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North America Travel

    North America Travel

    Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things

    The Way Life Should Be

    Location: Ogunquit Maine

    We recently spent a week in beautiful Ogunquit Maine. We have been to Ogunquit before, but on this trip we had more time to explore. It’s an incredible destination and I’m sure we will visit again. In fact, Maine has a marketing slogan; Maine – The Way Life Should Be. I couldn’t agree more! Here are my thoughts – Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things.

    Perkins Cove Foot Bridge
    Perkins Cove

    Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things

    Ogunquit was still pretty crowded with late summer tourists, and we were trying to social distance. So some of the things we may have done normally (such as the live theater or dining) we chose to avoid for the most part. We did dine out a couple of times, outdoors, and we also went in to a few shops. Mostly our activities involved being outside with our friends. And with great weather, there was no better place to be for any outdoor activity. Our list of favorites begins below.

    lobster
    Lobster freshly steamed

    Lobster

    Duh. When in Maine, eat lobster. Now being a born and raised Pacific Northwest girl, I have a hard time finding a crustacean that lives up to Dungeness Crab. But I put lobster as a close second, especially when you can have really good, sweet and fresh lobster from Maine. During our week in Maine I ate lobster four times; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ogunquit offers dozens of places to eat lobster as well as many places to purchase fresh caught lobster for cooking at home. We did both, and also ate lobster on our final day Portland Maine. In Ogunquit I had a lobster omelette at the Omelette Factory, a lobster roll at Barnacle Billy’s and we bought and cooked fresh whole lobster one night with our friends. I also had another lobster roll at Gilbert’s in Portland. By the way, Gilbert’s clam chowder was great. Eating in general was great but lobster in Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things.

    lobster omelette
    Lobster Omelet
    Lobster Roll
    Lobster Roll
    Fresh lobster
    Fresh Maine Lobster

    Walking, Running, Hiking

    If you follow our blog you know that walking, running and hiking are a big part of our daily life, and while in Ogunquit we had plenty of opportunities for all of these. Since we were training for a half marathon we stayed on our running schedule with runs along the flat and beautiful Ocean Ave in the neighboring village of Wells. We also really enjoyed running in York Beach and along Long Sand Beach. Both of these areas are perfect for walking too. We also enjoyed walking at low tide on Ogunquit Beach and the path called Marginal Way at Perkins Cove.

    Marginal Way
    Marginal Way Perkins Cove
    York Maine
    Long Sand Beach York

    With our group of friends we hiked one day in Agamenticus Mountain. This conservation area offers dozens of trails for a variety of hiking levels. We ended our hiking morning with more than eight miles and a bit more elevation than I was expecting. Phew it was a workout but also a beautiful and peaceful area. I highly recommend it.

    hiking
    Agamenticus Preserve

    Shops in Ogunquit

    I’m not a big shopper, but I did want to pick up a few small gifts as well as a lobster charm to add to my ever-growing collection on my charm bracelet. So we took some time to check out a few shops in Ogunquit. Some of my favorite shops were in Perkins Cove and this is where I found my charm and some earrings at Sea Glass Jewelry. I also enjoyed the Ogunquit Village Food Market and the Ogunquit Soap Company on the main drag in Ogunquit.

    Village Food Market

    Kennebunkport and York

    Bookending Ogunquit are several small villages and towns, including Kennebunkport and York. We spent one morning in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. I wanted to see the Bush Family compound and it’s astonishing how close you can get to it from the viewpoint at Walkers Point (see photo). But my favorite thing in Kennebunkport was Saint Ann’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

    Kennebunkport
    St. Ann’s By-the-Sea

    York is actually not that small, made up of several villages that fall under the York jurisdiction. We visited York Beach, home to many resorts and shops. It is the quintessential New England Beach town. It was a great place to run but while running I kept stopping to take photos because it was just so stink’n cute!

    York Maine
    York Maine

    Lighthouses

    Cape Neddick is home to the Nubble Lighthouse in York Beach, one of the most famous in Maine. It is positioned on a tiny island about a hundred yards from the Cape, accessed by a tiny gondola. But visitors can only view it from the cape.

    Nubble Light
    Nubble Light

    We spent one day in Portland Maine (about an hour north of Ogunquit) and visited two lighthouses here including the Portland Head Light and the much smaller Bug Light. Portland Head Light was my favorite and is everything you would imagine in a Maine Light House. The park at Portland Head Light – Fort Williams Park is really lovely too.

    Portland Head Light
    Portland Head Light
    Bug Light
    Bug Light

    Portland Day Trip

    On our final day we made our way an hour north to Portland for a quick visit. Besides the two lighthouses mentioned above, and lunch at Gilberts (also mentioned above) we walked around Old Port. It was a glorious sunny day and so we did not visit any of the museums, instead enjoyed the gorgeous scenery over the water and boats and tucked into a few shops. The pottery available is wonderful in this part of Maine. You could easily spend several days exploring Portland.

    Portland Maine
    Old Port, Portland Maine

    Boston

    Finally, we said farewell to our friends and headed back to Boston for one night before our early morning flight. We have been to Boston MANY times so did not attempt to do any of its wonderful tourist things, but we did enjoy a Red Sox game that evening in the incomparable Fenway Park. The last time I was in Fenway was 1982. It was great to be back. We plan to be back in Boston next spring, so we saved visiting the other iconic sites for then.

