Bracketed on one side by the chalky green glacial waters of the Skagit River, Mears Field (Concrete Airport, diagram below), is a splendid little summer spot for pilots to pitch a tent overnight.
The flight into the airfield offers spectacular views of the Skagit River, surrounding fields, forested mountain slopes, and the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker. On the airfield itself, the pilot’s lounge has a full kitchen, his & her showers, plenty of tables and couches, and a community of pilots who warmly welcomed our little dog (and us. We were welcomed warmly, too).
After setting up camp on the broad grass strip to the south of the runway, with Zeus on leash we explored Mears Field and were lucky enough to stumble across, and be given a tour of, a nifty hangar owned by a Mr. Bowman, who used to work in Special Effects on such movies as Indiana Jones and A Few Good Men. The Bowman hangar is chock full of delightful movie props, and the nose of a DC4 is suspended on the back wall at ceiling height. A tiny glass elevator—creaking and wriggling in a most memorable way—transports brave guests up to the DC4 cockpit, which has been converted into a funky bedroom.
We were also lucky enough to visit the North Cascades Vintage Aircraft Museum on site and oohed and ahhed over its pristine collection of splendid airplanes. A young lad working as an AME apprentice gave us a much appreciated tour of the museum’s six hangars. Even the little gardens in between the hangars were meticulously kept and gorgeous! Alas, the museum has begun winding down its operations, selling off its planes, and, as of writing this, appears to have suspended visitor hours until further notice (phone: 360-770-4848 to check on their status).A short walk away from the airfield along Superior Avenue (approximately five minutes at most, unless your canine companion decides that sniffing every rock en-route is utterly necessary), is Concrete High School, memorable in that the school itself is built over the road, so that, in inclement weather, school buses and students are under the shelter of the school suspended above them. If you continue walking along Superior Avenue for ½ mile or so, you reach the town of Concrete itself, a very… modest… place with a few burger joints and its iconic concrete silos.Unless one has a car to drive to some of the hikes located quite a distance away, there’s not a great deal to get one’s heart beating with wild excitement about the town of Concrete.Camping at the airport was a very peaceful, pleasant overnight experience, and David was very appreciative of the hot water showers and flushing toilets that we had full access to in the pilot lounge. We brought in our own camp-stove and supplies to self-cater, and after spending a delightful few hours at the museum, we amused ourselves by bushwhacking down to the beautiful Skagit River.At the end of runway 25, we thrashed through some very tall grass, hugged the outskirts of someone’s rambling property, and climbed down a bit of a steep slope, determined to find a trail to the river. The dog loved this part much more than the museum. We eventually found a network of rutted, muddy paths made either by an off-road vehicle, a lost excavator, or a small tank, and these “trails” led right down to the river’s edge and several little sandy beaches. Totally worth it!
The glacial river was absolutely frigid, even in the full heat of July, and the current was pretty swift. We spent a very pleasant time splashing about in the shallows and rambling along the river banks.
It’s a great loss that the museum on the airfield is closing, but as a quiet, dog-friendly, overnight pit-stop, Mears Field was perfect.