There was a car brand that was completely phased out in 1986. But Nissan decided in 2012 to bring it back for selected markets. Some people at the Japanese company worried that 26 years wasn't long enough before the brand was brought back, so they asked in surprise: Datsun?

Today was my first day of trying the commute in both directions. The morning commute was about the same as Wednesday commute, 94 minutes. I decided to walk down to the bus stop again since I still wasn't certain about the bus flagging 'rules.' While I was standing at the stop, someone else walked up on the other side of the intersection. I walked over to him and saw that he was reading a newspaper by flashlight. I asked him if he was waiting for the bus and he said he was. I asked him a few questions about flagging down the bus and he confirmed that you can flag it down anywhere along the route. We chatted a bit about the commute, our jobs, my BI experiment, and how long he's lived on BI. The bus came and the rest of the journey was uneventful.

For the trip home, I left work at 4pm and got on the shuttle parked outside my building. It left at 4:05 and stopped at another building before dropping us off at the Marion and Western at 4:25. I climbed the stairs to the foot bridge and joined the crowd marching into the ferry terminal. The view was spectacular from up there, looking out across Elliot Bay to the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. I also saw the ferry still on its way in toward Seattle. The terminal had a few concession stands and shops including a wine bar called Commuter Comforts. As I walked by, I peeked in to the bar to see what beers they had. Nothing stood out, but at least they weren't all domestics... I walked up to the gate and read my book while I waited. The ferry was scheduled to leave at 4:40 but it left late.

When the ferry docked at BI, I got off and walked to my bus. When I got on, I asked the driver how to signal for my stop (since there are no actual stops). He said that I hit the stop button and he'll generally stop at the next intersection. I could tell this wasn't quite an exact science. When we were finally one intersection away from my street, I hit the button. I got off the bus, and the bus lights combined with the headlights of an oncoming car helped me see that I was a few houses down from our place. But the bus pulled away and the car passed, and again I found myself unexpectedly in utter darkness. My life experiences have definitely not prepared me for hanging out on unlit forest roads! I fumbled through the darkness to pull out the lantern from my backpack and walked home. It was 5:55pm when I walked through the door... nearly 2 hours to get home. Too long...

Kara had a minor surgery scheduled for the morning, so we spent the previous night in Seattle. I stayed home from work and watched the kids in the morning, and then we picked up Kara from the hospital when she was done. We went home to pack for our return to Bainbridge Island then we then piled into the car and drove over to Colman Dock to catch the 3pm ferry.

Kara was pretty out of it from the lingering anesthesia and pain meds, so we decided to just stay in once we got to BI. I offered to cook dinner and let Kara pick out the meal. She chose ham steak with cider gravy with glazed carrots on the side.

I drove to Safeway to get the ingredients... It took 10 minutes to get there... we live too far from the grocery store. I grabbed the food and checked out. The checker and the woman behind me in line knew each other. We all joked around a bit... grocery store humor.

There's more friendly chatting going on here in BI than I've seen anywhere else I've lived. At first I wondered if it was because people have just decided to be friendly here? But now I'm starting to think that it's because the population is so small that you end up running into the same people over and over. Maybe it's more worthwhile to strike up a random conversation with the person next to you when chances are good that you'll see the person again sometime.

Dinner was good.

I wanted to cook a dinner last night but our favorite cookbook is on Bainbridge Island. So I poked around online and found a recipe for Quick Chicken Fricassee from America's Test Kitchen that sounded good. I tried to print it, but our printer refused to print because it's "out of ink." So I emailed the recipe to myself and planned to read it on my Kindle Fire.

When going through the ingredients to make a shopping list, I saw that it called for freshly grated nutmeg. I've never grated nutmeg before; I didn't know you could buy them whole. So, I started looking around online trying to figure out how much ground nutmeg is equivalent to a grated nutmeg. Yahoo Answers told me that one grated nutmeg is equivalent to 2 - 3 teaspoons of ground nutmeg. Ok, if I couldn't find a whole nutmeg at the store, I could substitute the ground nutmeg that we already have.

I ran to the store and picked up all the ingredients including whole nutmeg (it cost 21 cents). When I got home, I grated it up in prep for the final step where I was to add it to the sauce. I cooked up the meal, following the recipe from my Fire. However, gmail was kind of annoying because it wouldn't let me see the whole recipe at once (it did a preview pane kind of view). So, I had to scroll up and down between the ingredients and directions sections... not ideal.