    Red Sox
    Red Sox Game, Fenway Park

    Flying in and out of Logan Airport in Boston when visiting Ogunquit is easy. The drive from Boston to Ogunquit is about an hour and a half. You can also fly to Portsmouth New Hampshire or Portland Maine – both about an hour drive to Ogunquit.

    Logan Airport Sunrise

    The Way Life Should Be

    We tentatively hope to be back in New England again next September with a visit to Acadia and parts North. Hopeful we can pull that off…but our week in this beautiful state will not soon be forgotten. Good friends, good food and good fun. Can’t ask for anything better than that.

    Maine – The Way Life Should Be. Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things

    See this week’s top performing pin here, Nashville For First-Timers.

    See last week’s Running for Recovery post here.

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    North America Travel

    Chasing Waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound Region

    Summer in Washington State

    Snoqualmie Falls

    Location: Washington State USA

    Spending every summer in Washington State, we always try to search out something new and interesting we have never done. The Pacific Northwest is chock full of gorgeous opportunities for hiking, biking, boating and more. And this summer we decided to go chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region.

    There are lots of waterfalls to choose from, and not only on the west side of Washington. Eastern and Southern Washington have a variety all their own. But we chose to visit five waterfalls within a short drive of our summer villa which is located on the Kitsap Peninsula.

    Today I share with you five beautiful, easily accessible waterfalls everyone should visit – locals and visitors alike. It’s time for everyone to try chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region. So here we go;

    1. Marymere Falls

    Marymere Falls
    Marymere Falls near Port Angeles Washington

    The drive to Marymere Falls trailhead is in itself a great summer or fall activity. Located just a short 2 mile walk from Crescent Lake and the Crescent Lake Lodge, Marymere Falls is 30 miles from Port Angeles and is within the Olympic National Park so an America the Beautiful Pass is required. At this location you can also do the Storm King hike if you are in good shape and an experienced hiker. As for the hike to Marymere, it is accessible to just about anyone. Starting from the parking lot it’s about 2 miles with a slight incline to reach the falls. The view of the 90 foot drop of the falls is beautiful. This hike is very popular and can be extremely crowded on a summer weekend. Consider fall or midweek if you can.

    2. Franklin Falls

    Franklin Falls near North Bend Washington
    Franklin Falls

    There are at least three waterfalls all within a few miles of each other and just off of Interstate 90 near North Bend and the town of Snoqualmie in the Cascade Mountains. Franklin Falls is the first of the three. A easy and beautiful 2 mile round trip hike through old growth forests, Franklin Falls is on Denny Creek. You can swim at the base of the falls and many people come here on the weekends to cool off in the summer. This is a hike you can do any time of year, and the water level of the falls changes seasonally. Again its easy access makes it very popular on summer weekends and parking can be tight. Plan accordingly. Franklin Falls is part of the Denny Creek Washington State Campground and a Discover Pass is required.

    3. Twin Falls

    Twin Falls Washington State
    Twin Falls near Snoqualmie Washington

    A short drive west from Franklin Falls you can get to the hike for Twin Falls. Located on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, Twin Falls is within Olallie State Park and a Discover Pass is required. Many families come here on the weekend to swim in the river, but the hike has a slow and steady incline so not everyone goes to the falls. But due to limited parking, consider weekday visit in the summer. The 2 mile round trip hike meanders along the river then traverses through beautiful forests before reaching the first observation point for the falls. Continue on another quarter mile to get up close and personal with beautiful Twin Falls.

    4. Snoqualmie Falls

    Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge
    Snoqualmie Falls near the town of Snoqualmie Washington State

    The Granddaddy of all Washington waterfalls is the incomparable Snoqualmie Falls. Located on the Snoqualmie River, just downstream from the town of the same name, Snoqualmie Falls is majestic. Higher than Niagara, the falls have a different personality depending on the season. If you are lucky enough to view the falls during a flood or high rain season you will be astonished by the amount of water that thunders over. But the falls are just as beautiful during summer and fall, when the narrower cascade gracefully falls like a veil. Snoqualmie Falls offers multiple viewing platforms, open from dawn to dusk, and a steep hike is also an option down to the base of the falls. Access is free and free parking is also available. A very special treat is to dine or stay the night at the impeccable Salish Lodge, located right at the edge of the falls with spectacular views. Snoqualmie Falls is located just off Interstate 90. Follow the signs through the town of Snoqualmie to the falls.

    5. Silver Falls

    Silver Falls in Washington
    Silver Falls, Mount Rainier National Park Washington State

    Within Mount Rainier National Park you will find a variety of glorious waterfalls, as well as wonderful hiking options. Silver Falls is one of the most beautiful, with a 3 mile round trip loop hike that most anyone can do. Start the hike at the Ohanapekosh Campground, located at the Cayuse Pass entrance to the park about 47 miles from the city of Enumclaw. Once again, summer weekends are busy and parking is limited, so try to come midweek. Autumn is an excellent time to visit as well. The hike is within the Mount Rainier National Park and a America the Beautiful Pass is required. From the parking lot follow the signs to the falls through a beautiful old growth forest with views of the Ohanapekosh River below. Arriving at the falls you will be awarded with a stunning view. Cross the tiny wooden bridge to see another view of the falls, or to clamber out on the giant boulders and enjoy your lunch. Return to your vehicle on the loop trail, enjoying more of the beauty and scenery of this magnificent National Park.

