To row single-handedly from Poulsbo on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State to Seattle in a small rowboat requires propelling some 16 nautical miles through a major transportation waterway teeming with ferries, Alaskan- bound cruise ships, container vessels and recreational boaters. It also demands navigation of the Ballard Locks, two gates that connect fresh and salt water and even out the 20- foot difference in elevation between them.
It had long been the goal of Dave Lambert, Poulsbo’s kilt-wearing brewmaster and owner of the Slippery Pig Brewery, to deliver a keg of beer “the old-fashioned way.” His Norwegian ancestors had settled in the Poulsbo area in 1882, five generations before when the family’s human-powered boats plied the waterway between the frontier of the forested peninsula and growing city of Seattle to sell eggs. Inspired by their perseverance, it took Lambert seven hours to make the solo trip in a fiberglass rowboat named the Watery Tart and, of course, he rowed clad in his kilt. To read more click here.
Watching paint dry isn’t how to spend a weekend. Watching artists at work, on the other hand, is. They do the waiting while you admire their technique, the subject matter and the fact that Kitsap County has so many talented painters who work en plein air (French for outside). On May 12th you have an opportunity to see them at work at Poulsbo’s waterfront park as they vie for cash prizes in a timed event called Paint Out Poulsbo. In mid-August you can see them at work in Winslow on Bainbridge Island. Check out the details in my latest article published in West Sound Home and Garden.
For 25 years I’d walked or driven past Poulsbo’s downtown Sons of Norway Hall always assuming membership required a Norwegian pedigree. I grew up in small town Hettinger, North Dakota – the great granddaughter of German/English immigrants living on a street of Norwegian families. As fellow blogger and Hettingerite, Jim Fuglie, describes the demographics: We grew up in Hettinger, North Dakota, where the Germans were Catholic and the Norwegians were Lutheran. For the most part. Catholics were named Schmidt and Nagel and Slater and Seifert and Schmaltz. Lutherans were named Braaten and Strand and Nordahl and Lundahl and Austad. While the German and Norwegian parents played pinochle in each other’s homes and their children mingled at school, the institutions that celebrated their respective heritages required heritage.
Though never stepping inside the Sons of Norway doors, I’d regularly participated in their public community events – the all day Julefest which includes the arrival of the Lucia Bride at the waterfront park in December; Viking Days which celebrates Norway’s independence and Midsommer Fest, the raising of the maypole ceremony at waterfront park in May. In fact, the Sons of Norway sponsor a variety of monthly events open to the public including concerts, pancake breakfasts and dance workshops.
This summer I joined the lodge’s president for their weekly Wednesday Kaffe Stua, a buffet lunch also open to the public. Imagine my surprise when over my open face salmon sandwich he informed me that one doesn’t need an ounce of Norwegian blood to join. So join I did. Primarily because a membership allows me to stay at Trollhaugen, the lodge’s rustic mountain lodge on the eastern side of Snoqualmie Pass where I can snowshoe, cross country ski and read by the fireplace.
This past Saturday was the Sons of Norway’s annual Julefest and for the first time I took in the day’s activities as a newly minted member of the Sons of Norway. I wandered into the lodge for the all day brunch and craft bazaar where I watched the children’s dance group; strolled past tables of decorative folk art called rosemaling (classes available at the lodge), the wool and straw Christmas ornaments and hand carved wooden kitchen utensils and sampled lefse which brought back olfactory memories of the Hettinger bakery and its Christmas lefse. The day was mild enough that out on Poulsbo’s main street, there were people in their lusekofte – the distinctively patterned Norwegian wool sweaters and I heard entire Norwegian conversations in the Nordic Maid – Poulsbo’s store for all things Scandinavian.
Every year as darkness falls the Julefest celebration moves to the waterfront for the coming of the Lucia Bride, a Scandinavian tradition. Escorted by Vikings she lights the Jule log that begins the bonfire and turns on the waterfront Christmas tree lights. Stories are told. Songs are song. The crowd of residents and visitors become part of a tradition that came to our town on the bay with the early Norwegian and Swedish immigrants.
While the holiday season began in the malls right after Halloween, for me – the faux Norwegian great granddaughter of German and English immigrants, Julefest signals the real beginning of the holiday season.
Four days of downpour. Its the season of the return of the salmon and while I’m weary of the deluge, the salmon are not. Rain helps their journey. It fills the streams, cleans them of chemicals and makes the water colder, all preferred travel conditions for their annual fall migration home.
