Technically, I’m a fire sign. Sagittarius, if you must know, but you’d never guess it from where I find solace. Standing in a river, surrounded by the rushing sound of a creek, sitting by the edge of the ocean digging my toes into the sand… that’s where I find peace. It’s not so weird really I guess – there’s thousands of other people who find that same comfort and it is for this reason that waterfront homes are so expensive…
(Okay, I’m sure there’s other reasons too, but the root of it has to be our attraction to large bodies of living water.)
Port Townsend is the place I’ve come back to year after year, starting when my parents divorced, and it’s a place that has come to mean comfort. Relaxation. Home, even though I live in Missoula. My craziest stressed out self yearns to slip away to Port Townsend the way an addict craves a fix.
Life is different there on the peninsula – at least to this mainlander. Traffic is slower by necessity. Winding two-way roads and thick vegetation mean you rarely go more than 60 mph.
We usually drive 65 mph on long trips no matter what the speed limit to maximize our gas mileage, but the rest of the world doesn’t see things our way. Sport cars, SUVs and tractor trailers alike speed past. We note the 400 mile mark on the odometer, fill up the gas tank and grin at each other, and get back on the road.
Despite our pacing though, I still feel the kinks in my shoulders unknot as we drive off the ferry and wait for the first light to change to green – the light that sometimes makes it necessary to wait through a few changes so the ferry can completely unload. Two lanes of traffic merge to one without impatient cutting, and we are on our way to get up close and personal with the seaside.
This year all Munchkin can talk about is the “big boat named Ferry!” and I reassure him that we’ll ride it again soon. In the meantime, we retrace the steps that we take each time we’re here. Finding Waterfront Pizza, peering into the cases at Elevated Ice Cream (how I treasure the local ice cream shops we find when traveling! I’ve decided to start collecting their postcards.) and making our slow way down to the sand to dig our toes in. We bring it home in the crevices of the sand toys and underside of the picnic blanket and smile as we shake out a little bit of Port Townsend to merge with our Missoula soil.
Like the sand, the town sticks in my soul.