    Beautiful Washington

    We love our home state of Washington and love being tourists in our own back yard when we are in Washington and the USA. Chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region is just one of our favorite things. Want to learn more about our Favorite Places in Washington? Click here.

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    Washington Waterfalls
    Washington Waterfalls
    At Home  --  North America Travel

    Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault

    A Review

    Location: Lake Quinault, Washington State, USA

    A couple of weeks ago my family had the pleasure of staying in a rustic lakeside cabin at the Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault. Don’t be confused, this is not the Lake Quinault Lodge. It is a smaller and much more affordable option just down the road. Here is my review of Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault.

    Rain Forest Park Lodge, Lake Quinault

    Just the Boys

    My husband and grown sons planned a summer through-hike in the Olympic National Park, starting at the Dosewallips River in Brinnon and hiking 40 miles to Lake Quinault. This four day hike was a great father-son activity, while I stayed home and attended the wedding of my friend’s daughter. The hike was a huge success, with great weather and even greater views and a lifelong goal for my husband. I’m so glad they went.

    My sons on the hike

    Then There Were Four

    After four days I drove to the Lake Quinault trailhead to meet them. They arrived dirty, smelly and happy. We then proceeded to the Rain Forest Lodge, an old rustic lodge right on the shores of beautiful glacier-fed Lake Quinault. We chose to stay in one of the lakeside cabins here instead at the much more expensive Lake Quinault Lodge a mile down the road. The Rain Forest Lodge has a spectacular location that includes lake view fireplace cabins (ours, #6, was the best), a small motel style roadside inn, and RV camping. Our two bedroom cabin had a big bathroom, a well equipped kitchen, a nice living area and a very large deck for $360 a night for four people.

    Rustic but comfy

    Lake Quinault

    Beautiful Lake Quinault is a glacial carved lake at the end of the Quinault River, located on the southern edge of the Olympic National Park in the Quinault Rainforest. The temperate rainforest and area around Lake Quinault receives an average of 333 centimeters (131 inches) of precipitation per year! Long before logging arrived or the Lake Quinault Lodge was built (1926) or Olympic National Park was created (1938), Lake Quinault was home to the Quinault people, a Coast Salish Tribe.

    Beautiful Lake Quinault

    The Salmon House

    The Rain Forest Lodge has a general store, laundromat, post office and one of the best restaurants for miles around. No contest. The affordable menu at The Salmon House is amazing. We got our dinner to go and took it back to our cabin and we enjoyed it so much. They offer the most delicious salmon you will ever have, as well as lots of other options too. Even if you aren’t staying over you might consider eating here. Check out the menu here.

    Take out salmon and burgers was so amazing

    World’s Largest Spruce Tree

    Now this isn’t like the largest ball of yarn, or the Corn Palace. This is truly the world’s largest Spruce Tree and it’s right on the property at The Rain Forest Lodge. Here is what their website says about it;

    Lake Quinault is the “Valley of the Rain Forest Giants©” and the Big Spruce Tree at the Resort is one of them. The tree is the World’s Largest Spruce with a circumference of 58 feet, 11 inches, diameter of 18 feet, 9 inches and 191 feet tall for a total of 922 AFA points. A very large tree near Seaside, Oregon claimed to be the United States largest spruce tree, it has 902 AFA points. The American Forestry Association declared them close enough to be CO-champions. But sadly the Seaside tree fall to a winter storm in 2007, but another large Spruce tree has been found up the Queets Valley and again it has a few less AFA pionts then the Quinault tree but is larger in wood volume. it is about a 45 minute drive from the resort.

    World’s Largest Spruce Tree

    Free to visit and you should.

    So that is my review of The Rain Forest Lodge, Lake Quinault. You should definitely visit. I’m sure we will go back again.

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    North America Travel

    Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest

    Summer and Fall a Great Time to Hike

    Location: Pacific Northwest

    Hiking is one of our most favorite activities and it is so good for you too. We love everything from walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain (almost 500 miles) to short day hikes close to home. Spending our summers in the Pacific Northwest where we grew up, we are spoiled by so many great day hikes close by. So I thought I would put together a list of my favorite day hikes in the Pacific Northwest.

    Olympic Peninsula

    Definitely one of the most beautiful places to hike anywhere in the world, the Olympic Peninsula is the closest to my home of the regions I’ve listed here. Located in Washington State’s upper Northwest region, it offers both day and overnight hiking options for the novice to the advanced. Listed here are a handful of my favorite day hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.

    South Fork Skokomish RiverMap it

    South Fork Skokomish River

    Beautiful and relatively easy with minimal incline (there is some but nothing too strenuous) this well-maintained trail skirts the South Fork of the Skokomish River in a region just Southwest of the lower Hood Canal. To walk the entire out and back it can be eleven miles or a bit more, or turn around at any point. Keep your eyes open for some beautiful and massive old cedar and Douglas fir trees. There are a handful of areas to access the river for your picnic or a place to rest and enjoy this peaceful location.

