Special Edition: Day Trip To Port Townsend . . . A Fun Day To Remember

Aug 10th

Have you ever had one of those wonderful days that weren’t really on a schedule, you didn’t HAVE to be anywhere at any particular time, and you just had a relaxing day?  Yesterday was one of those days.  The ONLY part that was timed was actually getting out of the house . . . everything else was relaxed and free of hurry.

Every year there is a huge community rummage sale near my hubby’s work.  For a very small neighborhood, it is a BIG deal.  The donations are dropped off and set up days in advance. The staging areas are carefully arranged, and after many years, the event organizers know exactly what to do and when to do it.   We arrived at 8:40, the barriers were to be dropped at 9:00.  There was already quite a large number of people in line when we got there, but in the 20 minutes we stood there I couldn’t believe the crowd that continued to gather.  What had me in a combined state of disbelief and laughter were the folks who just HAD to inch closer and closer to the front.  One couple in particular was pretty aggressive about their intention to cut in line.  The wife edged around me, stood on her toes and waved towards the front like she knew someone there . . . then elbowed her way further forward in that general direction.  Then she’d scope out the next best place to push her way in, and repeat the tiptoe and wave process . . . in a different direction.  I must note that NOBODY was waving in return. If she thought she was fooling anyone . . . she would be wrong.  I lost sight of her in the crowd, so don’t know if her attempts to reach the front were achieved or not.  They actually had a countdown of the last 20 seconds before the barrier dropped, and the moment it did, like a shot, the crowd in front of us surged forward.  Like locusts over a field of wheat, these people spread out over the parking lot and into the different areas of the sale, making their way quickly to the treasures they thought may be waiting for them.  We hung back a bit so we wouldn’t be trampled by the throng . . . these folks were dead serious about this sale!  I’ve mentioned in the past that hubby is NOT a crowd person . . .he’s the anti-crowd person, but we figured it’s in our neighborhood, we should at least check it out.  It wasn’t worth risking life and limb, so we just made our way fairly slowly through the different areas.  We knew we didn’t need clothes, shoes or toys, so bypassed those things.  I like looking at kitchen stuff, hubby likes electronics and I figured I’d take a look at furniture. Other than a brief glance at a few things, we pretty much made a loop through the area and were on the road to go home by 9:20. People take used stuff very seriously, far more serious than I was inclined to be yesterday morning!

Our day was far from over.  A friend met us at the sale, but was no more interested in getting tangled up with those women with the big shopping bags than we were, so she followed us home so we could give her a belated birthday gift, and let the dog out for one more potty before we headed out for our little adventure of the day.  On the road again . . . our destination . . . Port Townsend, WA.  This is a lovely little town right, full of history and Victorian charm.   I won’t  bore you with its history, but if you click the link that I’ve put with the name, you’ll be able to see a little about the town.  The original goal for going to Port Townsend was to find one of the oldest vinyl record stores in the state . . . and found it we did.  They were AWFULLY proud of their stuff . . . far too proud for a reasonable shopper . . . so the visit to the shop was short and quick.  Besides, someone in that row of shops was burning some of the most rancid incense I had ever had the misfortune to breathe in, and I wanted out of there!  Since the record store was a quick stop and we needed to figure out where we wanted our day to go from there, we headed up (the record store was in a row of shops UNDER the street) to a little coffee shop where we had an overpriced drink and a pastry.  It was ok, nothing I’d get again, but ok.  We now had time to wander into a few shops . . . the first one we went to was one that I’d been looking forward to visiting.

The Lively Olive was so much fun!!!  This is an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar.  As I sit here I’m trying to figure out how to describe the experience for those of you who have never had the joy of one of these places.  You walk in the door and the aroma of the herbed oils wafts out to entice your senses . . . it’s one of those places that just inspires the culinary imagination!  Along each wall are shelves lined with crocks of either flavored balsamic vinegars, or flavored oils. Next to each crock is a little bottle with a pour spout and little tasting cups.  You pour the flavors you wish to try – and they are FINE with a customer trying each and every one – and dip a little bit of bread they have cut into cubes into the sample to try.  You can also choose to sip the sample without bread.  I did that with some of the vinegars, but couldn’t quite do it with the breads.  The flavors are amazing! Spicy, sweet, herby, citrus . . . you name it!  When you have decided what you’d like to take home, you pick the size of bottle you’d like, which range from $10 to $26, and tell the clerk and they fill up your bottle for you, then cork and seal it, wrap it in tissue to protect it, and you’re on your way to taking home deliciousness in a bottle . . . or bottles as the case may be.  We came home with a Tuscan Herbed Olive Oil and a Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.  They also had samples of a Sweet Vidalia Onion Mustard out, so we came home with that, and Sweet Vidalia Onion and Bacon Mustard. Can’t go wrong with that, right?

