Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Friday Morning and Afternoon in Port Townsend: The Little Ferry That Couldn't or Didn't Want To

Dolly-girl and me decided to give Stumptown the pass for the weekend and headed north to see a coupla pals-o-ours who used to live in South Carolina and Florida and now are settled in on the south end of an island up north. We tossed our valises in a rented roadster and headed out. I've been out of town talking to people who needed talking with about some cases I've been working, so I decided a night on another town with Dolly-girl on my arm would do the trick. Port Townsend, here we come.

We checked into the Palace Hotel which turns out to be one of those new-fangled old places. In this particular case, the Palace turns out to have been a place where a passing sailor may have gone to make a port call, follow? Me and Dolly-girl checked into the corner room on the second floor and you could tell it wasn't just any corner room. "Well, shiver my timber, I think we'er in the Madam's quarters." That got me a shot through the wave and a "Don't get any ideas, Jack!" I didn't.

The weather was windy and wild, but we got to looking around the next day. Port Townsend seems like a place that might have been a place where trouble found a home in the summertime. Dolly-girl read in a broadsheet that there were 2 shopping districts so that the Ladies of the Day didn't have to rub elbows with the Ladies of the Night, if you get my drift. Down near the Palace, there's still painting on buildings telling you what might have been.

Turns out there's a fort nearby. Seems like it's raison d'etre was keeping an eye on the Straits of Juan de Fuca which is Portuguese for the "Straits of Juan de Fuca." I guess they closed the fort down after they'd spent about 100 years looking for people invading through the straits and never saw any. But, the fort had a museum and the museum had some pretty cool stuff about back around the time I was riding in a baby buggy.

They had an exhibit about Civil Defense back in the days when tempers were hot but the war was cold. I remember seeing boxes of Survival Crackers stacked up in my school. I always wondered if there was anything in those boxes, and sure enough, there was. Of course, looking at it made me wonder what there would have been to survive for. I'm thinking there wasn't no smoked salmon in those packs. Dolly-girl found a role model--the person who would have passed out the crackers.

There were Geiger Counters too. You could use them to tell when it was safe to come out of the Fallout Shelter to what wasn't left on the face of the earth after the big ones went off. Looking back 50 years it seems like sort of flawed thinking, if you ask me.

We'd booked a ride on the 2:15 ferry over to the island. When we showed up, the chiquita selling tickets told us to "Keep your receipt in case the ferry don't go," and pointed to the sign. It was blowing up a storm, and sure enough, come time to get on board, they gave us the heave-ho and directions on how to get to the place where we could catch another ferry to another ferry to the island we were going to. We did that and finally ended up driving past "The Little Ferry That Couldn't" on our way to our island get-away.

But all's well that ends well as somebody told me once. We got there, safe and sound, and set our brake at as pretty a spot on an island in a sound that you could find.


Ronna said...

Nice trip, Jack. And good to see a pic of Dolly girl on your blog!

Newsman said...

I love that ferry notice. It is not customer-friendly but it does state the obvious -- Mother Nature can have her bad days.
And the Geiger counters and survival biscuits!
Thank the Maker (and Mutually Assured Destruction) that they are not reminders of blasts from the past, eh?