ceded the land to the US in 1700, they retained Provenance of the waters. Today Puget Sound remains clean, abundant with sea life, and safe for all water sports. It is a picturesque gem for residents and visitors alike.

Finally, on your arrival or departure you might stop at the Harbor House restaurant in Winslow for some standard food fair and a beautiful view of Eagle Harbor marinas.

Contributed by: Sandra Hamilton

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