From the Seattle PostIntelligencer last week: headline - 'English tourists get eye-opener after winning trip to Concrete'. The story begins: Two Englishwomen who won a trip to this little Upper Skagit city head home today loaded down with tulip bulbs, fleece blankets, scenic calendars, flags and T-shirts that say: 'End of the world: 9 miles.
Concrete: 12 miles.' They'll also be taking home memories of a generous community and staggering scenery. 'The mountains are enormous, ' said Janet Davies. 'I had absolutely no idea of the scale of it all.' Davies' daughter Imogen Gartrell won the trip in a prize-drawing at a London architectural exhibit touting highstyle uses for concrete. She invited her mother along. 'It's funny they call it a city, ' said Davies. 'In England, a city has to be enormous.' Their home town, London, has more than six million people. Concrete has fewer than 800. On their itinerary were a church potluck (sic), a Kiwanis meeting and a visit to the local school. They also rafted down the Skagit River, where they spotted an eagle and a bobcat and marvelled over the unpolluted water.
Everybody wanted a chance to meet the new strangers. But Davies and Gartrell didn't remain strangers for long. 'This place has a real sense of community, ' said Davies. 'In London, most people don't even know the people who live on their own street.' Locals, who took a good deal of ribbing over the contest, felt vindicated by week's end. 'People said there's nothing to do in Concrete, ' said 80-year-old Verna McClure. 'They laughed at us.
But we showed them, didn't we?'