Thursday, September 29, 2016

Port Townsend

We continued toward Port Townsend, with the almost-full moon setting before us.  And just below it was a long-haul trucker with this message on the back of his truck cab.  We could relate to that.

The Cascades rose in front of us, with steep slopes and rivulets of water glistening on the rocks beside the road.

Not long after lunch, we passed Tacoma and crossed the bridge over the Tacoma Narrows.

We then got our first view of Puget Sound.

Our home base was the Evergreen Coho SKP Park in Chimacum, Washington.  This is a park exclusively for members of the Escapees RV club.  The park is owned by a co-op, and members lease their RV sites.  A certain number of sites are maintained for traveling Escapee members, and we stayed in one of those.  The park is well-maintained, and has a fenced dog park and short walking trails on the property.

But our favorite feature of this park was the sanctuary that adjoins the property.  The Tamanowas Rock Sanctuary is managed to preserve its historic, cultural natural values.  It is a partnership between the Jefferson Land Trust, the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe and Washington State Parks.  The site was sacred to the early peoples native to this area.  We were told the high rock outcropping, which rises 150 feet above the surrounding land (with a terrific view of the coast), is judged to be at least 43 million years old.  It was used as a place from which the original inhabitants could spot the mastodons they hunted for food.  It predates the Cascade Mountains on the east, which are only 28 million years old.

We took full advantage of this lovely spot.  On Thursday and again on Saturday and Sunday we hiked the precipitous path to the top.  The trail is flanked by boulders like this one and larger.

The climb was steeper than Mineral Ridge in Coeur d’Alene.  We didn’t go as many miles, but we certainly went as far vertically.

We were surrounded by lush vegetation like this mushroom and the lovely pink wildflower, and enormous trees.  


Along the path, wild berries provided a tasty snack.

At one turn in the trail we looked to our left and saw this cleft in the rock.  It looked like a slot canyon, ten to twelve feed deep, but with a very narrow, dark interior.  A dog might have gotten through to the other side, but it was far too narrow for a person…and we sure didn’t want to risk one of us or a dog getting stuck!

On Sunday we took a different route to the top…or close…and had a very different perspective.  The rock was honeycombed with large and small caves, some of which could have sheltered a person or two if they could have climbed up the steep face. 

This trail required us to climb hand-over-hand part of the way as the dogs scampered over downed logs and across gullies.

The setting was very Jurassic Park-like, and we could almost imagine a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a Velociraptor lurching out of the sword ferns and coming after us.  Fortunately the sanctuary harbors nothing that sinister and we returned home unscathed.

We also spent quite a bit of time in Port Townsend, a charming small city of just under 10,000 people (although that number swells considerably when we tourists are in town). 

We were amazed at the number lovely Victorian homes and public buildings.


Here is a photo of their magnificent courthouse.

The downtown area is full of interesting shops, bars and restaurants. We had lunch at the historic Belmont Hotel, with a small outdoor seating area overlooking the water.

We were tempted to try the “Boiler Room” with its intriguing sign, but it was closed.

Close by is a small park with a special section set aside for “free speech.”  One fellow takes this very much to heart, and had a number of whiteboards displayed with his opinions on various subjects.  

And just outside of Chimicum, Fat Smitty also has strongly held opinions.

Another of our excursions was to Fort Worden State Park which is within the city of Port Townsend.  Located on a high bluff overlooking Puget Sound, the original fort was established in the late 1800s for the defense of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It functioned until the end of World War II.  The fort contains a number of historic buildings which have been restored, as well as a military museum.  There are also picnic and day-use areas and camping facilities.  We took a quick tour of the park.  While we were there, we had a walk along the beach, and our second look at majestic Mount Rainier across the Sound.

On a subsequent trip to Fort Worden, we were able to tour the Point Wilson Lighthouse.  Docents like this lovely lady from the Coast Guard Auxiliary were extremely knowledgeable and explained the background of this historic building.  

Established in 1879, the original light was a fixed, white beam.  However, another lighthouse across the channel had the same “signature” which was very confusing to navigation and caused at least one collision.  Subsequently, the Point Wilson light was changed to a fixed, white light with a red flash every 20 seconds.

The light was originally produced by an oil lamp with the light concentrated by a rotating Fresnel lens.  After electricity was available light came from a 1000 watt bulb.  The lens was designed and built in France, and is made of hand cut and polished crystal prisms which concentrate the small light into a powerful beam with a range of fifteen miles.  

The light was first located on top of the light keeper’s house.  In 1913, the present tower was built and the light was moved to that location.  It was manned until the early 1960s when it was automated and its primary reason for being was taken over by Seattle Vessel Traffic Service RADAR.  

Some people search out lighthouses on their travels, while others have a different focus.  We try never to miss a farmer’s market, not just to stock up on fresh veggies, but for the local flavor.  We found another winner in Port Townsend.

There were food and flowers, music, beautiful crafts and of course, a plethora of veggies

I had a hard time choosing between the multi-colored broccolini and the romanesco, but the romanesco won out.  

We’ll be eating some of this beautiful produce while we’re here in Forks, Washington.

And speaking of great food.  We stopped for lunch one day in the small town of Port Hadlock.  The seafood stew at Scampi & Halibut was to die for!

Not all of our time was spent in the Port Townsend area.  One afternoon we traveled west some 45 miles to Port Angeles and took a drive up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. 

The scenery along the way was beautiful, and when we reached the visitor center, we saw this handsome raven perched alongside the road.  He was so striking I couldn't resist stopping for a couple of photos. 

 I was disappointed, though.  He croaked several times, but never said, "Nevermore."


  1. Lovely shots as always, except for the vitriolic polemics. What are the colored stones/whatever leading into the slotted cave (don't think that's the right terminology so I hope you know what I mean)?

  2. Those are autumn leaves that have fallen and blown into the crevice. And as for the vitriolic polemics, unfortunately they are everywhere. One of the hazards of free speech, I guess. (And those were just the ones that were semi-printable. The diatribe against men was way too graphic.... You could say vitriolic on steroids. He said it was written by his sister.)