I start in Gig Harbor, just north of Tacoma, and spend the night at Kopachuck State Park. From my campsite, I walk down to the rocky secluded beach cove on Puget Sound. Everything is covered in barnacles, which makes walking in flip-flops difficult, but the water is so calm and soothing that I feel compelled to take a look around. Although sand would be nicer to walk on, there’s something very Zen about the gentle lapping of the water on the dark grey rocks. So much so that I start taking pictures in black and white.
The next day, I start my drive winding through the byways that skirt the edges of the many peninsulas around the Sound. It appears to be mandatory for the houses to be as close to the water as possible, with docks stretching out even farther. From the road, sometimes all you can see are the (also seemingly mandatory) cute wooden signs announcing the sur-name of the people whose house is obscured by trees below. I start imagining what it must be like to kayak every morning in the Sound, the sun rising over the dim hills in the distance and scraping barnacles off of the dock with sheer joy.
I end up at the northernmost tip of the Eastern Peninsula: Port Townsend. It is lovely. Many of the buildings and Victorian houses date back to the 1800’s. The downtown is a vibrant corridor of brick buildings, many with seemingly authentic faded paintings on their side walls advertising shaving cream and soap with names I’ve never heard of. Hanging baskets of colorful flowers drape from the old-fashioned street lamps. Port Townsend attracts artists, but also has a healthy dose of burly old fishermen types. I like that.
While it is plain to see that most of the people in the downtown area are tourists, the town still manages to hold its own. It’s incredibly beautiful, but still feels lived in: as though the beauty is kept up solely for the residents, instead of as a draw for tourists. I could live here. I imagine the weekdays in the winter, when the streets are quiet and the bearded fishermen have breakfast at the local diner, and women garden in their backyards.