This morning we woke up and it was absolutely gorgeous outside – the perfect April spring day to head out and see the Tulip Festival in Skagit. Although we had been discussing it for a few weeks, we just ended up being too busy or the weather was too chancy to risk driving all the way out there to only look at the fields from a car. So this morning, despite a pretty late night, we wrangled the Winston and hopped in the car, hoping against hope that we would beat the crowds.
We were ever so wrong. By the time we were three exits from the tulip fields, traffic was at a standstill. It was as bad as waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland at the height of summer. For a good hour, we inched forward only to realize once we were finally in sight of our exit that tulip goers had unanimously decided (very considerate of the non-tulip gawkers) to drive on the shoulder in order to free up one of the two lanes for actual driving instead of idling. At the exit itself, two guys had decided to exit their cars and semi-direct traffic and ensure people didn’t cut in at the last minute.
After all that waiting, we sailed on by and decided we’d try our luck at the next exit and work our way back. Turns out, this was a much quicker option. Within ten minutes, we were back where we needed to be and hours ahead of those people still waiting on the highway. I felt bad and then realized we were not even close to being out of the traffic snarl that is the tulip festival. For another hour or so, we inched along through town and down a country road that boasted a speed limit of 50 mph just to spite us. Regularly, entire families gave up and scooted their car out of the line, only to be met with a line going in the other direction. It was ugly.
By the time we made it to finally turn, we were at a four way stop with two sheriffs directing traffic. We were so close, we could see the tulip fields beckoning in the distance. Our line started to inch forward and we realized the sheriff wasn’t letting us make a left turn. Instead, we were sent straight past where we wanted to go. Still in a line of traffic, with deep ditches on either side, there was no place to pull over to the side and walk back. Instead, we drove an additional three or four miles, turned down an old road that cut between unused fields and ended up coming in the back way.
Although this all sounds horrible, we actually had a good time (minus the sheriff motioning us forward – that was a low point and I may have yelled things once I got over the shock of not being able to take a left turn when we’d been waiting to do just that for hours). Anyway, after taking a few very long road trips together, we have no problem sitting in traffic – so the day wasn’t ruined – the trip just took a lot longer than we thought.
By the time we got to the actual tulip fields, we knew it was worth the trip. The tulips were all gorgeous and there were so many different kinds! Every now and then, we’d be walking along a row of pure red or purple tulips and we’d catch a flash of a different color – a bright yellow or orange – and once, we saw a red tulip with one yellow petal. Winston had a ton of fun (ok, he might have just been happy to be anywhere but the car) and lucky for us, he only ate bits of mud and chased bugs rather than snacking on the tulips. We had a lot of fun walking around, eating our lunches and just enjoying the sunshine. In Washington, it’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood when the sun shines.
Before coming out to the fields, we had thought about also heading over to Deception Pass because it was only an extra half hour of driving. And, Josh figured, after all of the tulip traffic that we waded through, it might actually end up taking us the same amount of time to see the Pass and then drive over Whidbey Island and take the ferry part way home. So, after waiting in more tulip exit traffic, that’s what we ended up doing. Unfortunately, a lot of other families had the same idea so although there wasn’t traffic, we still weren’t able to find a place to park which is why there are no pictures. However, I did snap a picture of Josh and the dog as we waited to catch the ferry.
When we left this morning, we thought we’d be back by one or two at the latest. We didn’t get home until after six and ended up just taking a mini road trip. Today was one of those days where if we’d let it, the getting there could have totally ruined seeing the tulips or Deception Pass. Instead, we all (even Winston) brushed it off and enjoyed the journey. Granted, Winston got to nap while Josh and I took turns driving, but still. I wouldn’t change today for anything – for us, happiness is hitting the road and (though very, very slowly) we had a chance to do that and see field after field of tulips and some beautiful, sunlit Washington coastline. Not to shabby after a late night out!