Last week I had another nice day, so I decided to take a trip down to La Conner, WA. Truth is, I’ve been feeling a little stressed from work, school, and Life Responsibilities (good stress though-just the normal “there’s a lot of it at the moment” stress) and needed a chance to recharge.
So, I’m heading for the border with my new-ish NEXUS pass that I’ve only used once so far. There are two lanes open, so I choose the right-hand lane. At that moment, two border guards emerge and wave at me to change lanes. Immediately I think, “Wow, a new lane is opening and I get to be first. What nice people!” One guard approaches my window while the second stays behind him with his hand on his gun.
“Turn off your ignition, put it in park, and unlock the vehicle for me.”
Apparently, being a single guy in a Jeep with a NEXUS pass travelling on a weekday morning sets off alarms of some sort. Thankfully, the search didn’t take very long and I managed to get through the border without becoming a statistic.
On the way to La Conner, well, pretty much any time I drive over the border I visit Woods Coffee at Birch Bay. It’s a friendly coffee house with great coffee and if you get the growler made with cold brewed coffee it’s fantastic.
La Conner is a small town with a population of just over 900 people. The buildings are wood panelled, and give this feeling of stepping back through time into the Old West. I was immediately struck with a sense of calm, and there was a boardwalk along the water that overlooked Fidalgo Island. That’s where I headed first.
The song I chose for this week’s theme encapsulates the mood that overcame me when I was in La Conner. My advice: skip to the end, play the song, then read the rest of the blog.
I met a couple on the same walk who said good morning to me, and so I of course said it back and smiled. They were an American Indian couple, Sue and Vernon I would learn, and they told me that once a year many tribes canoe to the spot on Fidalgo Island that I was looking at to celebrate together. Each year a different tribe hosts. It was clear by the way they spoke that this was a big deal to them, and so I listened as they told me their stories. After they finished, I thanked them for stopping to chat with me, introduced myself (learned their names) and we parted ways.
As I wandered the town for the rest of the day, I thought about my reasons for why I road trip. (Yes, I use it as a verb.) There’s a history to these places I visit, and each person I encounter has a story to tell. And that’s the thing right there-people want to tell their stories. All it takes to open them up is to listen and hear them. We miss so much in our busyness and go-go-go lifestyle that the simple tales of lives we encounter briefly go missed. Then we return home, turn on Netflix, and fill our heads with made up tales. (Not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I love my TV series, but that doesn’t have to be the only stories.)
One thing I learned that day, is that just south of La Conner is another place called Fish Town. At one time, in the 60s and 70s, it was an artist colony that was off-grid and people flocked to in order to escape the busyness of city life so they could concentrate on becoming an artist. Here’s a fascinating documentary on it.
It’s only a 15 minute drive to the end of the road that leads to the walkway to what used to be Fish Town. I am terribly fascinated by this, and really want to see it for myself. What’s left? What is the area like? What drove these people to forgo the amenities of civilization to live off-grid and commune with one another?
The two things that are stopping me from going are:
(1) My penchant for getting lost. See that dotted line above? I’m pretty sure mine would wind up looking like an old Family Circus cartoon.
(2) I’ve seen the Blair Witch Project. No way am I going to wind up venturing into what I think is an abandoned fishing shack only to discover body parts in jars in its basement.
I do plan on returning to the area. This month the daffodils were in bloom, while next month are the tulips. I leave you with a few more photos, and the song that played as the theme.