Port Townsend

Everyone Loves the Rhody Parade


[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://grannytravels.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/image.jpeg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Small-town America! What fun the Rhody Parade was this weekend. It's years since I made the effort to go and it was so worth it, despite the drizzle!

The Rhododendron Festival has been a huge event in Port Townsend for close to (if not this year) eighty years! With its Royalty, from tiny tots to octogenarians, pet parades and other community events, it starts the summer festival season. The Parade is the highlight Iin my opinion) with Lawrence Street uptown lined with chairs and place markers for hours before the around noon start!

This year I was one of the lucky ones, being invited to a party at a gorgeous house right on the route! So front row viewing positions for the event, which started off with big, burley guys on their Harley's clearing the street for the fire engines, police cars and too-man-to-mention local school marching bands. Present and past Royalty cruised the route in classic cars, decked out in tiaras and finery!

[su_youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI7yDqUI6xc" width="760"]Of course, the kids along the route probably had more fun than anyone! Candy was being dispensed with abandon from the floats and parents gave up trying to monitor it! Many were fascinated, dancing and jiggling in time (kind of!) to the different rythyms emanating from the parade, and I can just imagine them going home, declaring that they are going to be a drummer/trumpeter/Pom-Pom girl (or boy) or the Rhody Queen riding the float in all her glory!

Every float and vehicle was decorated with rhododendrons in some way - and the marching bands had sprays of blossomed attached the instruments; trucks had garlands festooning the grills; classic car mirrors sported bunches ranging from our local "common" pale pink, to deep purples, many matching the paint colors of the cars! The theme was Rockin' Rhody so a very 50s theme prevailed, along with the rock and roll that blasted out from all the floats.

I am so glad I went - it made me want to go to more local events! After all, I can hardly be called Granny Travels if I don't get my sorry butt out there!

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Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival 2015


Boats used to be pretty much my whole life - I worked on them, sailed and cruised on them, then wrote about them and photographed them. I guess I got burned out, but it sure was fun to immerse myself in them again - for a short while this weekend.

The 39th Annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival this year, and every year is on the second weekend of September. More often than not, it is cold, gray, wet and windy. But this weekend was amazing! Mid-70s, sunny, a light breeze - perfect. Brought the spectators and visitors out in droves.

wooden boat festival 20155As usual, Point Hudson Marina was jammed with boats of all sizes, shapes, colors and vintage. There were small home-built sailboats and rowboats; schooners, ketches and sloops side-tied at every dock and slip. Trawlers and classic power boats like Deerleap, shared fenders and boarding ladders. There were acres of varnished teak, tons of polished brass glittering in the sun. What a pleasure!

Most of the boats on show are ones I have seen and boarded many times. I was happy to see Spike Africa, a beautiful schooner built in Costa Mesa, California in the mid-70s by Bobbie Sloan, a well-loved mariner in Southern California. I remember watching the boat being built in a vacant lot next to his house, and once launched, going aboard and accidentally losing a prized pocket knife in the bilge! I expect it's still there!

My old boat, the Wild Rose, was not there and is not on the Classic Yacht Register so I wonder what happened to her and where she is? It sounds like a project to me - tracking her down and making sure she is in good hands.

In recent years, the Festival has grown and is now produced under the auspices of the Northwest Maritime Center. It includes seminars, classes, yacht races, rowing races and kids' activities. But thank goodness, the hippy, Port Townsend funk is still very apparent

And long may it continue.

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival 431 Water Street Port Townsend, WA 98368 Phone 360.385.3628 ext 104 Fax 360.385.4742 E-mail: info@nwmaritime.org

Port Townsend Steampunk


This was the summer of all summers here in the Pacific Northwest. We had sun for literally months, a very unusual occurrence here, but this has added to the drought which has crept up on us.

Port Townsend, host to numerous festivals and events that range from the Jazz Festival to the Kinetic Skulpture Race, made the the most of the gorgeous weather, and so did I.

One of the events particularly piqued my fancy,  The Brass Screw Confederacy, Port Townsend’s Steampunk festival. Somehow the steampunk movement had escaped me but Wikipedia clued me in.

"Steampunk refers to a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrialsteam-poweredmachinery.[1][2] Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. It may, therefore, be described as neo-Victorian."

And then to make it even more intriguing, my TV-Producer son Ryan told me he would be working on the new reality TV show called Steampunk'd!

That clinched it. I was going.

