Is Port Townsend For Real?

Posted November 19, 2018 – Narrated by Carmen
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Jim’s the surprise guy.

A curio shop window at Port Townsend

Ever since we were kids he’s managed to pull off these elaborately staged “drum roll please” surprises – and after forty-three years he still knows how to “wow” me. But, last year he gave me Savannah, Georgia for my birthday. How could he possibly top that?

His style is incremental disclosure – dropping hints while drawing the curtain back in slow motion, building the anticipation. Jim’s  a professional at surprises.

He knows it’s all about the journey not the destination. These guessing games can take minutes, hours, days, or even weeks depending on the magnitude of the surprise.

Detail of a door at Port Townsend

The clue game started when we crossed the Peace Arch-Douglas border from Canada into the US. We passed squeaky clean because for two weeks we planned our meals carefully so we’d be contraband-free of fresh dairy, meat and produce.

As we pulled out of the inspection station, Jim said, “Now, where are we going to find something to eat?” Strange, the way he said that … as if maybe restaurants and grocery stores had been banned from the state of Washington …?

Aha! Here we go.

He’s cooking up a surprise.

Then, as we drove by a pumpkin patch, he gave me another hint. Taking a pill out of his pocket, he said, “Here’s a Dramamine.”

“What? Are we taking a …?!” I clamped my hand over my mouth. The word that rhymes with “faerie” but carries people and cars, not magic dust – makes me ill. I don’t even have to ride one. Just imagining a ‘you-know-what’ triggers an involuntary and unpleasant physical response.

So, I swallowed the motion sickness pill and within, oh, twenty minutes or so, I slipped deep into a soft hazy trance.

But, the last thing I remember is that pumpkin patch …

… before waking up at the turn of the 20th century.

As Jim drove off the unmentionable thing …

… and turned right on the main drag, I rubbed my eyes.

Was this a drug-induced fantasy?

Jim said, “Cool. It’s like a time warp.”

Port Townsend, The City of Dreams (“where your neighbors don’t mind if you wear corsets or jeans”) is a cozy yester-year fishing villiage, perched on the proud tip of the densely wooded Olympic Peninsula and embraced by the protective waters of Admiralty Inlet.

Though it’s less than a two-hour drive to Seattle, Port Townsend lies in the rain shadow and only receives about twenty inches of precipitation annually.

It’s a haven for kayakers and wooden boat enthusiasts.

“The best view in town” according to the locals, is from the historic post office where Jim mailed our mid-term election ballots.

The impressive Romanesque building is a sobering message from the past that the founders’ dreams of grandeur came to a screeching halt. But, generations of dedicated residents have prevented the village from any sign of decay.

Here, restoration is an act of love.

This is a film-friendly location. With a few small vintage props, the main street could be a set for an 1890 boomtown.

Friendly, layback, easygoing Port Townsend is a writer’s haven and a seaside bastion for bibliophiles. The last time we saw that many bookstores we were in Paris.

That last week of our October birthday was spent walking and browsing the galleries and upscale consignment shops and sipping coffee and cocoa on the bay … dreaming about the next time we will return to Port Townsend for the Fiddle Festival or the Wooden Boat Festival or a guided birding expedition and what a hoot to be here for Halloween costumed as StarTrek characters with tricorders!

Dinner and a movie in Port Townsend is not the average date night. A sumptuous salmon dinner on the deck of Quench followed by A Star Is Born made us feel like kids – kids in the 1930’s.

The Rose Theatre

The Rose Theatre is a charming vintage cinema with an eclectic selection of mainstream, art and foreign films as well as live simulcasts featuring the Bolshoi Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera.

Daytime excursions were right in our wheelhouse –  kayaking, well-maintained cycling trails, hiking trails, beach walks, sea glass hunting and strolls in the little parks tucked within the tranquil suburban neighborhoods where deer pasture on manicured lawns.