The next stop was The Spice And Tea Exchange next door to The Lively Olive.  There were fragrant jars of blended spices, individual spices, teas, amazing salts and flavored sugars. Surprisingly the tea selection was a little lacking, but the rest more than made up for it.  What intrigued me, but I didn’t get any of them, were the chocolate sea salt and the dark chocolate sugar! Obviously, I was in a chocolate mood, but really, when is that a BAD thing???  The lady who owned the shop was funny, happy to tease and joke with the customers, and helpful in pointing out where everything was without being overbearing or in our faces.  She had a lovely dip out for sampling, which really hit the spot.  We did come home with a packet of the spices that made that dip for a future evening of entertaining.  Happy with our purchases there, and again, with our imaginations fired up for meals of the future, we headed back out into the sunshine and tourist crowded streets for whatever our next stop might be. 

Weaving in and out of the people, with the mouth watering aroma of fresh pizza wafting from the window of a street side pizza café following us, we made our way down the street and what did we spot a block over? Wine!  Who can resist a shop called The Wine Seller! Really? How fun is that? With barely room to walk in between the shelves filled with wines of all descriptions and price points, dodging cases of wine on the floor in the aisles, we browsed through various favorites, finding a nice port to add to hubby’s collection.  One of these evenings we’ll sip it while watching a movie and smile when we remember the day we bought it.  What shocks me sometimes is the wildly expensive choices in these shops! There was one bottle in a locked cupboard that retailed for $1,999.99!  Who pays THAT for wine?  How can it be THAT much better than something say . . . LESS expensive??? Maybe a wine you don’t have to sell your first born to afford?  I can only shake my head, smile and know that I’ll never, ever spend that much for a bottle of wine . . . even if I could afford it.

As we wandered back towards the car my eyes spotted a kitchen store.  I really have never seen a kitchen store I didn’t LOVE, so in we went.  With a name like  “What’s Cookin”, how could I resist?  They don’t have a website, but like all little stores of this nature, they had a LOT of fun stuff filling the shelves, so much that it defied the imagination how they got it all into that small space and still have room to walk.  I made it out with only a $5.00 purchase, so that’s good, right?  I could have spent far more, but my little find was plenty to keep me happy.  NOW I was ready to head back to the car.

