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Bainbridge Outing

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Visitor's Center at Bloedel Reserve

I gave the briefest of reports last April on an outing Gail and I took to Bainbridge Island with our friend Cynthia, focusing more on photos than on our visit. And I mentioned in passing a return visit in June, on our way back to Seattle after celebrating our 25th anniversary. I wrote at greater length about our trip in late July with our Scottish house guests, focusing on our first-ever visit to Bloedel Reserve. Yesterday was our latest Bainbridge outing.

I should make clear that going to Bainbridge isn’t exactly a big deal. It’s just 35 minutes from downtown Seattle by ferry, closer in distance to downtown than the extremities of Seattle are, and many people make the trip daily. But we don’t. And now we’ve been there five times since March.

By becoming Bloedel Reserve members when we were there in July, we anticipated that we would make it a point to head over to Bainbridge at least every two or three months, so that we might see the Reserve in all its seasonal manifestations. Somehow, we missed our fall visit, taking five months to return. But winter turns out to be an excellent time to go.

On disembarking from the ferry, we first stopped in town return to a store that is becoming a standard stop for us, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. We bought yarn and tea (naturally), plus a pattern Gail will use to knit a washcloth, and some gifts. The tea is from Steve Smith Teamaker in Portland, Oregon, which offers you the opportunity to go online and type in the batch number on the bottom of the box in order to get an answer to the question, “Where did my tea come from?” I’ve just done so for our box of Lord Bergamot tea, learning that it was blended by Tony, packed on November 5 by Dave, ML and Rachael, at which time the weather was chilly, rainy with Portland winter weather descending. The ingredients:

Assam, Dikom, FTGFOP1
Dikom tea garden, upper Assam, India. Lot 0-324 second flush. Harvest first week June 2009.

Ceylon, Dimbulla
St. Clair garden at 4500 feet above sea level in western Dimbulla near St. Clair waterfall. Harvested September 2009.

Ceylon, Uva
Uva province in Lunugala district, Sri Lanka. Adawatte garden, lot 5070. Harvest 2nd week of May 2009

Bergamot Oil
Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy from our friend Stephen Pisano. Harvest and press January 2009. From our friend Stephen Pisano.

From Churchmouse, we went a block down and crossed the street for lunch at and Cafe Nola, where we had also eaten last April. We shared delicious spring rolls and a cup of white bean and apple soup. Gail then had the daily special, prawns with risotto, while I had a very satisfying rigatoni with grilled chicken, artichoke, roma tomato, and spinach.

Then, on to Bloedel. I reviewed some of its history in my post about our July visit. You’ll recall that it was for decades the home of retired timber giant Prentice Bloedel and his wife Virginia and that Prentice devoted the last decades of his life to creating the gardens. (Just two days ago, I described our recent outing to the Wright Exhibition Space, where the Bloedel’s daughter Jinny and her husband Bagley Wright display some of their contemporary art collection.) Their one-time house, now the Visitor’s Center, was home this month to a special holiday exhibit.

This amazing exhibit, built by one of our volunteers over more than half his lifetime, is an entire village of eleven model houses encircled by model trains. These are no ordinary “doll houses.” Some of the buildings were inspired by ancient houses in France, and some are pure fantasy — like the towering Castle (standing over six feet tall), the Cookie Factory (staffed by teddy bears), a bakery, a bistro, and a gingerbread house. Every building is meticulously decorated and furnished with tiny, perfectly “to scale” furniture.

We arrived, parked, and walked from the gatehouse to the Visitor’s Center via the Japanese Garden. In addition to seeing the exhibit, we chatted at length with two of the docents, one of whom has lived on the island for forty years. She taught kindergarten for a couple of decades, her husband serving as a principal, and their attachment to island life was evident. On departing, we took a different route back to the gatehouse, taking us through the moss garden. After the heavy rains we’ve had this fall, the garden was at its best. It was the highlight of our day.

The Moss Garden at Bloedel Reserve

Next stop, Rolling Bay Café, a few miles southeast in the small commercial intersection of Rolling Bay. The café has become one of our regular stops, since our drive through the island the day after our anniversary in June, when we stumbled on it and had lunch. We returned a month later for lunch after our initial exploration of Bloedel Reserve, and we made it a point to stop this time too, for coffee, tea, and snacks. Another pleasant chat ensued, this time with the guy behind the counter, prompted by his Mackinac Island t-shirt. I mentioned my long-time desire to visit and he explained that he has family in Traverse City. While visiting them, he drove up to the island.

Since the café has no indoor seating, we tried to use the outdoor tables, as we happily did last summer, but with temperatures in the 30s, we didn’t last long. (It didn’t help that when we left the house in the morning, I managed to drive off with Joel’s coat rather than mine. There’s no way I could fit into his coat, so I had to spend the day coatless.)

From the café, we headed back to the ferry for a beautiful ride home.

Reflection Pool at Bloedel Reserve

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