    Parking is available

    Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass Required

    Learn more about Lower Skokomish trail here.

    Storm KingMap it

    Storm King view of Crescent Lake

    We hiked this for the first time this past July and it is a climb! If you don’t want incline this one is not for you. But boy do you get some beautiful views from the top. The trail is steep and in places rocky as you traverse the 2 miles to the top. It’s popular on weekends so consider off season or mid-week. The last part to the peak requires use of ropes to conquer the top. Or just sit on the rocks and eat your lunch and let the young kids do that last part.

    Parking is available at the Crescent Lake parking area

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Storm King and Crescent Lake here.

    Lena LakeMap it

    Lena Lake

    I have hiked this trail all my life, since I was a little child and we used to hike overnight for our summer vacation. Some elevation to lower Lena, but it’s a perfect day hike at about 7 miles round trip. The incline is gentle and most anyone can do it. The trail does have some rocky areas and lots of roots but you will marvel at the beautiful old growth Douglas Firs. The turquoise blue lake is perfect for your lunch and then head back down. Overnight hikers can consider continuing on to upper Lena another xx miles.

    Parking available

    Northwest Forest pass or America the Beautiful Pass required

    Learn more about Lena Lake here.

    See more Olympic Peninsula Hikes here.

    Close to Seattle

    Visitors and locals in the Seattle area are lucky to have great day hikes a short drive or even a walk away. We often urban hike around Seattle and Ballard or head east of the city into the Cascade foothills for easy, accessible hikes.

    Discovery ParkMap it

    Discovery Park

    A hidden gem in the City of Seattle, Discovery Park is just that – a surprising discovery! Suddenly you find yourself in a beautiful wooded park, on a bluff high above the Puget Sound or on the shore of a driftwood-littered beach. If you are in Seattle and are looking for the perfect day hike close to the city, this is it. Multiple hiking options through out this beautiful 534 acre city oasis. Who knew day hikes in the Pacific Northwest would include one in the heart of a city?

    Parking is available.

    Free

    Learn more here about Discovery Park.

    Franklin FallsMap it

    Franklin Falls

    Less than an hour East of Seattle just off Interstate 90 is an easy little 2 mile hike to Franklin Falls on Denny Creek. This popular day trip from Seattle can get really crowded on a summer weekend. But check it out in the fall for a beautiful getaway with fall color, or in the spring when the falls are crashing from the winter melt. It’s a great multi-season destination and perfect for the whole family.

    Limited Parking

    Washington State Discover Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Franklin Falls and the Denny Creek campground here

    See more close to Seattle hikes here.

    North Side of Mount Rainier

    The North side of Mount Rainier is easily accessed from central and south Puget Sound and is one of my most favorite places to hike. There are many choices but the ones listed below are some of my favorite.

    Tolmie PeakMap it

    Tolmie Peak

    I love this hike, even though the road getting to the trailhead can be rough. Start at the Mowich Lake campground and hike the 7 miles round trip to one of the best views in all of Washington State. Passing by Eunice Lake and continuing up to an abandoned fire look out where you will not only enjoy a stunning Mount Rainier view but on a clear day you will also see Mount Baker, Glacier Peak and Mount Saint Helens.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Tolmie Peak here.

    Spray ParkMap it

    Spray Park

    This trail also begins at Mowich Lake on the south end. The first quarter mile your are walking on the Wonderland trail before the Spray Park trail branches off. This trail (6 miles RT) takes you through a beautiful and delicate sub-alpine meadows and along to Spray Falls. In late summer an abundance of wildflowers make the trail popular especially on the weekend. Gentle incline and this is easy for most anyone.

    Parking available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Spray Park trail here.

    Summit LakeMap it

    Summit Lake

    On a clear day you can see forever. No joke. This hike is worth the elevation gain of about 1300 feet over about 3 miles. It’s just gorgeous. The road to get there is not so gorgeous though so be sure to have a all-wheel drive if possible. The road often has snow into June. The best time to hike here is June through October.

    Parking Available

    Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required.

    Learn more about Summit Lake here.

    Crystal MountainMap-it

    Crystal Mountain

    The Mount Rainier gondola at Crystal Mountain ski resort is open in the summer and zips you up 2400 feet to the top of the ski area for a spectacular view. On a clear day you can see a succession of mountains including Rainier, Saint Helens, Adams and Baker through out the Cascade range. Hikers can hike down the mountain enjoying the wildlife and subalpine meadows, small lakes and creeks along the way or you can ride the gondola back down.

    Parking Available

    Gondola price ranges from $19-34. Online reservations are available.

    Learn more about the gondola here.

    South Side of Mount Rainier

    More remote than the North side of Mount Rainier, the Southside, including the Sunrise Visitor Center, has fewer visitors so is a good choice during peak season. But it does take longer to get there. Overnight in the Ashford or Packwood area makes for a nice multi-day visit.

    Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap Map it

    Sheep Lake

    We just did this hike for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. The weather was not very cooperative however, so we did only about five miles. This trail, part of the Pacific Coast Trail, goes on and on, and I really would like to return and see more of it next summer. The first part up to Sheep Lake is very easy as the trail wanders along the ridge and then inland to the lake. Continuing on you have several options to Sourdough Gap as well as Crystal Lake. This hike skirts Mount Rainier National Park and falls within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

    We had the place to ourselves on a fairly stormy fall day, but this hike can be very busy on a nice summer weekend. Consider midweek or fall. The fall colors were excellent.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful or Northwest Forest Pass Required

    Learn more about Sheep Lake here.

