Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Independence Day

Lyle and LInda at Cape Flattery
So the 3rd of July rolls around and now my brother and his wife come over on the ferry from their palatial mansion on Whidbey Island, making us a healthy sized group of eight.  That's semi-cousin Ruth and her hubby Paul,  my sister Laura and husband Tom and now Lyle and Linda, the Whidbey Rains.  Oh, and Vic and I of course.  L&L got off the ferry at about 8:30, picked Laura and Tom up at their B&B, met the rest of us out at some desolate spot on the highway and, packed into two cars, we headed west.

West from Port Townsend means back out US Hwy 101 to Port Angeles.  Then, where 101 turns south we switched to state Hwy 112 which continues along the north peninsular coast.  It is a nice drive with roads getting progressively narrower as you get farther from civilization.  We were headed for the town of Neah Bay, the main metropolis of the Makah Indian Reservation (pop. 865) which occupies the northwest tip of the United States. 

The Makah tribe has a web site here that can tell you all about their traditional culture, how they were at one with nature and lived in perfect peace and harmony, all the usual stuff.  None of that helped them when the whites arrived.  There were no major fights, but they apparently never quite managed to become one with the parts of nature that included small pox, measles, diphtheria and whooping cough and their numbers were thoroughly decimated.  Afraid the newcomers would take everything, they signed a treaty that preserved their sealing, whaling and fishing rights in exchange for 300,000 acres of Olympic Peninsula land they didn't really need anymore seeing as how there were only a few hundred of them left.  The tribe currently has a little over 1200 members who mostly make their living fishing supplemented by fairly limited tourist trade.  They still claim their right to take whales, but the last official whale hunt was in 1999.
Neah Bay
We planned to have lunch in Neah Bay.  Linda had picked out a cafe called "Linda's Cafe", entirely a coincidence I'm sure.  When we got inside it turned out to be mostly a pizza joint.  Linda (the owner) was friendly and answered our questions which gradually revealed that about half of the things on the already limited menu she was out of.  We ended up having salmon pizza, which was pretty good but could have used more salmon.

From Cape Flattery looking north toward Vancouver Is.
After pizza, we drove on out through the reservation to the northwest tip of both the Olympic Peninsula and the Continental United States, an area known as Cape Flattery.  Cape Flattery is the oldest permanently named feature in Washington state, being described and named by James Cook who wrote: "... there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbor ... On this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery."  Last summer when we visited Maine, we went to the northeast tip of the continental US and found the Quoddy Head Lighthouse there.  Cape Flattery also has a lighthouse, but it is located on Tatoosh Island, a couple of hundred
yards off the tip of the Cape.  The tip is reached by a 3/4 mile trail which, for most people, is apparently and easy jaunt, but for me the trail seemed pretty steep and the approximately 1.4 million wooden steps were pure torture.  I eventually made it, about an hour after the rest of our group, and took a few pictures to justify the trip.  Then I faced the prospect of retracing all those steps back to
Tatoosh Island
the top.  This was so overwhelming to me that I just laid down right there and died.  No, wait... that's not right.  It's hard to believe, but I actually made it back to the parking lot with much help and encouragement from my travel mates.  I'll never forgive them.

Fiddle concert at Fort Worden
The next day was July 4th and we had big plans.  Since 1977 Port Townsend has hosted an annual Festival of American Fiddle Tunes which is a one week symposium that draws fiddlers (as opposed to violinists) from not only all over the US but these days the rest of the world as well.  There are daily workshops (about which I know nothing) and evening concerts.  Linda, our tour planner, had gotten us tickets for the "Fiddles on the Fourth" concert, which took place in the afternoon to leave the evening available for pyrotechnics.  The venue was an old blimp hanger at Ft. Worden.  This is the building where Richard Gere and Louis Gosset, Jr. pummel each other at the end of An Officer and a  Gentleman.  It has been converted into a largish concert hall where a number of Port Townsend's many summer music festivals draw in the tourist trade. 

The show we saw was comprised of about 8 acts with fiddlers ranging from 6 years old to a 94 year old lady who still played well but seemed to have lost her sense of when it was time to stop.  There were fiddlers from Scotland and Denmark as well as all over the US.  We had a good time and so, apparently, did everyone else.

After the concert we went back to Chimacum and I smoked salmon for everyone while Paul grilled corn and Ruth made up a fancy salad.  Our rig, while spacious, does not really have dining space for eight, so we commandeered a table under the gazebo next to the Evergreen-Coho clubhouse and had a feast worthy of a Rains reunion.  There were supposedly fireworks out over the bay at Port Townsend, but we didn't drive back to see them.  It gets dark so late during the northern summer that they didn't start until after 10:00.  We just sat around the motor home and jawed until people got tired and wandered off to their various sleeping quarters.

Vicki explores gun implacement at Fort Flagler
The next day we did a little sight seeing across the bridge on Indian Island and at Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island.  Fort Flagler was an army artillery base established in 1899 and represented one leg of the "triangle of death" protecting the entrance to the Puget Sound.  It never rained death down on any enemy ships but served as a training camp for the Army until 1958.  It was sold to the state of Washington and the barracks and officer housing now serve as vacation accommodations for kids' summer camps and for individuals and families  There are a handful of RV hookups for volunteers who come and do park maintenance.  We talked to a couple of them and they were adamant that they were "volunteers", not "work campers".  Looked about the same to me.  There is a little museum at the entrance that has a slew of artifacts and a short video that runs you through the history of the fort.  It was a nice way to spend an hour.  Most of the group hiked around the tip of Marrowstone Island in the afternoon but my poor legs were still recovering from Cape Flattery, so I sat on the beach with Tom and watched the boats go by.

That evening Laura and Tom drove back around the Puget Sound to SeaTac airport.  They would spend the night at a hotel, then catch a plane back to Michigan in the morning.  Lyle and Linda had some things they had to do, so they caught the ferry back to Whidbey, but they would be rejoining us in a few days.  In the meantime we settled down with Paul and Ruth to relax at the Evergreen Campground for a couple of days.           

Bonus Pics

Looking south down the Olympic Peninsula from Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

Spotted along the road

Cape Flattery Lighthouse

Old barracks at Fort Flagler

Fort Flagler officers housing with Mt. Rainier in the background

The group heads off around the island...

...while I watch the boats go by.

Ruth finally gets to see her bear.

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