Our third annual Thanksgiving weekend RVenture took us to a state park that we cannot check off the Great State Park Grand Scheme list because we were there before in October of 1999. Collectively, we remember very little of that visit, TBG thinking it had been part of our honeymoon trip in 1998, and me thinking it was before we were even married.
I will now put aside my ego and show you the scrapbook page I made of that visit when my paper crafting skills were still in their infancy.
One thing I do remember from that visit is that we took a lot more photos than displayed above, but something bad happened to them. This was Olden Tymes when cameras used film, and I have a vague recollection that the film advance feature malfunctioned. Whatever it was, those photos were lost to all but our memories, which, as we’ve already established, can be a bit faulty.
In even older Olden Tymes, 1982 to be exact when one of us was still in high school and we were many years and several states away from meeting one another, the movie An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed here. Alas, we didn’t have this movie in our big box of vintage VHS tapes. Too bad, because it would’ve been fun to watch it and place the scenes while we were there. Speaking of high school, the theme song from this movie was the theme song for my prom. Neither one was all that great.
I keep bellyaching about my dislike of repeating things, but I have two very good reasons for bending my rule this time. First, like last year’s holiday location choice, Fort Flagler, this one was on the water in order to try to take advantage of better weather than what often occurs inland at this time of year, not because we’re particularly fond of forts. We’re not especially all that fond of them, comparatively. It’s sort of a “seen one, seen ’em all” type of thing. Second, our first choice for this trip, Fort Ebey, is closed seasonally to camping.
The sun broke through just as we arrived.
This is a very active park with several of the buildings housing businesses, arts, etc., as well as two campgrounds and many rental opportunities for vacationers. We’d made reservations early, as even in the off-season, this park fills fast. I had known about one of the cafés being open year-round, but when we went down to The Commons to get our registration slip, we encountered a dining hall chock-full of holiday celebrants enjoying a large Thanksgiving buffet. It was tempting to want to sneak a little tart from the lavish dessert table as we passed by, but we had our own feast waiting for us in the RV, and we wanted to preemptively work some of it off with a walk.
Port Townsend Bay
We walked along the beach road area and over Battery Kinzie where I spotted a noisy Belted Kingfisher, who eluded photo capture, and then a small, completely white bird amongst the bushes. Was it a partial albino? I pursued it down the paths, trying unsuccessfully to get a good photo. TBG said it was my Spirit Bird, but the very accurate and completely reliable Buzzfeed quiz says my spirit animal is a snake, so who knows?
Spirit Bird or just an albino?
Point Wilson Lighthouse
Being Thanksgiving, everyone knows you eat lunch for dinner or dinner for lunch, and it was time for us to head back to the rig and feast, after which we headed out for more walking.
After a few hours of strolling around, dusk — which begins depressingly early at about 4 p.m. this time of year — was fast approaching, and there were indoor activities to be done like eating pumpkin cheesecake and learning how to play cribbage, a new addition to our game arsenal.
If the early dusk disheartens me, at least it’s somewhat mitigated by the fact that it’s easier to get all your sleep and still not miss the sunrise. The mornings would offer the only real sunlight we’d get for the rest of our stay, making them extra-important.
Campground trail head leading up to the DANGEROUS BLUFF
Our first order of business was to trek down to The Commons via the Bluff Trail to hop on the free wifi to research SOMETHING BIG and to take a few screenshots of more accurate cribbage rules. The ones included with our you-get-what-you-pay-for game board were full of typos that made our game-play maddening.
Next, we hiked over to the area known as the Chinese Gardens, where there are no gardens, but there used to be gardens, and the signs actually read “Chinese Gardens (no gardens)” They must’ve gotten complaints.
The trails in this area lead up to a view point atop the DANGEROUS BLUFF but, incredibly, there was another camera snafu and some photos of this day’s walking were lost. This is what we now refer to as The Curse of Fort Worden.
Never fear, there are plenty left to show you.
Gun Line Road
As with all the old forts, there are dozens of dilapidated batteries and creepy tunnels to explore. There were plenty of other explorers about, but we never felt crowded, although I was startled a few times by others in the dark warrens.
We walked for a few hours, returned to the campground for a second round of feasting, and then headed back out. I am happy to report that this park provides very good maps, and with one in hand, I played tour guide and led TBG through all the inner fort trails.
