Monday, April 14, 2014

Tiptoe Through The Tulips… Again…


After a day of dishes, lawn maintenance and playing in the yard with the bubble blower, it was time to escape before the weather changed again. With a late night causing a late wakeup, it was an easy choice to head up north to see the flowers again.


Although the weather was much nicer than last weekend, we still hoped it wouldn’t be terrible getting up there. After a quick drive up to Mount Vernon, we stopped for lunch at a local Thai restaurant. The wait was pretty severe, but we managed. Evie entertained herself with a few games on the Lumia 920 while we waited for lunch. After refilling on some phad thai, basil fried rice and some fried tofu, we headed back out into traffic.


We got stuck on side roads so we tried going around only to find more dead ends. It was just horrible getting out to Roozengaard. The image above shows how crazy the day was. People getting out to stretch, walk along their cars and even just pull over and walk to the fields. A 2 mile drive ended up taking almost 2 hours, but we eventually made it.


As we finally parked, we saw the entrance and made our way inside. Fortunately, the line to get it was quick and the crowds inside were pretty non-existent. There was a line that looked to be about 200 people long to get food or coffee, but the rest of the area wasn’t all that bad.


After being crammed in the car for 2 plus hours, Evie did pretty well posing in the flowers for us. She had fun, we had fun and it was all about the pretty colors.


Although I think Tulip Town is a much better setup for kids, with the added activities and things like face painting and their little food stand, the colors at Roozengaard were amazing. Here is a sample mini-gallery of what we saw.

After wandering the park and then the fields for a bit, we decided not to wait for sunset to snag some shots, but to head back and get through all that traffic one more time. We spent an hour plus on the road just getting back to Stanwood.


The stopped traffic gave us plenty of chances to enjoy the views of the road though. This was a great mountain shot as we headed back to town.


After a short trip back on Hwy 530 to Arlington, we stopped off at Nutty’s Junkyard Grill. This throwback style burger joint had some good burgers and really big onion rings. From there it was a quick jaunt down highway 9 before we turned and came home. It was a fun day, where even sitting in traffic didn’t dull the fun of tiptoeing through the tulips.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Great Road Trip To Anacortes, Edison & Tulip Town

Today we found ourselves wanting to hit the road again after a few weeks for downtime. We had a few sick weekends, then moving prep, then moving and we were just ready to go somewhere. We knew it was a bit early for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, but we headed towards the Skagit Valley anyways.
About half way up, we noticed the weather that was supposed to hold until afternoon, was beginning to turn a bit. We changed plans and headed to Anacortes instead of stopping at Tulip Town.
We were somewhat familiar with Anacortes from previous road trips up Highway 20, but we decided to take Commercial Avenue on foot and see what was hiding in this little gem of a town. We found some adorable consignment and second hand shops, enough great places to eat to stay for a week and never hit the same place twice and even a few art galleries and shows that would be worth taking in.
We stopped for lunch at Girl’d Cheese, this little hole in the wall – well actually more of a window in the wall – place that has soup and grilled cheese Tuesday through Saturday around lunch time.
I took on the “Katie” which was a Grilled Mac N’ Cheese with bacon. I also had a cup of their pork chili verde and one of the tartest pickles I’ve had in a while. Everyone else’s food was equally delicious. I overheard the chef, and I am going to stick to the term chef for anyone that can do this to a grilled cheese sandwich, mention that the bread was baked fresh in Edison at the BreadFarm bakery.
I wanted to include this last image because it really shows how “hole in the wall” Girl’d Cheese is. The blue awning in the middle of the image is the place where you order the sandwiches. It’s a block off of Commercial, so don’t miss it!
As we left Anacortes, I did my usual stop at the Donut House. It’s this purple house on the west side of Commercial that has some of the biggest donuts on the planet. They are also some of the richest you will ever taste.
This was the Raspberry Cream Cheese Bowtie that I grabbed leaving town. As you can see, they spare no expense on these $2.50 donuts. Yes, they are pricey, but they are worth every penny as the flavors are stunning.
Since we now had bread on our brains after that amazing sandwich, we headed over to Edison, which was a short trip from Anacortes. Our goal was to find this BreadFarm bakery and get something to take home. Strangely enough, we happened to pull in to Edison on the busiest day of the year for the town. It was the Skagit Valley Historical Society’s Home Tour. After struggling a bit to find a parking spot, we hopped out of the car and headed in to the BreadFarm.
The BreadFarm is a unique experience as you walk in to a bread counter, much like you would find at a local bakery, but that’s where the similarities ended. Directly behind the counter were the bakers making the loaves of bread for all to see. This was one of the coolest bakeries I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
Of course, I would be sad if I didn’t mention all the great merchandise they had here too. Even bread makers can cash in on a bit of the Seahawks success with their Yeast Mode t-shirts. Brilliant stuff right there! As we finished wandering the cute town of Edison, we decided to give the flowers a try and headed towards Tulip Town.
The drive down from Edison to Tulip Town was gray and wet. We had changes of shoes and socks with us, so the weather wasn’t going to be a set back. In fact, the wet weather and the fact that they hadn’t said there was much color yet in the fields might make for a much less busy visit.
We arrived at Tulip Town to find a somewhat empty parking lot. That’s usually a good sign that we will get right to the fields and not have a giant crowd waiting to see the colors. The question was, how much color would there be?
While the flowers weren’t opening yet, the brilliant colors were downright perfect. The whites, pinks, reds, oranges and purples made it look like the grounds were painted and not planted. As you can see from the image above, the crowds were pretty non-existent as well. It was just about a perfect day to hit the festival.
After a quick groupie in front of the fields, we took a quick walk around the larger field to snag some shots of the gorgeous colors. With the smaller crowds, there was a great opportunity to get Evie to head in to the rows just a bit further than usual.
It was chances like this that produced some amazing photos with her.
We also turned her loose with a Nokia Lumia 920 to take some of her own photos of the day. Last year she shot some amazing photos with the Kodak point and shoot we let her use. Unfortunately, the last 10 minutes of the day last year ended with her dropping said Kodak, so the Lumia was a much better choice for this year.
After snagging a few family shots in the different colored flowers, we moved on around the farm to the main building.
Of course, Evie had to have her photo taken in the tulip display.
After we made it inside, it was time for face painting, and taking some images of the show flowers that they had inside. Below is a slideshow of the images that I took with my Nokia Lumia 925 of those gorgeous show flowers.
Overall, the day was a total blast. It was nice to get a day away from Monroe, even if it was raining and cold. It was a great distraction and a good break from the unpacking that went along with moving. For a closing shot, make sure to watch for the flags at Tulip Town as you enter, you might get lucky and have a bit of a breeze that will be blowing the right way to pull this shot off correctly. I didn’t, but you just might!
To close out, I wanted to show the power of what a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone can do with your trip. I took this shot at Tulip Town with my Lumia 925 and edited it in Fhotoroom for Windows Phone. Here was my finished result…

