The Meanderthals

Motel 6 is fine but this is sooo much finer

Thanks to the bounty of the Washington State casinos and a stroke of good luck for Skip, we decided to treat ourselves this weekend and deviate from our budget of $70/night hotel rooms. Hence, we have ended up in this little slice of paradise – Bainbridge Island and the Inn at Skiff Point.

Bainbridge is a little island located off the coast of Seattle where, after a 30-minute ferry ride, you find yourself in a lush, peaceful haven of singing birds, blossoming plants, quaint shops and friendly souls. It’s also the spot which, in July 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine named the second-best place to live in the United States.

We can see why.

Almost everywhere you look, there are either water views or lush, overgrown gardens filled with flowers and leafy plants. And we’ve found our experience of the people to be delightful.

For example, there’s Chris, the chap who lives next door to the place we’re staying. As we pulled out of the driveway and stopped to admire his two Newfoundlands sprawled across the road, he came to welcome us and offered his recommendations for dining. A couple of hours later on our return, he offered to lend us a couple of his bikes if we wanted to explore the island. And the following day, he mentioned a bike route, printed out the map and stuck it in his mailbox writing “Skip” in large type so we couldn’t miss it on our return from breakfast.

Then there ‘s Alex, the delightful young waitress at the incredible Four Swallows restaurant – where we ate on Saturday night. We discovered she was the daughter of the owners and, not only was she warm and very professional but, upon discovering our enjoyment of the local Eagle Harbor wine, introduced us the winery owner, Hugh Remash who happened to be dining two tables away from us with his wife, Cynthia. We expected a brief “hello”, but Hugh invited us to join them, bought us both a glass of wine and regaled us with tales of his history and stories of the island.

I could go on and on about the drivers who waved as me when I went for a run or the music gallery owner who suggested places to visit while we are travelling across the state when we stopped by to listen to their “piano-thon” which was raising funds to buy a baby grand for the music school – but suffice to say Skip and I have developed a soft spot for this beautiful place.

And, while we’re on the subject of beautiful places, I have to say a few words about the guesthouse we chose. The Inn at Skiff Point is one of the loveliest places we’ve ever stayed. We rented the Carriage House which is complete with a bedroom with a little balcony overlooking the Puget Sound, beautifully decorated living room where classical music was playing when we arrived and a wood-burning stove ready for the chilly evening ahead, a kitchen stocked with basic supplies as well as a huge jug of “Pimag” good-for-you water, a bathroom with fluffy white bathrobes, cosmetic supplies and skylights everywhere, giving us views of the verdant gardens and the almost full moon last night.

The other good thing about Bainbridge is that it’s so close to downtown Seattle, which makes commuting somewhat easier than driving from Marblehead to Boston. The ferry is huge, swallows hundreds of cars hourly and offers a dining area with coffee, basic supplies and enough to sustain you for the half-hour ride where you watch the city and surrounding mountains (including Mount Rainier) unfold before your eyes.

It drops you off a few blocks away from Pike Place Market, which, as one of the oldest continually operated public farmers’ markets in the country, has to be one of the most amazing markets I’ve experienced. One of the major attractions is the Fish Market where employees throw three-foot salmon and other fish to each other rather than passing them by hand and there are hundreds of vendors, selling brilliant fresh tulips (only $5 per bunch), breads, cheeses, olive oil and condiments, jewelry, crafts and much more.

In many ways, Seattle reminded us of a west coast version of Boston. And, while we loved our time here, we felt so much more pampered in the embrace of the forests of Bainbridge Island.

After a couple of nights here, I think it will be hard to go back to the Motel 6.

One comment

  • fbk

    Wow. What a paradise …. and you mention Pike Place Market? Oh, I know it well! It was one of the very first farmers markets in the country and is still a model for new ones. I may finally get out to see it this fall when I head for Vancouver for a conference … Your descriptions of Bainbridge were truly wonderful — what a romantic place! (bit different from Idaho, eh??)fbk

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