First day out and I ride a short 38 miles from Burlington to Rockport State Park where I plan to camp for the evening. I roll in happily exhausted, but nearly fly over my handlebars to a halt by barriers in the road. “Campground Closed”.
I lean up my bike on a park bench in the day use area, take off my helmet, socks, and put on some flip flops. Who cares? I’m camping, regardless.
On the other side of the bushes, I hear a woman’s voice and a cough from a gentleman. I tip-toe towards the bathroom past them, but really I just want to scope them out. Don’t want to get in trouble for pitching my tent in a non authorized area. Through the bushes, in spy-movie style, I peep through the leaves to find… the man is doing a watercolor! My spine straightens in surprise. Well, I’m a painter too! I don’t contain my excitement as I walk right through the bushes. “You’re painting!” The man looks shocked by the person emerging from the foliage behind him. He doesn’t address my creepy approach, but is polite.
In meeting, this is Don and Cherrie. Cherrie is felting colored wool at the table. After a few minutes of talking they recognized I’m not some crazy person, and in fact, when I tell them I am effectively homeless and about my dilemma with campsite barricades, they are swift to find me help. They used to live in this area. Don attentively begins dialing old neighbors’ numbers, and with no cell reception, jumps in his car to knock on doors. I stay with Cherrie as she shows me about felting. While she works with her hands, she tells me how Don does all the graphic design for Cascadian Organic Farms which is now owned by General Mills. Don has also recently recovered from a massive brain tumor which still has effects on his functions, but overall, Don is strong.
Don returns and has me follow him to Pat and Debbie’s ranch. The beautiful property is high on the hill overlooking the Skagit river. The property also lays next to a northern Skagit indian tribe. A royalty burial ground is right at the entrance.
Pat and Debbie are something else. Totally hippy and fun loving, they are welcome to travelers as they were once ones themselves. The grandson Armondo keeps wandering outside to curiously learn more about the stranger guest. We search for slugs and bear tracks and by nightfall, I sleep soundly. Debbie treats me to coffee and a bagel in the morning and before it gets too late, I’m on my way.
I make sure to stop at Cascadian Organic Farm stand the next day. Thanks Don and Cherrie