Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mount Vernon, Washington

That big white blob you see in the center of the picture is Mount Baker. Your vantage point for looking at Mount Baker is from Interstate 5 in south Mount Vernon.

Mount Baker is a dormant volcano. Mount Vernon is a town in Washington. Mount Vernon is the last town I lived in in Washington. Mount Vernon is the county seat of Skagit County. Skagit County is so-named because of the valley and the river named Skagit.

The Skagit Valley is one of the most fertile, agriculturally speaking, locations on the planet. The climate of Skagit County is similar to northern France, which is one reason millions of tulips are grown annually in the Skagit Valley, but none are shipped to France, due to the import/export laws of the European Union that protect its markets.

I think it is possible to buy a French (or Dutch) tulip in America. Yet one more unfair trade issue.

In 1998 Mount Vernon was rated the #1 "Best Small City in America." By whom, I do not remember. Rand McNally? Forbes? I do remember CNN showed up in town. When I lived in Mount Vernon and it was named the Best Small City in America, I, and others were perplexed. Living there many saw many ways the town could be made better.

Now, 10 years later, having spent those 10 years in Texas, I can see quite clearly how and why Mount Vernon could and would be named the Best Small City in America. Just the scenic setting might be enough. Then you have all the recreational opportunities. Paved trails running through the town. Skagit Valley College. The extremely well-done downtown, with the Skagit River running through it.

A strong sense of community. I'll never forget being in downtown Mount Vernon about 2 in the morning. The Seattle TV stations had let us know that downtown Mount Vernon was in danger of being wiped out by the flooding Skagit, due to crest around noon that morning. A flood of people flooded downtown, working with the National Guard, sandbagging downtown.

As the crest of the flood approached, water began to top over the sandbags. I watched from high ground above downtown. I have never seen water look so violent. Then, suddenly, the water level dropped. Emergency sirens sounded. An hour, or so, later I learned that a dike downriver had broken, flooding a dike protected area called Fir Island. Mount Vernon was spared, but Fir Island was a disaster. Two weeks later it happened again. The first flood was called the Thanksgiving Flood, due to when it happened. I do not recollect what the flood 2 weeks later was called. I believe they were both what are known as 100 year floods, as in, floods that bad happen only once every 100 years, on average. Not every 2 weeks.

I miss Mount Vernon, the Skagit Valley and tulips. Possibly the best place to live on the planet Earth.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I remember those days growing up there!