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So Long, Port Townsend

Port Townsend, Wa. marina

Port Townsend, Wa. Point Hudson marina

Wooden ships on the water, very free and easy
Easy, you know the way it’s supposed to be
Silver people on the shoreline, let us be
Talkin’ ’bout very free and easy

Horror grips us as we watch you die
All we can do is echo your anguished cries
Stare as all human feelings die
We are leaving, you don’t need us. ~~~ Wooden Ships, (Crosby, Stills, & Nash, 1969)

We’ve fallen into a rather pleasant routine over the last 10 days here in lovely Port Townsend, Washington, on Puget Sound.

Here’s a shot heading towards town from the ferry:

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The town allows overnight camping in vehicles in a public parking lot just behind some old marina buildings that have been converted into various marine related shops. So we have a quiet and safe place to rest our bones.

In the late 1800’s, the town was the prime north-west Pacific coast harbor and a Victorian boomtown, but it’s growth stalled and the town went into economic decline as it was bypassed by investors as steam power replaced sail and the railroads went to Seattle.

Today, it has lovely old victorian homes, a smattering of classic Craftsman cabins, a vibrant historic downtown district, remnants of shipbuilding, boating and a harbor life, but its really a tourist and retirement/arts & culture/historic preservation town that is rapidly gentrifying.

I imagine that this is what a harbor town like Montauk NY might have looked like in the 1930’s -40’s – some rich people, but still some organic, real life, before it got overwhelmed by money (not Gatsby’s old money, but Tom & Daisy types).

People here tell me that just 10 years ago, Port Townsend was a hippie town, but now second home rich people from Seattle and California are coming in, changing the culture and housing market. They say they will ruin it, like what happened to Oregon. A woman I met, a native of Alaska living out of her truck, spoke passionately about how she’s seen the changes and how the “Uptown” people resent the old-time downtown hippie folks, like herself.

I guess there’s no where else to go. The rich bastards have gobbled up everything.

Thursday night there was a hot band on the waterfront – it was a hoot to see a hundred old hippies out there dancing!

This weekend there was a blues festival – I managed to crash a show at the Key City Public Theater and – from a front row seat (reserved for band members) – I heard an incredible band, really an informal collective of 7 mostly street musicians, that had come together to play what they called old time American music. They hailed from New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle and New York. They were awesome!

Our daily routine:

  • rise with the sun, take a walk through the marina (we sleep behind the building in center):

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  • walk along the shore to the Park

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  • continue walk to historic Uptown, and stop by the bakery for a fresh roll
  • stop by the Carnegie dedicated library (very similar to the Carnegie Public library in Pittsburgh!)

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stroll downtown along the harbor, check out what’s cooking at the very cool¬†Northwest Maritime Center, and listen to the street musicians.

While I’d really like to stay, its time to move on.

Tomorrow, we head west, to the Pacific and the furthest northwest point in the lower 48.

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