There’s something exciting about arriving in a new place for the first time, and the thrill is magnified ten-fold when a fresh salty breeze is tossing your hair as you approach your destination by sea.
Leaving Victoria; as I watched the distant mountains grow larger and more pronounced in front of me, from the deck of the Coho. Suddenly the ship let out a deep bellied blast announcing our arrival and a smile spread across my face.
There’s no denying the charm of these antiquated sounds reminding us — the whole world hasn’t gone digital.
With images of the golden era of steamships echoing in my mind, I ventured forth into town, and right away I was struck by a sense of time and history. By that I mean the old brick buildings with hand-painted wooden signs, mounted proudly above storefronts I feel like Port Angeles is a place where the ‘good old days’ aren’t all used up. A place where tradition lives and passes down from generation to generation.
Behind every family-owned store is a family. When people work hard and take pride in where they live the result is a sense of community. For me, it was a refreshing change of pace and scenery from more hectic big-city life.
I had the pleasure of taking part in Halloween in Port Angeles. The spirit of the celebration is fully embraced by the downtown business core. My folks and I donned ghoulish attire, threw a cape on the dog, and spooked the streets joining swarms of bees, bands of pirates with parades of princesses. It was truly heartwarming to see all the sugar-happy kids invited out to enjoy a safe and well organized trick-or- treating experience.
On the way home we poked our heads into a neighborhood haunted house, created annually to trick those who dare enter with fright–before collecting–a tasty delight.
They sure put forth a lot of extra effort and creativity to spice up the trick or treating tradition and it was the highlight of my visit.
Elsewhere small sincere acts of kindness enhanced my stay and make it easy for me to feel welcome.
Every time I leave the house to go grocery shopping, or take a swim at the pool, I meet another kindhearted stranger engaging me in conversation or, one who goes out of their way to help me find what I need.
The highest compliment I can pay to the community of Port Angeles is to applaud the warmth and sincerity I have felt from her people.
Soon I’ll be making the trip down to the waterfront to re-board the Coho. I’ll be home in Ontario for Christmas and then off to teach in Guatemala in the new year. I look forward to my next visit to this charming little city tucked in between the mountains and the sea where kids come first–and visitors–a pretty close second.
William Clayton Sparks
Visiting from Ontario