After changing our plans multiple times thanks to COVID-19, we finally decided our Labor Day motorcycle trip would stay close to home but include a handful of places we (still) have never been, including Vashon Island, Maury Island, and Bainbridge Island.
Brian spent quite a bit of time researching all of the ferries we would need to take, booking tickets and reservations where needed, and mapping out our two-day route.
We left early Saturday morning, taking the Edmonds-Kingston ferry across Puget Sound and then heading south to Bremerton. After checking out a few new sights and grabbing breakfast, we set out for Southworth to catch the ferry to Vashon Island.
We were a little confused about where we were supposed to wait with our motorcycles and got lectured by a couple different employees for being in the wrong place before finally parking near the ferry entrance by the bicyclists and walk-on passengers.
It was interesting to watch them load this ferry – everyone going on to Seattle (most people) were facing one direction and the handful of us going to Vashon Island were facing the opposite direction. This allows the ferry to pull in and out in one direction – efficient!
We journeyed from the northern side of the island to the main town of Vashon, Washington, to walk around and grab lunch at a spot called The Hardware Store Restaurant that came highly recommended.
After changing out of our riding gear ,we found our way to the Fence of Doors, a roadside attraction on Brian’s to do list. Sure enough, right downtown and just off the main drag is a fence featuring various famous doors! My favorite was a bright green hobbit door while Brian wanted a picture in front of the lockers from Napoleon Dynamite for his brother.
It was pretty busy downtown, including at the Hardware Store, but we managed to find the perfect socially distanced table inside – a spot for two right by the corner windows! The oldest building on Vashon Island and the island’s original hardware story, the interior retains the character and some of the original elements of this unique building.
Our table was in the perfect people-watching spot, and we had a delicious late lunch before heading on to our next stop, Maury Island.
Our sole destination on Maury Island was also a spot Brian had researched called the Point Robinson Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters.
Built in 1885, this lighthouse is now automated but still serves as an active unit. While we weren’t able to go inside, we were able to walk the trails from the upper parking area through the woods to the shoreline and see the two keeper’s quarters buildings that have been renovated and are available to rent via VRBO!
After a relaxing evening and night in Gig Harbor, we woke up early the next morning and rode north to spend part of our day on Bainbridge Island.
We took the Agate Passage Bridge from the Kitsap Peninsula over to the island, heading directly to our first stop, the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.
While I’m familiar with the stories of our government relocating and incarcerating thousands of innocent people of Japanese ancestry who lived along the Pacific Coast during World War II, I didn’t realize that the first community impacted was a Japanese-American community on Bainbridge Island.
Following an executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, these Bainbridge Island residents were forced to a concentration camp in California prior to being transferred to the Minidoka Relocation Center in southern Idaho. This memorial included both the general history of the event as well as specific stories of the Bainbridge Island families who were impacted.
I was touched at how the Bainbridge Island community attempted to support and protect their friends – neighbors who checked on the vacant properties and businesses so they would still be inhabitable and operational when their owners finally returned.
I was also devastated to read about how traumatized many of the people were when they returned, unable to talk about the experience or put their lives back together. And of course a number of people never did return.
It was a humbling stop on our itinerary and an important one – the exhibit is very well done, and I would encourage anyone in the area to take some time to visit, learn, and reflect on this part of our country’s history.
My energy was beginning to wane so we decided to wrap up our time on Bainbridge Island by exploring downtown Winslow before riding up to Kingston for our ferry home.
We found some shady parking on the main strip and quickly discovered that about half of Seattle seemed to have taken the Bainbridge Island ferry from downtown to the island for the day – waaay too many people!
We did a quick loop around the main street and waterfront park before deciding it was too hot and too crowded for us to really enjoy our time there that afternoon. We decided to stop at Mora Iced Creamery in place of lunch, and it did not disappoint! I tried the summer special watermelon and melon sorbets – the melon sorbet was AMAZING. Brian tried an orange/dark chocolate sorbet and a pineapple sorbet, both of which were also tasty. I would definitely go there again!
It was a little hazy on our final ferry ride back to Edmonds, but happily Mount Rainier was visible across the sound, towering over Seattle. It only took us five years, but I’m so glad we could finally explore some of the nearby islands we’ve heard so much about from so many people!