The event program stated that it the festivities started at 10 am so I was up bright and early. Driving through downtown along Water Street, the place looked deserted and I wondered if I had come in on the wrong day. (I learned later, that there had been a hootenanny the night before, so people were slow to get going.)


But then slowly, oddly attired (to some) people started to appear, strolling along, bowing to friends and bystanders, peering through goggles, which appeared to be de rigeuer! The clothes seemed to be a mixture of Victorian and outlandish! Hats on everyone!

Top hats, cloche, helmets, you name it, it was on show. Men wore tails, or leather jerkins - just as long as there was metal, leather and wood incorporated, it was in style.


Women's styles ranged from prim and proper to wild, with bustiers and corsets worn on the outside. Very odd. All with the requisite wood, metal and leather trim.

I had initially assumed that this was a "young" bunch of hipsters but ages were across the board, from youngsters of 4 or 5 to oldsters in their 70's.


This is a "maker" world, where these creatives produce amazing devices, contraptions, jewelry and clothing. The American Legion Hall was filled with vendors, selling everything Steampunk. Amazing works of art, wrought from - you guessed it - metal, wood and leather. Repurposed odds and ends, cell phone cases disguised as metal purses, imaginative jewelry and hats galore! I discovered too, that there are Steampunk novels!


Troupes of dancers performed intricate steps and routines that involved fighting sticks and scarves, the bells on their high leather boots adding to the music.

All the while, the parading continued, young and old, creating a spectacle, hearkening back to Port Townsend's Victorian past - but with an eclectic twist.

It was a glimpse into another world. There was far more going on than I saw and I highly recommend that if there is a local steampunk event in your area, go, enjoy and join in.

I can see how it would be a fun group to be involved in, forever playing "dress-up" with no excuses!

The Brass Screw Confederacy

Email: info@brass-screw.org Phone: 360-301-5884 Mailing Address: Brass Screw Confederacy, PO Box 1050, Port Townsend WA 98368

More-Than-7-Best-Things-to-See-or-Do-in-Port-Townsend List


Dogs Afoot and old mural on Water Street in Port Townsend. Port Townsend has become a very popular destination spot as there is so much to do. Just recently Port Townsend made the “Best List” in  FodorsUSA Today,AARP and the Seattle Times  for a variety of topics, including best retirement town,  most quirky town and best Farmers Market

If you've done any sort of research on this little town, you'll know a lot of the activities center on boats and boating, with the wonderful boat yard and world famous Wooden Boat Festival.  And you've most likely heard about the Victorian houses and Centrum concerts and other sites that are popular. Having lived in the Port Townsend area for more years than I care to think about, friends and I have come up with our "more than 7 list" of different things to see and do while visiting. And of course, it's for locals, too as we all know how when we live somewhere for a while, we tend not to do the "touristy" things.

These are not in any particular order or preference.

The Rose Theatre in Port Townsend, WA

The Rose Theatre and Starlight Room

When I first lived in Port Townsend, the house was right up on top of Morgan Hill. At the bottom, was a small local market, called Aldrich's where more often than not, we were served by a young man with an enormous mop of dark curls. Young Rocky Friedman went on to fulfill his dream, restoring the old Rose theatre, bringing first run movies to the little town. Since then he has gone on to create the Rosebud (a tiny, intimate theatre) and more recently, the Starlight Room. From the Seattle Times: "The Starlight Room itself is gorgeous — high ceilings, big windows (curtained, of course, when movies are playing), a graceful assortment of soft-colored vintage couches and chairs, chandeliers, the whisper of history. There’s an elegant little bar outside the main room, where you can get a cocktail or a Silverwater snack, and the whole experience just feels first-class." The Rose also sponsors the Port Townsend Film Festival that draws visitors from all over the world.

Centrum Blues, Jazz and more

Centrum is central to Port Townsend's cultural identity. It all about the arts and so much of it is shared during the amazing workshops that are held mostly during the summer. A couple of weeks ago, during Jazz Week, I was lucky enough to attend one of the free concerts which was held out at the Fort, in the open air. The music was amazing - and I am not a jazz fan! The musicians were all youngsters attending the workshops.

Art Walk 1st Saturday of every month

Living in this little artsy town, it's easy to forget about the talent that thrives here and to forget about Gallery Walk. (I did, last month.) Water Street, our main road through the middle of town is filled with wonderful art galleries and each month they stay open late that 1st Saturday with many providing wine and hors d'oeuvre to their wandering guests. This is a monthly event and is held year-round.