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Our Moving Adventure: The New House


After almost 4 years in our apartment in Monroe, we have finally moved on. I’m not entirely sure how our little 15 month adventure turned in to almost 4 years, but the important thing is that the next chapter is happening now and not someday. So, without further ado, here is the mini-online-tour of our new home!


The front door puts you in an entry hallway, with a small 1/2 bath on the right as you enter. The then staircase leading to the bedrooms upstairs. continuing down the hall, you have a closet and then the kitchen, dining room and living room.


The kitchen is a fantastic upgrade from what we had at the apartment. This and the lack of baseboard heaters are probably my favorite part of the house. There is enough room for 2 in the kitchen, plus the ‘bar’ isn’t so tall that you feel uncomfortable having a conversation over it. I can’t wait to get some stools in there and to sit and chat with Ara as she finishes dinner or bakes something.


The downstairs is rounded out with the living room and dining area. The living room has enough room for about 5 people. Too small for our community group, but big enough to have a few friends over for dinner.


Upstairs is rounded out with 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms and a few storage closets. The bedrooms are a decent size and the separate bathrooms are amazing. No more tripping over Evie’s little stool in the dark and no more waiting to use a bathroom for one reason or another.

That’s the tour of the new place. I can’t wait until we are settled in and life gets back to normal. Maybe a few summer BBQ’s and a few game nights with friends will make this summer our best one ever!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Saying Goodbye…


Three years and eight months ago, we moved from our little condo in Everett to the Morning Run Apartments in Monroe. It was supposed to just be a year or two, but it turned in to more, and then more. Over the last few months, we have been watching for rentals in our price range and been feeling very let down by what was out there. Saturday, we were lucky enough to move in to our new home and begin the next chapter of our adventures in Monroe. Strangely enough, I almost have mixed emotions about the move.


I think the hardest part about leaving somewhere that a child has started life is the fear of losing the memories of so many life events. That little apartment was where Evie learned to talk. The hallway is where she took her first steps. It was the place that we found out she needed glasses and where we came home to after her first trip to Disneyland. It’s where she fell in love with Dinosaur Train and the first room she remembers. It was her house and she knew where it was.


Leaving it wasn’t a hard decision. As a matter of fact, it was one of the easiest decisions that we have ever made. Between pot smoking neighbors and the loudest walkers on the planet above us, it would have been harder to imagine staying than going. That said, this has been one of the hardest moves I’ve even made. Mostly for emotional reasons, and somewhat strange ones at that. See, I’m at a bit of a loss because of silly things. Things like I can’t have our Mom’s over for dinner to see the new house or the worry of what happens when our year is up here?


That said, I am so happy that we were blessed enough to find this place. It’s close enough to work to continue to operate on a single car, it was in our price range and most of all, we are blessed with the only stomper upstairs being our own child. I’ll do a full post about the house later, but I just wanted to get out a bit of the rawness of the feelings of this move before they were gone.