PUGET SOUND, WASHINGTON STATE
So many islands, so little time. We spent several glorious days criss-crossing the Puget Sound. Glorious, not only because of the beautiful scenery, but also because we had bright, clear and sunny weather. All of the locals told us that this was unusual weather and not the norm. So, all around us, everyone was revelling in the warmth. From Port Orchard, we gazed across the azure bay toward the Navy Yards of Bremerton. Still full of Battleships, Air Craft Carriers and all manner of Frigates and Patrol Ships, the area probably still looks the same as when my parents lived there in the 50's. My father was a young Army Lieutenant in charge of the Port Orchard Battery. They lived in downtown Port Orchard and also in the neighboring waterfront town of Manchester. Both of these towns still retain the charm and character of that bygone time, although Port Orchard has a sort of rough and run-down appearance.
From Southworth, we caught the Ferry for Seattle and made our way into the large congested metropolis. Jane needed her passport renewed and we had made an appointment for the next day. We
walked all over the bustling waterfront, visiting the world famous Pike Street Market and the amount of shops selling fish, clothing and everything in between was phenomenal. The city itself is a cross between very hilly San Francisco and the more industrial Philadelphia. They were not obnoxious or pushy, but there were really quite a few homeless people living on the street. The city is a maze of different levels with elevators that whisk you from the lower waterfront up six stories to the street level of the Market above. In between are a warren of shops, restaurants and hidden nooks and cranies. They even have an "underground" tour that explores some of the forgotten areas of this city that has continued to build upon itself over the last two hundred years. As we wandered up, down and all around we were struck by how loud the city was. Maybe it is all the activity and the way it is built on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound, but the acoustics really enhance the ambiant noise level.
Tired of the frenetic pace of the city we were glad to head out into the lush and green countryside. A
short ferry ride away, we were on the peaceful and idlylic Whidbey Island. Cute, picturesque harbors filled with Yachts at anchor and secluded tree-lined coves were the norm. Everyone smiled and the pace was calm and serene. Of course, the bright, sunny day was a factor, but all the same it was a very nice change from the city. Off on the western horizon we could see the cruising wonderland known as the San Juan Islands. World renouned as a terrific island chain to explore by boat, we gazed longingly in their direction. Alas, our time constraints would not allow a further exploration at this time. We spent a lovely night at the Coachman Motel in Oak Harbor with windows open to enjoy the cool night air.
The next day dawned bright and clear again. We stuck to the smaller coast road, working our way north and into the National Historic District of Fairhaven. A small suburban area of Bellingham, Fairhaven is a great destination in it's own right. The atmosphere was ecclectic and the brick streets were filled with funky shops, bistros and cafes. We had an excellent pizza pie and some great wine at a
little Italian place and then headed into Bellingham proper. Bellingham was on our must explore list as it keeps coming up on my top five cities on the site www.findyourspot.com
That is a really fun website to check out and see where they say you should live. There really aren't that many thriving fishing communities left along our coasts, but this is one of them. The docks were filled with miles and miles of nets stacked on storage trailers and thousands of crab traps ready to go to sea. Numerous commercial fishing boats shared the harbor with hundreds of private vessels. The shipyards were filled boats being made ready for the Alaska fishing season.
As we left Bellingham, we were impressed that there are still places where the ocean-based economy is alive and well. Canada lay before us and the warm sun was still on our shoulders as we turned toward the border.
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