Poulsbo’s aptly named Fish Park can provide prime viewing of the salmon return. But this year, though I’ve walked its trails peering into Dogfish Creek twice after a rainstorm , I haven’t seen a single salmon. Nada. In part that’s because this 40 acre urban park surrounding an estuary is evolving into prime wildlife and salmon habitat as was the park’s plan. I’m a visitor but the park is home to the returning salmon. Much like I don’t get to peer into closets when I drop by a friend’s for coffee, the growth of native trees and plants planted along Dogfish Creek since the park was created, shelters the fish from prying eyes. That’s why the park’s viewing platforms.
The Fish Park project began in 2002; a cooperative venture between the City of Poulsbo, the Suquamish Tribe, the Great Peninsula Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and family trusts who donated the property. The trails, bridges, viewpoints, sculptures are all the work of volunteer groups and individuals.
Each time I visit the park I find a new interpretive sign providing both historical and scientific information.
Since October, 2014 Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment in Poulsbo has used Fish Park as a lab, monitoring the data and the new plants. The Poulsbo Fish Park Citizens Steering Committee works diligently on future planning, fundraising for more land acquisition and volunteer recruitment.
When Seattle transplants Andrea and Jonathon Rowe opened the tiny Marina Market on the pier in Poulsbo in 1998, they didn’t imagine that 18 years later they’d be running a popular, international, boutique grocery store selling everything from exotic craft beers to Dutch clogs and French sardines…..
Check out the rest of my article in WestSound Home and Garden Magazine!
I’ve lived in two zip codes in Kitsap County during my 36 year tenure here – Poulsbo’s 98370 whose demographics I profiled in my previous blog post and 98366 in Port Orchard. How do the two waterfront communities compare? They look oddly similar when viewed from their respective city marinas with a dominating steeple in the background.
Using the same website that provides aggregate data from the 2010 Census, The United States Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, Google and Yahoo…….
PORT ORCHARD IS YOUNGER: Port Orchard’s median age is 38 compared to Poulsbo’s median age of 43.
PORT ORCHARD IS EQUALLY POPULATED BY MEN AND WOMEN. The genders are each 50% of the population while Poulsbo has a slightly higher ratio of women.
TWICE AS MANY PEOPLE WORK FROM HOME IN POULSBO: Poulsbo 7%, Port Orchard 3.8%
PORT ORCHARD SENDS MORE CHILDREN TO PUBLIC SCHOOL THAN POULSBO – 83% in Port Orchard vs 77% in Poulsbo.
POULSBO HAS A HIGHER MEDIAN INCOME: $71,410 in Poulsbo vs $56,549 in Port Orchard.
This website provides these additional 98366 facts:
- 98366 is located at the same latitude at Vienna, Austria
- 299 of you ride your bikes or walk to work regularly.
I needed that extra four digit number I never use as part of the Poulsbo zip code and so I asked The Google and, in return, got the US Zip Code website.
The site began with this introduction: The people living in ZIP code 98370 are primarily white. The number of middle aged adults is extremely large while the number of people in their late 20s to early 40s is large. There are also a slightly less than average number of single parents and a slightly higher than average number of families. The percentage of children under 18 living in the 98370 ZIP code is slightly higher than average compared to other areas of the country.
The website is filled with 98370 data from a variety of sources including the last U.S. Census, the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, Google and Yahoo all illustrated in a variety of colorful charts. Among the many facts about 98370 were these:
- The median resident age is 43 years old
- 55% head of households are single
- 69% of households have no children living at home (pay attention school district!)
- Most houses were built in the 1990’s or 2000’s
- 18% of the households are owned free and clear while 53% are carrying a mortgage
- Residents use public transportation more than most areas of the nation, but 82% still use a private vehicle to get to work
- 7% of the population works from home
- 44% of the population has a college degree
- 77% of school age children are enrolled in public schools, 14% in private school and 9% in no school (I don’t know how that’s possible with a mandatory school attendance law)
- 29% of households receive a retirement income, most of it from pensions and annuities
I wondered if other websites of community/zip code descriptors had the same data and so I checked this one which began with the description: 98370 is an upscale suburban zip code in Poulsbo, Washington (Compared to what? I wondered).
It points out our gender wage inequality: Men in 98370 earn an average of $42,555/year. Women earn only $24,792/year.
Analyzes our commute time: You might be interested to know that the average commute time to work for people living in 98370 is 33.3 minutes!
And provides an interesting factoid: 98370 Zip code is located in the Pacific time zone at 48 degrees latitude (Fun Fact: this is the same latitude as Munich, Germany!)