Port Townsend united

Ah, the year 2020; a true dumpster fire of decade openers. The main attractions? Record hurricanes, epic wildfires, historic flooding, a cameo appearance by murderous hornets and—of course—a pandemic.

The spotlights feature our world leaders; some elected, others born into their rolls, and a few who are self-appointed. All of those in charge have been called upon to act on behalf of their people. Some rose to the occasion. Others sank to new lows.

And we find ourselves in a time that oddly divides us into strongly opposing groups, especially in the United States, where—among other things—the ever bubbling cauldron of racial injustice officially reached its tipping point.

So many people have suffered, struggling with great loss. So many businesses and livelihoods folding or hanging on by threads—the travel industry being one of them.

Travel. Something we almost always look forward to. Whether a dream vacation, a weekend getaway or a family visit, we eagerly anticipate opportunities to connect with people, places and things familiar or new.

In this world of odd (but hopefully temporary) situations giving way to surreal restrictions (designed to protect us from sharing invisible deadly germs or other safety hazards), venturing to distant (or not so distant) lands has become problematic.

But—working within the rules, laws and guidelines—a family friend, along with my husband and I, managed to venture out for a couple of long weekends to a nearby town that gave us that wonderful opportunity of a much needed escape. Port Townsend. A little oasis where unity was—refreshingly—alive and well.

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Downtown

Enjoying our scenic one hour drive from the Kingston Ferry Terminal to this Kitsap Peninsula hamlet, we suddenly found ourselves in a bustling mini metropolis. Victorian style structures (many featuring cornerstones dated 1880 to 1900) serviced locals and visitors alike.

Having experienced eclectic versions of acceptance regarding the government’s pandemic rules to live by while out in public, this place exhibited a refreshingly uniformed approach. Artistically detailed social distancing signage was on display in every restaurant and store window.

Even more impressive: everyone acting in support. Masks of all different styles worn in solidarity. Other signage supporting lives oppressed were in shop windows, or exhibited as beautiful makeshift, elaborate, memorials. Against the backdrop of historic buildings, inclusion on display by today’s living examples proved to be a beautiful thing.

But first things first—time for my latte! And Better Living Through Coffee was there for me. Excellent coffee and service along the scenic Port Townsend waterfront. And later in the day when it was five o’clock (somewhere…), we found wine tasting on a patio just a couple of blocks down the street at Port Townsend Vineyards. Settling ourselves at a table with a view, we enjoyed a refreshing bottle of their Syrah along with a delicious meat and cheese tray. Ahhhh….

Shopping for souvenirs, a few stores top the list for me. The first: The Spice & Tea Exchange. I never knew I needed Grapefruit & Basil tea until the moment my nose told me I did. Likewise for some of their spices too, like Rosemary & Basil sea salt.

Quimper Mercantile Company was a fun stop too, providing locally made hand soaps—a favorite souvenir of mine. This big store has everything from clothing to cookware. I could easily spend an hour or three inside…

Just in case you need to explore a fun wine shop, I recommend The Wine Seller. Along with the bottled and boxed varieties, they also have corkscrews and cheeses—everything your vino themed picnic needs.

This quaint little city even has an “Undertown” where I found some greeting cards in a wonderful art gallery. Known as the Shanghai Tunnels in the late 1800s (where drunken patrons slept off their rum, only to awaken the next day on a ship bound for The Far East), these tunnels now provide space for artsy shops.

For our first dinner in town, we chose Alchemy Bistro & Wine Bar. Social distancing guidelines gave us the perfect excuse to dine alfresco. The food and service were excellent. Definitely worth a return trip. So we did return another night…

Uptown

When it was time to check in to our B&B, we drove the incredibly short distance uphill, arriving at our home away from home for the next few days: the Ravenscroft Inn. Grand but not grandiose, this beautiful historical structure features an inviting garden, visible just below the expansive front porch.

Adding to the homeyness, a bright, understated interior that made us feel instantly at ease. And to top it off, an amazing view of the Puget Sound we could easily enjoy from the upstairs porch connecting our rooms.

Besides the view, what else could one discover uptown? For starters, the Saturday Outdoor Farmers Market. Just a couple of blocks from our B&B, this street market was the perfect balance of color, flavor and style. And social distancing protocols: only one entrance, which provided a mask check, a hand washing station and hand sanitizer. The volunteer staff also kept track of the headcount.

We had fun discovering seasonal produce, fresh baked breads and pastries, ciders, art and handmade jewelry. Oh, and one “Karen” who thought removing her mask and making a scene was a good idea, but a few patrons let her know otherwise. (The local police escorted her out of the market without incident.)

We found delicious coffee drinks at the Sea Dog Coffee Bar, and when dinner time rolled around, Finistère. Our dining experience was truly wonderful, and the food: five-star quality. This restaurant is one I wish were closer to home. (Their delectable macaroons—made right there at Finistère—rivaled any I’ve had in France.)

Port Townsend really is a fun get-away place to explore. An escape that feels like everyone there is looking out for your health and safety, just so—together—we can all have the opportunity to relax and enjoy ourselves.

If only for a few days, it was nice to feel united in caring, friends and strangers alike, with such simple gestures as wearing masks and washing our hands. It was nice to feel good about watching others stand up for the rules, stand up for what’s right, and to not be afraid to care. United we stand and united all stand in Port Townsend. J 😷

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