Around Belfair it’s still called Hippie Hill Community. It was some old friends and the price of the land that drew glass artist, Randy Calm and his wife, Cathy from Chicago to Hippie Hill nearly 47 years ago. Then, there were thirteen homesteading families, no electricity and the couple lived in a teepee while hand building their house with some help from their neighbors. “I don’t think anybody knew what they were doing then”, laughed Calm, “but the house is still standing.” To make a living the couple worked at the now defunct Werberger Winery near Grapeview where they ran the tasting room, worked in the vineyard and learned about winemaking.
They’ve come a long way since those days. Not only is their house still standing but their property is also the home of Phoenix Design South, Calm’s hand built studio where he turns out custom designed residential and commercial etched glass. Read more about glass artist Randy Calm in my WestSound Home and Garden article here.
The dog days of summer are unusually doggy here in ExplorationKitsap land. We normally enjoy temperate daylight weather to do our thing, but with successive days of 90 degree plus temperatures and hazy skies from the fires in Canada, I’m reversing my active time of day. This morning I went for a power walk, shopped for groceries, watered and dead-headed my outdoor plants and baked up some barbecued chicken, all before 8 AM to take advantage of cooler weather. Last night I sipped a glass of my favorite local wine in the dark on my deck for the same reason.
Fusion is a white blend made by Rolling Bay Winery, a Bainbridge Island establishment with a river rock tasting room resembling a Hobbit house. Fusion is my favorite wine to drink while listening to live outdoor music on the tasting room patio; my favorite wine to drink in the dark on my deck and my favorite wine in which to drop frozen peach slices. Shhh. Don’t tell Alphonse de Klerk, Fusion’s affable Dutch maker that I do that. Though really….it’s the perfect dog days of summer libation. It might also be best not to mention that I drink my peach infused Fusion in a copper Moscow Mule mug because if it’s good enough for vodka and ginger beer, it’s perfect for a lovely white table wine.
Rolling Bay Winery has a schedule of tastings accompanied by live music throughout the summer at its Hobbit house location and exciting plans to open a second larger tasting room and production facility a few miles away. Check them out. No Moscow Mule Mugs. No frozen peaches. Just a great selection of award-winning whites, reds and a rose served properly in a wine glass, sipped on a sunny patio/lawn to live music. What better way to while away summer’s dog days?
The hype is on for the upcoming August 21st Great American Solar Eclipse. It seems everyone is heading to Oregon to catch the sun’s mid- morning, nearly three-minute total blackout. Oregon wineries are sponsoring eclipse parties, Salem’s minor league baseball team is hosting an A.M. game with an eclipse break and hotels/campgrounds/vacation rentals have been sold out for months at exorbitant prices. If your interest in the celestial skies is greater than an expensive trip south to stand in the dark for a few minutes, there are plenty of opportunities in our own community to learn about astronomy. Read about them here in my latest article in WestSound Home and Garden magazine.
Who knew downtown Bremerton was filled with so many architectural gems back in the day? Many of them became victims of new construction or remain standing but not in the full glory of their past lives. But six of them – all Art Deco buildings designed by Seattle architects are still standing as vital contributors to the downtown cultural scene. Check out my article here and then get yourself to the epicenter of Bremerton and check them out for yourselves.
Posted on a vibrant yellow sticky note (the extra large kind) behind my computer is a list of topics I keep intending to blog about but don’t because I’m so easily distracted by other topics. The Suquamish Museum, that beautiful and educational gem showcasing Suquamish Tribal history and artifacts as well as temporary exhibitions about other Salish Sea tribes, is a 15 minute drive from my house. At 34 years old, it’s one of the first tribally owned and curated museums in the country. I often take guests there. I intended to blog about it. But writer Kristin Butler beat me to it in an informative article published in Indian Country Today. I share it here.
There are nine public and semi-public labyrinths in Kitsap County. Nine contemplative circular walking paths, all evolving from a labyrinth history that began in 5th century Egypt. I posted a blog about it last year and then revised it for use by West Sound Home and Garden’s online magazine who published it here.
I’m a walker. But you already know that from this, this and this post. In my ongoing search for interesting Kitsap walking paths, I discovered Winslow’s Waterfront Loop Trails, a series of interconnected walking routes that hug the shores of Eagle Harbor and then loop back through downtown commercial and residential Winslow past interesting sites. A handy walking map can be found at the ends of the trail or downloaded here.
Armed with the detailed map, I discovered I’d previously walked portions of the trail, but walked it without really knowing the history and sites along the way. With the map I discovered I’d unwittingly passed by:
The only known grove of Monterey Pines in King or Kitsap counties.
A shipyard that built WWII minesweepers
The site of an old strawberry cannery
The filled in ravine that formerly divided Winslow into two communities
Historic bungalows lived in by shipyard workers
And 6. My favorite Bainbridge pub located in Ambrose Grow’s 1880’s home
There are two loops to the Waterfront Trail, each about two miles long. This is a historical and nature walk that’s best done with plenty of time to observe the sites. For a deep dive into the history, the walk conveniently passes the Island Center School House which now serves as the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. The museum is filled with artifacts of the island’s past and very helpful staff who want to insure all your questions are answered.
I may not have mentioned this previously. I’m a freelance travel writer. I love the research that goes into an article. And I can ever so easily go down the internet rabbit hole which was exactly how I ended up on the National Register of Historic Places website.
