I wasn’t sure how I would feel returning to Washington after so many years. I said goodbye in 2004 and never looked back. Well, until my younger sister Lydia, a U.S. Naval Officer, moved to Poulsbo, WA to work on the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Port of Bremerton, WA. Her time with the U.S. Navy will be coming to an end and her time in Washington may be ending soon too, depending on her next job. I knew if I was going to visit my sister in her Pacific Northwest digs, I needed to do it soon.
I kissed my cowboy goodbye in the morning and flew into Seattle after work one evening a couple weeks ago, beginning a much needed soul searching sister trip. The feelings that surfaced as Lydia drove us to Poulsbo from the airport were quite interesting for me. It was absolutely wonderful to see my sister after a year and a half of being apart but it was also weird to be back in a place where some of the hardest times of my life really began. Without getting into too much detail, I left a relationship, some bad habits and a pretty rough part of myself when I boarded the plane back home in 2004. Even though my life continued its downward spiral after my departure, my rough road started in this state. As we passed evergreen trees, drove up and down hills through valleys and around bends, my mind was flooded with memories of who I was back then, a lost little girl. Over the years, that part of my life is tucked further and further in the background, disappearing a little more as each year passes.
Since it was dark upon arrival to Lydia’s waterfront home on Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, I didn’t get the full affect until the next morning. My jet lagged eyes rested on this view which put everything into perspective for me.
I sat and stared at the water, watched the ducks bobbing in and out as they searched for food and marveled at the emerging mountain view as the sun rose for the day. So much joy and peace filled my heart.
As I surveyed the horizon, an overwhelming sense of gratitude and contentment washed over me. I am redeemed after spending time on the dark side so many moons ago. God washed my sins away when I asked for forgiveness and turned my life over to Him at the altar of my church almost 10 years ago. I am grateful for the ugly parts of my past and for the difficult experiences with hard lessons because I can stand firm as a testament to God’s faithfulness and His hand over my life. Making it to the other side of a bad season in my life is something I don’t take for granted but I had lost sight of it along the way. And it took a sister trip to the far side of our beautiful country to bring it all to the forefront of my mind. On my very first morning, God put me in the right frame of mind to rest, reflect and restore my soul.
Since Lydia had some Naval classes to attend during the weekdays, I had lots of free time to enjoy all that Poulsbo had to offer this bayou gypsy. Poulsbo, WA, also known as “Little Norway”, is located in the northern part of Kitsap County and only 4.5 square miles in area. Liberty Bay (originally called Dog Fish Bay) and the majestic Olympic Mountains induced the Scandinavians to settle here because it was similar to the fjords of Norway. This quaint little town is what movies are made of and books are written about. The first word that came to mind as I was strolling…Pleasantville.
These places actually exist!
The precious boutiques, coffee shops, local bakery, antique storefronts and art galleries line the streets, giving you the feeling you have stepped onto the set of a Hallmark movie. This town really lives up to its nickname, Little Norway. It is dripping with Scandinavian architecture and culture.
The speed limit is 25mph in the entire town. Clearly no one is in a rush to get anywhere. Perfect. I wasn’t rushing to go anywhere either. I was on vacation. Traveling at a slower pace allows you to really enjoy the murals around town. You don’t even have to say it, I already know what you’re thinking. Adorable.
There’s so much to share about this town and my overall trip to the Pacific Northwest that I’m breaking it into a few parts. First stop, places to shop! There’s plenty of antique stores and small boutiques to keep your pocketbook busy for the day. The very first one I walked into was The Cat’s Meow located on Front Street, the main drag of downtown Poulsbo. This is actually a picture of the back entrance which is facing Liberty Bay.
I spent over an hour in this shop, perusing the shelves for unique finds. The Jadeite kitchenware was by far my favorite purchases from the trip.
Next place I highly recommend is Red Plantation Marketplace. It is a one stop shop for local vendors.
Each booth was decked out in Christmas decor, leaving your eyes lots to look at while you browse the warehouse.
I know it may not look like much but trust me, each little aisle was chock full of interesting extras you convince yourself you absolutely need.
There was a moment when I almost paid an arm and a leg in shipping to get a piece of this artwork home to Zachary. It was calling my name LOUD.
Luckily, I found Lindsey Pace’s Etsy shop and I can have it shipped much cheaper directly from her. Sorry Red Plantation!
Last stop on Part I of the Pacific NW Skinny is Verksted Cooperative Art Gallery. This particular gallery is one of the oldest cooperative galleries in the state of Washington, opening in 1987.
What I loved about this gallery was the wide range of art, from paintings, pottery, glass work, mosaics, wood and jewelry. Every piece was unique but one particular artist caught my eye, Buckhorn Crafts out of Kingston, WA.
I snatched up two sets of earrings, one made out of elk antlers and the other out of caribou. Of course my cowboy approved when I sent him a snapshot later. I have worn both pairs since returning home and have received many compliments.
All of Jer’s work is made from antler sheds that he discovers in the woods. Most people don’t realize that a deer, elk, caribou, all shed their antlers and grow bigger and better sets each year. Antler decor is all the rage right now too. Check out this fireplace set. I wanted this so much but the shipping cost would be as much as the set itself. It saddened me but I passed on the purchase.
This is only a taste of what’s available in Poulsbo. There are bead shops, furniture stores, shoe boutiques and more, all wrapped in a precious little bay town.
The next part of the Pacific NW Skinny will be the ins and outs of my dining experiences while visiting the PNW. Nothing like talking about all the food I ate while on vacation!