    Burroughs MountainMap it

    Burroughs Mountain

    On this five mile hike that leaves from the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park you will get as close as possible to Mount Rainier without actually climbing the mountain. There are three Burroughs peaks on this hike, and snow is often on or near the trail well into the summer months so come prepared. It feels like a moonscape, and yet a few flowers and plants flourish as do several small mammals.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass Required

    Learn more about Burroughs Mountain here

    Silver FallsMap it

    Silver Falls

    This very easy 3 mile round trip hike starts at the Ohanapekosh campground and leads you to one of the prettiest waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park. Easy meandering trail through beautiful forest, offers a great option for families or those looking for less incline with a big impact. Spectacular hike.

    Parking Available although limited

    America the Beautiful or Day Pass Required

    Learn more about Silver Falls here.

    Grove of the PatriarchsMap it

    Grove of the Patriarchs

    One of the most magical hikes in Mount Rainier, Grove of the Patriarchs is a wonderland of old growth trees, some as old as 1000 years. This easy 1.5 mile round trip hike can be done by anyone, including children. It’s a remarkable oasis of nature’s beauty and a reminder of the importance of preservation and care of our natural wonders.

    Parking available but limited

    Learn more about Grove of the Patriarchs here.

    Summerland TrailMap it

    Summerland Trail

    This beautiful alpine trail is 8.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2100 feet as you traverse from wildflower meadows up into subalpine tundra admiring views of Mount Rainier along the way. Steady incline and occasional rough trail make this better for more experienced hikers. Snow can be present into early summer. Very popular on weekends and parking is limited so come midweek, fall or early in the day.

    Parking available on the road but limited

    America the Beautiful or Day Pass required

    Learn more about the Summerland Trail here.

    Learn more about all hikes in Mount Rainier National Park here

    And Many More

    mount rainier
    Hiking with the family Summit Lake

    There are many more hiking options both for day and overnight that I have not listed here including trails North and farther South. Two great websites to learn more about day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are Alltrails.com and Washington Trails Association wta.org.

    Be sure to check the weather before setting off on any hike in the Pacific Northwest, as even in the summer it can be unpredictable. Be prepared to encounter wildlife, bring bug spray and sunscreen and plenty of water. And always make sure someone knows where you are going.

    With a little preparation, day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are rewarding, invigorating and always stunningly beautiful. Go outside!

    See our blog about My Favorite Things in Washington State here.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

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    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington

    See It Again or For the First Time

    Location: Bainbridge Island Washington USA

    A thirty-minute ferry ride from Seattle, or a thirty-minute drive from Bremerton, Beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington is a well kept secret.

    Home to 25,000 full-time residents, the island is one of several that call the Puget Sound home, and is one of the most populated. Only ten miles long and five miles wide, Bainbridge is connected to the Kitsap Peninsula by a bridge over Agate Pass and to Seattle and King County by Washington State Ferry.

    History of Beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington

    For thousands of years the island was home to the Suquamish people who lived in nine separate villages around the island. The Vancouver expedition visited the island in 1792 and the Wilkes expedition in 1841. It was Wilkes who named the island after Commodore William Bainbridge.

    Bainbridge Island Historical Museum

    In 1855 the Suquamish relinquished their claim to the island to the US government in exchange for reservation and fishing rights at Port Madison.

    Japanese immigrants made their way to the island starting in 1888 and began much of the agriculture of the island, some of which remains today. But the Japanese were removed to internment camps during WWII…many never returned. A very beautiful Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is located just outside of the town of Winslow.

    Japanese American Exclusion Memorial

    In 1991 the entire island was named the City of Bainbridge Island.

    A Perfect Day Trip

    Spending more than one day on beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington would be amazing, but if you only can get here for a day trip there is plenty you can do. We offer up some suggestions below. If you are walking from the ferry the village of Winslow has much to offer. And if you have a car there is even more to see and do further afield. Here are our suggestions:

    Close to the Ferry

    Marina and Ferry Terminal with Seattle Skyline in the distance

    If you are driving, parking is usually available either on the main street called Winslow Way or on one of the side streets. But if you are walking from the ferry it’s a short five minute walk to the area known as Winslow.

    SHOPPING

    The Winslow area offers a wonderful variety of shops and restaurants including clothing and outdoor wear, jewelry and decorative finds, wine and tea and more. Two of my favorite shops are the incomparable Eagle Harbor Books and Town & Country Market. On my most recent trip I discovered Bainbridge Apothecary and Tea Shop. I loved it!

    Eagle Harbor Books
    Bainbridge Apothecary & Tea

    DINING

    You will never go hungry on Bainbridge Island. So many wonderful places to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Photo below is dinner at Restaurant Marche, one of my favorite restaurants in Kitsap County. We also love both Cafe Hitchcock and their new sister restaurant Burgerhaus. Streamline Diner is great for breakfast, Blackbird Bakery has the best lemon blueberry scones and San Carlos is one of the best Mexican/Southwest Restaurants in the state of Washington.

