Saturday, April 12, 2008

Searching For The Elusive Tulip Fields

Today promised to be one of the warmest and driest days we’ve had this year. I was ready to take a good long motorcycle ride after so many continuous days of rain and cold temperatures.

This time of year in Washington’s Skagit Valley is the annual Tulip Festival. More tulips are grown here than any other U.S. location. There are also daffodils and other bulbs blooming for a continuous 3 weeks or so. It is a giant tourist attraction, attracting bus loads full of people. The area is quite large with fields of various colors so striking it takes your breath away. Or so they say……..

The Victory and the Vulcan decided to take a ride up North to see just what we’ve always heard about. After all, it is the warmest and sunniest and best riding day this year. We expected to see other motorcyclists out in droves. They were.

We left home and started up I-5 until we got near Mt. Vernon, where you could take side roads and go out towards the fields. The traffic going north was slow from the time we entered the highway. It took us an hour to get through Everett, which should have been 15 minutes. It was hot, and creeping/stopping at about 5-10 mph for many miles. My left hand got very sore manipulating the clutch constantly.

We finally made our way further north and into Mt. Vernon, where we decided to catch a bite to eat. We found a great little Mexican restaurant where there were lots of Spanish speaking families eating there and very friendly waitresses. The food was very good with a homemade quality to it.

The town of Mt. Vernon was packed with traffic. Every street we tried to take was gridlocked with traffic. It was not fun anymore. It was also hot with our jacket liners still in from the cooler weather. We could see off in the distance that there was a bridge we needed to cross and still couldn’t see the tulip fields. Traffic was not moving at all and I decided that was it.

We turned around, headed towards the interstate, and cruised home at 70 mph most of the way. It felt good to be moving. The whole interstate heading north was creeping along for 50 miles or so almost at a standstill.

I was worn out when I got home, just from fighting the wind, bumpy freeway under construction, and the weight of the bike. We rode a total of 114 miles, which took us 4 hours. It was a nice ride partly through side roads and farmland, but no tulips to be seen. I know now why I haven’t tried to go up there all these years I’ve lived in Washington.


"Joker" said...

That's too bad Becky. That pic you put up was awesome - I'd love to ride by a sight like that. I hear you about the crowds though; I hate crowds myself. Sorry they ruined the excursion for you, but glad you at least got some time on the road.

About your clutch pull - you need to increase your hand strength if it can't be adjusted. They sell these things you can sit and squeeze while you're watching TV, and they do work. You'll quickly reach a point where you won't notice frequent clutch pulling anymore.

I'm a plumber, so my hands are very strong from years of working wrenches. One of the complaints about H-D Sportsters is the hard clutch pull. I've never even noticed it, but I do remember back to my apprentice days when I didn't have that hand strength, and it used to HURT big time at the end of the day.

If you pick up one of those excercise thingy-dos, I really think it'll help you out - JMO.

Ride Safe Chickz

Ronman said...


Hey at least you tried to bring us some pictures of the flowers. I'm reminded that even a bad day riding is better than a good day at work. As much as I ride I still preffer back roads to the big road. Granted I get my fill of that through the week. I always enjoy your posts pretty lady. Thanks so much for sharing.


Becky said...

Joker: Thanks for the advice. I had thought I might need to build up my hand strength. There's a little of 'old arthur' creeping in from time to time also. I will definately get some balls to squeeze, er, to exercise my hands.

Ronman: It was a beautiful warm day so I couldn't complain too much. It's just more fun to ride when you are actually moving. Pictures suffice for now.


irondad said...

We have similar tulip fields North of here. Same story. We finally just quit even trying. I always wonder how people can have so little to do with themselves that they always flock to these kind of things. Then I realize that we were headed there, too. Somehow doing it on a motorcycle makes it seem more noble, doesn't it?

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Becky, I'm sorry you didn't get to see the tulips, I'd have loved to see some pics from you.

As far as the hand hing goes, I agree with Joker.
The first ride or two of the season for me, I sometimes find my left wrist cramping up from the clutching if there is a lot of stop and go for the day. I think the hand excersize thing might work. I'm going to give it a try myself.

John said...

Hey Becky, Don't worry, you didn't miss a thing. The tulips are not yet in bloom because of the crappy weather. Even so, the roads were crazy. We locals just avoid the whole mess for the month of April.

Becky said...

Irondad: I guess pretty flowers draw all kinds of people. I thought it might smell good to ride through the fields and be a multi-sensory experience. As it was, we only smelled car fumes.

Mr. Motorcycle: I'm glad to hear its not because I have weak 'girl' hands. I'd better start lifting weights. I do need to get stronger to handle the bike better.

John: I plan to avoid it in the future. I keep thinking since the tulips are late I can slip up that way and no one else will be there. I think others have the same ideas. Wonder what the snow did to the tulips last week.