Drive up I-5 through absolutely gorgeous Skagit Valley: needed only Beethoven’s “Pastorale” Symphony to make it perfect.
Pass through Conway and Rexville (both miniscule), and am surprised at design of farmhouses. Lack knowledge about Scandinavian architecture, but can’t help but wonder.
La Conner turns out to be one of those “stickum” towns: am aware of spending a lot of time just moseying around both main and back streets… but, it seems OK!
There are sort of TWO main streets, which intersect into a L-shape. Washington Street has a casual, loose appearance which doesn’t quit prepare me for a more condensed First Street.
In addition to some funky buildings, cute shops, variegated eateries, there’s also a creditable (if tiny) Northwest Art Museum. Right ON the Skagit River, there are several public “open spaces” which allow going out, sittin’ a spell, and jes’ countin’ boats going by.
Not like there’s “anything going on” (well, that’s not REALLY true… meet a frail, white-haired lady, cane-hobbling down a steep hill to enjoy a mid-afternoon till dark Blues Festival & Picnic): tourists slip in and out of shops; a “cool dude” in convertible BMW makes a U-turn in the middle of First; bikers roar onto First, then discreetly park their “hogs” before a small bar (N. B., these were very respectful bikers: noisy, yep; obnoxious, nope)
Wander uphill to an old bank converted to Town Hall; check out an old mansion, now a quilt and tapestry museum; wander into a small “Butterfly Garden” a local Garden Club created next to its once-New-England-Square-church headquarters. On Third, discover some “painted ladies” which owners have lovingly restored.
Back at “sea level”, head for a pier in hopes of capturing a sea plane takeoff. A man my age sits down and inquires about what brings me to La Conner. We converse, and he offers what is, locally, probably a often-told tale.
Grandparent immigrant farmers from Sweden, come and settle in Minnesota; move on to Iowa; and, finally, transport themselves to Washington’s fertile, and open valleys.
Two generation later, he’s a lifetime employee at a local Dutch Shell refinery, an occasional fisherman, and a lonely widower. He speaks to La Conner’s ability to absorb Summer tourists, and to return to a “quiet” town as Autumn begins.
This particular seaplane chose to take of WITH the wind, but do get photos as it returns.
Lunch at La Conner Brewery is nothing special, but, later, wonder whether it’s influenced by a dour, complaining staff.
One delightful lagniappe is a series of outdoor sculptures… no specific “theme”, but scattered around town in unexpected spots. Some wood, some metal; all have an “independence” of theme which is not limited to local motifs.
NOTE: for some add’l La Conner photos, see “page” 2012/07/29 – La Conner/WA
Later, head into Mt Vernon, but again, downtown is pretty much deserted. Never quite get the significance of the “tulip” smokestack, but someone went to a LOT of effort.
Head back to Bay View, just north of La Conner and am treated to an exquisite sunset from the state park there.