The final step came, add lemon juice and nutmeg so I did. We dished up and sat down to eat. It didn't taste too great... WAAAY too much nutmeg. I was confused... why would the recipe call for so much freshly grated nutmeg if it tastes so strong? We ate the dinner and I could tell, under the nutmeg, that the rest of the flavors would have been good.

After dinner, I looked at the recipe to see if I could figure out what I did wrong. The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg but I put in the whole thing! Technology did this to me! Yahoo Answers info got me confused on quantity. My printer wouldn't let me print the recipe. The gmail site on my Kindle Fire didn't let me display the whole recipe on the screen. I suspect that if I were able to view the whole recipe in one glance, I would have caught my quantity mistake sometime before it was too late.

Ah well, I learned about whole nutmeg...

Today was the first time I tried the commute in from BI. A breakdown of the journey:

  • 6:20 am - leave house and walk to bus stop

  • 6:27 am - bus picks me up

  • 6:50 am - bus arrives at ferry terminal, walk onto ferry

  • 7:05 am - ferry departs

  • 7:40 am - ferry arrives in Seattle, walk to shuttle on Marion and Western

  • 7:45 am - Shuttle departs

  • 7:56 am - Shuttle arrives at my work building

The alarm went off at 5:50 this morning. I laid there for a few minutes, then forced myself out of bed. I got ready for work and left the house at 6:20. When I turned off the entryway light on my way out the door, I was met with total darkness. I knew it was going to be dark, I brought my electric lantern in preparation for the commute, but it was still a shock to be met with such complete darkness! I turned on the lantern and walked south on Sunrise Drive. I thought maybe I'd see other commuters on the road, but no, I was all alone.

The 'bus stop' on the corner of Sunrise and Torvanger isn't marked. Although the transit website doesn't describe it, I suspected that you could flag the bus down at any spot along the route. But without knowing for sure, I figured I better go to the stop listed on the bus schedule. When I saw the bus approaching (the only vehicle I had seen so far on the road) I swung my lantern to make sure he saw me. The bus was small, similar to a King County Metro access bus. I had read that the Kitsap County buses take the Orca card, but I didn't see the reader on entering. I asked the driver and he showed me that it's on the left-hand side when entering. I swiped my card, took a seat and got out my book.

From where I sat, I could see out through the windshield as we continued down the dark road. Periodically I'd see a tiny light up ahead in the black beyond the headlights. Another passenger! The bus would stop to pick them up and, as I suspected, not at scheduled stop locations. I imagined how I too must have looked like a tiny island of light in a black sea when the bus came to get me.

As we got closer to town, I started seeing other cars on the road (or to be more specific, their headlights). The closer we got, the more vehicles I saw as everyone converged on the same location. When we entered Winslow, there were finally street lights which shined down on pedestrians also converging in from all directions.

The bus pulled into a lot and as we all got off (less than 20 passengers) the driver wished us each a Happy New Year. I had no idea where to go, having only drove onto the BI ferry in the past, so I just followed the converging crowd. Some swerved off to one door, but not enough, so I didn't follow. A few more peeled off into another door, still not sure. A large crowd was entering an open doorway ahead, I followed them. Once I entered, I saw that the other doors I passed led to the same room. We walked through a number of jetway style tunnels surrounded by scattered friendly conversations. Then the tunnel opened up and I saw the water and the ferry.

I entered the ferry and found a comfy chair that was on the end of a row but not in the main aisle and got out my book. The ride was quiet and uneventful. It was more comfortable than riding the bus, but not significantly different. I can imagine that if I needed to get some work done, sitting at a table would be MUCH better than trying to work on the bus (which I never attempt).

When the ferry reached Seattle, I moved to the front of the boat where the crowd was again converging. I had 5 minutes to reach the shuttle, and I wasn't exactly sure how to get there, so I wanted to be one of the first off. Once off, there are stairs down to the street or a continuing foot bridge that goes up Marion. I stayed on the footbridge which passes VERY close under the viaduct and then ends at First. As I walked to the light, I realized that I passed up Western and had to backtrack. Walking back down Marion Street, I saw there were stairs from the footbridge down to the corner of Marion and Western. Ok, I'll have to use those next time. I saw two Amazon shuttles sitting on Western, so I walked over and entered the first one. I told him that I was going to Varzea (the name of my building) and he said that I actually want the other shuttle. So, I hopped off and got on that shuttle instead. The shuttle pulled out one minute later (right on time), and dropped me off at the front door of my building eleven minutes later at 7:56.

