Two summers ago I spent just over a week at the Centrum writers conference in Port Townsend and fell in love with the area. The small town feel, the farmers markets, the proximity to water, the ferries, Centrum, the artists – all were exactly what I was looking for in a place to retire to. I realized I was seeing it at the ideal time of year and to truly know if I could live there year round, I’d have to spend time there during the not so ideal time of year, winter.
This is how my daughter and I came to be in Port Townsend in December. When everyone else is enduring travel to be with family, we’re doing it so I can check out a possible future home. The guy at the rental car counter looked confused when he saw that I was returning the car on the 24th. “Not staying for Christmas?” he asked. I explained what I was doing here. Bad idea. He spent the next ten minutes telling me everything that was wrong with Seattle – despite my insisting that I wouldn’t be living in Seattle but in Port Townsend. His list of complaints included, SAD, too much traffic, the ever increasing cost of the ferry, high property taxes, high sales tax and the general high cost of living here. Fortunately nothing he said dissuaded me.
Now let’s see, cab the city itself can do what he couldn’t….
Once I’d met up with my daughter, her flight from Boston was a few hours behind mine, we hopped into the rental car for our “long, long, long” drive, according to my pessimistic friend at the rental counter. His idea of a long drive and mine are not the same. According to Siri it would take us about two hours. Along the way we stopped at a funky local place in Tacoma call “Over the Moon” where we split a great Cuban sandwich and enjoyed some local ambience.
Normally driving at night, on unfamiliar roads, in less than optimal weather, is my least favorite thing to do and turns me into a bundle of frayed nerves but I was fine on the drive. Perhaps because there were a few cars but not too many. No cars would have been bad because I would have doubted the route and not had tail lights to follow along some of the foggier stretches. Too many cars would have made me feel like I needed to keep up with the flow, which is usually going faster than I prefer.
We pulled into Port Townsend just about 11pm so 2am by my daughter’s east coast time. Luckily she’s a night owl! We were greeted with a wealth of Christmas lights festooning each building. I booked us into a hotel that was right in the middle of town on the main street rather than in one of the other quainter B&Bs on the edge of town. The street was empty but we could hear sounds of singing and laughter coming from somewhere nearby. If my daughter hadn’t been wiped out, we would have gone in search of the source. Instead, we retrieved the keys from the lock box, as pre-arranged and let ourselves into the hotel and our room. It was warm and welcoming. A big four poster bed with a big down comforter awaited my daughter and I opted for the queen sized bed in the loft. From there I could gaze out the un-curtained tops of the massive windows that looked out on the Puget Sound.
So far the city has been just fine.