Ferries, Ports & Nature...

As we continue our tour of the wonderful state of Washington, we are delighted by all the uniqueness we discover.

To get to where we were headed, in the most efficient way, we boarded the ferry.
For $50 it was worth the shortcut and the opportunity to be on the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.
What a super fun way to get from Point A to Point B... on the sea!

Our first stop was the darling town of Port Townsend. Few places in Washington can match Port Townsend's long saga of soaring dreams, bitter disappointments, near death, and gradual rebirth. 
The future town site was home to a band of the Klallam Tribe and smaller groups from other tribes. The first non-Indian settlers arrived in 1851, and Port Townsend, because of its position near the entrance to the sound, soon became Puget Sound's Customs Port of Entry and a bustling port, seemingly destined for greatness.

Optimists, particularly those with sizeable stakes in its prosperity, began calling Port Townsend such things as the "Key City" of Puget Sound and the "New York of the West," expressions of hope far more than reality. Not everyone shared these rosy views, and contemporary opinions about Port Townsend and its future ran the gamut from bullish hyperbole to scathing contempt.

Rumors of railroads fueled a building boom in Port Townsend that began in the early 1870s, but for the time being the city got by with a mix of agriculture, logging, and catering to the maritime trade.
Between 1880 and 1890, the town's population grew by nearly 400 percent, to 4,558. While this looks impressive enough in isolation, during the same decade Seattle's population increased by more than 1,100 percent, Tacoma's by nearly 3,500 percent, and Spokane's by nearly 5,300 percent. People were pouring into the Northwest, but the vast majority of them were settling somewhere other than Port Townsend.

The city had a brief bright moment in March 1893, when the federal government completed the Port Townsend Post Office, Court, and Customs House on the bluff above downtown. Construction had begun in 1885, and the steel and brick, sandstone-clad building was finished several years late and several times over budget. It was an impressive edifice, but almost contemporaneous with its dedication, people started abandoning the city in droves. Between 1890 and 1900 nearly one-fourth fled, leaving behind a population of less than 3,500. Port Townsend would never again be counted as one of the 10 most populous cities in the state, and it fell into a deep and prolonged decline.

A tour of the post office and its museum quality displays delighted.
And while the train never came, the dream of the railroad left behind some exceptional architecture and some amazing buildings to admire.
All that history (and there is way more than I can blog) made us hungry. This 35 year old hot dog stand called our name.

This was the first time, since COVID-19 arrived, that Steve and I ate out. Washington's strict adherence to the CDC's guidelines gave us the confidence to do so and it was a delicious choice.
Yes, I do love lighthouses.

We paused briefly at Fort Worden, one of the three "ring of fire" protective forts. You might recognize the parade grounds as this is where An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed. Steve and I actually spent a long weekend here in the 90s. That might have to be a flashback story one day.
Night had us camping here at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, home to one of the world’s longest sand spits, which shelters a bay rich in marine life. Eelgrass beds attract brant, shorebirds feed on the tideflats, and ducks find sanctuary in the calm waters.

Recognizing the importance of the fertile habitats, President Woodrow Wilson established this place as a refuge, preserve, and breeding ground for native birds, in 1915.
Not only did we explore nature, we received a lesson and trash and the length it takes to decompose. Diversity at its best!

“Writing history is like holding a conversation across the ages,
responding to people long gone and posing questions to individuals yet born.”
-A.E. Samaan

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A Historical Reserve & An Awesome Fort

Today found us exploring Coupeville, Washington State’s second-oldest community with much of downtown harkening back to an era of more than a century ago.  Hundred-year-old buildings that were once livery stables and barber shops are now wine tasting rooms and bookstores.

This quaint town, in Penn Cove, sits in the heart of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, a place local residents and governments felt was so valuable, they formed a partnership with the National Park Service to create the reserve—the first of its kind in the U.S. (more about that below). WOW.

It was also here, in a darling 1890 building that Seattle's Best Coffee was born. It began as a combination ice cream and coffee shop called the Wet Whisker in 1969. Everything starts somewhere.

The most iconic structure in town, the Coupeville Wharf on Penn Cove is a symbol of the seafaring days of old and the rural character that still surrounds it today. Today, the Wharf hosts a boat dock, a gift shop, a restaurant and a cool skeletal display of the creatures of the sea. Fun.

So this is our home for the night. Pretty sweet seaside accommodations. 
We love to frolic by the sea. And it's extra sweet when you can boondock!
Boondocking is a term used by RVers to describe RVing without being connected to water, electric, or sewer. Because you're not connected to any services it's also called dry camping. Other terms you might see that all refer to boondocking are free camping and wild camping. Or sunset loving... you pick.
Moon gazing is pretty fun, too.
"... Almost a Paradise of Nature." This stunning landscape, at the gateway to Puget Sound with its rich farmland and promising seaport, lured the earliest American pioneers north of the Columbia River to Ebey’s Landing. Today Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve preserves the historical, agricultural and cultural traditions of both Native and Euro-American – while offering spectacular opportunities for recreation.
The reserve helps preserve the rural and agricultural feel of Central Whidbey Island, including some homes that are among the oldest in the state.  The farms have been in some families for 100+ years and are still working farms today.

To continue our history lessons, we headed to Sunnyside Cemetery, a pioneer burying ground, near Coupeville. Its establishment began with the first burial, Winfield Ebey in 1865. In 1869, his sister, Mary Ebey Bozarth sold the 1.25 acre where he was buried to the county for $1.00. While there are older grave markers there, such as Rebecca Ebey, 1853, they were actually exhumed and transferred to Sunnyside. Since that time, there have been six parcels of acreage added to Sunnyside, keeping pace with Whidbey Island's expanding population.

Here lies Captain Thomas Coupe (1818 – 1875), a ship's captain and early settler of Whidbey Island.

Under the Donation Land Claim Act, Coupe established a 320-acre claim in the central part of Whidbey Island upon which the present town of Coupeville now stands.
We thoroughly enjoying touring forts and Fort Casey (began in 1897, completed in 1907) is a pretty fabulous example of American military might.
Admiralty Inlet was considered so strategic to the defense of Puget Sound in the 1890s that three forts—Fort Casey on Whidbey Island, Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island, and Fort Worden at Port Townsend—were built with the intention to create a "triangle of fire" against invading ships. This military strategy was based on the theory that the three fortresses would thwart any invasion attempt by sea.
In 1901, the big guns on disappearing carriages, which could be raised out of their protective emplacements so that the guns were exposed only long enough to fire, became active. However, the fort's batteries became obsolete almost as soon as their construction was completed.

How about these wrenches. Big toys need big tools.

Its might was short lived, however. The invention of the airplane in 1903, and the subsequent development of military aircraft, made the fort vulnerable to air attack. In addition, the development of battleships designed with increasingly accurate weaponry transformed the static strategies of the nineteenth century into the more mobile attack systems of the twentieth century.
That said, within 20 years of the first gun firing, Fort Casey was the fourth largest military post in Washington, housing 10 officers and 428 enlisted men.

We happened upon a Change of Command being conducted at the Fort. What a special treat to see today's military might.
In amongst all the concrete and steel, nature reminds us of the beauty that can be found everywhere.

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