As far as I’m concerned, when you can combine a day trip with the ancient Japanese custom of Hanami, or flower viewing, you’ve got the ingredients for one delightful experience. So this past Monday I did just that. I wasn’t disappointed.
About an hour north of Seattle lies the Skagit Valley, which is kind of an ugly name for an absolutely gorgeous farming area. It’s rather disconcerting how abruptly you go from booming metropolis to wide open country, dotted with barns and cows, surrounded by stunning mountains. I always seem to breathe easier when my horizons expand, and I can feel my blood pressure drop accordingly.
I picked the perfect time for this trip, because it’s the height of tulip season, and that’s one of the things this valley is best known for. Hence the tulip festival. Two farms in particular, Roozengaarde and Tulip Town, as well as many smaller outfits, allow you to explore their flower displays. At first I planned to hit them all, but when I went to Roozengaarde I became overwhelmed with the stunning beauty there. They lay out their tulip beds in artistic displays, and of course all the varieties shown can be purchased. And talk about variety! Thank god I’m renting, because if I owned a home, I’d have come away with a truckload of bulbs. You can also order them on line.
It was really hard choosing what to do next, because there’s this 26 page brochure on the festival, and there are so many things to do in that valley that it boggles the mind. Zip lining, even! I’ve always wanted to do that! But it will have to wait until I’m more financially secure. (Sigh.)
I didn’t want the other farms to feel like they were some sort of tulip chore after the sensory satisfaction that is Roozengaarde (even saying the name is fun), and I already decided that the Tulip Festival will be an annual event for me, so I chose to explore the delightful towns of Mount Vernon and La Conner instead.
La Conner, in particular, enchanted me. With a population of only about 800, it’s a sleepy little artsy community with a main drag that is meant for tourists. Art galleries, restaurants, museums and shops galore are laid out for your viewing pleasure.
I had some of the best crab cakes I’ve ever eaten at La Conner Seafood and Prime Rib, and sat at a table with a gorgeous view of the river, with Mount Baker in the distance.
Then for dessert I went across the street to the La Conner Sweet Shoppe, and had chocolate and sea salt covered caramel which nearly made me swoon. I also visited the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum, which is so amazing it will get a blog entry all its own.
I suspect I’ll be exploring this area for years to come, but no words can ever adequately describe the beauty I encountered. So without further ado, I’ll share some of my photos with you.