Yellow Brick Road

Ever wanted to join Dorothy and Toto in a trip to OZ, the magical Emerald City full of cultural amenities, colorful events, Seattle Center, street musicians/artists, free downtown bus service (sometimes with standing room only), businesses of every stripe, and an international district with memorable restaurants?

Land of OZ

Although you may live in God’s own paradise here on the Olympic Peninsula, sin is now a little closer for as little as 4 bits (each way) for seniors (including your bicycle, if you’ve got one) plus 1/2 fare on the Washington State Ferry Bremerton:Seattle run. This will buy you 7 hours of play time in the blue skyline w/the space needle before you turn into a pumpkin or miss the last Ferry that’ll get you back to Bremerton in time for the last Mason County Transit bus carrying passengers to Shelton.

The MTA synchronizes its Route #3 (Belfair:Brmerton) with the WA State Ferry schedule for Bremerton:Seattle. In addition, Route #3 synchronizes its schedule with Route #1 (Shelton:Belfair via Hwy 3) and Route #2 (Shelton:Belfair via Hwy 101, Hood Canal School, Union, Hwy 106, etc.).

MTA (Mason County Transit) Bus Routes & Schedules

MTA Route #1 (Shelton:Belfair via Hwy 3) schedule

MTA Route #2 (Shelton:Belfair via Hwy 101 & 106

MTA Route #3 (Belfair:Bremerton) schedule

WDOT Bremerton:Seattle Ferry schedule (summer, 2011)

Metro Route #16 (Ferry terminal:Seattle Center, etc.) schedule

NOTICE how although Metro and the Ferries run 7 days/wk; the MTA does not…but it does run Monday-Saturday, giving you 7 hours of Emerald City play time if you start and end in Shelton (route #1), else just over 3 hours if you use route #2 beginning to end. If someone can pick you up at the airport grocery/gas station, you can arrange for MTA’s route #1 bus to drop you off there on its final run and have your friend/spouse transport you to where you started using the route #2 bus that morning. Those who utilized the route #1 bus earlier in the day won’t be saddled with this limitation to return to their original spot of disembarkation.

(If anyone from the Skokomish Tribe is listening?…how about parity? i.e. fully matching/coordinated schedules for routes #1 & #2? This would allow reservation residents to have the same access to Seattle as Shelton residents.)

In either event, you’ll have to get an early start to enjoy the whole 7 hours in OZ–be prepared to board the first bus at ~7:00am with exact change for your fare.

Metro’s Route #16 bus leaves about every 20 minutes at that hour. The ferry will depart Bremerton at 8:45am (MTA having gotten you there ~15 minutes prior to that) and arrive in Seattle just before 10:00am (depending on conditions) with barely enough time to rush to the #16 bus stop in front of the terminal and catch it if you’re lucky, else you’ll have to wait 20 minutes for the next one.

If Seattle Center is your destination (5th & Broad), the last #16 bus from there that’ll get you back to the ferry terminal in time to catch the 5:30 run to Bremerton leaves 5th & Broad at ~5:00pm. It’s often standing room only at that hour. But you run the risk of the driver running late and missing the ferry to Bremerton that would get you back in time for the LAST MTA bus (route #3) that would connect you to route #1 and an arrival in Shelton @ ~8:05pm.

IMPORTANT (but little known) TIP: If it looks like the #16 driver is running late, THEY ARE IN RADIO COMMUNICATION with dispatch and the ferry terminal. Explain your plight, ASK THE DRIVER to call ahead and notify the ferry you will be a couple of minutes late (if true). The captain will likely delay the ferry’s departure for that length of time to accommodate you. It’ll beat sleeping under a bridge if you can’t afford a motel for the night or no one’s available to drive that distance to get you. After all, the whole point of taking the bus is to save the high cost of fuel, parking, and stress involved in driving.

The following pics (shot at the 2011 NW Folklife Festival @ Seattle Center) were gathered on Memorial Day weekend. This Festival has been happening annually for 40 years with no admission fee (though donations are much appreciated) and goes non-stop from 10-10 for 4 days (Friday-Monday) straight!

Enjoy…better yet, don’t miss it. According to 6-string electric fiddle virtuoso Geoffrey Castle (admits to playing there for the last 16 years), “There’s nothing else like it in the whole damn country!”  It *IS* the annual most colorful fun filled event in the Pacific Northwest, hands down, with 12 stages, hundreds of performers, street musicians, tasteful vendor booths, and tens of thousands of attendees. Be prepared to come on Friday/Monday to avoid some of the crowds which can be intense Saturday & Sunday.

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