It is no secret that my husband and I love to explore wherever we are. But it even happens to us – to “not know” a corner that is directly under our nose. Or hardly know it. We actually have taken a trip to Anderson Island, WA, years and years ago, taken our bikes, and visited one of its historical treasures. But this year, we decided to do better and explore almost each and every nook and cranny.
A trip to Anderson Island always starts with the fun experience of a ferry ride. The terminal lies on the other side of the train tracks in Steilacoom; it’s where you buy your tickets – which is a steep 26 dollars for a roundtrip for one car/driver and one adult passenger. Kids under six ride for free, by the way. So, it might still be worth a thought for young families …
Anderson Island is covered with lush, green forest but also has its beautiful small prairie-like meadows, hidden valleys and bays galore, lakes, and parks. We took the island under our tires counterclockwise. In the north, you catch only glimpses of the Sound from the road, as most of the shore is privately owned. But the farther down south you get on the westside, the more often you reach the shore itself.
At Tony’s Marine Park, we parked our car and walked the path downhill. Signs by the path side taught us about plant life in the area. Along the way we found different fork-offs that all ended up either close to the shore or even down on a larger sandspit. We chose the latter and totally enjoyed landing in a quiet bay with vistas from the Nisqually Reach all the way over to the Olympic Mountains. An ideal place to have a picnic on a sunny day – if we had had a hamper with us that morning.
We continued our way down south, ending up in stunning Oro Bay with lots of boat docks and a stranded old ferry that you cannot see if you’re boating past the island. I wonder what the story to that is, by the way. And how it ended up in the bay. (And does anybody know and can tell the story that might be to the stranded ferry on Ketron Island?)
We continued to Nelson’s Country Corner. I was enchanted with the General store there. Indeed, a place to explore. Apart from selling food, everyday life items, and gas, it is also the post office, a video store, a gift store, a deli, a book store, and a heavy gardening machine store. What a mix! As I was hungry and didn’t feel like sitting down in next door’s café, I bought a delicious meatloaf sandwich that I munched on the way to our next station, the country club on Lake Louise. Their restaurant is right on the Lake Shore, and it might be our choice next time we visit this island that is so full of wonderful little surprises.
Of course, we couldn’t leave the island without paying an extended visit to the Johnson Farm. This historical place is self-explanatory with lots of signage on all the farm buildings. A stroll around sends you back into the pioneer times. The historical museum on site was as charming as I remembered it from our very first visit. It tells about the Johnson family and island life, holds indigenous artwork and an old schoolroom even – and, of course, a quite sizeable gift store. So, be ready to take a budget along for your purchases there!
The ride back on the ferry showed us Mt. Rainier in all its glory looming like a white giant behind the harbor of Steilacoom. The quiet that we experienced on the island still lingers in our memories. A day on Anderson Island with a walk in one or more of its numerous parks truly is like a mini-vacation.