I met my first friend on Bainbridge Island a few days after we arrived. We’d taken a break from unpacking to explore the downtown area of Winslow. The woman who rang up our purchases at one of the gift shops had a familiar accent. Sure enough, she grew up in Kentucky, practically down the road from my in-laws in West Virginia. As we chatted, I explained we were brand-new to the island. She told me she and her husband and their kids had visited Seattle and Bainbridge three years earlier and, when they got home, decided they had to live here. Three months later, they packed up their lives and moved.
It’s a common story.
Do you remember the Professor from Gilligan’s Island? Russell Johnson, the actor who played that character, lived on Bainbridge. When he passed away, an article described how he and his wife ended up on the island. “Someone said get on the ferry to Bainbridge while you’re [in Seattle],” Johnson told the Kitsap Sun in 1993. “As soon as we docked, Connie said, ‘This is it. This is where I want to live.’ And that was it.” I’ve talked to so many people who’ve had similar experiences.
But then there’s us. We’d never even visited Bainbridge Island and we certainly had no plans to move. A city girl, I’d grown comfortable with small-town life. And I loved my house. So much. We’d built it ourselves with help from my dad and other family members, and I planned to live there forever. Sure, I had plans to escape to warmer climes in the winter like so many people do. But a permanent move? Never.
And then Amazon came calling, the oldest headed off to college, and the next-in-line teenager was up for an adventure. And part of me was, too.
My fellow home-body, Will, and I agreed to give it a year. That was four years ago. There were some rough moments in the beginning, like when we dropped Andrew off at Northwestern University in Chicago and came back to a community that didn’t even know he existed. But over time we started putting down roots. A friend described Bainbridge as being “tailor-made” for us, and she’s right. The area’s values and natural beauty feel similar to home and I like being close—but not too close—to a city. And, frankly, I like the milder weather and don’t mind the rain. So, given all that, we made the decision to build a home on Bainbridge. We were excited to find a lot just a half-mile away from the house we’re renting in the neighborhood we love on the south end of the island.
The only fly in the ointment is that it’s hard to be away from family and friends. But if everything goes according to plan this year, we’ll have a nice little apartment for guests. My dad has long said that sometimes you can enjoy more quality time with people you don’t see often while on a vacation than you do with those you see all the time. I look forward to sharing this beautiful place with anyone willing to make the trip!