A Ride Through Puget Sound
Last night, I needed to get into a better head space, and I knew that being outside would do it. I grabbed my bike and headed straight from my neighborhood on the hill to the flatlands below. The houses thinned out and soon I was in open farmland.
One of my favorite ride starts out along the Skagit River. I don’t see the river because there’s a dike between the road I’m on and the river, but the mark of the river is evident. The road winds and twists – something not many roads in the flat lands do because they’re on a big grid system – and I discover new sights and sensations around each corner. A house with an orchard, the alpaca farm, wide open fields. The very ground that I’m looking out over is a product of the river. This silty, rich soil is some of the best in the world for farming.
Some places I pass through are shady because of the towering cottonwoods that grow next to the river. An eddy in the wind patterns brings the river’s cool air to greet me as I heat up from the exertion of my pedaling. Soon I’m in Conway and pass over the green waters of the south fork Skagit. My first “hill” is the bridge that carries me over the river.
I continue across Fir Island where the farmland stretches out toward salty Skagit Bay. I stop in when I see a friend out in his yard. He and his crew have butchered a hog today and planted 10,000 young plants he will grow for winter vegetables. He notes that my steel-framed bike is a good thing on these Skagit County chip-seal roads, and a bike-savvy farm hand nods in agreement. The sun is fading and we all want to head in for dinner. I hit the road again, now passing over the north fork Skagit River (hill #2!) and onto rocky, wooded Pleasant Ridge. The quiet forested roads here offer up choruses of bird song.
Soon I’m on the flat lands again – I take the long, straight roads now and my shadow stretches out in front of me. I am racing the sun for home. My mind is clear and I remember why it is that I live and work here. This place is a patchwork of bountiful farms, open space, towering trees, cool river air, friends and community.
I am home.
Jenny Baker is a Restoration Manager with TNC. She is grateful to be involved in work that impacts places around Puget Sound like the Skagit delta.