Only a half hour ferry ride from downtown Seattle, Bainbridge Island was the perfect destination for a day trip on Saturday. The ferry ride was affordable – $8.65 round trip – and short enough that we stood outside on the upper viewing deck to watch the city fade while the North Cascades came into view. It was windy and chilly but sublimely beautiful.
Once we disembarked on the island, we wanted to go to Bloedel Reserve. The island bus was conveniently waiting at the end of the walkway, and thankfully, we had the right amount of cash for a round trip fare. Only six miles away from the ferry terminal, it was a serene ride to the Reserve’s gates.
Bloedel Reserve was originally the residence of Virginia and Prentice Bloedel. The heir to a timber company, Bloedel innovated ways to reduce excess waste in the milling process. He even introduced the practice of planting seedlings on clear-cut acreage to encourage new forest growth. When Bloedel retired in the early 1950s, he and Virginia moved to Bainbridge Island where he dedicated himself to sculpting their property into an oasis. The Bloedels wanted to share what they had created with the community, so they established a nonproft for its management and opened the Reserve in 1988. Today there are two miles of paths on the 150-acre property highlighting the beauty of the natural landscape and the restorative powers of nature.
We were given a map to help us navigate – as there were no signs – although there were few points where a map was even needed. Numbers on the map helped define the area of the reserve we were in, but didn’t provide much extraneous information. The focus of Bloedel is on the experience. Pets and picnics are not allowed, and visitors are encouraged to take their time.
We spent an hour and a half at the Reserve. There is one main path from the entrance that meanders through the property. At first it was difficult to slow down and unwind, but the farther we went, the more tranquil and serene it became. Our surroundings took their toll and soon our pace had slowed, our desire to rapidly move through the Reserve dissipated. It was delightful to encounter each new area with fresh eyes. We watched the mallards move around in the marshland pond, heard and then spotted a pileated woodpecker in one of the trees overhead, and enjoyed the light streaming through the fall hues. It was a truly peaceful place to experience.
We took the bus back toward the ferry and hopped off downtown to spend the rest of the afternoon. We went to Bruciato for a stellar lunch, strolled through some shops, enjoyed some wine at Amelia Wynn Winery’s tasting room, and ended up with three books between the two of us. I failed to take any photos while we were downtown (oops!), but I doubt it will be our last trip to the island. There are still some places out of reach by bus that we would like to visit in the future.
We made a calculated decision to take the 5:35pm ferry back to Seattle, so we could catch the last light of day radiating on the skyline and watch the sun set from the boat. However, the ferry ended up being 20 minutes late meaning our ride was mostly in the dark. We were able to enjoy a fiery sunset over the island and the distant Olympic Mountains as the ferry pulled away, which made a pleasant end to our island trip.