To quote Joni Mitchell “Don’t it always seemed to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” ~ Or in this case, they put up a freeway. This map shows the location of my childhood stomping grounds but now it’s a totally a different view than I remember. I grew up on Olson Road. It’s the road circled in yellow. It’s a dead end road that was the center of a magical childhood experience. There was no Waaga Way. Everything to the right of Olson Road. did not exist. It was all just a big forest. There was an dirt road that led to numerous trails through the woods where the “neighborhood gang” (aka all of us adventurous kids) roamed and played and explored. It was before the internet. Before video games. Before children spent hours on Facebook posting selfies. Before parents needed to be afraid to let their children roam.
My sister had a minibike – a small off-road motorcycle that we would pile onto ~ sometimes three of us. She would drive, I would ride behind her and an adventurous neighborhood buddy would be on the handlebars. There had been an old homestead up in those woods that was long gone but what remained was an awesome place for us to explore. It was an abandoned orchard. Cherry trees, apple trees and what seemed like endless blackberries. We would ride the mini bike up with empty buckets and return triumphant, loaded down with our delicious fruit. I learned to bake pie at the age of 8 years old, using my mom’s famous pie crust recipe and the fruit picked from our secret orchard.
There was also a cow graveyard. Or at least that’s what we called it. There were old bones and cow skulls near the orchard – just the perfect thing for us to explore! If only our parents knew the things we were up to! We would place fallen branches in-between two trees and make jumps, pretending like we were horses. We crawled through the dense salal that pervaded the forest, calling them “dog tunnels.”
We would hike down the forest trail that headed downhill through the Douglas fir and mossy clearings leading to Silverdale way before the mall was there. It is part of what is now the Clear Creek trail but back then we called it “the valley,” where the creek ran through and we would make forts in the mossy nooks and crannies. We would muster up the courage to cross through the big field that is now a parking lot for one of the big box stores. At that time the field’s only inhabitant was a crazy bull who would chase us.
Even now as I take Waaga way I can look to the right and see Chena Road, the steep downhill grade leading from Olson Road to Richardson Road where our favorite winter sport was to careen headlong down the snowy slope on our sleds and makeshift toboggans made from garbage bags. We peppered the poor snowplow driver with snowballs in order to prolong our fun.
OMG we were so crazy but so full of life! I am deeply grateful for those times and the memories I have. My childhood was not perfect by any means but for some reason, now I am focusing on the good rather than the not so good. I am thrilled that I have been able to return to the area to make new memories and grateful to be able to share these memories with others. As I drive all around Kitsap County now, showing homes to prospective buyers, memories of days gone by continue to flood in and it is something I treasure.