Caspar Institute logoitinerary   < 31 August to Port Townsend, WA   2 September to Victoria, BC >

Port Townsend 1 September 2019

2008 : 0

I started the day as if I was in France: I walked to the nearest bakery (3 blocks) and got delicious pastries to go with our juices and tea. Something savory, something sweet, and something chocolate – the three basic food groups. We started slow this morning, as this town's tourist serving facilities don't start until 10 or 11.


Downtown, we had seen the new teapot of our dreams – purple! – and we got it, and then went to the Jefferson County Museum in the City Hall.

2009 : 0

Compared to the nearby Rothschild House, a state-supported historical structure complete with all its furniture – visited last year – this was a disappointing collection of odds and ends in a lovely old brick building. The general narrative was that the Port Townsend Silly Fathers figured this was going to be the westbound terminus, not upstart Seattle, and attempted to establish their claim by building several gorgeous big buildings. 

One wonders just what the folks who were here first thought about all this – the people the Canadians respectfully term First People. Here are two of them, Tetaku, chief of Fuca inlet (according to Jose Cardero, artist to Galliano and Valdes, who "discovered" what we now call the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 1792) and his second wife (no name but who was said to be a Makah).

2010 : 0

By contrast, once Port Townsend really got itself cookin', the jail in the basement was in constant use, since these were white fortune hunters bent on enjoying themselves. Our host said that Jack London spent time in this jail awaiting his ship to the Klondike, having been "rescued" by a lady of the night who thought him to be too drunk, and likely to have his money stolen if he didn't sober up in jail.


<p>The stairway down to the jail...

The stairway down to the jail is thoughtfully decorated with pictures of some of those ladies, and in the anteroom to the jail there is the most comprehensive list I have ever seen of synonyms for prostitutes. A preoccupation of those silly fathers?

2011 : 0


A fine looking hearse.

<p>Courtroom stairs</p>

Courtroom stairs

2012 : 0

In the far northeastern corner of town the Northwest Maritime Center hosts a magnificent wooden boat building workshop, a co-op that boatbuilders from around the world come to work in together. Outside, some of the most amazing lapstrake boats sit, awaiting further work, or just waiting to get wet. 



This morning, Port Townsend Bay was still as a mill pond. On our way back up the hill to "uptown" where we're staying, we walked past several splendid houses.



The house on the left is the relatively modest "People's House" and those upstairs windows are ours.


Welcome totem
2013 : 0

We discovered Finnriver cider last year, but didn't manage to get out to their place in Chimacum, about 12 miles south of PT. We corrected that error this year, heading out there after the museum, while the sky was still very blue and it was sunny and on the verge of too hot. (It's been generally muggy here, clouding up both afternoons.) 

Finnriver is a counterpoint story to the current greed oriented paradigm, about people who set out to create community by working hard and building relationships. The history is fascinating.  The result is simply heart warming, as it involves local backers, institutions that were able to believe in the potential – all in all a community building effort that resulted in, for us, a great lunch.

2014 : 0

In addition to the cidery, Finnriver Kitchen prepares and serves produce from the farm and neighboring producers – that's a local bratwurst and the Finnriver Salad – and most evenings and every Saturday and Sunday during the summer other vendors show up to offer their specialties: Hama Hama oysters, pizza from a large navigation buoy converted into a pizza oven ("The Dented Buoy"), and this busy Saturday of Labor Day weekend, ice cream, popcorn, chai, hamburgers, and crepes. 

2015 : 0

Hama Hama oysters are too good to pass up, so we had half a dozen grilled with jalapeno butter, and gobbled 'em up before I could take a picture ...and then for dessert, chai and a superb local strawberry and rhubarb crêpe made with blé – buckwheat – in the best French style. The crêperers were a family of French folk who gabbled together in French while they created their delights.

2017 : 0

While all this eating was going on, so was Deep Squeeze, an accordion festival sponsored by the local FM station ...I'm guessing because at least one of the radio station luminaries is an accordionist. The two guys that played while we stuffed food in our faces were amazing. "I didn't know that an accordion could be played like that," said Rochelle, who's only been exposed to the blind lady that plays (not very well) at the Fort Bragg Farmers Market. (Yah, but she's blind. That she plays at all is amazing and to be encouraged.)

2018 : 0

Almost every tune had a collection of folks, from very young to very old, out on the dance floor having a fine time.

Meanwhile, in the adjacent field, two huge tractor tires were getting the expected attention from young ones – this always tickles me in the Caspar playground.


2019 : 0

Rochelle was especially impressed with the general crowd management. For example: discards. Separated into four distinct barrels, with thoughtful explanations of what's meant by "paper" ... lots of dishes used by the several vendors, but all collected in appropriate bins that helped folks separate their cutlery from their glasses from their plates, then washed in a single central facility.

When ordering something that took time to prepare, a buzzer was issued, and when it buzzed, it was time to go get your food. 

Rochelle: "Wouldn't it be fun to have an event like this – music, plus the local food trucks and mobile vendors..."

"...and we could make pizzas and run the bar..." 


2020 : 0

Overall, the Finnriver experience had us thinking (1) how well we've done in Caspar, such a small town, to produce this kind of community, and (2) how much can be learned from watching others, like-minded, produce their own similar events. 

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