Shortly after I moved to Lakebay, I was told one of the truisms of this place: People rarely drive south of where they live.

It makes sense –– most of the shopping, entertainment and jobs are off the peninsula, so people naturally head that way most of the time. Then, when they come home after a long day of working or shopping or eating, they settle in. And so it is, people who live here never experience any part of the peninsula south of their residence.

Over the years, I’ve been surprised to meet longtime KP residents who have never been to Penrose Point or who didn’t realize the Lakebay Marina and Longbranch Marina are two different places. People who get lost driving to the Longbranch Improvement Club. People who have never driven around Home. People who could drive all over Gig Harbor but don’t have a clue how to reach Devil’s Head.

I’m one of those who is blessed to have a job that keeps me here, and allows –– or, in fact, demands that I drive all over this peninsula as I meet with the families who are part of our church. As much as I enjoy those visits, I also cherish the added bonus of experiencing the variety of the community in which we live.

We have lavender farms and wooded parks and secluded coves and restaurants rich with local flavor. We have concerts and fairs and open mics and book readings. We have trails through deep woods and swimming holes full of kids on warm summer days. We have art showings and outdoor movies. We have apple orchards, woodpeckers and a bear or two, if you’ll just look for them.

The richness of this place is amazing, and yet so many don’t seem to realize it, since they never take the time to explore and experience all that it has to offer.

The greatest assets, of course, are the people. There are artists and authors and pilots and old soldiers. There are natives and transplants. There are college professors, pastors, farmers and computer programmers. There are even some you might classify as hillbillies out here. If you take a little effort to get outside of your personal circle, you’re confronted with an amazing, eclectic, interesting community of people.

You might meet a filmmaker in the parking lot of Joemma Beach. Or maybe you’ll meet a cancer survivor holding court in front of Close to Home Espresso. Last week I had a lovely chat with a nurse who makes her home in Kansas City, but heads to Longbranch every summer.

We are surrounded by glory. Sometimes we just need to get outside of our regular routines and experience all that life has to offer, especially life on this wonderful little tract of land we call home. As one who is still discovering new places and wonderful people here on the KP, let me encourage you to head south. Or north. Or any direction you haven’t explored yet. Get out and discover the people and places that populate our peninsula. You won’t be disappointed.

Dan Whitmarsh is pastor at Lakebay Community Church.

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