There are few places with more history or character than Bow, an expanse of farmland fronting Samish Bay with mountains behind. More of a ZIP code than a town, Bow encompasses a handful of niche communities, including one that’s seen perhaps the greatest transformation over the years: Edison.
From a logging town to a main street of meat markets and hardware stores, Edison has somehow managed to emerge in this century as something of a tourist destination – but one that’s dogged in retaining its local identity.
Edison is where the farmers from Bow meet for an early morning plate of hotcakes and coffee to shoot the breeze and reminisce about the old days. The small town also welcomes tourists drawn mostly by its eclectic art scene and its food. There are two bakeries and a group of gourmet chefs situated along the main drag.
In February 2012, Edison kicked off its first Edison Bird Festival, which organizers hope will become an annual event. The festival coincides with the Skagit Valley Hawk Census and includes guided birding trips, bird-inspired art shows and a chicken parade on Gilkey Avenue.
Edison is a top stop for many bikers during the September Oyster Run, when motorcycles fill the streets while touring restaurants in the county with oysters on the menu.
Bow is known more for its farm-rich views by those driving through, most on their way to cruise Chuckanut Drive toward Bellingham. There’s a gift shop and a couple of eateries featuring local fare. And the Skagit Casino Resort is at the Bow Exit (232) off Interstate 5.
Each summer, local farmers gather for the Bow Little Market, which takes place Thursdays at the Belfast Feed Store at 6200 N. Green Road. There are also special seasonal Bow Little Market events, such as the Harvest Market in November and the Holiday Festival in November.
The tidelands that make up Padilla Bay, stretching from Highway 20 to Hat Island, were once considered ugly and smelly at low tide, when the anaerobic soils give off a rotten-egg scent.
While the bay hasn’t changed much through the years, its perception certainly has.
Properties overlooking Padilla Bay are now listed as waterfront, and the odor coming off the bay at low tide, that’s now known to locals as the smell of life.
The Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is evidence of the environmental movements to embrace the bay in the late ’70s. The estuarine reserve, one of 28 in the country and the only one in the state, features the public Breazeale Interpretive Center, with aquaria and up-close views of life in the bay. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. You can enjoy a short, well-marked hike that circles through woods and fields behind the center
Bay View also features a 25-acre state park with camping amenities and a long trail fronting the bay. Visitors and locals can be seen parasailing at high tide, raking the mudflats for treasures at low tide and flying kites when the breeze is up.