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Land of Tall Trees and Fat Fish

Ten days on the water. The mountain. The ferries. And the fish. Oh, god. The fish.

I came to look at the water, write, cook, and spend time with friends. I visited Alaska in early August, and decided to remain in the Seattle area before returning to the heat and humidity in Houston. I’ve used Home Away (owned by VRBO) to find apartment rentals before in Florence, Italy — twice, so I took a look at their site to see what might be available in Seattle.

When I saw this waterfront Cottage — it immediately reminded me of the cabin in the film On Golden Pond with Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda. This cottage dates from 1910.

Those of you who’ve read my other travel pieces will find this short. It was quiet. I ate good food, I drank good wine, I had long visits with family, friends, and my daughter. I read. I wrote. And I stared at one of my favorite mountains in the world.

Great Heron flying near the cottage. Photograph, Ann Fisher.

I’d quit my day job at the beginning of August. This cottage, with it’s perfect view on Puget Sound, offered a tranquil time for me to consider life and plan my next steps.

A sea lion came by to visit regularly, along with a variety of water birds and herons. Often it was so quiet that I could hear ducks’ wings brushing the water as they flew near the surface. Then a ferry would chug by.

Some days, I watched clouds transform themselves into Rainier, and other times the reverse, as the mountain pulled a cloak around herself, hiding from us all.

Golden rainbow trout at the Pike Place Market. Photograph, Ann Fisher.

I cooked a lot of fish — my culinary goal while I was at the cottage was to figure out how to make the incredible salmon bisque I ate at the Pilot Light restaurant in Haines, Alaska. And by George, I think I’ve got it :-)!! I will of course share the recipe, but it will be in a separate post.

And look at the gorgeous golden trout I brought home from the Pike Place Market . . .

The Cottage

I found this vacation rental home to be just the ticket. It had personality and was very comfortable. Family and friends spent part of the time out there with me, and we all found the beds comfortable.

There are two bedrooms: one with two twin beds, and the other with a queen. It sleeps four comfortably. Someone could possibly sleep on the sofa — but it wouldn’t be me! You’ll find the cottage listed on Home Away.

The house is clean and well-maintained. The kitchen had everything I needed, and it was great to have a washer and dryer. Gordon, the owner, was friendly and very helpful. His advice about grocery stores and other things was spot on.

I think it would be a great Seattle area vacation home for a family, as long as the children weren’t too young. The yard is not fenced, and there is a steep drop when the tide is out. For safety reasons, the owner doesn’t accept children under 10 years old.

Location of the cottage I stayed in on Puget Sound.


The cottage has a Port Orchard address, but it’s out at the far end of the peninsula, and feels very rural. If you take a look at the map image (clicking on it will take you to a live Google map. You will need a car.

The best grocery store in the area is the Fred Meyer in Port Orchard. They had a great fish market, and I was very pleased with the selection and quality. The Albertson’s there was not great. Actually, I mean awful.

There are a number of local Port Orchard restaurants. I found Amy’s on the Bay to be good for steamed clams, at Cosmo’s Ristorante had very decent American-Italian fare. Mostly, I cooked.

The best restaurant meals I ate at on this trip were in Seattle proper — I was blown away by the authentic Italian cuisine at Spinasse — cannot say enough wonderful things about this restaurant. It’s some of the best Italian food I’ve eaten in the States. My daughter and I also checked out a Tom Douglas restaurant called The Carlile Room: great for creative small plates. I would definitely go again. You’ll need a reservation at both restaurants.

Fresh fish at the Pike Place Market. Photograph, Ann Fisher.

While I was on Puget Sound, I went into Seattle three times. There are three ways to get there, and they all take about 1.5 hours. The options are the Seattle-Bremerton ferry, the Faunterloy-Southworth ferry, or driving. The Bremerton ferry will take you straight to downtown Seattle, and you can either walk or cab it to get around. It’s nice not to have to deal with a car. I took a couple of canvas totes with me, went and had brunch at the Athenian (where Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner have lunch in Sleepless in Seattle) in the Pike Place market, and after wandering, bought fish and flowers and headed back to my gorgeous view.

If you are planning a trip to Seattle, and want to focus on the typical tourist sights, my advice is either to stay in the city,  or consider splitting your time. Start at the cottage for the desired number of days, then spend a couple of nights at a hotel downtown before catching your flight home. Dealing with a ferry at rush hour heading to the airport is NOT my idea of fun.

Parting Thoughts

If you know much about the Seattle area, you know it’s frequently cloudy. June, July, and August are the sunniest months of the year. When it’s grey and overcast, the mountain isn’t out. But there is something about this that makes seeing Mount Rainier all the more magical. And on this trip she was absolutely breathtaking.

The Mountain emerges from the clouds.

Thank you for visiting — for other articles on life and travel, browse the home page:

This post first appeared on Ann Cavitt Fisher, please read the originial post: here

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Land of Tall Trees and Fat Fish


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