Throughout the day we’d been talking to my friend about the town and some of the history, and found out that she had never heard of Manresa Castle – one of the more famous landmarks in the town.  Well, we just had to go take a look!  We pulled up to the castle, where a wedding was being set up in the garden, and made our way into the lobby, stepping back into history, surrounded by the ghosts that walk its halls.  The Castle was completed in 1892.  It was the home of Charles and Kate Eisenbeis.  Charles Eisenbeis was a prominent member of the Port Townsend business community back it its early days, with diverse interests that included a bakery, lumber mill, brewery, bank, hotel and brick works.  When Port Townsend became the first incorporated city in Jefferson County in 1878, the citizens elected him as the first mayor.  The Castle was the largest private residence ever built in the town, having 30 rooms.  It was in keeping with his status that he have the largest house, of course.  The locals referred to the house as the Eisenbeis Castle, since its design was somewhat like some of the castles in Eisenbeis’ native country of Prussia.  The walls were 12 inches thick and were made with bricks from Eisenbeis’ own brick works, the roof was slate. The tiled fireplaces and the beautiful woodwork were done by German artisans.  Charles died in 1902, and Kate remarried just a few years later, leaving the Castle empty for nearly 20 years, with the.  exception of a caretaker.  In 1925, a Seattle attorney bought the Castle to be used as a vacation place for nuns teaching in Seattle schools.  The plan didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped, and in 1927 the building was purchased by Jesuit priests to be used as a training college.  They added a large wing in 1928 which housed a chapel and sleeping rooms.  They also installed an elevator for $3,400, which was a great deal of money in those days. When their addition was finished, they stuccoed over the bricks of the original part of the building, to make it look more uniform.  They also renamed it “Manresa Hall”, after the town in Spain where Ignatius Loyola founded the order.  The Jesuits left in 1968, and the building was converted to a hotel.  The names “Manresa” and “Castle” were taken from the two previous name to create the name it goes by today.  All three different owners since 1968 have done all they could to renovate the building to modern standards without damaging the Victorian elegance. One example of the changes are the bathroom facilities. When the Jesuits left there were only 3 bathrooms, and there are now 43.  One of the things that the Castle is most known for today is being haunted.  There are reports that rooms 302, 304 and 306 are haunted, and that there are two ghosts that “live” there.  One is the ghost of a monk who was despondent that his life hadn’t turned out the way he expected and feeling unable to continue to live, was found in the attic after hanging himself.  The other is a young woman who had stayed in room 306.  After finding out that her lover had died at sea, she threw herself from her window and died.  People report seeing her standing at her window, watching the water for the return of her beloved.  They also have reported glasses exploding in the hands of hotel staff, or being turned upside down, TV’s turning on and off, doors opening and closing, etc.   We didn’t stay long – just long enough to show my friend the entrance area. The meeting spaces were being set up for the wedding and we didn’t wish to get in the way.  One day I’d love to go and stay the night in the hotel to see if I can get a visit from one of the otherworldly residents.  It would definitely be something to write about, wouldn’t it?


By now we were hungry.  We are always on a quest for great fish and chips.  Sadly, we are often very disappointed by what we find, and end up regretting spending the time, money and calories on something either dripping with grease, or just really yucky.  We’d been hearing great reports about a little place in Port Hadlock, which is on the way back home anyway, so we decided to stop.  The restaurant is called Scampi and Halibut, and I can say without a doubt that it is one of the best plates of fish and chips I’ve had south of Sitka, AK.  Sadly the fish in other towns we visited in Alaska didn’t even come close – though they should have, shouldn’t they? Sorry, I digress. 

This restaurant is a renovated double wide manufactured home.  It was clean and pleasant, had very good prices, and the food was tasty and plentiful.  I walked out feeling very happy with what I had, and am already planning what to have the next time we go.  I ordered the 2 pieces of cod and the beer batter dipped clam strips.  The fish could have been slightly crispier for my taste preference, but didn’t taste greasy or oily.  The clam strips were delicious, the fries had a great snap them.  They came with a side of apple lime coleslaw which was delicious! I usually don’t eat the coleslaw that comes with my fish, but this was worthy slaw!  I shared an order of onion rings  with hubby, since a lot of my opinion of a new place can be based on the onion rings.  Crispy, not too fat, not too skinny, and definitely delicious.  Hubby had the cod and prawn plate, and my friend got the coconut shrimp and clams.  The flavor of her shrimp was incredible, and the aioli dip that came with them was perfect for the flavors in the shrimp batter. I was pretty engrossed in appreciating the meal and completely forgot to take a picture of it! The ONLY complaint that I would have had was that their beer was not on tap, so we paid $4.99 on a bottle of beer that we could have gotten for less than half that at a grocery store.  I will go back to eat, I won’t be having a beer again. That’s for sure.  If you ever find yourself in Port Hadlock, this is a go-to place for delicious food, even if you don’t like fish, they have a great looking burger menu that I’ll check out at some point in the future. 

Here are a couple of pictures of the inside and outside seating.  On the fish and chips 1 to 5 scale of goodness, I’d give it 5 fishes for sure!  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>  ><>

With full tummies, and a bad case of the sleepies, we headed back home, weaving our way through Port Ludlow and Port Gamble (a lot of ports in one day!).  An attempt to watch a movie had me falling asleep in my chair, in full fried food coma mode, but what a lovely end to a great day!  Aren’t these sorts of Saturdays just awesome?

God Bless You and I’ll see you after our next adventure!

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