It’s that time of year again – time to visit the Tulip Festival up in Skagit Valley.   So out came the camera and I set up a road trip with a couple of friends from work (Chris Pearson and Eric Bie).  The plan was to drive up to Mount Vernon to get some tulip shots, then head out to La Conner for lunch, and finally check out Deception Pass for some scenic shots of the bridge and beaches.

Now I’ve been going up to the festival for the last few years so none of this is that new.  Last year I went early April and none of the tulips were out – big disappointment.  So I had to go back towards the end of the month to get the good flower shots.  So this year we decided to wait until the third week of April until we went.  As you would expect this year it was different and the flowers bloomed early.  So we got there today and found a LOAD of empty fields.

There are really two places to go, one is Roozen Gaarde which is run by the Roozen family who have been growing tulips since the 1700’s, the other is Tulip Town where another family (the DeGoede’s) also have a huge history in tulip growing.  Both families stem from Holland which is perceived as the home of the tulip. As the tulips were pretty much gone we hit Tulip Town first and were lucky to find some there.

Now I have hundreds of tulip pictures already, so rather than shoot the same thing over and over again I chose to be a bit picky and just shoot something different.  As it was a little wet early this morning it wasn’t too busy there so we got some nice shots.  Unfortunately though the sky was pretty crappy so most of my shots were low down capturing the flowers.

Anyway we got some great pictures and decided to head out before it started to rain again, so we went back to the car with a ridiculous amount of mud on our shoes (the car is a right state) and drove over to La Conner.  La Conner is a great little town located on the water front just off Skagit Bay.  We found somewhere to eat and grabbed a burger.  Then it was off to Deception Pass.

Deception Pass has this huge bridge that’s really popular for photographers and it’s basically located in a state park.  The park has loads of trails and beaches and we thought it might be nice for some pictures.  The beach we went to had a great view of the bridge and was a beach I hadn’t been to before and I was really pleased with the shots I got.  After that it was time to go home.

We left this morning at 9am and got home around 5pm.  In all I took a pretty low 200 pictures and got less than 20 I really liked (and I would class that as a successful day out).  Some of the shots I liked are below.

 

A couple of weeks ago the family decided to have a long weekend in Portland.  Now I’ve been there before on business but only really for the day and then I didn’t see anything of the city so this was a new location for me as well as the rest of the family.

We drove down to the city as it’s only really about two and a half hours from Seattle and Lisa got us a lovely suite in the middle of the city.

One of the primary reasons for the trip was that Lisa is really into crafting and has pretty much decked out the bonus room in our house as her craft room.  She has two large tables full of cutting tools, knives, tape and paper and is always busy creating cool stuff.  Well this weekend Portland was the home of a large crafting expo.  So the plan was for Lisa and Abi to hit the Expo for the day and for James and me to go out and check out the city.

Portland has a pretty good public transport system with bus and tram stops everywhere and the time tables were great.  So James and I hit the road on foot and headed out to see what we could find (with the camera of course).  The girls went off to their expo and brought, well what looked to like paper and glitter but they enjoyed it.

James and I decided to get some shots of the city and I captured the famous “Portland Sign” along with the large paddle-boat on the river.  They have a really old town hall too so I shot that as well.  Then we decided to head out to the Japanese gardens.  The trip there was fun but kind of a disaster.  We got a city map and it showed that the tram service took us to the gardens and as we were by city hall and a tram stop we took that.  However the map was a little out of proportion once you got out of the city as when we arrived at the last tram drop off (which was at the zoo) we found out it was another three mile walk to the gardens.  For those who know me that wasn’t going to happen!  Not to be dejected we got a tram home and grabbed the car!  Anyway we went to the gardens and they were really nice.  Not much was in bloom but we got some nice pictures.

After the gardens it was back to the hotel to meet the girls.

For those of you who don’t know Portland is famous for a place called Voodoo Donuts.  Which is rather unsurprisingly a donut shop.  What is odd is that it’s open twenty-four hours a day and there is ALWAYS a line of people outside waiting to get their donut fix.  I found this odd as while the donuts were nice, I didn’t think they were really anything that special.  Still, we went (of course) and I got some shots of that too.

One the way home Lisa found us a cool waterfall to visit called the Multnomah Falls which was really big! This thing was over six hundred feet high and very impressive.

So, what did we think of Portland?

Well we had a great time that’s for sure.  Shopping is tax free so that’s good and there are some really great sites to check out.  As a city they seem to be obsessed with food trucks, they are everywhere and while it sounds kind-a cool, most look pretty dirty and for me uninviting.

We did however have some great food (there are some nice restaurants there) and the kids had fun.

Rather surprisingly I found the city pretty dirty.  We found a lot of graffiti, and there are a lot of homeless people in the city, so that wasn’t too nice.  But that said I’ll definitely go back again, probably next time not with the family so I can get more pictures.  So well worth a visit.

Here are some of the shots from the trip: