Architecturally, Seattle is a beautifully diverse city draped over a hilly strip of land between Puget Sound and Lake Washington.  Its climate is moderate and, contrary to the perceptions of many, not that rainy.  At least it hasn’t been rainy when we have been in town.  After several visits, I can count on one hand the number of days we were affected by showers and I don’t think we have ever had to deal with full-out rain.  It helps that we usually visit in spring, summer or fall.

Winter is definitely the rainiest season and one year, we made a trip to the Northwest at the end of October, just before it began.  We experienced no rain while in Seattle but after spending a few days here, we drove up to Vancouver, BC.  We took the long way (we rented a car that time) via Vancouver Island, a scenic voyage that involved three ferry crossings (Seattle-Bremerton; Port Angeles-Victoria and Nanaimo-West Vancouver).  We made the final passage into Vancouver on a sunny October 31 but on the next day, November 1, the rain began almost like clockwork.  It was wet for the remainder of the vacation.

But we have had no rain on this trip.  The days have been sunny and warm (70s) and the nights cool (50s), quite a relief compared to the conditions back home.  To make the most of the pleasant weather, we made a trip to Bremerton today by ferry.  Although the ferries are utilitarian in their primary purpose—many people commute this way every day and vehicle travel to the west would be impractical without them—they also provide a valuable service to tourists.  For a very modest fare, visitors can enjoy a sightseeing cruise of Elliot Bay, Puget Sound and the fjords of the Kitsap peninsula.  In other words, getting there (and back) is at least half of the fun.

In Bremerton, we took a quick walk around downtown but found that most of the activity was happening on the waterfront.  The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard looked busy (for a Saturday) and most of the restaurants with a view of the marina were full.  We particularly liked the beautifully-designed Harborside Fountain Park.  Its main attraction is a group of five structures that each look like a cross between a Richard Serra sculpture and a submarine conning tower (an actual example of which is on display outside the nearby Puget Sound Navy Museum).  At short and unpredictable intervals, huge bubbles of water erupt from the top of the structures and splash into the basins surrounding them.  It is very exciting—especially the first time—and delighted the many children wading in the fountains.

On the return trip across the sound, I was startled to see Mt. Rainier looming to the south.  How could we have missed such a huge mountain on the way over or during the last two days, for that matter?  It was always there, of course, but there are two reasons we didn’t notice it sooner.  First, it is often foggy or cloudy in Seattle (but not rainy!) and sometimes, the sky doesn’t clear until the afternoon.  Second, in a city—especially a hilly one—sight lines are easily obscured by terrain and buildings.  Theoretically, Mt. Rainier would be visible from our 31st-floor hotel room window.  Unfortunately, the building across the street is in the way.