Posts Tagged ‘Skagit’

We headed out of Skagit County, Washington this morning, excited to be finally on the road and on with our adventure, but sorry to leave. . . again. It’s just 3 months since we moved back down from Alaska, with the intention of moving on as quickly as possible, but we soon remembered why we liked the area so well and stayed so many years. Skagit county is a beautiful — no, make that stunning — county, from the shores of the Salish Sea and the farmland panorama of The Valley, to the county’s eastern border well into the Cascade Mountains. Nine months of relentless cloudy skies and rain-drenched, lush landscapes give way this time of year to sunny skies, drought conditions and vast dust clouds blowing across fields from the wheels of farm vehicles in the Valley. Unless you’ve lived here, you can’t understand that this area has a wonderful climate — year-round.

"Hay For Sale", Sedro Woolley, WA

We saw these two men playing cards beside their “store” in the Thrifty Foods Store parking lot just before we left today and we asked to take their picture since, to us, they represent Skagit County at it’s best – timeless, relaxed and real.

Transplants from the East coast (Maryland), we have, over the course of about a decade and a half, explored the county and much of the state, as well as a lot of the Northwest region and, sometime/where along the way, we truly became Washingtonians. And now we sit in a campground just the other side of the Columbia River in Oregon, taking a moment to say good-bye. Good-bye to the Valley’s fresh, local produce; the beautiful walks; the salty air by the bays; the awesome power of the Skagit River; the old growth forest in Rockport upriver; and the creatures, human and otherwise, whom we’ve encountered. It’s also a lifestyle that we’re leaving.

We will also miss our favorite place for lunch: the Rachawadee Thai Cafe in Mount Vernon. Open the door to see a narrow aisle between the brick wall to the right and, to the left, just ten red-topped, low stools before a long stainless steel counter that divides the cafe lengthwise.

We’ve often enjoyed the excellent food in addition to the performance art, during the lunchtime rush hour, of 4 people working in coordinated, efficient and good-natured concert to slice, stock, clean, cook and serve delicious food, all the while providing excellent customer service. We will think fondly of the times we’ve left the cafe with our mouths pleasantly afire, having ordered 3 out of 4 stars heat per entree. We made sure to go there for lunch yesterday where we ordered enough food for leftovers for tonight’s dinner.

This evening, with the sun going down after what seemed a sweltering drive in the sunny low 70s, the air is freshening with a breeze over the grassy RV sites surrounded by trees as we sit on our lawn chairs, the dogs lying contentedly near our feet. Here we are today — where will we be tomorrow? We have no definite answer to that question and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Our haul this morning from the farmers market in Mount Vernon.

We love fresh carrot tops in split pea soup so we made that for lunch.  The garlic is just superb, as was the onion.  The beets will go into blender drinks, their tops in our salads. This is a great place to live for those who like organic, locally grown whole foods. We shop the farmers markets, the Co-op and sometimes make trips to the small farms in Skagit Valley and on the nearby islands to get organic produce, eggs, cheese and meats. In Alaska we loved the access to fresh Alaskan fish, shrimp and crab, but missed the variety and freshness of the produce here.

It will be hard to leave, but we have developed such a taste and preference for fresh, organic whole foods that it will still be a priority for us and we look forward to discovering new farms, farmers markets and natural foods stores wherever we go.

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Tis the season for food in Skagit valley. The Co-op’s produce section is bursting with fresh, beautiful vegetables and fruits, farmers’ markets have begun their seasons in the various towns and the fresh fish is coming in from Alaska. Spot prawns will be available in about a week. We finished a half flat of local strawberries in just 3 days – so sweet and ripe.
We’ve taken some nice walks in Island and Skagit counties. It has been a rainy spring and we often have trails mostly to ourselves as we walk in full rain gear with waterproof binoculars to hand.

Along the Cascade Trail

On a walk beside Padilla Bay we just about ran into a weasel who had just caught a mouse or vole. The poor thing wasn’t quite dead since we interrupted the hunt, but weasels are quite fearless and this one retreated only for moment (despite 2 humans and 2 dogs) then came back to finish the kill and carry it away. Practically under our feet! Didn’t need binocs, but looking through them provided an amazing clear, close-up view. Like watching a nature show.

Padilla Bay At lowest tide

Skagit River Valley “Upriver” near Lyman

Band-tailed pigeons were another interesting sight on another day. Physically similar in shape to the non-native Rock pigeon, but behavior and size had us guessing. They are big and this flock of about a dozen was silent and very wary in the deep woods upriver.

And yesterday we saw not one, but three Barred owls. All together, a family. We interrupted the parent who was feeding two young. They all flew a short distance in differing directions to settle high in tall trees. This forest area is about a mile’s walk from our RV park. The fairly quiet road we walked along passes through this wood on a steep course down to Similk Bay. The woods drop sharply off to one side of the road so near the top of the hill we’re walking beside the tops of those tall, old trees. The owls, therefore, were easily viewed. We waited for a while, watching. The three owls kept their eyes on us too. In one tree, the parent, clutching what appeared to be a large, dead rat in its talons, called occasionally. Our patience was rewarded when the three joined up on a branch still in clear view. The momma/papa began stripping pieces of flesh from the rat and feeding them to one youngster while the other made hissing noises until it’s turn came.

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