An island in Puget Sound, about 16 miles long, stretching between Seattle and Tacoma. It is accessible only by ferry, one at each end: from Fauntleroy in West Seattle at the north end, and from Point Defiance in Tacoma at the south end. The ferry ride is short, about 15 minutes, and the island is a nice place to visit for a get-away. It has several interesting restaurants and numerous bed and breakfasts.

Because there are no bridges or other driveable connections to the mainland, the island has remained largely rural, with the shorelines lined with summer cottages and its inland dotted with small farms. Its population is also kept low by the relative scarcity of drinkable water. In the 1960’s this isolation attracted many hippies, and the ambience of much of the island is still counter-culture- oriented. Its most well known industry is K2 skies. It used to be known for orchids. It is also home to Camp Sealth, a Camp Fire camp named after Chief Seattle, whose real name was (sort of) Sealth.

Vashon was named for Admiral James Vashon by the explorer George Vancouver, who named many parts of the Puget (pronounced PEW-jit) Sound area, including the Sound itself after his captain, Peter Puget. Vashon has a Strawberry Festival every summer; when I was a child, it was a Peach Festival, but something narsty apparently happened to the peaches.

When I was growing up on Vashon, the town of Vashon itself was one block long and one block deep. It has expanded to maybe 3-5 blocks square. When I was a child, the beach we lived on was reachable, on land, only by a mile-and-a-half trail through the forest. We had water and electricity, but all food, clothing, etc had to be carried in by knapsack. Our telephone was a 17-party line, with a different series of rings for each family. Oil for the stove that heated our house had to be fetched from the ferry dock in a rowboat powered by a 1 ½ horsepower Johnson outboard motor. We moved into “Town” (Seattle) when I started school because cougars were sometimes sighted on the trail to the school bus stop. I never saw one, but I did put out milk for the deer that came down to the shore at night. They lapped it up by morning.

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