    Marche Restaurant
    Burgerhaus
    Blackbird Bakery

    WATERFRONT TRAIL

    It’s not a long walk but the Bainbridge Waterfront Trail is a beautiful walk along both a paved path and a raised boardwalk. Definitely worth a few minutes of your time to enjoy the wind and salt in your hair, the thousands of masts and to hear the horn of the ferry in the distance.

    MUSEUMS

    Unfortunately the day we were on Bainbridge the Bainbridge Historical Museum was closed, currently having limited hours due to the PanDamit. I do encourage you to check it out though when you visit. Learn more about it here.

    We were, however extremely surprised and impressed with the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. What a revelation to find such an outstanding museum in this small town. And it was FREE!! We spent about an hour here, enjoying both the permanent and temporary exhibits as well as marveling at the beautiful architecture of the building. A must visit when on the island. Learn more here.

    Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

    Further Afield

    Beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington is home to many, many parks including the beautiful Fay Bainbridge waterfront park and camp ground. See a full list of parks here. With a vehicle we also recommend;

    JAPANESE AMERICAN EXCLUSION MEMORIAL – mentioned above

    GRAND FOREST PARK – an astonishing variety of trails offered in this park located in the forested interior of the island. A beautiful spot.

    The Grand Forest Park

    BLOEDEL RESERVE – not to be missed. This 150 acre reserve is located on the historic property of Virginia and Prentice Bloedel. Today the spectacular gardens are astonishing to say the least and open to the public by timed tickets available online. Adults $20. Worth every penny.

    Bloedel Reserve

    LYNNWOOD CENTER – is a small neighborhood village with a handful of shops and restaurant worth a drive to enjoy. We recommend The Treehouse Cafe.

    BAINBRIDGE BREWING – always in search of microbrew, we found it on Bainbridge. Bainbridge Brewing has it’s brewing headquarters and a tasting room on the interior of island and also has a tasting room in Winslow.

    Bainbridge Brewing

    Worth a day or a weekend, beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington will sooth your senses – forest bathe in the green forests, inhale the salty air from the multiple waterfront locations, relax. Experience a friendly neighborhood island of socially active residents who make nature, art and sustainability a priority on their island. Take it down a notch on beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington. I’ll see you there.

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    North America Travel

    My Favorite USA National Parks

    Location: USA

    I recently downloaded a new app to my phone that tracks National Parks in the USA. I didn’t know exactly how many I had been to, and wanted to know. Over the PanDamit year we did several road trips and I added a few to the list. So today I thought I would share my favorite USA National Parks.

    USA National Parks

    This list below of my favorite USA National Parks is parks only. It does not include National Monuments or National Forests. Maybe I’ll blog about that in the future. The majority of National Parks are located in the more rural western half of the USA – while the eastern half of the USA is home to more of the nation’s National Monuments.

    Glacier National Park

    Lucky me to have visited all 50 states and 36 USA National Parks. There are a total of 60 USA National Parks from Alaska to Florida and even one in the Virgin Islands. So of the 36 today I want to share with you my top ten…even though I still have a few I need to see. But this might give you some ideas of great places to visit in the USA. I hope you have a future post-PanDamit road trip in your future in the USA. Here are my favorite USA National Parks.

    In no particular order;

    ARIZONA

    The beautiful state of Arizona is home to three national parks, and two of them make my list today;

    1. SAGUARO – we visited this small but amazing park this past year on one of our PanDamit road trips. And I fell hard for the unique beauty of this park. Much less busy than many of my favorite USA National Parks, Saguaro is a great place for hiking, bird watching and enjoying the unique desert flora.
    Saguaro National Park

    2. GRAND CANYON – the grand-daddy of all national parks in the USA, as well as one of the most remarkable places in the entire world. I have visited this gem three times, and we have it on our destination list again coming up next fall. I absolutely love the Grand Canyon National Park.

    Grand Canyon National Park

    CALIFORNIA

    The diverse state of California is home to a whopping eight national parks, and I have been to all of them. Although only one made my favorites list….but several get an honorable mention including Yosemite, Death Valley and Redwoods.

    3. CHANNEL ISLANDS – it’s not easy to get to the Channel Islands, one of my favorite USA National Parks located between 12 and 70 miles off the coast of California depending on where you start. We took a boat from Ventura about an hour and spent the whole day hiking this dry and hilly island. What a special day that was.

    Channel Islands National Park (image Canva)

    FLORIDA

    4. EVERGLADES – This park eluded me for many years, until we did a fabulous Florida trip in 2019, spending time in Miami, Key West and of course, the Everglades. When I was a little girl I loved the show ‘Flipper” and always wanted to go to the Everglades where the boy Sandy lived with his ranger dad. So, I finally got there and it did not disappoint. So many alligators!

    Everglades National Park

    HAWAII

    Hawaii is home to two national parks both focused on Hawaii volcanoes. I have been to both and both are fantastic. But only one is my favorite;

    5. HALEAKALA – I’ve lost track how many times I have visited my favorite Hawaiian Island of Maui, home to Haleakala National Park. Every time we go to Maui, we visit Haleakala to hike. Twice we have gone up for sunrise too, but mostly we just love to hike into the spectacular crater.

