I was standing near the corner of the street, with three of my gal pals, in downtown Burlington, Washington, when I suddenly noticed something I had never seen before – a solar-powered garbage can. Now you’re probably more interested in why I was alone in the States, with three gal pals – more than hearing about a trash can. Let me explain.
Margaret, the secretary of the NW Tulip Trekkers walking club, had sent an email announcing a ‘friendship walk’ in downtown Burlington and Skagit River Park on Wednesday, and I confirmed on Meetup that I would be attending. The Tulip Trekkers is a club I joined a year ago, after meeting Tim and Cheryl Fisher, at an event in Canada and I’ve been to several of their scheduled walks. I have made a lot of new friends, and I enjoy walking and chatting with them.
So early Wednesday morning, before leaving for the States, I put a comment on the club’s Meetup page that I was on my way. The 10 km walk was scheduled to begin at 10:00 am but I would need to be there by 9:45 am to register and meet and greet my American friends. I live about a ten-minute drive from the border, and it’s about a forty-five-minute drive to Burlington/Mount Vernon. I am a frequent traveler to the States, and I usually go to the Costco store in Bellingham at least once a week. But I also like the drive through the mountains between Bellingham and Burlington/Mount Vernon, so I’ll often go to the Costco store there too.
But in the twenty years that I’ve been traveling to these places in Washington State, I’ve never met anyone personally. Oh, I have had brief chats with sales clerks, cashiers and others but I didn’t know a soul there. But in the last year, I have made many friends and even went with Santa Danny to the NW Tulip Trekkers get together last December. And several of the Tulip Trekkers are also members of the Vancouver Venturers walking club, and we see them at some of our scheduled walks in Canada.
I was looking forward to seeing Tom and Sue and hearing about their recent trip to Thailand. I also wanted to talk to Tim, the club president, about my volunteering to help on any of the club’s committees. I knew that Margaret and Tom would be there too – we met last Summer at the walk in Friday Harbor. And so was John D., whom I met on the trail at Birch Bay State Park, last Fall.
The weather forecast for freezing weather was correct, and I had dressed warmly for the walk. I usually layer my clothing, but today, I was also bringing a second coat – just in case. I also planned to wear two pairs of gloves because I haven’t found any that are warm enough to keep my hands warm. And I don’t know about you, but I hate cold fingers!
The US Customs agent at the border crossing asked me why I was traveling to the States and looked a bit surprised when I told her that I was going to Burlington to walk with the NW Tulip Trekkers. She didn’t appear to be familiar with this club, so I explained that it was a walking club and that I was a member. I briefly had an impulse to ‘pull her leg’ by explaining that the origin of the club’s name came from a song by Tiny Tim – but she was too young to have understood the connection. Editor: he’s referring to ‘Tip Toe Thru The Tulips.’
As I drove south on the I-5 highway, I stopped in Bellingham to get my SUV washed – as I hate driving a dirty vehicle – especially on a bright, sunny day. A shiny car boosts my spirit, the same as wearing a pair of freshly-polished shoes.
The carwash on Sunset Drive is a great place to get a car wash because they have people who shammy the car after the wash, so there’s less chance of freezing. However, the lineup took much longer to get through, and I began to worry that I’d be late getting to the walk before the 10:00 am start time. And I didn’t have Tim or Tom’s cellphone numbers to call to say that I’d be late.
But fortunately, I had a GPS app on my cellphone that gave directions by voice. But something happened as I drove east on George Hopper – my phone became silent, and I wasn’t sure where or when to turn. I’d look down at my phone while driving, and after a long drive that seemed to lead nowhere, I ended up in a complete circle – back to the I-5 and George Hopper interchange. It was 10:01 am, and I knew that the club would be starting the walk on time. I was now in a state of panic, and I suddenly had to pee. I’m dancing in the vehicle as I finally entered the Skagit River Park and was driving towards the parking lot and noticed several people walking towards me. I soon recognized the faces, and one of them suggested that I park my vehicle there, a few feet away from a portable washroom.
Tim and Tom W. waited for me, and soon we were walking along the Skagit River on the dike. It was sunny and cold, but there wasn’t any wind, so we soon began to remove some of the extra layers. After walking through the park and into downtown Burlington, we stopped at a building that housed public washrooms. It was there that I noticed the solar-powered trash can. I had never seen one of these before, so I took this short video clip: Solar-powered trash compactor
During the walk in town, we came across a clump of trees that had been carved by an artistic homeowner. I took a short video clip of the tree sculptures. Here is a link to the tree sculptures: Tree sculptures
We got back to the main parking lot, and Tom and Sue drove me to where I had parked and then we all drove to Haggens for lunch and refreshments. I don’t always stay after the walks, but I’m glad I did because there were lots of interesting stories.
Oh, and before I close, you’re probably wondering about the ‘gal pal’ term I used at the beginning of the story. When I have friends that are girls, I can’t refer to them as my ‘girlfriends’ – especially if they’re married. And ‘lady friend’ sounds too formal, so I’ve coined the phrase ‘gal pal’ to avoid any confusion. And most of my gal pals are my age or older, but I see them as girls – young and vibrant! The same goes for my ageless buddies – you’re only as old as you act.
So it was an awesome day, despite the frigid temperatures. I’m looking forward to doing this walk again in the Summer – especially on the dike that runs along the river.
Dedicated to Tim and Cheryl Fisher
Today’s tunes from Danny’s library (purchased):