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Old 06-21-2002, 02:16 PM
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Post Tulip Festival - Ride Report by Gary Berg

Tulip Festival - Ride Report by Gary Berg
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Mt. Vernon, Washington
April 16, 1999

(Click on an image for the full size view)
Vicki and I had a rare few days when the kids were staying with grandma and we were free to come and go as we pleased. At the same time, after months of rainy Seattle winter, we were having some unseasonably warm weather. I was getting the itch. I was "afraid". Afraid I was gonna have to take a day off. I told the boss that I was having a problem with my eyes, I just couldn't see coming to work on Friday. We were all set. We were going to take a ride up north to Mt. Vernon and the annual Tulip Festival.

So Vicki & I had our plans made, I figured I might as well invite a bunch of people I've never met! I posted a note to the WetLeather(tm) mailing list Thursday morning. A few replies came back, meeting places were decided, and now we would have two or three other bikes coming along. This could be fun! I sure hope we all get along. [Photo]

The first stop was a coffee shop near home for some caffeine and to meet up with Jenner, who I'd met once before. But there are three bikes in the parking lot. Hmmm... As I walk in a smiling stranger in leather pants approaches. "Gary? Hi, I'm Gooz." And Bronze was there too. Introductions all around, and a comment about how everyone has a cool nickname except Vicki & I. Oh well.

[Photo] With coffee consumed we mount up for the ride to the north side of town to meet up with Tom & Rebecca, a.k.a. "SwtP", more folks I've never met. An hour later we pull into the designated gas station to find four more bikes! Biker Scum everywhere! More introductions and friendly chit-chat.

With everyone introduced we were on our way. We had quite a variety of hardware. Phil knew the route and took the lead on his gorgeous burgundy ZX11. He was even kind enough to keep the speed sub-sonic so the rest of us could keep up. There were shiny new beemers, a Harley Springer, a Bandit, a Shadow, a Concours, and our old XJ1100. At least it has new paint! It took maybe 10 minutes before the ZX was crying for curves, and Phil promptly removed us from the freeway and led us to some twisty back roads through the farm land. A most excellent little detour.

Back on the freeway, Jenner took advantage of a stretch of light traffic to snap a few pictures of the group at cruising altitude. Camera in the left hand, throttle in the right, aim in the general vicinity, and "click". (Hopefully I'll have some of those shots here soon).

[Photo] [Photo] Arriving in Mt. Vernon, we quickly find our way to the local Kiwanis club who was having a fund raiser Salmon Bake. Time for some chow. These fellas know how to cook a fish, lemme tell ya. Brian, another WetLeatherite, lives in the area and met us all for lunch. More friends made. As we're sitting down to eat, up walks another stranger carrying a plate of salmon in one hand and a helmet in the other. "Are you the WetLeather bunch?" It was Warren, who had joined the list recently but also had never actually met anyone. Warren rode over 100 miles from Tacoma in hopes of finding us for lunch. Way to go, Warren! [Photo]

[Photo] Fully fueled, it was time to go see this little flower patch everyone kept talking about. As we left Mt. Vernon, it was obvious how flat the whole Skagit Valley is. I imagine a geologist would describe the region as having once been a huge tide flat on the shores of the Pacific, making the soil rich in fish poop and other such nutrients that make plants happy. Suddenly the whole countryside turned yellow and red. Tulip fields! The Skagit Valley is the worlds leading supplier of tulip bulbs. Thousands of acres of them. And the bulbs tend to bloom in mid April every year. So, they turn it into the tourist attraction that it deserves to be. Street fairs, barbecues, music, food, and mile upon mile of glowing tulips. It was truly a sight to behold.

[Photo] After a photo stop in one of the fields, we headed back to town. Several of us had places to be, so we all made one last gas stop and said our farewells. Vicki & I arrived home with just shy of 200 miles on the clock. All in all, the kind of day that just doesn't happen often enough. The kind of day that will warm up a cold winter day for many years to come.

[Photo] [Photo] [Photo]

Many thanks to Jenner, Gooz, Bronze, Seth, Warren, Phil, Brian, Tom, and SwtP for coming along and for being so gall-derned likable! We had a blast!

Some pointers for anyone planning a visit to the Tulip Festival:

We were there on a Friday, and traffic was fairly heavy. I can only imagine what it must be like on a weekend.

Give yourself plenty of time, wear comfortable walking shoes, bring a camera.

Watch out for morons who lock the brakes at the first sight of a flower. Watch out for other morons who watch the flowers instead of the road.

The Kiwanis Salmon Bake is highly recommended.

A bicycle would be a good way to see the fields. You could easily ride 20 miles or more, but it's completely flat. Just watch out for those morons...

A motorcycle is ideal. New friends are the best.

For more details, see the official Tulip Festival Home Page.
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