“Over here is a bench if you need to rest.”
Soft woodland trail.
We managed to take in nearly all the trails there were in the park in a few hours.
At the west gate near the cemetery (photos lost) naughty visitors had left a collection of souvenirs on one of the posts. I rescued a Surprise, AZ rock from among them for future placement in an approved location.
We again settled in for the evening with more cheesecake, cribbage the right way, and I continued to work on a new jigsaw puzzle that I’ve had pinned on Pinterest for a long time and ordered special.
It is bigger than the table, and it took me the better part of two evenings just to get the border assembled.
The wind gusts overnight were strong, and our little rig was swayed throughout the night. We both had some trouble sleeping, subsequently ‘sleeping in’ until 0700.
We didn’t miss the sunrise, though.
Saturday is our run day, and being on vacation is no excuse, not that we needed one with the nice, smooth trails.
After our run and breakfast, we set off for a day “in town” meaning an exploration of the Main Campus of the park.
Deer checking out Alexander’s Castle
The castle is the oldest structure in the park and can be rented. We could see folks inside on Thanksgiving Day doing just that.
Marine Science Center #1
Inside is a series of exhibits telling the story of Hope, an orca that died nearby years ago and was full of toxins but probably died from a bacterial brain infection. I found the explanatory displays to be a slight bit politicized but still factual and interesting. Also inside were many volunteers, somewhat overeager to share their knowledge and a little distressed that we were going clockwise, essentially reading the story backwards. It was both amusing and annoying. They did let us know that at the companion building across the way, there would be a Feeding of the Animals! at 2 p.m. Perfectly timed to coincide with our return!
We cheapskates weren’t interested enough to shell out the entrance fee.
Madrona (connector) Trail
Time to return for the Feeding of the Animals!
Marine Science Center #2
On our way in, TBG spotted a seal in the water near the dock. We thought perhaps it was sniffing around due to the impending Feeding of the Animals! but it was pure coincidence since the Feeding of the Animals! took place completely indoors.
These sorts of things are usually geared towards kids, but I never care and happily line up with the children. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons people have kids is so that they can use them as a front to do kid things without looking like lunatics. I just go ahead and let people think I am a lunatic, and then I get to do the cool things other adults are clearly longing to do but are too embarrassed to do. Too bad for you, suckas!
This building housed four touch-tanks where you were permitted to poke some sea life — two fingers only, please — like anemones (sticky) and starfish (some squishy, some crusty) and sea cucumbers (rubbery) etc. The Feeding of the Animals! consisted of dropping pieces of fish onto the anemones (I did that), dropping a clam near the gigantic starfish (only one kid got to do that and it wasn’t me, but I’m the only one who stuck around to see the starfish slowly overtake the clam), and dropping kelp onto the urchins (I was busy with the anemones, so the other children took care of this.) TBG is always a good sport, and humored me although he only poked one sea cucumber himself.
Although you cannot touch the fish, the volunteer showed us how to spot these camouflaged critters and get this little flounder to raise his googly eyes by tapping the surface of the water. The real children weren’t at all interested in this tank because it was hard to spot the animals, and they have the attention span of gnats. The lunatics among them will get another shot at it when they’re adults.
That wrapped up our day’s activities, and we headed back to the rig because there was still cheesecake to eat and relaxing to do. The night winds once again had me feeling like we might tip over, and the final morning’s sunrise was a dud.
The route between this park and home takes us past several other state parks, many of which we’ve already visited, but a few remain on the list to be seen. We decided to make a quick stop at one of them.
Fort Townsend State Park
The place was deserted, but the lights and heat were on in the facilities, and since I got out of the rig to check them out, we can cross this park off the list. It has what appeared to be very nice trails, and I can’t say for certain that we won’t stop in again someday to explore them.
Our retinas were damaged by extreme sun-glare off the wet roadways on the way home. I’m not sure how TBG managed to navigate that, but got us home safely once again.
This is probably our last RVenture of 2017, and the next two weekends aren’t looking so great for us to get out into nature much, but I have a few possible bloggy tricks up my sleeve to keep you entertained if you’re of a mind to stop back in here. See you then!
Great State Park Grand Scheme Grand Total = 59