So, four minutes shy of the one hour and 40 minutes I had expected. I'm still trying to decide what I think about it, but here's what I've got so far. It was a pleasant commute. It didn't feel like it took 96 minutes. Although I had to make two transfers, each next ride was already there and waiting for me. I was able to walk right up and sit down. Each ride was nice and clean, not something I can usually say about the Seattle buses. There is much less walking amongst traffic compared to my West Seattle commute (where I have scary close calls with cars at least once a month).

The thing that gives me the most hope that this commute could be viable is this: from the moment the ferry left Bainbridge Island to the minute I arrived at work was 51 minutes. If I can lock down a time efficient journey from the house to the boat departure (say 10 - 15 minutes instead of 45 minutes) I could see doing this. It would certainly be one of the most important criteria if/when we get down to house shopping. It'd be great if I could walk (or kick-scooter!) to the boat in that amount of time. Or possibly I could get a motorized scooter or motorcycle and park it down at the dock ($5 per day for motorcycles). Biking is another alternative (free bike barn at the dock) though I wouldn't be too excited about biking on the street in that darkness.

We're spending the night in Seattle tonight because we have a few appointments scheduled in Seattle for tomorrow. So it's back to my regular evening commute for tonight. I'm taking the day off tomorrow, and I'm guessing we'll drive back over tomorrow evening. So, Friday will be my next BI/Seattle commute day, and then I'll be doing it both directions!

This morning the sun was shining! Since it hadn't rained for the last few days, I figured the playground equipment at Battle Point Park would be mostly dry. We headed over there and WOW that playground is incredible. It's a huge connected wood structure that is themed around the Bainbridge Island area; lots of art and fun shapes and structures. I was really impressed and the kids LOVED it.

For lunch we went in to Winslow and looked for open restaurants. The Mexican restaurant, Isla Bonita, was open, so... sure! Lunch was good but kinda expensive. After lunch we were planning on driving somewhere to explore more, but Jessica really wanted to walk rather than drive. So, we let her guide us through Winslow, going wherever she wanted to go. Almost everything was closed since it was New Year's Day, but it was still fun to have her choose where to go. While walking, I grabbed a copy of a free Bainbridge Island newspaper.

When we got back in the car, Kara started driving while I read the newspaper. I read an article about the new hilltop trail added to the Grand Forest Park. We hadn't been there yet, so we decided to check it out. We went to the parking area for Grand Forest West and hiked the main loop. It was so beautiful there; huge trees, ferns, multiple bridges crossing a creek, friendly hikers on the trail. At one point, Kara turned to me and asked "ok, so when are we moving here?" Yeah... our stay so far has been idyllic and I'm thinking the exact same thing. But tomorrow is the real world. I have to get up at 6am so that I can catch a bus to the ferry to the shuttle so that I can get into work at 8am. Is it worth it? We'll see...

Got up and had cereal for breakfast. The house has a coffee maker and Folgers in the fridge. Beggars can't be choosers, so I brewed up a pot. It was terrible... I dumped the pot and announced that we needed to try out a local coffee shop. We decided on Pegasus Coffee, so we bundled up and drove over there. I got an Americano, Kara got a hot chocolate, and we bought a giant chocolate chip cookie to all share. We snagged a comfy spot on the couch and enjoyed our drinks and snack while I read the kids a couple of Thomas the Tank Engine stories.

After we finished our drinks (and cookie!) we left and walked a part of the Waterfront Trail. Walking along the water with the family was very nice. At one point we looked inland and saw a big blue boat in a clearing. We went to investigate and discovered that it was a boat shaped stage. The kids had fun running around it for a bit. We continued down the trail and came to a bridge over an inlet of the sound. It's weird looking at what looks like a forest creek, but seeing clamshells and barnacles in the water! At some point we turned up to Winslow and walked back to our car through town. On the way we decided to stop at Town and Country Market to buy supplies to make epic sandwiches for lunch.

