Sunday, April 22, 2012

geography lesson

I've been mostly residing in the edenic vale of Chimacum Creek, in eastern Jefferson County these past few months. I recently found out the area, which has most of the county's people and economic activity, has a geographical designation of its own.

The Quimper Peninsula and the waterways that lie along its eastern shore were complex and confusing for the first Europeans who explored and charted the area, and the various names they and the immigrants who followed them gave to the region's inlets, bays, and passages can still be complicated, due to overlapping designations.

For example, Port Townsend Bay is one side of the entrance to Admiralty Inlet, the opening from the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Puget Sound. It initially passes between the east side of Marrowstone Island and the west side of Whidby Island, and provides the only navigable route for ocean-going vessels to reach the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Another part of Puget Sound lies on the eastern side of the island, but you can't get there from here unless you have a boat small enough to navigate Deception Pass.

Confused yet? The whole area is like that.

To see a bigger version of the map at right, go to

The larger version shows the whole peninsula, starting with the Hood Canal Bridge on the south, which connects Jefferson and Kitsap Counties. Beaver Valley Road (Hwy 19) is the Peninsula's main drag, and passes through the intensely productive local food mecca of Chimacum before merging with highway 20 and rolling on into Port Townsend, the county seat and only real city on the Quimper Peninsula, with its fortress-like Victorian buildings and eccentric population of slightly over 12 thousand.

Chimacum Creek, whose source is just north of highway 104, flows northward to Chimacum and Hadlock before turning east and opening its wide mouth, the geographical epicenter of my life right now, into the south end of Port Townsend Bay just west of the US naval installation on Indian Island. Deep in the heart of the enchanted forest, there's a peaceful aura in this place amplified by the cool eternal presence of the trees and the brooding climate.


Photo of Jefferson County Courthouse, Port Townsend by Walton Ciferri.

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