We arrived in LaConner, WA on March 13 to see our new boat for the first time. She is scheduled to be launched at the end of the month. This time frame gives us great opportunity to see the final build process on the boat, and also to explore the the Pacific Northwest, which we have never visited before.
To make matters simple, there is a campground operated by the Port of Skagit that is adjacent to both the LaConner Marina and Tomco Marine, builder of our American Tug. Thus our Bambi is happily dug in and growing roots right where the boat will be born. We will be able to see the boat floating alongside the dock on “trawler row” right from inside our cozy Bambi. How cool is that?!
We had originally thought that we would explore by towing the Bambi around and camping in different locations, but once we got here we realized, after towing the Airstream 9,000 miles around the country in six weeks, we were pretty happy to sit in one place for a couple of weeks and do our exploring by truck as day-trips.
The price of this convenience, for the Tomco crew, is that we are breathing down their necks while they try to get the boat finished. They have therefore been tremendously helpful and creative about recommending places for us to explore, and there is a LOT in the area to choose from. We are having a great time between poking about on day trips and sticking our noses into the factory as often as we can get away with it.
What a fun little town LaConner is. Apparently it is a popular weekend get-away and tourist destination, but fortunately the season has yet to start so we have it largely to ourselves. It is compact and has everything we could want, a bunch of fun restaurants, unique shopping, boats and nice people.
Each morning we walk the pups into town and back, enjoying the scenery and activity of a small town waking up, the children playing in the beautiful sprawling fields of the elementary and high schools, snow-peaked mountains in the distance, and the boardwalk along the Swinomish Channel with the Rainbow Bridge as a backdrop. If we’re lucky, it won’t be raining.
Even if it is wet (and it usually is), March is the Daffodil Festival so there are profusion of bright, happy yellow blooms everywhere, and other spring perennials are just barely trying to get their mojo going. Everything is late this year. The soggy fields outside of town are just beginning to show swaths of yellow bloom. Apparently this has been the 3rd wettest February and March since records were kept in something like 1890. And that’s on top of what are already the wettest months of the year in these parts. Did I say it was wet? When the sun does make an appearance, it feels like Heaven has spoken.
We’ve had a lot of boat errands to deal with, but after we have checked those off our daily list, we tend to get into the truck to explore. The list of possibilities is endless. There are state and local parks everywhere we turn, countless multi-use trails for hiking, biking, and running, park benches, scenic overlooks, spectacular snow-covered mountain views, the lush beauty of the San Juan Islands at every turn, an espresso hut in every parking lot, and much too much good food, but that’s another post.
On Whidbey Island we started with the spectacular bridge over Deception Pass and wandered around Deception Pass State Park, visited Coupeville and enjoyed the stunning aviation activity of Whitbey Island Naval Air Station.
Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island, is fun to explore and has lots of boat yards and marinas to waste time in. We have walked all over town multiple times, found an excellent local local vet (unfortunately we needed one), tried out a lot of local watering holes and feed troughs, and even bothered a few yacht brokers. We stumbled on the exceptionally beautiful Washington Park at the western end of Anacortes: what a great community asset. The drives along the north shore wind through pleasant residential communities with wide open vistas at every turn. We haven’t indulged in any ferry trips yet, but they are on our list.
On the mainland side of things we have run both north and south of LaConner and found everything we need for provisions, supplies and repairs. To the west, Mt. Vernon has a great food co-op with all kinds of cool stuff, and a nice little downtown area to wander, and Burlington has the WalMarts and Costcos of the world that it seems we can’t live without.
The most beautiful drive we’ve taken (so far) was up Chuckanut Drive to Fairhaven. This lovely old road winds through farmland and along the coast through Bay View and Larrabee State Parks, offering lovely views of the San Juan Islands and Salish Sound to the west, and the snow-covered Cascade Mountains to the east. The small town of Edison is a charming surprise along the way, and Fairhaven is a fine historic town built into the hillside with a plentiful array of shops and restaurants. Bellingham has its own share of resources including a sprawling industrial waterfront and a very large marina, but the downtown area is clearly facing some economic and cultural challenges.
Food? Breweries? Bars? We have sampled many, but I’ve elected not to get into them on this post because it would be much too long! Suffice it to say that we have indulged ourselves freely, have many more to visit, and we have had to loosen our belt buckles a notch or two.
We are enjoying this part of the world immensely. And we even enjoy an evening by ourselves in the Bambi every now and then. Life is definitely good.