Skagit Valley Tulip Photo Tour--Huh?

What could be less stunning? 

   They say the way you do anything is the way you do everything. True to form, the Accidental Naturalist offers you her photo essay of  Washington State's beautiful Skagit Valley where millions of tulips are rumored to bloom every April during the annual tulip festival. 
   In my defense, I had never toured the Skagit Valley during spring and assumed, because of the cool weather and rain of April, the tulips would be late. Thinking myself so very savvy in avoiding the crush of the official April 1-30 festival and the weekend traffic on the two-lane farm roads, I lured a friend to join me on to see the tulips yesterday in the "shoulder season" when we'd have the fields of flowers to ourselves. Ha!
The official tulip festival map looked promising--miles of fields between Mount Vernon and La Conner.
                                             We passed mile after mile of plowed fields. Maybe the map was wrong?

There were tulips all over town in La Conner.

 Civic Pride: every median strip boasted signs of former tulips.

Storefront windows featured lovely posters of the Skagit Valley o' Yesteryear. Where were the blooms of 2012?

After many miles of driving, we managed to beat the crowds (top of photo) to this one field of ex-tulips. 
Happy cows graze on grasses planted in harvested bulb fields. 

Overwhelmed by sites of former tulips? Check out these beds of former daffodils!
This photo could have been taken in my front yard. But it wasn't.

     It rained the entire day and there were few blooms but, on the bright side, Luckily, my friend and I found the entire situation extremely comical. We roamed the muddy fields, poked around the shops in La Conner and Mount Vernon, and ate our picnic lunch in a lovely park (timed to coincide with lunchtime mowing by city park employee). We drove home with a trunk-load of geraniums from a local nursery, pleased with the day, and happy we had missed rush-hour on I-5 in heavy rain my friend likened to "driving in the shower without your headlights on."
   The mental image of which sent me into a fit of laughter and drove all thoughts of the tulip wasteland from my mind. Thanks Jane!