All my life I wanted to live on the Northcoast. A third-generation Californian, the Northcoast was any site north of Tamalas Bay and south of Alaska that looked out on the Pacific Ocean.
Even Canada was in the running, if I could qualify for a guest pass or whatever.
I managed to land in Eureka for a year before settling a mere two miles from the sea in Arcata, California. Locals considered Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties the Northcoast. I’d made it. My oldest daughter was born there (4th generation), before pregnant with #2, we moved 3000 miles east to upstate New York.
After much ado, I settled with my girls in Vermont. We loved it. Lake Champlain was no stand in for the Pacific, but it and other little lakes and boundless streams kept us deliriously distracted for many happy New England seasons.
Returning to California’s Central Valley was tough. Beautiful in its own right, I just never took to its climate or morphology. I like wet, soft, soggy spaces, lush vegetation, crashing waves and soaring trees. I like my fog wet and salty. I like skies gray with clouds not pollution. I like snails and newts. Not hoards of grasshoppers and dens of rattlers.
I’ve driven the California, Oregon and Washington coasts over and over my whole life. There are wonderful hamlets and towns all along the handful of routes (fewer in earlier days). I imagined my life in several.
When the time and circumstances finally allowed, I began looking in earnest for my new home somewhere on the north Coast. I initially considered the tiny hamlet of Fairhaven, a historic precursor to the much larger, newer Bellingham, Washington. But available homes were few and monstrously expensive.
I consoled myself in a lovely little town discovered on one of many trips and frequented often during my daughter’s year in Vancouver, B.C. It was the ideal vacation destination, a solitary lighthouse, stretches of sandy beaches, a protected harbor with boats of every size, historic sites, a bustling maritime character, enchanting shops and excellent art galleries, great food and nice people.
It was Port Townsend, Washington.