Friday, January 10, 2020

Concrete and the Skagit Eagle Festival

Yeah, I love the town of Concrete. We love camping in the area, hiking in the area, and stopping in Concrete when we can. Visiting their Skagit Eagle Festival had been high on my list for 2020.

We stayed in the very nice cabins at Rasar State Park, ran a 5K on Saturday morning, and even (finally!) went to see a movie at the adorable Concrete Theater. But other than that, it was ALL ABOUT EAGLES.

After the run -- and because the weather seemed to be holding -- we drove out to Rockport to the Skagit Eagle Interpretive Center. I really just wanted to poke my head in and look around, but it turned out a National Forest Service ranger was about to lead a nature walk along the river, so we joined in.

And then the heavens opened. A little boy, visiting from Texas, said, "Whoa, is that HAIL?!?!" Luckily Wil had suggested we put on our goretex jackets and hats, so we weren't caught out. Still, the weather and my level of preparedness (did I mention I was in running tights?) and the large group of chatty folk -- never great on a nature walk -- meant we went rogue and turned back on our own.

So of course we went to the little Rockport Pub, which is adorable, and I had a pint of very nice tart raspberry cider while Wil wisely had a hot toddy.

Then we walked up to the 530 bridge over the Skagit and chatted with a NFS volunteer who let us look through her spotting scope at a juvenile eagle in a nearby tree. Then we drove to the little pullout "park" near mile marker 100 and looked at an adult.

Eventually we drove up to Newhalem -- I thought the road was closed there; turns out you could still go another few miles to Diablo -- and started to head back downriver. We popped into "downtown Concrete", desperately wanting to patronize the hardware store but realizing we weren't really in a position to buy a big leaf rake and keep it in the car.

We stopped in at Miga, an Asian restaurant down on the highway near Annie's Pizza Station (Don't worry -- we had already bought our Annie's Pizza on Friday night!), and had really nice bibimbap and a traditional Korean drink. One of those two things caused me to flush BEET RED, but them's the breaks.

Then back up to Concrete where we had a time-wasting drink at the Pub, and then -- dream fulfilled! -- to the Concrete Theater to see a movie!

Okay, so we'd seen Star Wars before, but still. That theater is so sweet, and the couple who own it are so lovely, it was a pleasure to go.

Sunday morning we got up, layered up with warm clothing and gore-tex, and headed back to Rockport for another adventure: an eagle-watching float trip on the Skagit with Skagit River Eagle Tours.

We were driven upriver to Marblemount, then climbed aboard big aluminum boats with comfy seats AND HEATERS for a float downriver. The boat was uncrowded with 5 passengers plus our friendly guide, and for the next 3 hours we floated along, our guide pointing out sights and telling us things -- and of course watching eagles.

It was getting wetter by the minute, but I especially loved floating down "eagle alley" and seeing the big adults so close. I was amazed by their big furry legs.

The trip was really lovely -- and when we got off the boat, we headed up to the car and I suddenly realized just how cold it was, and that the "handwarmer" parts of my sleeves were soaking wet and I was shivering. (It was fine on the boat near those heaters!!!) We grabbed some dry clothes and headed over to the Rockport Pub where we were treated like regulars (2x in 2 days = regulars!), ordered hot toddies, and I changed out of my wet shirt into something dry and warm.

The weekend was great -- and we probably had better luck sighting eagles in the bad weather than we would have in good weather.

The Skagit Eagle Festival continues for the next three weeks, with some activities available every weekend, and others only on certain days. Skagit River Float Trips operates every day and the float trip is fun. Besides, EAGLES.

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