I fell in love with Port Townsend at first sight - the Victorian buildings, the bay and the view over the waters, islands, and peninsulas, the distant, snow-covered mountains, the friendly, interesting-looking people. It reminded me of the West of Scotland, also a heaven on earth - except that, as you stand and admire the scenery in the countryside around Port Townsend, your feet are probably not soggy. They would be wet almost anywhere in Scotland.
My home port, located in the lap of god/dess
The town is on the northeast corner of the Olympic Pensinula, and it's located in the rainshadow of Mount Olympus and the Olympic range. While Mount Olympus itself may get 180 inches of rain a year, here in the rainshadow we only get about 18 inches. The rest of western Washington may be suffering a deluge while we have sunshine with perhaps an occasional shower. I think the weather here is very nearly perfect. It is just right for my internal thermostat. The picture to the left shows the Olympics in the distance. To look at it, you wouldn't think that they would have such a profound effect on the climate here, but they do. They look a lot larger in person.
Port Townsend is a small town, about 8,000 people. And it has that small town atmosphere where lots of people know each other. It's welcoming. But it has some unusual characteristics as well. Many of the people who live here are artists or writers or craftsmen or healers of various persuasions. There is a vigorous arts community and an active spiritual community. People do original and sometimes funky things. You come upon signs of this in unexpected places. These wooden mushrooms are "growing" wild in the forest near my home. People here seem to be having fun, and they have time for each other.
A Small Sampler of Port Townsend
Some pictures from around Port Townsend. Nothing special - just things around home, living in the lap of the god/dess...
Click on any of the small pictures below to see a larger version of the same photo.
Sailboats at Anchor
One of the things that makes Port Townsend so delightful to me is that there are a lot of cruising sailboats in the harbor. I especially liked the looks of the black double-ended ketch here. This picture was taken from a parking lot in downtown Port Townsend.
The N. D. Hill Building
This building is one of the many Victorian structures on Water Street, in the main part of town. It was built in 1889, and it is very close to the place where I buy what has to be the world's greatest lemon custard ice cream at The Elevated Ice Cream Company. I try not to go there too often.
Boat Haven and the Olympic Mountains
In a port, naturally you find more boats. But what is special in this photo is the Olympic mountain range in the distance. It is this ridge of coastal mountains that gives Port Townsend and the area nearby its special, privileged character. The winds sweep the clouds up from the sea to the mountains, where they drop much of their rain on the western slopes. Then, most of the rain that passes the ridge flows around rather than over it. Port Townsend is in the "rain shadow" of the mountains, and is quite dry for coastal Washington - an average of around 18 inches of rain a year. The climate is wonderful - very rarely above 80 F at the height of summer, and seldom below freezing in the dark of winter. Long summer days with bright sun balance the shorter winter days, but even in winter there is often sun and blue skies.
Shops on Water Street
The blue building is very important. It contains a doll house and miniature shop - another essential for a well-planned town.
Some Victorian Houses around Town
Some of the Victorian houses in town have been converted to apartments or are bed & breakfast places or are used for businesses, but some are still private homes.
The pictures below are not clickable.
My First Day in Port Townsend
First, I nearly missed the bus. But the driver spotted me half a block away and pulled over to wait for me, just in case I'd meant something more than friendliness when I waved. I tried to hurry, but hurrying is not something I do very well at present since I ran over myself with a small truck last May. I can do not-limping now, but I can't do hurrying yet. Anyway, I got to the bus and the driver was very friendly. She knew I must be new in the neighborhood and was full of questions about where I was from and did I like Port Townsend and who/what was I (always a fraught question for me). During the conversation she phoned ahead to make sure the bus I needed to connect with waited for me (which it graciously did, even though we were behind schedule - I may have thrown the entire PT bus system out of sync for a while. Just as I was getting off the bus, the driver asked if I'd thought of trying acupuncture for my leg. I said I was already missing my acupuncturist down south and did she know someone good. She does, of course. We'll continue that discussion on my next trip into town.