    Haleakala National Park

    MONTANA

    The state of Montana is home to two very important and beautiful National Parks; Yellowstone and Glacier. Now it’s hard to rival Yellowstone…and most would argue it should be in my top ten list. And perhaps it should, but I find it just too crowded for my liking. So my favorite USA National Park in Montana is Glacier.

    6. GLACIER – this beauty in the Rocky Mountains can also be very crowded at times. But play your cards right, come in the Spring or Fall and midweek and you will find the most jaw dropping scenery and wildlife spotting. I adore Glacier National Park.

    Glacier National Park

    UTAH

    Five amazing National Parks call Utah home and I love all five of them. But this magnificent state gets two of my favorite USA National Park votes.

    7. ARCHES – the first time I went to Arches I had never seen anything like it. The Hoodoos and rock formations and of course the arches…astonishing. I love the dry weather and it’s such a beautiful place to hike year around.

    Arches National Park (image Canva)

    8. BRYCE CANYON – the first time I went to Bryce Canyon we arrive after dark and went straight to our hotel. It was April and we got up and found a dusting of snow on the ground. I really didn’t know too much about Bryce, but we drove to the park and walked up the hill to the edge of the canyon. OMG. To this day I will never forget how that view literally took my breath away. I have been there two more times and I love it so much.

    Bryce Canyon National Park

    WASHINGTON

    Growing up in the state of Washington I had no idea what a treasure it was. It was just where I lived and I rarely gave it much thought. Today I know…Washington State is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and home to three national parks. Two of those make my favorite USA National Parks list.

    9. OLYMPIC – as a kid we hiked and camped every summer in Olympic National Park. The Rainforest, rivers and ocean were a big part of my growing up years. Back in the 60’s and 70’s you could always find a campsite without a reservation, but today that is not the case. It is popular and it’s easy to see why.

    Olympic National Park

    10. MOUNT RAINIER – from my window as a child we could see Mount Rainier off in the distance and we took that view for granted. Locals refer to it as “the mountain” and the national park that surrounds it provides visitors a never ending list of hikes. Camping, history, rivers, wildlife and the most incredible views you could ask for are what you will find in Mount Rainier National Park. Read about all my other favorite things to do in Washington State here.

    Mount Rainier National Park

    These are my favorite USA National Parks. What an amazing thing it is to have access to all of these unique and varied parks within the borders of my diverse country. I hope to visit them all in the next few years. Thanks for reading about my favorite USA National Parks.

    Learn more about the USA National Parks here.

    Did you see our post My Favorite Gardens Around the World?

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    https://myfabfiftieslife.com/restarting-the-grand-adventure/See our post about starting our world travels again here

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    Yah Sure YaBetcha – It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington

    Location: Ballard Washington

    Please check websites for Covid 19 hours and restrictions before you make time to rediscover Ballard Washington

    Only a few decades ago, sleepy Ballard was the butt of all Scandinavian jokes. A neighborhood of working class families descended from working class immigrants, Ballard was solid, if a bit rough around the edges. Times have changed and It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington.

    Sleepy No More

    I sure wish I had bought a house in Ballard back then. I’d be a millionaire today. Today, Ballard is hip. A cool place to be for young singles and families….without losing that solid working class vibe. Still home to much of the Seattle area fishing fleet, the history of fishing and shipbuilding runs deep in this community.

    Shilshole Bay Ballard
    View from Sunset Park

    What a difference a few decades make. Ballard is blooming and is now not only home to the magnificent Nordic Heritage Museum (opened in 2018), it is also a culinary Mecca – home to dozens of highly rated restaurants, some difficult to get a reservation for. Ballard, sleepy no more. I love a lot of my home state, and Ballard is one of my favorite places among those.

    It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard, Washington

    A day in Ballard is a pleasant idea….but even better why not a weekend or several days? There is so much to do here, without ever actually going into downtown Seattle. Beautiful Ballard. We want you to give it the time it deserves, so we share with you a wide variety of our favorite Ballard finds…everything from beer to parks, coffee to fish, and hiking to vintage. Yah sure yabetcha – it’s time to rediscover Ballard, Washington.

    One of the friendly locals

    Our Recommendations to Get You Started

    It’s a long, long list but we hope these recommendations will give you a variety of reasons to visit Ballard and it’s surrounding neighborhoods. If you can make your visit more than a day, we recommend the beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Ballard, The Hotel Ballard. It’s exceptional and will make your visit to Ballard exceptional. And here are more recommendations for you;

    Let’s Eat!

    Stoneburner Restaurant Ballard
    Stoneburner is my fav

    It’s impossible to list all the delicious and innovative dining options in Ballard…so I am offering up here my favs. These are all restaurants I have eaten at and would not hesitate to go back to.

