Due to Brian’s crazy travel schedule, we ended up piecing together several experiences throughout the month of September to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.
One of those getaways took place the weekend following our anniversary, which we spent exploring Port Townsend and the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.
Although billed as a weekend getaway, we really only had Saturday to explore.
We caught the ferry to Kingston on Friday after work and returned via the ferry to Edmonds late on Sunday morning so we could repack our things and prepare for our flight to Los Angeles Monday morning. Short and sweet, but we managed to pack quite a bit into our brief stay!
Saturday morning we woke up relatively early and headed to the nearby Blue Moose Café for breakfast. I don’t remember where I read about it, but I was really glad we followed the recommendation! It was within reasonable walking distance from our hotel but we drove and parked nearby so we could go straight from breakfast to our morning activities.
There was already a small line outside when we arrived, but it didn’t take long for us to be seated in the back of a bustling room full of people. Given the interaction between the patrons and wait staff, it was clear most people were local and frequented this place often. I loved the bright blue signs outside and the eclectic décor inside.
We perused the menu and while Brian opted for his favorite restaurant breakfast—biscuits and gravy—I had to try the seasonal special of pumpkin bread french toast with cream cheese butter. Oh. My. Gosh. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten! I only made it about half-way through my meal so we packed up our leftovers, swung by our hotel to stick them in the fridge, and then headed off to the main destination of our weekend—Fort Worden State Park.
Fort Worden State Park
It was a beautiful day to explore Fort Worden State Park. The sky was clear, the cool morning quickly transitioned to a 60+ degree afternoon, the trees were changing colors—it was a perfect fall day.
We arrived at Fort Worden State Park and navigated to the visitor center, which had just opened for the day. Along the way we passed all kinds of old bunkhouses, officer homes, and community buildings as well as large green spaces.
I didn’t know much about Fort Worden—just that it was the filming location for the movie An Officer and A Gentleman. I didn’t remember enough of the movie to be able to point out familiar areas from the set, but now that we’ve explored the park, I would love to watch the movie again and try to make those connections.
The lady working in the visitor center gave me a great map of the area and pointed out which buildings had museums and areas open to the public. We wanted to spend most of our time outdoors so I also made sure I knew how to access the trailheads to the old gun emplacements and the 1913 lighthouse.
We spent some time walking around the main parade lawn, checking out the old buildings and reading the information plaques about both the buildings and the overall use of the complex. Here’s some background from the state parks’ website:
The Fort Worden of 100 years ago was home to nearly 1,000 troops and officers training to defend the Puget Sound from potential enemy invaders. Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Casey, with their big guns and strategic locations, once made up the coastal defense system known as, “The Triangle of Fire.” Constructed between 1898 and 1917, fascinating Fort Worden features more than 2 miles of beachfront and high bluffs with spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Point Wilson Lighthouse
After we had explored the main green we drove out to Point Wilson Lighthouse. There were tons of people camping all along Admiralty Inlet, both in traditional campsites as well as along the beach. Despite being late morning, it didn’t seem like too many people were out and about yet. This was good news for us because there was very little parking near the lighthouse. Luckily we didn’t have much competition so we grabbed a spot and headed out over the rocky sand dunes toward the lighthouse.
There was fencing around much of the lighthouse grounds, which are no longer open to the public, but we were able to walk along the beach and over the boulders to a path that circled the point. Brian was able to peer inside the lighthouse at one point where the path butted up against the grounds while I climbed up the stone banks for views over the straight as well as back toward the peninsula. We met one guy walking his dog but otherwise had the point to ourselves.
After we had circled the lighthouse, we ventured down a few nearby trails to see the remains of two small batteries–Battery Kinzie and Battery Vicars. There wasn’t much to see so we ended up returning to our car and relocating to the hiking trailheads I had identified on our map earlier.
We found ourselves on a fairly steep hike up Artillery Hill on the north side of the grounds where we were able to explore more of the former fort. Unlike the renovated bunkhouses and buildings of the main areas of the fort, these old defense batteries were retreating into the surrounding wooded growth.
Each place we stopped to explore was progressively busier as more people woke up and set about their own hikes. There were a number of families with kids of all ages who were crawling up the old ladders and looking down over the former batteries.
I had to peel off my vest half-way through our hike as the temperature rose, and by mid-day we were ready to return to our car so we could relocate to the highly recommended restaurant on site. During our hike back, we passed by an incredible overlook of the fort and Admiralty Inlet. We also crossed paths with a small black-tail deer that was wandering through the woods.
Taps at the Guardhouse
Taps at the Guardhouse had just opened and a number of people were sitting outside on the deck. We were still a little warm from our hiking so we went inside to find seats. There was no one inside so we had the pick of the place, opting to sit in the old jail cells toward the back of the room!
There were movie posters by the bar and a really nice waitress made us some classic cocktails and took our order for a stuffed poblano pepper we decided to share.
While our food was on its way, we took turns wandering around the room, admiring some of the original furnishings that were on display and imagining how it would have looked while it was serving as an actual guardhouse.
Our meal was delicious and the place was much busier by the time we were wrapping up. I recommend you eat there regardless of whether you intend to stay and explore Fort Worden. The food and cocktails are great and it’s only a short drive from downtown Port Townsend.
We both really enjoyed Fort Worden and learning a little about its history. During our several hour visit, we prioritized the hikes and outdoor spaces, but there was a great deal more to see and do that we’ll have to tackle on another trip. We weren’t able to explore all of the museums and buildings, but had we gone through all of the information and facilities on site, we could easily have spent our entire weekend there.
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