Saturday, August 23, 2014

Believe it!

When we left Santa Cruz last year to live on the road, I wasn't sure I'd ever love a place like I loved our small town by the sea.

But as we travel, I'm realizing there are so many great places in this world, truly wonderful places I could live long-term. Port Townsend--where we are housesitting for two months--is one of them. Of course it doesn't hurt that it, too, is a small town by the sea.

Port Townsend is a gem of forest and beaches and mountains. The air is fresh and invigorating. It has the laid-back vibe of many beach communities, with lots of people marching to the beat of their own drummer. There are good restaurants, shops, bookstores, and a Food Co-op (whose loudspeaker music was playing, of course, the Indigo Girls). There's a nice farmer's market Wednesday and Saturdays, with lush produce, locally made foods, and live music.

Speaking of music, we could see music here every night, it seems. Last night we went to a groovy place called the Pourhouse. It was a warm evening, perfect for the outdoor patio, where we drank craft beer on tap, listened to tunes, watched a brilliant sunset, and talked with friendly strangers. We also ordered food from a nearby restaurant. They would have delivered it to us, but Dave walked down the block to pick it up.
That double kayak has a barbecue on it.
The Pourhouse's patio abuts the beach, where a fun scene was going down: Two women created fantastical bubbles, while a guy grilled just-caught salmon on his double kayak.

We learned about the band when we met Stephen Ruffo. We needed directions and spotted him in his front yard. In Port Townsend fashion, Ruffo (as he's known) immediately engaged us in genial conversation. When he heard we are music aficionados, he told us that his band was playing the next night. He also told us he knows the founders of the bluegrass music festival we just attended, and that he developed a mandolin symposium with David Grisman (who played with Jerry Garcia) that takes place in Santa Cruz. His 99-year-old mother lives in Santa Cruz down the block from where we lived, and his father served as mayor of San Jose and was the first assistant coach of the SF 49'ers.

Serendipity, synchronicity, it what you's been happening so much to us these days that we've decided it's better to accept than resist. Instead of saying, "Can you believe it?" we now say, "I believe it!"

Since I'm on the topic, how's this? Our friends Dwight and Jennifer, who live a ferry ride away, came to visit. Turns out, the deck chairs here were built by his company.

The maker (re)meets his chair.
The four of us enjoyed hanging out in this incredible custom house, that's plunked down in the forest. We also walked the beach at nearby Fort Wordon, and took the hour-plus drive out to stunning Lake Crescent. We took a long hike and enjoyed watching the dogs rush around joyfully off-leash. Max can chase a stick for hours, while Levi likes to explore, chase birds, and dip in the water when he gets hot. Afterward, we ate super yummy fish and chips at the charming Lake Crescent Lodge.

Jennifer and I, with Max, have known each other since high school.

Yes, Lake Crescent really looks like this.

Our favorite nearby place to run the dogs is North Beach. First you easily park, as is the case everywhere in this town (no cost and ample spaces). Then you walk with the dogs down the beach for miles, if you please. A few people here and there might be wandering around or combing the sand for sea glass.

You might get to see otters, a blue heron, and some of the dozens of different types of gulls. But for a lot of the walk, it's just us and the dogs--and we feel like we're at the edge of the world.

We were also lucky to see other creatures on our boat trip to San Juan Island.

Bald eagle watching a sea lion.

At one point the captain stopped the boat, and a pod of orcas surrounded us. One spy-hopped on one side of the boat, and a couple reared up on the other side. Of course we didn't have our cameras ready. You'll just have to take our word for it.

You can trust us! (At Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)

Speaking of creatures, because of the plethora of bird feeders (that Dave constantly refills), we see all kinds of feathered friends here, including this bizarre thing, a pileated woodpecker:

We've seen deer everywhere, too. The owners of this house keep them out of the garden with a high fence. An advantage of this housesit, like the last one, is that they planted the garden, and we get to reap the benefits. I never before pulled potatoes out of the soil. It was like finding buried treasure!

garden goodies

 We've been here shy of two weeks and have just scratched the surface.

Portal to this magical house.
My calendar is filled up with things we can do for two months straight. But I think we'll do only a portion. We don't have boxes to check. We aren't on vacation. We are living life, taking time to garden, write, read, do yoga, cook, soak in the huge bathtub-with-a-forest-view, and play Rummikub.

Wood-fired sauna, which we plan to use when the cold sets in.

Besides, who wants to spend too much time away from such a great pad? The owners--whom we met through Trusted Housesitters--have built a little paradise in paradise.  A guy we met the other day said we are here the right time of year; late summer and fall are the best. By winter, some people migrate south. Funny, that's what we will be doing too. We learned that a lot of Port Townsend-ers go to--ahem--Baja Sur, in the very area where we will be as of November.

Can you believe it?

I can.

Working on my next book with canine company.

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