by Dede Johnson
Stay curious. Explore more. There is beauty to be found everywhere.
These mantras have sustained me as of late given we are in the midst of a global pandemic which is hampering the world traveler within me, and for good reason. I am always looking for new venues to explore and sometimes I decide to revisit a familiar place with fresh eyes.
I first visited Bloedel Reserve three years ago. It’s one of the places I tour annually and I make sure to share this gem with friends and encourage them to put Bloedel on their must see list if they want to wow guests visiting from out of town.
My previous visits have been in the spring and summer; however on this sunny, yet gentle breeze blowing, autumnal day, I caught the 10:40 am Seattle to Bainbridge ferry for my day’s adventure.
Due to Covid-19, there are some new rules of engagement to keep everyone safe that include buying a timed ticket online.
The 35-minute ferry sailing time got me to the island early. I took the opportunity to explore the quaint and fabulous Fay Bainbridge Park which sits on the northeast corner of Bainbridge Island and its sandy beachfront looks out on Puget Sound. On clear days both Mount Rainier and Mount Baker are visible. I strolled the driftwood-laden beach and sat upon a log thankful for a beautiful start to my island adventure.
I arrived at Bloedel at the appointed time and the friendly attendant, from a safe social distance, found my name on his roster and directed me to the parking lot. With my camera in hand, I followed the strategically placed signs that indicate the ways in which to travel as I bathed myself in the magnificence and mystical properties of this nature preserve.
There are lush green meadows, man-made waterfalls, and a bluff just behind the Bloedel mansion (closed due to Covid) where boats can be seen sailing by on Puget Sound and birds fly overhead. My favorite spot among the 150 acres is the Japanese garden with its pond, Weeping Willow Tree, and the featured Sand and Stone Garden located in front of the Japanese Guest House.
After my walk through the Bloedel botanical garden, I took a short drive, just under six miles, to downtown Poulsbo–also called Little Norway. It is a charming area that includes museums, restaurants, galleries, and a variety of storefronts that are fun to check out.
I got a scoop of decadent ice cream from MORA Iced Creamery and walked the short distance to Liberty Park. The park overlooks the marina, and there I sat reveling in the sun, sights, and sounds of all that was going on around me.
Having eaten dessert first, my final stop before heading back to Seattle was Proper Fish located a short distance from the ferry terminal on Madison Avenue North. Proper Fish started as Nosh Food Truck in Seattle before setting up a home base on the island in 2019. The large mural featuring an octopus and the restaurant menu greeted me along with the super friendly staff.
I perused the menu and toyed with the idea of ordering a lobster roll but settled on the fish and chips minus the mushy peas. The fish and chips were once lauded as the best in the city by the Seattle Times. I ordered at the register before taking a seat in the small dining area to await my much-anticipated meal. Fresh, simple ingredients, and indeed proper was the golden brown, beer battered, crispy cod served with thick cut fries, that arrived at my table piping hot and served on newspaper.
That meal was $16.00 well spent and a nice cherry on the top of my day trip to a familiar place that I look forward to visiting again. I wonder what new discoveries await.