[I'm even worse about putting this trip re-cap up than I was about our Paris trip. Maybe though, unlike our Paris trip, I'll actually get every day up - yeah, never wrote about our last day in Paris. Oops.]
So, Seattle ... Day 4. This day could also be described as the day my co-workers think I went to Forks (based on my Twitter updates throughout the day) And no, we didn't go to Forks - but not for my lack of trying. Although I want to make it clear, straightaway, that I didn't really want to go to Forks. I actually wanted to go to the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park and First Beach. Really, I swear.
So anyway ... On our fourth day in Seattle, we decided to go to Bainbridge Island. Rather, let me rephrase that ... we didn't just wake up on day 4 and think, "let's hit up Bainbridge." No, I'd read several blogs and travel magazines prior to this trip and everyone said you absolutely had to go to Bainbridge. Even Coastal Living had a "30 hours in Bainbridge" article that had GORGEOUS pictures of the island. I was sold. So, while planning our trip, I said, "we have to spend a day in Bainbridge." So we decided our fourth day in Seattle would be that day.
We decided to rent a car from the Avis office across the street from our hotel. This is going to sound strange, but um ... I think we had really great service from the people who worked there. So, if you're ever staying at the Westin in Seattle and want to rent a car, I can highly and without hesitation recommend you visit that Avis. We got a subcompact car for something ridiculously cheap like $35/day (at least I think so). I dunno, I thought it was cheap anyhow.
The weather forecast called for cloudy skies and highs in the mid-to-upper 40s which in my mind is perfect traveling weather. After getting our car at 7am, we set off for the ferry. This was something we were really excited for because while we've ridden the ferries here in the Bay Area and to Staten Island in NYC, we've never gone on a CAR FERRY. It was all very nerve wrecking (because really, if there are two people who could mess it up, it would be us).
Loading the car was a hoot. So crazy to think there are boats that take hundreds of cars across the sound several times a day. I think if they tried something like that here in the Bay Area, people just wouldn't be able to do it. There's some mean ass drivers 'round these parts.
Okay, so Bainbridge. Like I mentioned, lots of recommendations that we should definitely spend the day on the island. And yeah, um ... I'm going to disagree wholeheartedly.
Maybe it's because we went so early in the morning, or because February isn't really prime tourist season, but there was NOTHING TO SEE OR DO ON BAINBRIDGE! And how Coastal Living can think you can spend the entire fracking day window shopping and sightseeing in downtown Winslow is beyond me. Maybe I'm an impatient sort, but after less than an hour (during which time we stopped for coffee at the very cute Pegasus Coffee (which, strangely, had bad cappucinos), I was like, "really? We rented a car and took a ferry for this?"
After our coffee we decided to drive out a ways to stop at the Fay Bainbridge State Park. I don't remember how the book we had described it, but it was sufficiently interesting that we figured, "why not?" It was a really cute place, but worth putting in a guidebook? Not so sure. Still, we did collect some very pretty whitewashed clam shells that are now sitting in a vase in our china cabinet in the living room.
So, it was still quite early in the morning and we had a full day to kill. So what do we do? We drive. And sightsee. And follow the guidebook. We decide to head down the Kitsap Peninsula to check out the tiny town of Poulsbo, which is described as, "a town with a Scandinavian theme in its shops and restaurants, and is a popular regional tourist destination." We've decided this must be where Captain Sig lives. The town itself is rather adorable and Liberty Bay, "a fjord-like bay" is just beautiful.
As you can see from the picture above, it was also a lot sunnier (and warm) down here. The rest of the day was rather beautiful, actually.
Because the cappucino at Pegasus was so watery and thin, we stopped in at the Poulsbohemian Coffee shop overlooking the bay for an espresso. Best. Idea. Ever. Without it, I may have collapsed. Such a cute little coffee shop. The patrons there are trying to knit the world's largest scarf. I'm sure there's a purpose for it, but I can't remember what it is. Here we ate our goodies from the Poulsbo Bakery - mmm, sugary, sweet goodness - and just relaxed for a little while before hitting the road again.
From Poulsbo, we drove up to Port Gamble which the guidebook described as a quaint seaside logging town modeled after a New England Village. What they SHOULD HAVE said was, "a couple of houses and nothing more. Oh, good view of the bay." Because really ... unless you're a logger who works there, THERE'S NO REASON TO GO TO PORT GAMBLE. At least no reason that I can see. Maybe I'm just bitter because it was slightly after we left that we realized there simply weren't enough hours in the day to get to Hoh and First Beach and that maybe, just maybe, if we hadn't taken that detour, we might have been able to. Or maybe not, it's hard to say. Still, cute pictures of us (and doesn't that count for something?).
But we pressed on to Port Angeles, where we knew there were several other entrances to Olympic National Park that we could explore.
Okay Twilight fans that have managed to read this far. I'm going to be real with you for a second here. Port Angeles sucks. That scene from the movie where Bella and her friends go prom dress shopping? Yeah, nothing that quaint and cute here. This is a PORT town and it shows. This is where you grab the ferry to British Columbia. This is where you drive through on your way to somewhere else. We couldn't even find somewhere to eat lunch. I felt really sad about it. So yeah, if you're going to attempt a Twilight-themed pilgrimage, do yourself a favor and don't worry about stopping there. Just keep driving to Forks.
Moving on ...
Since we couldn't make it to La Push or Hoh, we decided to drive into the park and check out the Elwah River Valley in Olympic National Park which was absolutely gorgeous and stunningly beautiful (and of course, I have the pictures to prove it). As you drive into ONP, the mountains around you begin to rise up thousands of feet. There is no gradual ascent like with Lake Tahoe - here you're surrounded by sheer cliff faces that are capped by snowy peaks. While we were driving, we saw a traffic advisory so we turned into the a.m. station and found out there had been a rock slide on one of the other highways and no cars were allowed through. I can't imagine what a rock slide here would look like, but I'm guessing it would be major.
As you drive into the park, you immediately see the river and its rocky bottom. At some point it goes from looking like any old river to oh my god that is a turquoise river! I'm absolutely serious - the water was turquoise.
Behold (a straight out of the camera picture).
We tried to drive up this road that had beautiful, tall, giant trees draped in moss but I'm a big old chicken and asked Alan to drive back down b/c it was far too narrow and muddy for my delicate sensibilities and I was afraid we'd tumble down a cliff face to our death. Given that we didn't see any park rangers (even when we tried to), I was doubly worried about not being found until summer. So, we left the park to head back to the ferry in Winslow for our trek back to Seattle. The drive back is about two hours and the scenery is beautiful. Still, it's a full day's drive so unless you have a day to kill, I wouldn't recommend this particular addition to your Seattle trip itinerary. Luckily for us, we did have a day to kill since several crazy someones had told us to spend the day on Bainbridge.
For dinner we ended up eating at Elliott's Oyster House down on the waterfront where we tasted some amazing oysters. I've had kumamoto oysters at a couple of different places, but I'm no connoisseur of oysters so we asked our waitress to bring us the ones they recommended. She brought four different kinds, kumamoto among them. Our favorite were the Quilcene oysters, which are local to the Puget Sound area. They were big, meaty and had a wonderful briny flavor that wasn't too overpowering. We also each ordered alder planked salmon (different varieties) which was good, but looking back I think I would have just preferred eating oysters all night.
Lest this post sound really negative and like I'm complaining, I want to say we had a really enjoyable day. The driving tour was gorgeous and gave us a good appreciation for the wilderness surrounding Seattle and for what the rest of the Pacific Northwest in this area looks like. While I would have dome some things differently, and wished I had had different expectations, I really had a wonderful day.