Two encounters with nature
A citizen's view
June 8, 2022
Beauty: The Padilla Bay nature trail located five miles north of La Conner, across Highway 20, on Bay View Edison Road, is one of the best outdoor visits in western Skagit County.
The 4-mile out-and-back trail tops District 5’s dike and separates very productive farmland (potato now, grass seed in the prior planting) from two sloughs that pour into Samish Bay.
The trail is maintained by the Skagit County parks department.
It is a very popular place for walkers, strollers, family outings, birders, painters, joggers, runners, bikers, snoozers.
On a summer weekend, there may be 20 cars.
During a cold winter day, maybe just one, or none.
It deserves its popularity.
You really should go there – frequently.
Ugly: On a mid-May afternoon, three cars had their driver-side windows broken and valuables taken. Valuables included a wallet and credit/debit card that, within a half hour of the break-in, were used to charge $500 at Lowe’s. A year ago or so, on a very pretty day and in full sun, nine cars were prowled and valuables taken. Prowls happen almost every week at the south trail head. On at least one occasion, sheriff deputies were able to make an arrest. Apparently they had been alerted to the actual break-in (they didn’t tell me how) and were able to catch the perpetrator 20 miles away, entering Oak Harbor. How can this happen so readily?
There is one sign warning people not to leave valuables in their cars.
Clearly, that sign is ineffective.
Based on my and others’ experience, here’s how it happens.
The prowler “gang” typically has two or three persons.
One person watches the trail and road for people returning to the trail head.
I encountered a presumed gang of two people, one with binoculars who was scanning the trail, feigning an interest in birds while the other was looking at cars.
They left without breaking in because I was “hanging around.” (I contacted the police and passed along a picture of the license plate.) They watch the trail and the road may and have may have an electronic device that detects phones or laptops left in the cars.
They move quickly.
Living with both: It is a beautiful area and we can still take advantage of it. However, do not leave valuables inside the car, not even in the glove compartment. Lock them in the trunk of the car or leave them at home. I don’t believe there have been trunk break-ins. Take an old car to the trailhead and leave it open. Park your car at the Farmhouse restaurant and walk to the trail head. Partner with someone who has an old car who will drive and leave it open.
Spread the word about the good and the bad of Padilla Bay. I hope the county will consider video surveillance. To put that in place, the county commissioners have to provide funds and establish procedures that protect rights of privacy.
Bob Raymond is a long time La Conner runner, walker and activist.