Moving abruptly brings with it a conundrum: how to decide where to settle, and how to decide fast. When we put the farm up for sale, we thought we’d have all sorts of time to figure that out. Before our place was officially listed on the MLS, I spent a good many hours at the computer reading travel forums via the google in an attempt to narrow down our choices. Still, that’s no substitute for visiting in person. We knew as much, and luckily had amassed plenty of frequent flyer miles, enough for multiple trips to the Pacific Northwest to scope it out (as we kissed goodbye our plan to vacation in Paris, ooh la la boohoo).
Well, as I’ve pointed out before, it didn’t quite work that way. Prior to moving all our worldly goods — and ourselves — to Port Townsend at the end of March, we had visited this town only once, and only for one day. During our sole pre-relocation trip to Washington back in January, we spent more time on both Whidbey Island and Orcas Island than we did here. Yet this is where we landed once all was said and done.
So it did seem as if we should maybe double-check that we’d made the right choice. Obviously we didn’t question our judgment too terribly much, considering the fact we’ve now become Port Townsend homeowners a mere month after our arrival…yet we recognized that looking at some other towns in the area before signing on the dotted line was probably prudent. At least that’s what we assumed less impulsive folks might do.
We had ruled out the neighboring city of Sequim almost immediately upon driving into the town in January. While we were there, however, we discovered a bicycle route that runs west to Port Angeles. The Sequim area appears pretty flat, music to my ears when it comes to bike rides — I’m not a fan of peddling uphill — so we decided to give the trail a shot shortly after we moved to Washington, both for exercise and as a fact-finding mission to see what Port Angeles is all about.
To make a long story not quite as long as it could be, in attempting that bike ride we found the landscape between Sequim and Port Angeles to be anything but flat. It’s the opposite of flat, actually, and proved too arduous a ride for me, the delicate flower. John, being the sport that he is (and simply wanting to get in a bike ride that afternoon come hell or high water) suggested we pile the bicycles back into the truck and drive to Port Angeles, where we happened upon a perfectly flat, wide, paved trail.
Port Angeles was beginning to look pretty darned good.
The trail took us past a marina and out along a narrow spit in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Because the city is west of Port Townsend, the views of the Olympic Mountains are decidedly more dramatic,
yet admiring them was made a tad difficult with the industrial buildings (and gigantic Chinese container ship) in the foreground. And while the trail was indeed usually adjacent to water, we couldn’t help but think they were glamming it up a bit by naming it the “Waterfront Trail.”
Especially the section that runs directly through the middle of an enormous paper mill.
And when I say through the middle, I mean through the middle.
Even the lovely little stands of tulips on the other side of the mill are deceiving. As long as you stay bent over for a closeup look, it’s charming.
But straighten back up, and you’re face-to-face with a rusty old pipe that runs the length of most of that section of trail.
Our subsequent bike ride through areas of Port Townsend proved more pleasant. (More hilly, too, much to the distress of a certain delicate flower.) At the apex of our ride, after delighting in the delicate beauty of various clusters of flowers,
the view when standing back up was the opposite of a rusty pipe.
Now, I realize I’m probably being kind of unfair. I’m sure there are pretty places in Port Angeles, as well. We sure didn’t see them when we were there, though, and we know Port Townsend abounds in them.
Honestly, I personally haven’t felt much of an urge to verify our choice of a new home town. Our first full day in this city basically cemented the decision for me. I’d already spent one night here before John arrived in the truck, and shortly after greeting him when he pulled up in front of the rental house, I went inside to throw some leftover pizza in the oven for lunch. When I stepped back out, John was talking to an elderly lady who was walking her dog.
At a break in their conversation she looked at me, then turned back to John and said, “So this must be your child bride!”
I grinned — broadly — as John stuttered and stammered. To help the poor guy out (after all, he’d just made a 40+ hour drive up here) I clarified, “Yes, I am. I’m six months younger than he is.”
The woman seemed satisfied, even vindicated with my answer. As John continued to sputter, she went on to explain to him how she’d come to her conclusion. She put her hands up to her cheeks and while gently patting them said, “Your wife’s face is like this…but your face is more like mine.”
I mean, really, why would I want to live anyplace else?