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So I made it onto the second bus, and got off on Water Street into a mass of petunias. I have this thing about petunias - such an intoxicating scent! Huge hanging baskets in front of the shops, warmed by the sun, were releasing their delightful aroma into the air, so I just stood there blissed out for a while. When I came to again, I discovered that I was right across the street from the shop I most wanted to visit - a doll house/miniatures/antique shop - three of my favorite things rolled into one.
I spent an hour and a half in there and far too much money, but I feel I showed remarkable restraint when we consider what I'd liked to have spent. Among other things I got a new rug for the faery godmother's room, two faeries that weren't really dollhouse scale, but will fit into the castle's rooftop garden very well, a miniature birdhouse and a ladybug house (also for the garden - now I'll have to make a butterfly house and butterflies too), a puppy (for the lady elf), a mamacat in a wicker cat bed with two kittens (also for the FG's room), and stuff. Those who are not miniature addicts will perhaps not understand why I was so very happy with my tiny bag of expensive shopping, but I was. Very, very happy.
Then, I wanted lunch, but first I wanted something to read while eating so I trotted across the street to a book store. Turned out to be a really lovely (some of them are so yucky) new age store and someone was doing tarot readings there. He'd been there a week and this was his last day. He was booked up for the entire day except for one slot starting about five minutes after I walked in the door. Well, he was a little expensive too, but it felt right and I did it. Spent my five minutes waiting in a rocking chair at the back of the shop, happily reading poetry.
The tarot reading was excellent - enough accurate, evidential stuff to lend great credibility to the rest of the reading. Basically, it boiled down to I am in the right place at the right time, headed in the right direction and he suggested that being here is going to be much better for me than I'd even hoped and it is going to be beneficial for my health (the big question in my mind). I'd thought I'd been getting things right, but it is nice to have confirmation. He also suggested that I do some things I hadn't thought of but which sound like appropriate and wonderful things for me to do. Good stuff. Helpful.
Next, I found a proper, good, secondhand bookstore (another essential in a well-ordered town) in the next block, bought five fantasy novels (to read over lunch! I read quickly, but not that fast), and took note that this would probably be a good place to dispose of some of my excess books (no! there is no such thing as too many books - just [I am discovering] too many books to fit into my 11 bookcases and several workshop shelves). Armed with plenty to read, I found a cafe overlooking the sound where I could watch a few boats sailing like seabirds soaring in the wind (sail boats are another beloved activity). It was a fifties place (my youth!) and I enjoyed the ambience, the BLT, and the strawberry soda.
After lunch I sat by the harbour for a while and then wandered around window shopping. We are having a heat wave - almost eighty, but with a lovely sea breeze. Then I stopped in The Elevated Ice Cream shop and had a dish of lemon custard ice cream. It is my favorite flavor ice cream, and you can hardly find it anywhere because it is very tricky to make properly without souring the milk, and I was again blissed out. Yummmmmmmmm.
After that, I did my grocery shopping and got a taxi home (my car is broken, the mechanic is on vacation, so I may be bussing for a while yet, but you meet interesting people that way.) My taxi driver and I got to chatting. Turns out she is a self-taught healer. I taught healing for thirty years and I invited her to get in touch if she wants to talk about healing. She was so tickled about that that she refused to accept a tip - and she'd really earned a good one by loading and unloading and carrying into the house two weeks worth of shopping for me and the cats. Um, I can see it might be useful for me to teach some classes here in healing and other things. I wasn't sure I wanted to be teaching again, but that dratted psychic :) said I need to be teaching again. I've had a five years hiatus for illness, so I guess it's time to get back to doing some of the things I love - but not too much or too soon.
Last night I had the feeling that Port Townsend was showing itself off for me, showing me what a quietly wonderful time I can have there. Hmmm. The only addiction I missed out on was a plant nursery - but I saw several. When I get my car back and can carry heavy loads around...
This western Washington is a wonderful place. And magical. New beginnings can be such fun.
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