It began with an article idea about architectural styles that I pitched to a regional magazine and they liked it. Then I began to research and found myself in the murky depths of online digital archives with links about strange architectural style names: Carpenter Gothic, Brutalism and Slick Skin anyone? Anyone?
However, in the pursuit of the history of one particular building, I found myself on the National Register of Historic Places and wondered how many sites in Kitsap County had been awarded that designation. Surprisingly it turns out there are 19 and they’re as varied as the county itself. There were 20 but one of the sites, the Sidney Hotel in Port Orchard, built in 1891, burnt down in 1985. Apparently they take away your active designation when you cease to exist.
The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service. The list includes districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that have been identified and documented as being significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture. There’s a fairly lengthy state and federal process involved in being named to the list so kudos to our 19 recipients. In alphabetical order, here are Kitsap County’s sites deemed worthy of the title:
The Agate Pass Bridge in Suquamish
Bremerton Elks Temple Lodge (currently called the Catholic Services Max Hale Center)
Camp Major Hopkins on Bainbridge Island (currently called Camp Yeomalt)
Coder-Coleman House in Bremerton
Filipino-American Community Hall on Bainbridge Island
Fort Ward Historic District on Bainbridge Island
The Hospital Reservation District in Bremerton
Jackson Hall Memorial Community Hall in Silverdale (also known as Silverdale Scout Hall)
The Marine Reservation District in Bremerton
Masonic Hall in Port Orchard
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton
Charles F Nelson House in Olalla
Officers Row Historic District in Bremerton
Old Man House Site in Suquamish
Point No Point Lighthouse in Hansville
Port Gamble Historic District in Port Gamble
Puget Sound Radio Station District in Bremerton
Shelbanks in Bremerton (also known as Kean Cabin)
U.S. Post Office in Bremerton
You may be wondering why the three Reservation Districts in Bremerton are in bold? It’s because I’m as intrigued as you are about their history and anticipate a future blog post about them. What exactly is a Radio Station District? Why is there a Hospital Reservation District? Will the internet rabbit hole reveal the answers?
If you haven’t ventured into Port Gamble’s little gem of a historical museum, you’ve missed a western shores of Puget Sound educational treat. Located in the basement of the 1916 era Port Gamble General Store, the Port Gamble Historical Museum is often mistaken for the better known Sea and Shore Museum located on the upper floor of the store, even by locals.
No. Not the same at all. Follow the sidewalk and stairs outside to the back of the General Store to find the unassuming entrance of the Historical Museum. Designed in 1972 by Alec James, who designed the Royal British Museum in Victoria, Canada, the museum is not a quaint, small town operation. Its a professionally designed museum packed into a small space that showcases the 125 year plus history of the Pope And Talbot Lumber Mill and company town that it built.
Upon entering, visitors first see a recreation of the interior of the ship, Oriental, whose Captain, William C. Talbot and crew came from East Machias, Maine to settle Port Gamble. The ship creaks and groans and the porthole displays a moving ocean, enough to make one seasick if you watch it long enough. Captain Talbot’s actual ship log can be read in a glass display case in his quarters.
Recreation of the interiors of important buildings using the actual furniture, dishes and silver wear was part of the design. The lobby of the long gone Puget Sound Hotel is there complete with music from its hey day as the social gathering place. The bedroom of settlers, Cyrus and Emily Walker has been recreated using period furnishings and specially commissioned wallpaper that copied the original found in their bedroom. There is a replica of the inside of the Pope and Talbot sales office and a S’Klallam Native American dwelling, the original settlers of Port Gamble.
Display cases showcase period fans and wedding dresses, Native American baskets and tools used by the men and women who worked in the mill. There are letters, records and photographs of the non-Native men and women who settled and made Port Gamble their home.
Give yourself time when you visit. The museum, though not the multi floor bohemoth of the Royal British Museum, is a place that needs savoring. The volunteers who keep the museum running are very informative and, if you ask, will show you the back room that houses all of the archived and unlabeled artifacts that have been donated, unearthed and found in attics and crevices of the historical homes and buildings that make up Port Gamble.
Children six and under free
May 1st through September 30th: 10:00 a.m. to5 p.m seven days a week.
October 1st through April 30th: 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday/Saturday/Sunday.
At any time of year, Bloedel Reserve’s acres of twelve distinct gardens and trails provide seasonal inspiration. Formerly the extensive property of a prominent Seattle timber family, the land and residence are now a reserve tended to by a year-round crew of landscapers and volunteers. In December, the 1920’s era grand home on the property transforms itself into a Holiday Village in miniature.
The public rooms on the main floor of the residence are filled with displays of handcrafted miniature houses, some of them fanciful such as this multi story tree house.
Others are scale models of European chateaus and castles set in tiny winter scenes.
And other houses depict the modest living conditions of the early immigrant settlers who came from Europe seeking a better life.
Each house is furnished inside with exacting detail, much of it handmade and replicated from historical photos.
Even the newspaper used to insulate this log cabin home from the Midwest winters is an authentic miniature addition.
The homes and their interiors were a labor of love for 85 year old Dwight Shappell and his wife, Rolande. The owners of the former Dwight’s Flowers on Bainbridge Island created these holiday works of art. While he cut the tiny shingles, balconies and wooden parts to create the exteriors and furniture, she stitched the curtains, bedspreads and upholstery. Rolande passed away in 1991, but Dwight still presides over the setup of the holiday village each December and serves as its docent.
The Holiday Village is on display from December 10-31 during Bloedel’s regular hours on Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-4pm.