Sleeping By the Water

On every visit to Port Townsend, Washington, we talked about staying at the Port Hudson Marina RV park and in September 2015 we finally booked a week. Our site faced out onto the water, giving us a front seat to gulls and other water birds.

What could possibly go wrong when you walk out of your rig to this?



One day we were gifted with the rare sighting of a submarine making its way through the straits as it headed to the military base on Indian Island:


But mostly we watched the birds…


…and the local deer (yes, they really do stop to wait for the traffic before crossing the street, at least most of the time):


We shopped downtown, ate at our favorite restaurants, ran up the steps near the fountain. What’s not to love about this place?

Unfortunately, for us, there’s one key aspect to Port Townsend — and the Hudson Point Marina and RV Park in particular — that will keep us from staying there again.

I realize many RVers — and many of our favorite blog readers! — are pet owners. We respect your choice to share your lives with a dog or cat. We also can appreciate a town like Port Townsend deciding to call itself pet friendly.

We just wish a few more people saw things from our point of view. We are allergic to dogs and cats — Bob is especially sensitive to them. I’ve seen his eyes swell shut in a matter of seconds after an animal comes to close. Once we stayed in a small hotel in Maine. After a long drive Bob stretched out on the sofa in the room — and in a minute or two he was wheezing and sneezing, his eyes were swollen and watering. We immediately knew an animal had been in the room, probably on the sofa.

Yes, we avoid places where pets are welcome. We’ve walked out of restaurants, farmers’ markets, hotels/motels, and shops (a lot of bookstores, sad to say) with cats and dogs in residence.

We do everything we can to protect ourselves.

We just wish pet owners would do everything they can to protect us, too.

Port Townsend is a pet friendly town. Some shops allow dogs to wander in. We stay out of those. It’s our choice (well, sort of; we would have preferred to shop in many of them, but apparently our money isn’t as welcome). We look for leash-required hiking trails, beaches, RV parks, all to keep ourselves from having to deal with animals running wild.

What finally got to us in Port Townsend was the number of residents — mostly locals — who have decided the rules are not for them, allowing their animals to run free even in leash-required areas. One such spot, along that stunning strip of blue water in front of our rig, seemed particularly popular with the dog-owning crowd.


This black dog came running after us, ball in mouth, eager to play. We were well up off the beach but he came for us anyway. I yelled to the woman to call her dog off, to put it on a leash, that we were allergic, but she didn’t care.


I’ll make a long story short and say it was not a pleasant conversation. Later we saw another woman with a dog off-leash:


Sad to say, we spent less time on the beach than we would have liked. And less time in the town.

Oh, and the Port Hudson Marina and RV Park? If you’re allergic like we are, avoid staying there. The park’s rules say pets are to be leashed, but as you can see from the images, they aren’t. Even in within the confines of the park, people ignored the rule. And with an overworked harbormaster who doubled as an RV park manager, enforcing the leash rule was not worth his time.

Before you book your reservation here, though, you need to know one last thing. Even if you have animals yourself and are okay with unleashed local dogs on the nearby beach, know that other RVers aren’t always as courteous as you might like them to be.

Here’s one last example, and yet another reason we won’t be back to stay here. A nearby RVer tied his dog to the pedestal of another site. It seemed like a good idea to him, I guess, because the two sites on either side were unoccupied. What he failed to consider was how dogs like to mark their territory. This dog reared up and gave the water spigot a good dose of its — eww! You get the picture. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the next people who would pull into that site, hook up their water hose (yes, the potable water, for washing and drinking…), never knowing what all they were getting.

Please, please, please. If you’re a dog owner, remember that even if your animal is friendly, cuddly and wouldn’t hurt a fly, it can still be lethal for someone who’s extremely allergic.

It’s a simple thing to obey the rules: keep your pet leashed and under your control. Respect those who can’t — by no choice of their own — be as close to your animal as you can.


(Own a shop? RV park? Restaurant? Other business? Please keep your allergic customers in mind when it comes to customers with pets. We all thank you for it.)

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
This entry was posted in and Critters in General, Animals, Interesting Stories, RV Parks & Lifestyle and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sleeping By the Water

  1. Let me preface this by saying I have owned many dogs, loved them all. We know own a cat (or she owns us rather) and we love her. Having said that, I don’t love other people’s animals. Especially animals that have no manners. A dog that wants to jump up and lick my face, sniff my business or whatever is positively unwelcome. I wish pet owners would realize that their pets are their pets, not everyone else’s pets. We don’t all love having our faces licked by a strange dog. You know your dog, I don’t. If I want to get to know your dog, I’ll introduce myself to you and him first.

    So, all that to say that I know how you feel and completely agree. Everyone needs to understand that the rules are there for everyone and especially for your pet. There are many dogs that are fine around people but will attack other dogs, hence the leash rule. Come on people, keep your dog with YOU! Don’t let him run up and shake all that sea water all over my and my towel and food. Please, get a grip… on that leash!

    • Ellen says:

      Thanks for your comment — and for reminding me that not all pet-owners see things the same way. I’m sure I’ve offended some people, but sometimes a situation is so upsetting I have to mention it. This was one of those times. I appreciate you adding your voice to the discussion!

  2. Well, I love dogs and can understand why many RVers wish/insist on traveling with them. That said, I also understand and respect the rights of those who are medically allergic, not “I don’t want those pests around allergic.” RVers/campers should be aware of the campground rules and abide by them. I personally cannot tolerate cigarette/cigar,pipe smoke; however, I feel it is the establishment’s owner’s right to allow or disallow smoking within his/her personal property (including a public though privately owned restaurant, campground, etc.). Either live up to your standards and responsibilities as a facility owner, or pay the consequences. End of rant.
    Happy Trails!
    P.S. Please visit our new mystery blog site at:
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  3. Ellen says:

    Absolutely in agreement, Mike. I’d never dream of telling someone they shouldn’t have a pet or shouldn’t allow them on the property. We’re just caught in the age-old battle of one person’s rights clashing with another’s. All we ever ask is that people abide by the rules. We’re fine with leashed pets and only ask — as you say — that people abide by the rules and that businesses enforce their own rules. Seems simple, doesn’t it?

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