Travel brings you into the moment. As you see and experience new things, you are fully present in a way you aren’t often in your everday life. You can have an even stronger experience that stays with you when you seek to notice and describe the differences of a place, putting your finger on its pulse and discovering its personality. But are your really learning more about a place or about yourself in that exercise? I think it’s the latter.
At the top of the Olympic Peninsula, there are two different port towns: Port Angeles and Port Townsend. They are similar in a lot of ways — they are influenced by similar weather and geography (Strait of San Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains) and they are both important transit connections (Port Townsend is a ferry port for the Washington State Ferries to Seattle and the San Juan islands, while Port Angeles’ ferry connects to Victoria). But they are different too… Port Townsend feels like an elegant, rich old lady, with a beautiful and vibrant restored downtown, while Port Angeles feels like her working class cousin, with tourism taking a second seat behind the real work that goes on in the area.
Whether that is true or not, I don’t fully know. Port Angeles is the biggest town in the area, so it is an important center of commerce. I would need to spend more time and learn more about both places to get a true feel for their personalities and how their histories and economies have shaped them. But the perception I shared above came out loud and clear in my photographs. Since we stayed near Port Angeles, we spent more time in and around there, but I have more photographs of Port Townsend. Looking at it objectively, that says more about me than the towns. My photographic sense preferred quaint and quirky to work on this trip. I guess wanted to feel like I was on vacation. 🙂
So enjoy a few photographs from these two port towns, but take them with a grain of salt. As with any photography, they are more about my interpretation and my mood at the time of my visit than reality. But they are fun and interesting anyway!
Port Townsend’s waterfront downtown was wonderfully restored, complete with some quirky art. Want to go for a ride, anyone?
I don’t read much on paper anymore, but a good used bookstore should never be missed. I’m happy to report Brandon did purchase a book to help keep this wonderful little bookstore alive.
I like this shop owner’s priorities! The lettering on the door said “Open Nearly Everyday.” Just not the day we were there.
I think I will forever be a sucker for photographing potted plants on doorsteps, no matter where I travel.
The Port Angeles Downtown Associated had moved, but left behind a sad looking vacant storefront on a side street of the small downtown shopping area. Both towns had quite a bit of vacant property, even in high traffic tourist areas. It makes me wonder how hard the economic downturn has been on these little places. It’s such a beautiful and unique part of the country, I hope business picks up and these storefronts are filled in the near future.
One of our favorite parts of the area turned out to be the Discovery Trail, a long paved bike path along much of the northern part of the pensinsula. I ended up purchasing a new bike on this trip since I finally had time to test ride them, and going on family bike rides was a lot of fun! One day, we caught the trail near our campground and rode into Port Angeles and out to the Coast Guard Station on Ediz Hook, a sand spit which juts out into the Straight of Juan de Fuca and forms a natural harbor for Port Angeles.
It was an interesting ride, taking us past some lumberyards and through a pulp mill complex before you get out to the spit. It is a different world out there!
(If you ever have trouble with keeping the horizon straight, know that you are not alone. I can’t believe how crooked this is! My intent was for it to be straight when I took the photo.)
Me and my new bike! I love it! It’s is fantastic to have a bike that is comfortable to ride again. It makes me realize what I was missing by having a bike I didn’t really like for the last four or more years. I decided my middle-aged body didn’t like my mountain bike geometry anymore when we were in Italy, so I bought a new bike there without a lot of test riding. My mistake. It was too big for me and hard to ride, but I’ve hung on to it since it was part of my Italy memories. Instead of making me happy, all it was doing was hanging in the garage, keeping me from riding.
Since we’ve got my new bike home I’ve kitted it out with basket and bell and mirror and all the other accoutrements that make it “mine.” I’ve ridden it around town a few times already. Happiness!
And finally, the family selfie! Couldn’t have a vacation blog post about one of these. By the way, all of the images (except for me on my bike) are processed using the Klahhane Ridge formula I shared last week. I love that formula – it’s so versatile!
That wraps up the blog posts about our Olympic Peninsula vacation. It was a ton of fun and the best kind of family vacation: Lots of interesting and varied activities we all enjoyed, time for relaxation and silliness, and some fun family stories created for the archives. We already want to go back, there was so much we didn’t get to do up there!
I think that’s the perfect feeling to have when you leave a place: Wanting just a little bit more. It gives you something to dream and plan for on your next trip.