Despite its name which conjures up visions of the heavenly, Port Angeles is a dumpy little city on the north coast of Washington which luckily has one thing going for it—the ferry that goes to Victoria. Other than taking this ferry, I see no reason why a person might want to stay there.
I may have been made a tad bit grumpy by the RV park that we were staying in. We aren’t fans of RV parks of any kind, but there tend to be two kinds of RV parks, one much more preferable than the other. The first type is the park that really caters to the short-term customer. These are generally clean and pleasant and have all of the amenities that one would need. The other type, while serving short-term customers, is really a trailer park for long-term residents, and this is the type of RV park that we ended up staying in for two nights in Port Angeles.
At one end of the park were the trailers with the long-term residents. It was eerily like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in that nobody ever came out and nobody ever went in. I suspect that every resident was holed up in their trailer watching satellite TV for the entire duration of our stay. I wouldn’t want to hang out outside if I lived there either. At the entrance to the park were two more permanent houses, one which the park office was connected to. Outside of these abodes, the residents tried as hard as they could to be stereotypically white trash—heaps of old cars and boats, broken down playground equipment, junk strewn about with abandon. In between these two areas was the place where we parked after being warned by the woman in the office not to park too close to the front. “There are some kids that live right here,” she said pointing to the tiny trailer near the house, “and they like to play over here; it can get pretty loud. I have four kids myself.” “Of course you do,” I thought. Well, no better way to cap off a stay in a trashy RV park than to know that we may be treated at all hours to the sounds of howling children.
But I can’t say that even if we had stayed in a more suitable place that Port Angeles has much to recommend. It has the look of a place that was once a fairly nice resort town, but just doesn’t have the money or the wherewithal to keep itself up. Buildings are boarded up, the attractions are second-rate, and the thing that was most annoying was the constant reminders of the Twilight franchise. Twilight gifts, Twilight tours. Gah!
But everything changed once we took that little ferry ride across the water. Coming into Victoria harbor was one of the most exciting things so far on this trip. It was a chilly, gray, drizzly day, but I love this city so much I didn’t even care. In fact, Victoria is one of those places where you might go so far to say that this kind of weather is actually charming.
You can have a city without hanging flower baskets lining the streets, but why would you? I would say that these wonderfully overflowing colorful baskets of hanging flowers are a sort of symbol for the city itself. Everything about Victoria says, “Don’t worry about the weather. Smile!” We walked through the streets of downtown craning our necks to see the beautiful old buildings. We stepped into a sumptuously decorated Scottish pub for an afternoon pint. We browsed through a wonderful, musty used book store where I bought a copy of Herodotus’s Histories. We strolled through the sprawling parks looking at flower gardens, waterfowl and peacocks, totem poles and fountains. And we stopped in at a storage container on the pier for the best damned fish and chips I’ve had maybe ever. We immediately started planning a fantasy life in Victoria.
We got to spend only about five hours in the city, and after that five hours Port Angeles seemed even dumpier than before. We got back on the ferry with heavy hearts—neither of us wanted to leave. But as we pulled away from the dock and I gazed through the drizzle at the vibrant facade of the city, I knew that this was one place that we would return to again and again.