Port Townsend, Washington – day 2

Port Townsend has turned out to be as nice as we’d hoped.   A fun, vibrant and cute town way out on a peninsula of land between Seattle to the east and Port Angeles to the west.  

There was a time, a hundred or more years ago, when this town was the 2nd largest port in The USA.  But, the vagaries of history pulled the rug of growth out from under it then and the population of approximately 7000 dropped to 2000 almost overnight.   

Later, when war was in the offing, several forts were built in the area to protect the inner areas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound among other areas and a sense of prosperity returned.

But, then the war ended and the forts were abandoned or turned into parks (Like Fort Worden – just beside Port Townsend).   It was quiet again here through the end of the 1980’s but then it started to pick up and today the place is in growth mode and at about 9000 souls.   One third of them are retired folks.  There’s wood pulping, custom wooden boat building, some High Tech and various other things.

One long-term stroke of luck for the town was that after the initial major building boom at the end of the 19th century, the many old and beautiful brick buildings of that period have survived down to today and add to the quaint and attractive nature of the town.   Colette will, I hope, post some of the pictures we’ve shot around town today.

We began, after a breakfast of yogurt, melon and granola in our room, with a walk into town from our motor inn.   We walked up and down the main street an admired the old buildings and then found a good place for coffee.

We walked the main street again and then went up the hill to have a look at the Jefferson County Courthouse (circa 1892?).   Colette wanted to check out the courthouse and one of the ladies there let us in for a look.

Later in the afternoon, we drove back in and had a coffee and a sandwich at another shop and then went walking the street again. 

One place we stopped into was the local museum where the fellow looking after the place gave us an excellent introduction to the it and then turned us loose for a look.   Fascinating stuff.   Loggers, seamen, prostitutes, gamblers and rough types of all sorts made up the lower (by the water) part of town in the early days.   Up on the bluff above, lived the merchants and respectable ladies.

I learned a new word today; ‘crimper’.   A crimper is a fellow who makes sure that the ships in port have all the crewmen they need by whatever means is necessary.  Shanghai’ing is what they were doing.   Life was hard then and if you went drinking in the wrong bar, a couple of knock-out drops might go into your drink and out you’d go and you’d find yourself, when you woke bound, for China as an ordinary seaman and it would not be a good situation.  Jack London came through here.

I also wandered into a new-age bookstore called “The Phoenix” and I think it’s the best shop of its type I’ve ever seen.   www.phoenixrising-pt.com if you are curious.   It had a huge selection of stuff.   I talked to the owner and she’s been there doing this for 25 years.

After those adventures, we got in the car and went riding up and down the residential streets just to get more of a feel for the place.   We also drove over into Fort Worden and had a look around though it was getting to be deep twilight by then.

Back to Safeway where Colette picked out the bits for supper.   And back here in the room, she made us an excellent spinach, crumbled feta cheese, snow peas, toasted almond slices, sliced strawberries and balsamic vinaigrette dressing salad which was very nice.  And, as she said smiling, ‘No cooking was required’.   And, of course, I waded into my 2nd can of Foster’s Premium Ale (had the 1st one last night).

And now we’re having a quiet evening in.   Tomorrow, we’re off to our next adventure – possibly down the Mt. St. Helens area for a look about.


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