It’s easy to understand why a quarter of the population of Port Townsend is 65 or older. It’d be a nightmare to wake up every day in this place and have to go to work.

Point Hudson Marina and RV Park

On short notice, Jim was lucky to secure a great camp spot on the bay at Point Hudson Marina RV Park. Right on the beach – full-hookups and only a few paces from Doc’s Marina Grill and Tavern, and Point Hudson Cafe – felt like we were in a resort. Everything was within walking and cycling distance. No driving necessary!  

Turns out our bare pantry was all part of Jim’s surprise. We ate out every day for a week. And on our way out of town, we stocked up at the Co-op.

So, once again, Jim swept his artsy-fartsy birthday gal off her feet – and the Puget Sound faeries (not f—y’s!) sent us on our way, by mainland, with their blessing. 

Our campsite at Port Townsend

And I’m still not convinced Port Townsend is for real.

53 thoughts on “Is Port Townsend For Real?

    1. Always a delight to hear from you Lori! Thank you so much for the birthday wishes. It was lovely.

      Safe Travels,


  1. Love love love Port Townsend. Have not been there for many years but it looks much like it did — although I do not remember some of those curio shop windows being so interesting. What a lovely visit, surprise and post!!

    xoxo Jan

    1. So great to hear from you Jan! The shop windows were really well done – so intriguing! We’d have liked to go inside more of the stores. Next time we will plan more time for shopping and leave Pico in the Airstream with a bone. Thanks for being with us! Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo


  2. Happy birthday, Carmen! It looks like you truly had a fairy-tale birthday.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jim too!

    Kathy & Steve

  3. Went through there this year on our way to and from Vancouver Island. It is a beautiful area. However, the Pacific Coast near Kalaloch is spectacular.

    1. Yes, so much to explore in that area. I hear great things about Sequim as well. I think an entire Spring and Summer is in order. Maybe in 2020 for us. Thanks again for being with us, Orquidia! Have a wonderful holiday.

      Safe Travels,


    1. It is! And shoulder-season is best. The weather is never terrible and there are fewer crowds.

      Thanks for being with us, Nan!


  4. It’s a beautiful and special place. They filmed an Officer and a Gentleman there and surrounding area. Safe travels!

    1. It certainly is a feast for the eyes, Kathy. Binoculars are essential. And, yes! So many familiar rooftops and seascapes, nooks and crannies. We must go back in the Spring or Summer for a longer visit! Safe Travels! LIB

  5. You guys just made me very homesick! You are so right! It does feel like being in a time warp there. Love riding the ferry too! So sorry you had to sleep through it. 😕 We love Port Townsend. Your photos are magnificent!

    1. Hey Karen! We missed you. Sorry to trigger homesick feelings. We see why you settled for so long on the Olympic Peninsula. We’d like to explore the area more. I’m researching homeopathic remedies for motion sickness. Car sickness plagued me as a child, but I’ve pushed through that. My only problem is the large you-know-what’s – many bad experience in Europe. It’s the smell of the diesel that gets to me. Our truck is a clean DEF diesel. I wish it was the law everywhere. Have a happy Thanksgiving! We’re looking forward to visiting you in Colorado someday.


  6. This makes me excited to begin our journey in our new motorhome…which we haven’t ordered yet! Ha! Soon! This is exactly why we want to travel the country for a few years! Thanks for the excitement!

    1. Hey Patti! Thank you for sharing our enthusiasm for travel. We can’t recommend a “few years of travel” enough. Happy holidays to you! Enjoy the RV shopping – that’s all part of the adventure.


