“What you seek is seeking you.” Rumi
Scorecard = Tulips 2, Baker ZERO-ish!
The odometer on my Volvo V90 Cross-Country just logged over 3500 miles in four days. Unfortunately, the ROI [return-on-investment] was lower than I had planned for.😧
Let’s go back to December of 2019 in which I was working on my travel calendar for 2020 and decided that this was going to be the year to capture all things floral and tulips! The Keukenhof in Holland is the most famous in the world, and so I did my best to calculate peak bloom and booked my tickets for the 2nd week of April in 2020.
The first week of March arrives and I am obsessively reading all things tulips and art for the Netherlands. The news starts to trickle in there is this Covid-19 disease spreading fast. What? Global pandemic? NO WAY! 😷
Sure ‘enuf! Flights were getting canceled left and right, and that really great trip insurance I bought was worthless. Maybe or maybe not, I would receive a refund for my flight. (I did eventually receive my refund). The rest of that year was obviously catastrophic. But, with internet searches, I discovered that Oregon has an annual tulip festival and I logged that in my future travel brain possibilities.
Fast-forward to 2023, and I am locked and loaded to visit the Wooden Shoe Tulip farm in Woodburn, Oregon. I booked my local hotel in Wilsonville at the new Hilton Garden Inn, and it is an amazing new hotel, affordable and within 2 miles you have EVERYTHING you need. Much better than staying in the crime-ridden homeless camp extravaganza of Portland, and this is only about 20 minute from the tulip farm.
A word of caution…when planning trips on your computer, and you have a large monitor, don’t forget to calculate your mileage versus what I did and as long as my route fit on the screen it must be a day trip, right? 😂 It turns out my first night in Eureka from Las Vegas was going to cost me almost 900 miles and 14.5 hours. At least, I beat my car’s mapping time estimate by about 90 minutes. 🤣👌🤪
I arrived in Eureka exhausted after driving a fairly challenging final 150 miles on state highway 299 from Redding through the mountain passes on winding roads at night with no city lights and rain. 😧 It was a pleasant surprise that the Holiday Inn Express just adjacent to the Eureka airport was a hidden gem. Great morning breakfast and very nice room!
I had already been impressed by the locals that constant rain was no longer well received, and I awoke at 6am in hopes of seeing some morning light on the coast to grab some images. My first stop was at the Wedding Rock in the Sue-Meg State park. My timing was good as the sun rose, and I could see clouds moving in. The next stop on my list was to head into the Prairie Creek Redwoods, which was an easy drive-thru, and I could discern some great hikes if you had time and the weather on your side.
The coastline was getting darker with rain, and my shot list took me off the coast to the Jedediah Smith Redwoods. I was a little confused with my car mapping directions but, ultimately found the Howland Hill road which is depicted in the video and some of the images. Super gorgeous redwood trees, and you cannot help but respect their hundreds of years enduring climate change, wildfires and mostly obnoxious humans!
I am actively tracking the weather around Portland in hopes of at least 1-2 days of solid sun for the tulips to start blooming but, it is not looking good! Gold Beach is the next destination at a wonderful “motel” so it was time to cross the Oregon border and put some miles down. There were constant mixed feelings of seeing the potential for gillions of gallery-worthy images to be captured, but also acknowledging the weather just will not allow that. It was a shame to have to keep my foot on the gas without really stopping but, my tentative plan B of driving as far north as Tillamook was beginning to materialize, and as my watch showed 2pm+, I needed to get some lunch. I stumbled on the Black Trumpet Bistro in Brookings and as the rain poured down this was the perfect respite! A great portabello sandwich, fresh salad greens and the mutha of all cheesecakes fortified me for the next 30 miles to check into my room at the Wildflower Inn.
By golly good Molly, this was an amazing place to get through a night of solid rain! The Inn has been newly acquired, renovated and designed with impeccable taste. A warm, arty vibe and I personally love the self-check in with no additional amenities. Just a warm, cozy room and bed with a clean bathroom, plenty of electrical outlets for my camera gear and, of course, rock solid wifi!
I actually called before I booked online and spoke with Rocky of Rocky-And-Jenni to confirm a one night stay was ok. Rocky was super chill and I knew I was in good hands. I don’t doubt this place gets booked out, so plan in advance!
You guessed it! I woke to more rain so it was time to hit the road. The Tillamook Creamery was definitely the end of the coastal tour as I breezed through the ever popular towns like Brandon, Coos Bay, Gardiner, Florence, Newport, Lincoln City, Beaver and finally Tillamook. I think that portion was 300+ miles and another 100 miles to my basecamp in Wilsonville.
Day 3 was on like donkey-kong, and I headed out to the tulip farm. Sight-unseen, I had hired a fashion model to do a photoshoot at the tulip farm on Day 4 but, after arriving at the farm at 7am and seeing the blooms were at 25% normal capacity and the weather was only going to get worse, I knew day 4 was not going to happen. So, I canceled on the model and proceeded to get my shots in as there was a peeking sun effort with the darkness of rain looming.
The good news is that I was basically the only “tourist” and photographer on the grounds, so no one was messing up the shots! 🤪📸 The bad news was it was cold and muddy, and I was not all that inspired.
I had brought numerous gear options to shoot video, macro and other creative ideas but, it was like – GET THIS DONE AND HIT THE ROAD JACK!😟😖
I called my hotel, and they graciously canceled my last night with no penalty and after the shoot and all the driving I had done, I just went back to my room, took a shower and a nap. After the nap, I decided to get up early the following day and make sure I hit the road by 5am. Peddle-to-the-metal and 1100+ miles later (almost 17 hours) I was able to climb back into my bed at home and look forward to seeing the images from this trip.
Yes, I am still seeking the perfect tulip shooting experience. Will it happen? Who knows? But, I will keep seeking!👌📸🔥
FINAL THOUGHTS – Despite the rigors of mega-miles and inclement weather, it is no surprise that so many people seek Oregon and especially the coast for it’s beauty and rugged landscapes. The political disaster and mismanagement of Portland sets an overall vibe for the state and I personally have no interest in spending my tourism $$$’s there. This fallacy of all-inclusivity and tolerance is on par with giving kindergartners unlimited bowls of sugar candies and coming back at the end of the day and admiring how cute the children are. TOTAL DENIAL. But, this is Amerika and do what you want until you totally fail and then blame the Federal government. Oregon, please get your shit together!