Bloed away
Bloedel Reserve an amazing island discovery
Maybe you've heard about Bainbrige Island, the upscale 1 Seattle bedroom community just a 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. The island doubles as a quiet laid-back home to Seattle's upwardly mobile and a weekend retreat for those wanting to get away from the city for the weekend.

The beaches are great, the vistas of Seattle spectacular and the island is charming. But don't miss the Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre display of forest and gardens that were once oned by timber baron Prince Bloedel. Reservations are necessary to tour, but don't let that keep you away. The experience is greatly enhanced because it is NOT open to hordes of tourists all at the same time. The experience just would not be the same if too many people were in the reserve at once.

You call ahead with reservations and then show up at the gatehouse where the hostess will give you a map and brief explanation of how the reserve is laid out. You then follow a trail that leads to a meadow, then to thick woods -- in fact it soon becomes a forest just like you would have imagined surrounding Hansel and Gretel.

You then follow the trail as it winds through the property, taking you to several different attractions such as a moss garden, a Zen garden, several ponds and a reflection pool. Then about half way, you come to the former Bloedel House, a chateau that has magnificent views of Port Madison Bay and other points of interest around greater Puget Sound.

With the Bloedel Reserve, it's all about the solitude. When you're finished with your two-hour tour, it's just a 30-minute ferry ride back to the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle. The contrast is something you won't forget.
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