Almost the Whole Pacific Coast - Winter/Spring 2016 travel blog

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

Port Townsend

the ferry comes in

Port Townsend

Port Townsend

Fort Worden light house

Puget Sound

Fort Worden light house

Puget Sound

Puget Sound


Olympic National Park has such varied scenery. We've enjoyed the beaches loaded with driftwood, the mossy rain forest, the snow topped Hurricane Ridge and finally Lake Crescent. This glacially carved lake is over 600 feet deep and on a sunny day its clear water has a deep azure color. National parks often have classic old lodges, many built by the railroads to bring tourists to the area on their trains. After lunch in the Lake Crescent lodge, we walked a portion of what used to be the railroad tracks, now being turned into a bike trail. The railroad went through two tunnels, which have been covered over with earth and vegetation for one hundred years. Park staff have a lot of work to do to uncover these tunnels and finish the trail.

We are camped near Sequim (pronounced Skwim), a town we regularly hear mentioned as one of the best places in the country to retire. Even though the Olympic Peninsula is known for high amounts of rain fall, Squim lies in the shadow of the mountains and most of the rain passes it by. This weekend they are holding an irrigation festival, the oldest festival taking place in Washington state. Here we finally found a place to get a haircut, the same chain we patronize at home for their reasonable geezer rates. We had to wait almost an hour to get in. Because there are so many retirees in Squim, there aren't enough young people to do the work. Plenty of jobs to be had here.

Just down the road at the tip of a peninsula jutting into Puget Sound is Port Townsend, another town we keep hearing about. It was named one of America's Top Ten Coolest Small Towns by Budget Travel magazine. The town was founded in the 1850's and its location so close to Canada, made it an official point of entry. The economy prospered selling supplies to gold seekers bound for British Columbia and then from speculators hoping that the transcontinental railroad would terminate here. The city boasted consulates, banks, huge hotels, a street car line, shipyards and all sorts of commercial establishments - an expansive layout reflecting the local's hopes that Port Townsend would become the region's major port and trading center. The population grew to 7,000, but when the railroad was routed further south, a long period of decline set in. But Port Townsend managed to preserve many of the Victorian buildings from that time, which give it a charming character today. The town is on two levels, one on the sea and the other up on cliffs. Trendy stores are housed in the classic buildings today and sell unique clothing, jewelry, cookware, etc. that have been made by local artists. Ferries come and go continuously taking cars and trucks to nearby islands on the sound. A happening place.

Two miles north Fort Worden was built and it too, has been well preserved. It has a huge campus of officers homes and barracks. Some of these have been repurposed as museums and some buildings are being renovated for a new college campus. Even though the light house there has been closed since 1976 and is a bit the worse for wear, its setting on the bright blue waters of the sound with a panorama of snow capped mountains behind it, kept our shutter fingers clicking.

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