  7. Hello sweet people, just read your latest post/adventure and, as usual, it was fantastically fabulous!! Pictures are breathtaking…. and I’ll admit I could be a little jealous… if that was my cup of tea!! Carmen, remember the Harbor Excursion we did for Biology, SUHI, and you spent the entire trip down below!? … so may I thank you for the ferry ride from San Diego to Coronado ten years ago!!! Lol!!! We love you both and pray peace and traveling mercies on y’all!!! HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIZ CARMEN!!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Miz Margie! YES! How could I forget exposing the contents of my stomach to the entire Biology class over and over and over again!!! You were so worried for me. I can’t remember much about that day but I do remember you fretting and trying to help me. Gosh, I sure hope I didn’t barf on you. Sorry if I did.

      I want so much to explore the San Juans and Victoria in B.C. but I have to find a way to deal with the ferry problem … looking into herbal solutions.

      We love you two! Hopefully, we’ll have a get-together soon. And, wow, the 50th class reunion isn’t that far off is it … ?!!!



    1. Thank you for being with us Keith! Yes, even when the weather is grumpy, it’s beautiful. Someday, we will return.



  8. Port Townsend is a wonderful place to visit, and shop! I love visiting Sequim, also, that is one of my favorite places! I want to get up there this spring and summer!

    1. Hey Sandra! I imagine it will be gorgeous in Spring and Summer! The water was a bit rough for kayaking in the Fall but I’ll bet it would be perfect in July or August. That’s when I’d like to visit next time!

      Thank you for being with us and Safe Travels!


  9. Wonderful Recommendation. We spent a few days last summer at Crescent Beach RV park not far from Port Townsend. Makes me want to turn around and head back to check it out. If you have a chance to visit the Log Cabin Resort in Olympic NP, I think you would love it. Not sure about this time of year, but in July it was great.

    1. Hey Bill! Always wonderful to hear from you. We are pinning in your recommendation. We will probably return to the area in 2020. Come join us!


  10. My husband and I spent the Summer of 2016 in Port Townsend while we were full time in our camper. Two years later, after comparing ever other place I went to PT, we got married there and moved back. We are so grateful and excited to call it home. Beautiful photos and post, it encompasses many of the reasons we love it here (and can agree, it is sometimes nightmarish to have to go to work.)

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Shannonmarypaul. May you both live to a ripe old age in the breathtaking beauty of Port Townsend.


  11. Western Washington is pretty magical. Grateful to have lived in Seattle for a summer, as a college intern. Love your travelogue. So glad your birthday was wondrous. Both you and Jim are wondrous, as well. Hugs.

    1. Thank you, dear Mrs. Dave for being with us on this journey since the beginning <3 I wasn't eager to see Seattle because that's where my family lived during the strange and stressful year of dad's deployment to Vietnam. But time has diffused those feelings, if not the memories, and I remain charmed with the entire area. Beautiful country!



  12. Wonderful look at this town I’ve called home for over 30 years. We love to take our fifth wheel camping, a whopping 5 minutes away at Fort Worden! Beautiful place to live and visit! Hope you’ll come back sometime!

    1. Thank you so much Suzy Carroll! We do hope to return – perhaps in 2020. We went for a bike ride in Fort Worden and loved it. Yes, you have it all in Port Townsend, downtown, mountain wilderness and waterfront – all within walking distance. Amazing place!

      Thank you for being with us and Safe Travels!


  13. In 2018 I stayed at the Palace Hotel from June till mid-December. In 2017 I stayed for the entire summer. I love love love this place and I’m glad that you discovered it as well. There’s something about being downtown in a small town. And fort Worden is that a village unto its own. Love you Port Townsend XOXO

      1. I believe it was during my 6 months stay at the Palace Hotel is when I briefly met you guys. I think you asked me about a good place to eat or something. I’ve been subscribed by email to your adventure ever since 🙂

        1. Nick! We remember you! Wow, thanks so much for checking in and following us. I believe you gave us the advice to try Quench. Now that I read this post, I am hoping all the fascinating small businesses are still open. The business community is the heartbeat of Port Townsend. I bought a pair of handmade gloves there which I still treasure.

          Safe and Happy Travels, Nick!

          Carmen @ LIB

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