It’s All in the Experience

I was volunteering at the La Conner Visitor Information Center the other day and noticed a very curious – and actually quite affirming – phenomenon. Well, not quite a phenomenon … more like an ‘ah-ha’ moment I’d guess.

During my 3-hour shift, several groups of people came in.

I spoke with a group of 3 older adults who had flown to Seattle from San Francisco, driven to La Conner, and couldn’t wait to get started on their 3-day tour of Skagit County. They had all sorts of questions about tulips, daffodils, shopping, restaurants, Deception Pass Bridge, how to find Snow Goose Produce (they had read all about the giant ice cream cones…) and whether our local whales ever got lost and ended up in our Channel.

A couple came in – they had driven up from Jerome Idaho – and while they were ‘sort of’ interested in the fields of flowers, they were VERY anxious to visit our 3 museums (Skagit County Historical Museum, La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum and The Museum of Northwest Art). She’s a quilter, he’s a historian, and they both love art. They were absolutely giddy about being able to walk to all 3 museums and only have to park their car once.

Another couple came in from Iowa … they were studying family genealogy and had learned that his family had settled in Whatcom and Skagit County in the mid-1800’s. They were so excited about visiting Pleasant Ridge Cemetery and the Skagit County Historical Museum, and looking at old county records.

Then there were the two young women who stopped by for no other reason than to … well … stop by. When I asked them if there was anything in particular they wanted to know about – they just smiled and said, “No, we just love to stop at places that have awesome brochure racks. It’s our way of traveling vicariously through the printed materials of others.” Then they laughed and spend perhaps 30 minutes oohing and aahing about the places they could go and the things they could do in Northwestern Washington – if only they weren’t still in college (I gathered that they have been going to school for several years…) and on a ramen-kind-of-budget.

Here’s what occurred to me as I was driving home after my 3-hour volunteer shift.

Everyone I met had come to La Conner for a different reason – and every one of them was SO excited to be in La Conner. They all had different interests and expectations about their visit, and yet they were all so happy to not only be in La Conner, but to find out that it was even better than they thought it would be.

Those of us who live here sometimes take for granted just how wonderful of a little town we live in. We take for granted the museums and the history and the water and the flowers and the landscape and the quaintness. We even drive right by Snow Goose and never stop for ice cream. (Why is that? Are we all on a diet??)

Looking at La Conner through the eyes of people who have come here for an experience is, in my opinion, one of the surest ways to make us locals sit up and take notice of what’s right around us -day in and day out. We are lucky, lucky folks. Darn lucky.

Now … I think it’s time for a Sunday drive and an ice cream cone.

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