Meanwhile, as we’ve been traveling cross country from the west coast, we’ve had many wonderful experiences which I do not want to forget. It’s crazy how everything runs together if I don’t write it down! In early fall, as we made our way from Lopez Island back to our hometown of Ashland, we made several stops in Washington—one familiar and much-loved place, and several that were new to us.
Port Townsend, WA
We love Port Townsend. For those of you who have been traveling along with us for a while, this comes as no surprise. This quirky, beautiful, interesting little town has long been on our short-list of places that we would consider living someday. If only the winters weren’t quite so gray, long, and chilly…
But summer and fall are gorgeous. Our stay this time was made even better by a visit from our friends Henry and Loretta, whom we first met in Florida at the beginning of our full-time travels and have connected with several times since, most notably on a visit to Cedar Mesa, Utah, where we got ridiculously lost on several hikes. (Our fault.)
We did many of our favorite things in Port Townsend—the delightful Saturday farmers’ market, an afternoon at Finnriver Farm and Cidery, strolling the historic and interesting downtown, and for something new, a long hike on Glass Beach searching for beach glass, which we had been wanting to do for years. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the glass we found, but there’s something irresistible about the search. And it’s so relaxing—except for the crick you get in your neck from looking down.
(Click on any photo for a larger view)
Camping At The Marina In Port Townsend
Our favorite place to stay in Port Townsend has always been Fort Worden State Park. It’s a popular spot, and there were no sites available when I tried to make reservations months in advance. We ended up at Port Hudson Marina. It’s walking distance to town, Verizon is great, some of the sites have waterfront views, the bathhouse is nice, and there’s a laundry. Despite the fact that the sites are packed in like sardines, we would stay there again because it’s so much fun to walk along the picturesque harbor and into the lovely historic downtown.
Just 40 miles south of Port Townsend lies Dosewallips State Park, a sprawling park that encompasses both fresh and saltwater habitats. Our last visit here was almost 10 years ago, and we had wonderful memories of walking out onto the mudflats, digging clams, and harvesting oysters. Unfortunately, the tides didn’t cooperate while we were there this time and we ended up buying our oysters and clams for a feast back at camp. It was just as delicious, just not as exciting.
Although we missed out on the shellfish harvesting, abundant wildlife of the feathered and furred variety gave us an outstanding show. When the salmon return upriver to their spawning grounds in the fall, the eagles and otters have easy pickings. There’s a resident herd of Roosevelt elk, too—we heard a telltale bugling sound our first evening, and looked out the window to see a herd of two dozen elk gathered in the campground. Late September is a great time to be in this area for wildlife sightings.
Hama Hama Oyster Farm
Hama Hama Oyster Farm and Saloon, a fifth-generation oyster farm about 15 miles down the road from Dosewallips on the banks of the Hood Canal, is the place to stop for fresh oysters and all things seafood. That’s where we bought our oysters and clams for a seafood feast at camp.
When we left the campground heading south, we stopped again to buy crab cakes. Pro tip: The parking lot is enormous, with a view of the Hood Canal. We pulled our trailer in, bought a few crab cakes at the farm store, sauteed them in our rig, and fixed a salad. It was a quick, tasty lunch (and if you buy the crabcakes and fix them yourself, they’re half the price of ordering them at the saloon).
We had never heard of Montesano, but when our friends Riley and Karen said “Hey! You’re not far from us!” we made plans to stop for a couple of days. We first met in Santa Fe the first year of our full-time travels, and have met up a couple of times since in our circuitous journeys.
We went to the local farmers’ market, they introduced us to their favorite seafood market and wine shop, we shared tasty dinners at each other’s rigs, and we had time to catch up on the adventures we’ve each had since we were last together. Very fun. The small Friend’s Landing campground near Montesano is lovely, with lakefront sites, a beautiful 1.7-mile trail around the lake, water and electric hookups, a clean bathhouse, and good Verizon.
Ocean City & Grayland Beach State Parks, WA
We set our sights next on exploring the region of Gray’s Harbor, on the southwestern Washington coast. We spent several nights in two oceanside state campgrounds, Ocean City State Park and Grayland Beach State Park. Both are spacious and lushly green with easy access to long sandy beaches.
We walked the beaches, explored the working waterfronts and bought seafood from local purveyors, visited the cute little Gray’s Harbor lighthouse, and drove backroads lined with cranberry bogs where the cranberry harvest was in full swing.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear my dad calling my name. I’ll be back in a few days with the next post in my attempt to get caught up before we leave here at the end of March.