Mrs. Wright’s house looks out over Padilla Bay, a section of the Puget Sound bounded by Samish Island to the north, the flat farmlands of Skagit Valley to the east and south, and Fidalgo Island south and west. The Swinomish Channel runs between Fidalgo Island and the mainland, connecting Padilla Bay to Skagit Bay.
On the east side of the bay, near the little community of Bayview, is the Padilla Bay Preserve. As many times as I’ve driven past here over the past 20 years, I had never stopped in. I decided that had to change on this trip. It was sunny one afternoon this past week, so I headed on over.
The Padilla Bay Preserve actually encompasses the east side of the bay. Just south of Bayview is a paved walkway that provides great views of the bay and the surrounding wetlands and farmlands. North of Bayview is the Brezeale Interpretive Center – a research and meeting center with displays for the general public. I had walked along the pathway, but had never been to the visitors center.
The Interpretive Center consists of several buildings. There is lab space and housing for visiting researchers, as well as meeting and conference space. The actual displays only take up a small portion of the center.
Most of the displays are geared toward students, with hands-on centers and other attractions. There are several aquariums, including one arched so that you can walk through and underneath.
There are several trails around the center. One heads into the woodlands and through the trees inland of the center, and another heads out toward the bay itself. A convenient underpass takes visitors under the roadway.
On the other side of the road is an elevated viewing platform with more displays, and a spiral staircase leading down to the water’s edge.
The tide had come in, so there was water almost all the way up to the staircase. I couldn’t walk too far.
As I headed back to the center, I spotted a deer just a few feet away in the tall grass. We stared at each other for a few minutes, then I headed on my way.
The Padilla Bay center is a great place to stop. I now regret having waited 20+ years to visit, and I will have to come back.