Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Forts and Ports

In my last post I mentioned we are staying at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. But this fort is just one of many in the area. Port Townsend is bordered on two sides by waterways, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the North and Puget Sound to the East, historically making this area an important strategic defense site for the US military. We visited two other nearby forts during our stay.

Fort Flagler State Park

Fort Flagler (on Marrowstone Island), Fort Worden (in Port Townsend) and Fort Casey (on Whidbey Island) made up the Triangle of Fire in defense of Puget Sound from 1897 - 1953. None of these forts had a reason to fire their weapons in a military skirmish but were primarily used as training facilities for both World Wars.

Like Fort Worden State Park, Fort Flagler State Park has numerous historical military structures that you can hike in and around over several miles of trails. There are also two campgrounds, one in the forest with small dry camping sites and one on the beach with a mix of full hookup and dry camping sites that would fit large rigs.

We were surprised to find that the interior of this battery had been painted.
Tracks to move heavy equipment remain on the ceilings.
Hans was giddy with excitement in this boys playground!

Batteries Revere, Wilhelm and Rawlins were all strung together over about a quarter of a mile...
too big to get a photo of the whole thing.
The best part was you could walk through the entire spread...it was fascinating!

Barn swallows swooped around us as we walked the tunnels, they'd made nests in every small pocket they could find.

Surrounded on three sides by water, there is some very nice beach walking at Fort Flagler.

The gray skies don't stop people from enjoying the Sound.

The size of some of the driftwood around here is astounding...
check out the tree holding up this driftwood fort...and that's only half the tree!

From the bluff we watched the Port Townsend and Coupleville ferries passing each other.

The drive to and from Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island is scenic.
This area is called Nordland, Norwegians settled here because it reminded them of home.

Fort Townsend State Park

Fort Townsend State Park is a little different from the other two forts we've visited. This fort was built in 1856 by the US Army for the purpose of protecting white settlers. Very little remains of the fort so a visit here is less historical and more about hiking the lovely forest trails.

The forest has many faces on the Olympic Peninsula.
Ferns and cedar here...

...lush undergrowth and a mix of conifers and deciduous trees just a short distance away.

This Torpedo defusing station built during WWII is the only military building at Fort Townsend.

Port Townsend is a waterfront town and we were pleased to see that it is easy (and free) to access the coast all over town. We stopped at Port Townsend Brewing for some delicious beer and live music on Sunday afternoon then took a stroll through the neighboring boatyards to the waterfront.

Boat transport contraption.
Notice Hans standing next to the right front inside tire, it's as tall as he is!

An oldie getting an overhaul.

Our time in Port Townsend happened to overlap with Paul and Nina of Wheeling It fame for one night so we got together for dinner at home. Though we read each others blogs we hadn't been in the same place since early 2013. There's always plenty to talk about when RVers get together, just add wine and food and it's a gab fest! Good times!

We learned a neat little tidbit about Fort Worden from our campground hosts: this happens to be the Jazz Port Townsend Workshop Week. All the workshops happen on the Fort grounds and you can walk the property in the evenings and listen to jazz for free. We took a little stroll around the Commons after Paul and Nina left and got an earful of wonderful music, pretty neat little freebie!

So ends our week in Port Townsend. It's a very special town with a bohemian, independent, eco friendly vibe, a great farmers market, wonderful neighborhoods with extensive hiking trails...I could see myself living here. About the only negative to this place is the stinky paper mill at the South end of town!

Today we're off for our next stop: Sequim, WA. We'll settle in for a whole month in one spot and take our exploring at a leisurely pace.


  1. Glad to see there's a brewery in Port Townsend.
    We should be in the Port Angeles/Sequim area within the next two or three weeks so hope to finally meet you guys!

  2. YAY! I am sure we can find a hike or two to share and perhaps a brew! :-)

  3. Thanks for the report. Look forward to seeing it in person.

    1. I think you'll like it, I wish we had planned a longer stay!

  4. You guys are killing me with all the great times you are having.. Cant wait until I can.


  5. "I could see myself living here" sounds like a great enough endorsement for me! I never made it over during my Sequim visit...too much time spent rolling in the lavender. LOL! But hope to make it back before August is done. Looks like a fun time with Nina and Paul!

    1. Lavender love! This is a worthwhile stop in my opinion, hope you get the opportunity!

  6. What fun to be able to walk through the forts. Very interesting!

  7. John would have really enjoyed these tours, for sure! This area is so unique. I will keep tabs on your journey for someday we may venture there as well.

    How nice to catch up with Paul and Nina again:)

  8. Those old batteries really are like big playgrounds for adults aren't they;)

  9. A neat way of posting about forts and ports. Nina and Paul have been meeting a lot of bloggers! Looks like you all have fun times.
    This one also on the list for we have never been there.

  10. Sounds like you had a great time in Port Townsend! We also happened upon the Jazz Festival a few years ago during a visit to PT and wandered around listening to the music just as you did. Such a fun town!

  11. Can you imagine the small talk that starts with "Oh yeah, I diffuse torpedoes....."?! It's probably a computer program now.
    I found your blog through Nina's - so glad you got an evening to gab!!
    It's fascinating that you can walk the forts and imagine all the activity that took place there for so many years - a unique experience I think we'll enjoy!

  12. Fort Flagler looks like it has hair growing on its roof. It must be a sod roof? That seems strange for a Fort especially in its location. Had never heard of the Triangle of Fire but really appreciate all this information and about the campground. Great picture of you guys with Paul and Nina. PT really is a great little town and it is too bad about the stink.

    1. Most of the batteries at Fort Worden and Fort Flagler are built into the ground so that is dirt with grasses growing on top of the cement fort structures to camoflage them.

  13. We really like Port Townsend and the fort. Brings back great memories from last year. Have fun.

  14. I love the old boats at the boat yard...and Joe would love the forts. Alittle something for everyone! I am certainly enjoying your travels thru states we have never been to and making lots of notes!