Monday, July 13, 2015

First Days on the Olympic Peninsula

Greetings from lovely Chimacum on the Olympic Peninsula, just south of Port Townsend, WA.  The town bills itself as "a historic farming community" with the motto "We grow food for you".  There are about a dozen farms in the area but you would be hard pressed to tell if you didn't get directions to them.  They specialize in foodie stuff - grass fed beef, "organic" fruits and vegetables, the sort of thing they can sell locally at a premium price to keep themselves afloat.  That's fine, but they aren't going to solve world hunger any time soon.  Sure, they grow food for YOU, but only if you live nearby and not on the scale of California or Nebraska.

The town is home to the Evergreen-Coho SKP park, which is the main reason why we are here instead of at Hudson Point up in Port Townsend.  The park is quite nice and the infrastructure problems don't seem to be nearly as bad as you may have been led to believe.  We are in a vacant share-holder site with 50 amp service and full hook ups and have not had any problems at all so far.  Howard and Heart McQueen  from Jojoba are here and have leased a lot, planning to make this their primary home base rather than Aguanga (although, given their history, that could change at any moment.)  We met them the day we arrived and have shared a couple of meals with them.  They took us to the local Elks fish fry which was interesting since I had never been in an Elks Lodge before.  The food was good and the bar well stocked, which I guess are the main requirements for a lodge.  A very gung-ho Elk gave us a tour and showed us the inner sanctum (but not the secret handshake).  They seemed like a nice bunch.  I would tell you the whole McQueen story but it's probably not my place to do so.  They have a lot of big plans but they seem to be fairly... labile.  Anyway, they'll probably be back to Jojoba before we will so if you are there you can ask when you see them.

Boat riding low in the water
We had lunch the next day at the Bayview Restaurant out on the patio.  It was pretty good food and we were having a pleasant conversation when I peaked over Howard's shoulder and saw a rather unusual boat heading south into the sound.  I guess even next door to the Bangor Naval Base it isn't all that common to see a nuclear submarine cruise by.  I'm pretty sure this is a fast attack sub, not one of the big missile boomers that carry much of our nuclear arsenal (thanks to Tom Clancy, I know all the lingo).

Residents of the lagoon
Our plans for our visit to the Port Townsend area early on revolved around visits from family members, but we had a few days to ourselves before they were expected to start arriving so we did a little exploring on our own.  Port Townsend is somewhat unique in having a lagoon situated in the middle of town.  Well, I say "lagoon" but the difference between that and a swamp is sort of in the eye of the beholder.  The entire area of Port Townsend was called Kah Tai by the local natives before Capt. Vancouver showed up and renamed it after his buddy, the Marquis of Townshend. He saw the indians erecting poles hung with nets that would entrap waterfowl as they came in for a landing in the swa... er, lagoon.  The current Kah Tai Lagoon is what is left of a much larger wetland that was a nuisance to get around in the early days of the town. Back in 1964 the town wanted to expand its boat building area and get a decent road around the muck, so they dredged the harbor and funneled the mud and sand into the lagoon to create some more dry land.  This irritated the local environmentalists and the 200 acre wet land was reduced to about 80 acres.  In the 1980s they wanted to fill in the rest, but the local citizens revolted and demanded it become a protected parkland.  Currently there are a dozen varieties of duck that call the lagoon home as well as numerous other critters.

We saw a few of these at Kah Tai.  This is a Ruddy Duck.  They were on the far side of the lagoon and could just be made out with our binoculars.  The white cheeks, red backs and blue bills of the males make them easy to identify but at that distances we did not have any lens that would adequately capture one, so I stole this photo off the internet.  The site it was on was in French, so if there was any copyright notice there I couldn't make it out (my french is only marginally better than my Swahili).  After looking at herons and red wing blackbirds in Oregon and ducks here, Vicki has decided we are now officially "birders".  Yeah, we'll see how much time she spends bird watching over the next 4 months.

Fort Worden
Fort Worden, on the outskirts of Port Townsend,  was built from 1896 to 1901 and was an active Army base from 1902 until 1953.  It was one of three forts built at the opening of the Puget Sound that were supposed to create a "Triangle of Death" for any invading ships trying to attack Seattle and Tacoma.  In the end, they never fired a shot in anger and their dozens of artillary pieces were dismounted during WWI and sent off to Europe where they were hoped to be more useful.  The fort was used mostly as a training facility and provided the sets for An Officer and a Gentleman in 1982.  Down the hill from the fort is Wilson Point where a lighthouse has guided ships through Admiralty Inlet for a century.
Wilson Point Light

We drove along the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula visiting Sequim (pronounced "Squim") and Port Angeles (pronounced "Port Angeles")  These were just kind of scouting trips.  We mostly left the rest to do after the various relatives started arriving in a couple of days.  We just hunkered down and awaited the onslaught.
Port Angeles, at the foot of the Olympic Mountains
Container ship entering the sound (no, not the yellow one)

1 comment:

  1. Strange boats and blue billed ducks. You really cover a lot of ground in your travels.