The Port Townsend Boat Haven

The Boat haven is a great place to visit. Spend the whole day around the boats. Besides seeing a huge variety of boats in and out of the water and see the great work the shipwrights do, you can have some of the best coffee you might ever have had Sunrise Coffee. My favorite is the Heavy Haulout. All the blends are roasted right there and all the labels are works of art themselves, created by local artist, Max Grover.  Then have lunch at the Blue Moose in the boatyard where the boat workers go for good food and  then go for a beer at Port Townsend Brewery, where they have excellent local brews and music in the beer garden on Friday afternoons in the summer.

Music on the Dock on Thursdays during the summer

This is is a Port Townsend Main Street Program sponsored by local merchants, bringing a wide range of family-friendly music to the town. Port Townsend Main Street Program 360-385-7911, director@ptmainstreet.org

The Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race

The Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Skulpture Race

This is one of the whackier events in a town known for the unusual! Way back, I was a Kinetic Kop, handing out ridiculous tickets for a variety of infractions! Now in it's 32nd year, the krazy contraptions recently took to the water, the streets, sand and mud! As the third oldest race on the ever growing Kinetic Racing circuit, it is one of the few still run by volunteers. "These kineticnauts and their wacky Kontraptions have won the hearts, and imaginations of all who witness this eccentric, eclectic pageantry of human powered machinery."

Northwest Maritime Center and Point Hudson

The Maritime Center is a relative newcomer to Port Townsend, many years in the planning and built at the site of an old oil tank storage facility overlooking Point Hudson. The LEED-certified building houses the Chandlery, a boat shop, the Velocity Cafe and is home to the Wooden Boat Foundation. Best known, perhaps is the Wooden Boat Festival, now considered the largest in the country, held every year in September. For wooden boat fans, it is definitely the place to be. Point Hudson itself, is a small marina surrounded by some great old buildings that accommodate a sail loft, boat shops, an RV area right on the water and one of the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in Port Townsend - the Shanghai Chinese Restaurant! A newer addition is the Point Hudson Cafe. (Try the Scotch Salmon dish that is topped with caviar!)

Alchemy in Port Townsend is one of my favorite restaurants


Before the town was "discovered," restaurant choices were very limited. There was (and still is) Ku Larb Thai which remains excellent. There was The Lido which served the best fresh salmon. And Waterfront Pizza. Which is still here and, in my mind, is still the best around. But the choices now are vast and exceptional and include just about everything from basic hot dogs at Dogs Afoot to great pasta at Lanza's, to Almond Chicken at the Fountain Cafe and fresh wild caught salmon and scallops at Alchemy. (This will have to be a whole new post as there are just too many eateries to mention here.)

Elevated Ice Cream

No trip to Port Townsend is complete without a trip to Elevated! Home made, seasonal and local! When my mother visited years ago, she discovered the Swiss Orange Chocolate Chip ice cream, so every time we went downtown, we had to stop for a scoop. A few years ago, they added the candy store, which is dangerous! You can buy the world-famous chocolate slugs on a stick here.

So that's just a sample of what you can do and see in Port Townsend, Washington.

Below is a partial list of some of the PT "happenings" during the year. You can see a lot more at the PTGuide.


Annual Festivals & Events



Strange Brewfest Jazz Port Townsend


Festival of American Fiddle Tunes
Shipwright’s Regatta PT Writers’ Conference


Concerts on the Dock
PT PlayFest


Victorian Heritage Festival Acoustic Blues Festival
Chamber Music Festival Summer Cider Day


Jefferson County Fair
Marine Science Center Opens Uptown Street Fair
Farmers Market Opens Classic Car Show
Kitchen Tour Shakespeare in the Park
JeffCo Expo Art Port Townsend


Kayak Rendezvous
Opening Boating Day


Rotary Auction Wooden Boat Festival
Rhody Festival Crafts By the Dock
Rhody Run Arts Fair
Hood Canal Shrimpfest Jefferson County Farm Tour


PT Film Festival
Chili Cook-Off


Classic Mariner’s Regatta Kinetic Skulpture Race
Steampunk Downtown Trick or Treat
Taste of Port Townsend


Rat Island Regatta Arts & Craft Fair
Rakers Car Show Woodworker’s Show
Fiddle Tunes Festival


Victorian Holidays