Your beach vacation is just a ferry ride away. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Your beach vacation is just a ferry ride away. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Day trip to Bainbridge Island offers reflection and relaxation

Their itinerary included stops at Fay Bainbridge Park and the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

When 2020 get you down, take a vacation from your worries and visit Bainbridge Island. It’s not Hawaii, but it’s pretty. Plus, you won’t need to quarantine when you get there.

My family visited Bainbridge Island on a sleepy Wednesday this August. We drove right onto the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and read books while we hung out in our car during the passage. Once we reached Kingston, we made the big switch. My teenage son got behind the wheel to practice driving, and the rest of us were exceedingly quiet the rest of the journey so he could concentrate.

Our first official stop was at Fay Bainbridge Park, which is a small city park with first-come, first-serve campsites. We parked in the day-use area and took out our cooler and picnic blanket. (Important logistical note: The park has a restroom.)

On the day we visited the beach, the wind blew gently, the sun shone brightly, and everyone we saw had a mask. There was enough space that beachcombers could spread out far away from each other.

When I closed my eyes and listened to the waves, it really did feel like I was in Hawaii. We probably could have stayed there all day, but there was next, more serious stop on our itinerary, the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. I had visited the memorial once on my own, and had wanted to bring the whole family back ever since.

On March 30, 1942, 227 Bainbridge Island residents — most of whom were American citizens — were herded off the island by armed soldiers. There is a book for children about this sad part of history called “Paper Wishes” by Lois Sepahban. It’s an excellent book to read with your kids before you visit.

The memorial starts out by taking visitors on a winding path through the trees, making you wonder where the heck you are going. It’s disorienting, and highlights how the Japanese Americans must have felt that horrible day in 1942. The next part of the memorial includes artwork, quotes, names and thoughtful landscaping. The main difference I saw pre- and post-COVID was that the paper name tags that used to hang throughout the memorial were missing.

Experiencing the memorial was sobering and worthwhile. We followed up our history stop, with a visit to Mora Iced Creamery. It was here I made a critical misstep. I ordered chocolate peanut butter ice cream, and when I dug in my spoon I discovered brownie crumbles, which I can’t eat. That was my fault for not asking for a gluten-free option. Luckily, my daughter was willing to trade her watermelon sorbet with me, so everyone was happy. (Important logistical note: The closest public restroom was at the outdoor Winslow Mall.)

Our day trip was coming to a close, but on our way to the car we passed Bon Bon Confections and made an impulse decision to expand our itinerary. A box of fudge later, we were ready to head home.

Aloha, Bainbridge island. Thank you for the mini-vacation.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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