PORT TOWNSEND, WA. -- I'll be frank. At first glance, this sleepy Puget Sound town built around a boat works reminded me of Duluth with saltwater. A little faded and past its prime. Our hotel options were limited because we were visiting our daughter and grand-dog, Bourbon. So the only dog-friendly hotel room we could find was next to the laundry room at the Edgewater Hotel on the faded outskirts of town. For $85, it was hard to complain.

Once we parked the car, put Bourbon on a leash and started wandering around, though, we were delighted to find splendid Victorian homes, an artsy wood-crafting show at the Legion Hall, plenty of good food and we even caught a glimpse of some frolicking sea otters under the pier at Fort Worden State Park -- a beach-front point with a cool lighthouse and old bunkers to explore.

A call home to St. Paul didn't hurt. My former next-door neighbor, Western Bank honcho and venerable traveler Bill Sands, had mentioned a "scuzzy joint in the boat works that serves up the best breakfast in town if you're patient." We asked around and were pointed to the Blue Moose Cafe, a tin shack where a friendly group was waiting to get in to the 20 or so seats. We filled our coffee mugs and wandered around to check out the array of boats under repair. A young woman with a nose ring and rubber boots from the boat school pointed out one vessel. "She was going 10 knots out of Sitka, Alaska, and the captain had her on autopilot and T-boned the pier," she said. "Somehow, they got her down here for repairs."

Before long, we were plopped into a cozy booth , enjoying smoked-salmon laced scrambled eggs and heavenly eggs benedict.

For dinner, we found gourmet eats at the Sweetwater Cafe, where the lavender pepper ahi and cilantro-ginger prawns were among our favorites. A nightcap at the eclectic Sirens Bar topped off a lovely Saturday. And we didn't even have a touch of November rain the whole weekend. (John Wandschneider photo, left)