South Side Hood Canal

Hama Hama Oyster Co.

Back in April, Dan and I decided to take a cold sunny day to head around to the other side of the Hood Canal. Dan came over to Bremerton in the morning on the ferry from Seattle. While the Seattle side of the ferry terminal is still going to be under construction for the next couple years, the ferry ride is still worth the trouble. On a clear day, you can enjoy some beautiful views of of Mt. Rainier, West Seattle, Rich Passage, and the water itself. You may get to see some seals or even Orca whales. My wife, Heather made us brunch before seeing us off on our mini adventure. Dan had made this journey by car once before. I had never been to this section of the Hood Canal. From Bremerton we headed down Highway 3 to Gorst where we exited on W Belfair Valley Road. Somewhere around the Bear Creek Country Store, this road becomes NE Old Belfair Highway. While there are some spots where the speed limit drops, you’ll enjoy mostly country road speed and sweeping bends. Once we made it into the city of Belfair proper, we reconnected with Highway 3 towards Shelton. Just a couple miles down the road you’ll come to the junction where Highway 106 branches off to the right.

A brief summary of Western Washington’s natural beauty all in one photo.

Highway 106 is where the fun is turned up a notch. What a great stretch of state highway! You’ll carve your way along the southeastern leg of the Hood Canal past scenic views of the Olympic Mountains and waterfront vistas. Highway 106 takes you all the way to the Southwest corner of the Hood Canal before depositing you on to Highway 101 North. 101 will not be outdone by 106 when it comes to curvy good times. The section of road between Hoodsport and Lilliwaup is full of twists and turns culminating in a long swooping right that brings you all the way around a little cove. Does this cove have a name? Probably. As of writing this, do I know it? Nope. Is it labeled on the map I’m also looking at right now? That’s also a nope. It’s safe to say that you’ll know it when you see it.

From here the road mellows a bit, we are in the home stretch to Hama Hama Oyster Saloon. What a cool place! During this time of social distancing and quarantine, there isn’t much happening. They are still open to purchase oysters by the dozen but if you were hoping to enjoy a beverage, the fire pit and the views of Hood Canal, you’ll have to wait till things get back to normal. You can still climb the mounds of oyster shells if you are so inclined and there is plenty of scenery to marvel at. Despite being short on amenities at the moment, this place is doing a vigorous business. Customers can line up at pre-marked positions to make their purchases. Dan is a big oyster enthusiast so he purchased a couple dozen on ice and thrown in his pack. I brought home a dozen for Heather. Hama Hama lays nearly straight due West from our starting point in Bremerton so we now had the choice of turning South and heading back the way we came, or continuing our trip North to circumnavigate Hood Canal. The road map North through Brinnon and Quilcene does look enticing, but those curves we came through are already calling my name and we decide backtrack way we came.

A pile of oyster shells! In the background you get a glimpse of a cleaning apparatus. The conveyor belt runs the oysters into the high side of the spinning cylinder. As they make their way to the bottom sand, muck, and other waste product get knocked off the oysters and fall through the grates leaving a much more appealing product for sale.

We made a brief pit stop in Hoodsport at the HCO(Hood Canal Outfitters) gas station to refuel and grab a six pack for the end of our journey. You know, some roads are just better going one direction over the other. This isn’t one of them. Before I knew what had happened we were back exiting the 106 and rejoining Highway 3 North East to Bremerton. The day’s adventure had put a big smile on both of our faces, the only thing left to do was to get home, crack open a couple of those beverages and rehash every corner, every curve, every vista we had enjoyed that day. 101 and 106 are well known in this area and get quite busy as the weather warms up. Even in the chill of a Washington spring day, we saw a multitude of riders. I can only imagine how many of us will be out there as the temperatures start to rise.

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