Town and Country Market is a blast-from-the-past supermarket that reminds me a lot of Zim's from my childhood. It's crowded and crammed but it's a super friendly place. It seems like people choose to go there (rather than the more spacious Safeway up the street), favoring a close-up experience of the community over a quick and efficient shopping experience; grocery shopping with soul. While there I overheard a woman tell her daughter that she was getting chocolate fondue for New Year's Eve. As I continued shopping I realized that that sounded like a fun idea for our family. So, I went back to where the woman was standing when I heard her, and found the chocolate fondue. Example one of the benefits of a crammed shopping experience.

After we finished shopping, we walked back to our car and then headed home. When we got home we made uber-sandwiches for lunch. I had the works: smoked turkey, honey ham, mayo, cranberry sauce, romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and sprouts. After lunch was coma time where we sat around, played, and digested. We had random leftovers for dinner (I didn't have anything since I was still stuffed from my monster sandwich). Then we melted the chocolate fondue and cut up strawberries and bananas. The kids really enjoyed it (well, so did Kara and I). I think we'll make that a family tradition for New Year's Eve, it was a lot of fun!

We spent the morning packing up for our Bainbridge Island house and then took the 12:20 ferry from Seattle. We arrived at the house around 1pm, but the owner said he was still cleaning the place and needed another half hour. We drove over to Fay Bainbridge Park to kill some time. The kids played on the playground a bit, but it was wet so they didn't do that for long. We walked out to the water and did some beach combing. We found a nice clamshell but didn't keep it. Miles kept handing me rocks and asking me to throw them in the water. After 30 minutes had past, we were all pretty cold, so we went back to the house. It was ready for us, so we paid up, signed the contract, and unloaded the car.

After unpacking, we drove out to Poulsbo to visit the aquarium. It's pretty small, but it's free and nicely run. We hung out there for a while playing, coloring, watching a movie. Kara and I were feeling hungry, so we left and walked over to Sluys' Bakery. It smelled delicious inside! Kara got a cinnamon roll, I got a date-filled bear claw. We found an alcove down the street and stopped to eat our treats. The kids liked Kara's more than mine, so I got mine mostly to myself! It was really tasty, I want another one!

We had a few items that we needed to buy for the second house, so we ran over to the Poulsbo Walmart to check out the big-box shopping options that are near Bainbridge Island. We planned to only get a few toiletries and home items, but ended up buying a bunch of groceries as well. I was amazed at how low the grocery prices were for name brand stuff. I know that we're all supposed to hate Walmart and everything, but man those prices were crazy good!

After Walmart we went over to Central Market, an AMAZING market in Poulsbo. We had been there once before over the summer when we spent a weekend in Port Ludlow. Tons of fresh produce, seafood, baked goods, etc. Though we bought most of our groceries at Walmart, we waited to get our produce and meat from Central Market. I was going to pick up some mussels for dinner, but I didn't find them in the tanks where the rest of the bivalves were. The friendly fishmonger told us that mussels aren't kept in the tanks because they spawn like mad which messes up the tanks. Ok, gross but interesting. While telling us about it, he picked out our mussels and inspected each one to make sure they were closed before adding them to the bag. After reaching our requested two pounds, he printed the sticker and then threw a few more in the bag. Nice!

When we got home I cooked the mussels in a white wine cream broth. It was delicious! I haven't had mussels much before, but I really enjoyed how mild the taste was. We had lots of bread on hand for dipping in the tasty broth. The kids didn't really like the mussels, but did like the bread and broth.

Kara and I are considering moving the family to Bainbridge Island. If we did, I would keep working in Seattle and have to commute in on the ferry each morning. We decided to try it out to see how it feels, so we're staying in a furnished rental on Sunrise Drive for the month of January. Jessica has preschool on Tuesday - Thursday in West Seattle, so we'll be spending Tuesday and Wednesday nights in West Seattle. Else, it's BI!

"You need to take the next exit."

Tom checked his mirrors, looked quickly over his shoulder, turned on the turn signal, and steered their late 90's grey minivan to the right lane.

"Daddy, are we there yet?"

"Almost, Katy, we'll be there soon" Tom said without turning his head, keeping both eyes on the road.

Tom heard Katy moan with impatience while his son yelled "I wanna see train!"

"Bran, don't shout when we're in the car" said Jen looking back, then turning to Tom, "Turn right on Oak."

Tom nodded. Suddenly the radio made a popping noise and an announcer's voice started speaking "None of this is real. We exist only in the mind of the person reading this. Once he or she finishes reading this sentence, we'll all cease to exist."

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