This post may offend some readers. Don't expect the usual glowing travelogue. There are no tulips in my garden. Just the thought of them makes me cringe. I dread the approach of April, because it means the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival will be commencing. For this one month of the year, I become a xenophobe. Thousands of tourists will come to view these "Lilies of the Fields," oblivious to the lesson they may teach. Don't expect to find meditation and introspection in this sermon. Instead, picture a horde of desperate ants on a food source.
To some of us who live here, it is really the Skagit Valley Traffic Festival. Unless you enjoy traffic jams, it is wise to stay away during April weekends. Draw a square defined by Interstate 5 between Conway and Burlington, State Road 20, the La Conner Channel and Fir Island Road. Inside that zone, don't be surprised to find total pandemonium. Some visitors believe that traveling in someone else's neighborhood becomes an excuse to behave badly:
- Our country roads have no shoulders for pulling off, so some tourists will just park in the road to get out and take pictures.
- People who live in the area must rope off their yards to keep visitors from parking on their front lawns. There is parking here and there, but be prepared to pay for it.
- Many of the roads are narrow and winding, and not designed to handle bumper-to-bumper traffic. If you get stuck in it, you are really stuck.
- Apparently, motor homes are only allowed to go 35 mph in a 55 zone. Why don't they park them somewhere and use those SUV's they're towing instead?
- Stop signs do not signify a place for stopping and reading maps.
- Many are so mesmerized by the tulip fields, they are oblivious to other vehicles on the road. They will pull right out in front of moving traffic. Pedestrians take their lives in their hands as well.