    Walrus and the Carpenter Ballard
    Oysters at The Walrus and the Carpenter
    1. Stoneburner – amazing food. Probably my favorite restaurant in Ballard
    2. The Walrus and the Carpenter – one of the best restaurants in Seattle. Reservations a must.
    3. Rays Boathouse – a Seattle area institution, with stunning water views.
    4. Portage Bay Cafe – often a wait for breakfast or lunch but always worth it.
    5. La Carte de Oaxaco – what real Mexican food should taste like.
    6. Red Mill Burgers – old school burger joint with outdoor seating or take away
    7. Lil Woody’s – another great burger and sandwich option…try the salmon burger
    8. Hot Cakes – it’s all about the chocolate here.
    9. Shiku Japanese – excellent sushi and Japanese specialties
    Little Woody's Ballard
    Salmon Burger from Lil Woody’s

    Get Outside

    For such a compact neighborhood of Seattle, Ballard is blessed with an abundance of parks, and a visit to beautiful Ballard wouldn’t be complete without a visit to at least one of Ballard’s parks. This is a list of our favorites.

    Discovery Park Ballard
    Discovery Park
    1. Discovery Park – the granddaddy of them all, this 534 acre park is a hidden natural gem.
    2. Golden Gardens – where the sunbathers, stand up paddle boarders, wind surfers, sailors and beachcombers will be found high tide, low tide and everything
    3. Burke Gilman Trail – ride or walk on this trail that will take you for miles and miles
    4. Sunset Hill – this little pocket park is the definitive place for a Seattle Sunset
    5. Shilshole Marina – enjoy a boardwalk stroll through this beautiful waterfront area and try to count the masts. Be sure and stop at the Leif Erickson statue for a taste of Scandinavian heritage.
    Leif Erickson Statue Ballard
    Leif Erickson

    So Many Things To Do

    Don’t miss any of these awesome things to do in Beautiful Ballard

    Nordic Heritage Museum Ballard
    Nordic Heritage Museum
    The locks Ballard
    Going through the locks on my son’s sailboat
    1. The National Nordic Museum – allow yourself a few hours to explore this amazing museum that chronicles the history of the Nordic people both locally and throughout the world. The cafe and gift shop are great too.
    2. Ballard Locks – officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks but known locally as the Ballard Locks is a fun and educational working locks that provides boat traffic to navigate between Lake Union and the Puget Sound. Don’t miss the information on the salmon ladder.
    3. Fisherman’s Terminal – a working fishing terminal for local fishing vessels, you can walk amongst the vessels in port and also purchase fresh seafood.
    4. Ballard Farmer’s Market – every Sunday from 9am to 2pm visit the Ballard Farmers Market for a colorful selection of fresh and locally made
    5. The Cycle Saloon Tours – Fun and crazy way to drink beer, get your exercise and see the sites
    6. Ballard Kayak Rentals – get out on Shilshole Bay and see the beautiful sites from the waterside
    Ballard Farmers Market
    The Ballard Farmer’s Market on Sundays

    Do You Brew?

    Beer? Coffee? Even a distillery is waiting for you in Ballard. Ya Sure YaBetcha, there is something for everyone. This is a tiny sample:

    Beers in Ballard
    1. Reubens Brews – Beer
    2. Stoup Brewing – Beer
    3. Lagunitas Brewing Co – Beer
    4. Heritage Distillery – serving up distilled liquors and mixed drinks
    5. Venture Coffee – Coffee
    6. Ballard Coffee Works – Coffee
    7. Woodland Coffee – Coffee
    8. Ballard Beer Company – Beer
    Heritage Distillery
    Ballard Coffee Works

    She Shops!

    To be honest, I’m not much of a shopper, preferring to spend my time outdoors, eating, learning history…all that stuff. BUT, you might like a few funky or vintage places and don’t miss a Scandinavian shop

    1. Scandinavian Specialties – one of the few shops left that focuses on delicious Scandinavian delicacies as well as, art, sweaters, ceramic and more.
    2. Gold Dog – for someone who doesn’t really shop….I spent some fun time in here. Cowboy boots and so much more.

    As Long As You Are Here…

    Ya sure yabetcha, as long as you are here definitely spend as much time as possible at any or all of these wonderful attractions near Ballard.

    Woodland Park Zoo Lowland Gorilla
    Woodland Park Zoo
    1. Woodland Park Zoo – not the zoo of yesteryear, today’s award winning Woodland Park Zoo is focused on conservation, preservation and immersion exhibits that provide animals a healthy and authentic living environment. Woodland Park Zoo also offers a variety of events and activities through out the year on it’s 92 acre urban site.
    2. Fremont – Ballard’s neighbor Fremont is Seattle’s answer to funky and fun claiming to be “the center of the universe”. Be sure to visit the Fremont Troll, JP Patches and Gertrude statue, Waiting for the Bus Sculpture and many other fun and quirky Fremont finds.
    3. Green Lake, just over the hill from Ballard is Seattle’s beloved Green Lake. A perfect place for a stroll or bike ride anytime of the year. Seattle gathers here.
    4. Gas Works Park – The idea to turn this huge former and simply ugly former gas works on Lake Union into a park was brilliant. Today the rusted “gas works” create an urban sculpture unique and beautiful in a strange and Seattle kind of way.
    Fremont Washington
    Funky Fremont

    Are You Convinced?

    Have I convinced you that it’s time to rediscover Ballard Washington? I have spent a lot of time there over the last five years, because my adult sons call it home. If they had never moved there, I would never have rediscovered Ballard myself…and I’m so glad I did. I still have a lot to see in Beautiful Ballard…so I’ll see you there.

    Learn more about Ballard at Visit Ballard

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