Interview With Steven R. Ballou

From the interview with Steven R. Ballou of Port Townsend conducted by Wendy Los at the Fort Worden History Center on October 26, 2004.  He worked as production manager for Centrum from April 1996 to  November 1999, and then became a State Parks employee.  At the time of the interview, Mr. Ballou was working as a caretaker at Fort Worden.  Here he relates how he met and married Nathalie, his wife:

“In 1992 I went to Portsmouth, Virginia to purchase a sailboat.  It need much work, so I sailed it down to North Carolina and put it in a dry storage yard and then in the summertime I would come back to Poulsbo, Washington and work on a house my dad and I were building for my folks.  In 1993 we completed the house, so I went back to North Carolina to finish up the boat and launch it. My plan was to sail it back to Washington, I calculated it would take about a year and a half to get it back here.  I went to the Laundromat to do my laundry for what I considered to be the last time in North Carolina.  I was launching the boat in two days and I was on my way. While I was there, I met this young woman from France.  We talked and talked and talked and come to find out she had just left the Gifford Pinchot National Forest right by the Columbia River.  So we talked and decided to meet and have coffee and we did and we became friends.  She was much younger than I.  It turned into quite a friendship. She was a forester who was on an exchange program from France, and when the time came for her to return to France her airplane ticket was from Seattle. So I decided to make an adventure out of it and drive her back to Seattle. Then she flew off and went back to France.  I was ready to go back to the east coast to continue my journey when I got a message from her that her brother, who had a grocery store, invited me to come to France for the summer.  He could employ me in his store and I would have a place to live, and she would show me France and Germany and whatever else we could see. So I did that and during that time a romance developed and we decided we would get married. First I came back to the United States and we decided that we’d start our life together in North Carolina.  We married there, and after the better part of a year I sold the sailboat and we moved to Washington.”

A surprising story about the boat:

“About three years ago I was on my way to come to work from where I live.  I was driving by Boat Haven and I saw this boat.  There weren’t 30 of them made in the whole world and the only place to find them is on the east coast because that’s where they were built.  That’s why I had gone there to buy this specific boat, and I’m driving by the Boat Haven and I look there in the yard and I see a boat like the one I had. I went, ’This is incredible, a boat like this isn’t even here.’ So after work I went into the Boat Haven to look at the boat and it was indeed the boat I had sold on the east coast.  I got to meet the people and talk to them.  They’d spent five years getting the boat from North Carolina to Port Townsend.  I had been going to spend a year and a half, because that was the money I had allotted for the trip.  They had done exactly the trip I had in mind. It was like that boat was made to get here and it did.”

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