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Maximum Color

Most days you will find me roaming around with my camera. No surprise really, but here I've taken it to a new level. On every excursion, whether it be right in the next door park, or walking the city streets, I'm seeing new things, which at our age, is a very good thing. And although I knew we were going to the tulip festival on Thursday, I still wanted more so I made a visit to Queen Elizabeth Park again to see what had changed since my last visit. Oh my, oh my, oh my!
I really can't find the words to describe the glories of spring, at least in this part of the world. Perhaps it is even better other places, I'll never know, however, I'm soaking it all in every chance I get. The weather was cooperative last week, in fact it got quite warm before this past weekend's rain. As soon as I got off the train, exiting onto Cambie Street, I saw Dogwood trees, something Nancy and I had only recently discussed. Quite common in the Atlanta area, I hadn't yet seen any here and assumed they did not grow in Vancouver. Wrong.
Indeed they do grow here, and apparently there is a pink version as well! Woo hoo! Prior to this sighting, I'd seen about three in Orlando, thinkin they were wonderful, although now that I've seen these, the few in Orlando pale in comparison. The trees along Cambie are probably seventy feet tall, rather than the maybe 10 feet tall versions I've seen. I'm beginning to wonder what doesn't grow here. I spent some time reading about the Vancouver city trees, learning that along with the 40,000 Cherry trees, there are 140, 000 other trees lining the streets. Furthermore, turns out loads of them are of the blooming type. And just when I thought that I could not get any more excited!
Above is one last one from QE park which is a shame because I saw some glorious things, however, if I focus on that, we'll never get to the tulip festival! Should you be wondering, that purple is an amazing rhododendron which I'm learning comes in so many, many, colors.

Oops, before we go on our trip together, just an updated picture of what I thought was a Quince and now I don't. All four of the trees are now covered in blooms, and if my reading about trees is any guide, this is probably a Plum tree. Or so I think.
Abbotsford is about an hours drive East from Vancouver. The nearer we got to Abbotsford, the more we could see of the mighty Mt. Baker, located in Washington state. How mighty? Here's how mighty.
Following the directions on their website, they sent us on a bit of a convoluted route, backtracking for miles, apparently to aleviate the local traffic conditions. Bruce kept asking if we were going in the right direction because he hadn't seen any tulip fields, however, we understood why once we arrived. Turns out they put up fencing which hid the fields from our sight. Holy Moly, what a sight it was.
Apparently, because of all the early April rain, the tulips were a bit late coming into full bloom so there were some rows that still had not opened up.
The good news for us is that this past weekend was the beginning of what they call "high bloom" season when they charge double for admission. My thought was to go on a weekday so it wouldn't be as crowded, and boy am I glad we did, as it rained all weekend long! The first thing you come to is the "u pick 'em" fields where the tulips are planted in multicolored rows.
Oh wait, here's a better shot of how they looked all mixed together.
Perhaps you noticed how the fields extend so far on the left? We walked around the whole display and seriously, it was almost color overload!
So, here I am amongst the blooms, wearing both sunglasses because it was crazy bright, and jeans, which were a poor choice. Because I anticipated getting down on my knees to take photographs, I wore the jeans, however, I was actually hot as the dickens, wishing I'd worn shorts instead! Because it was so bright, Bruce wasn't sure he was getting a shot we'd like so he took more. That's my boy! I'm including a second shot because, after seeing myself in the photo, I realized I'd better get myself to the hair salon ASAP. Which I did on Saturday, but that's a whole 'nother story better told in another post.
As we've discussed in the past, super bright sunshine is not really your friend when taking flower photographs. Some of the tulips were so intensely colored that photographs just do not do them justice. The one Bruce is holding is a case in point, and I'm sad about that because they were absolutely stunning in person. Nearly the size of an hibiscus which really surprised us.
None of them were labeled, so I have no idea what variety these are, but what I do know is that both their color and structure are striking.
As you can imagine I was dying over the intense orange, well, actually Bruce, although primarily a red tulip man, was enamored as well. The photo below includes two of our favorites, the orange one and the almost black, Queen of the Night, tulip.
Sounds as if I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it? That would be Bruce's scoop on the name of the dark tulip as he found someone to ask! I'd seen them at QE park the day before, thinking they were one of the most dramatic flowers I've ever seen. One thing the sun did for us though, is show how the tulips can be nearly transparent, including that variety which really surprised us as it is SO dark head on.
Compare the above with the one below.
All over the place, folks were either posing amongst the flowers,
or looking for places to pose! The lady in the blue dress stood out nearly as much as the tulips.
I fell in love with these red and white ones, I'm calling candy cane tulips which is entirely made up. I've no idea what they are really called, but don't you think it is a fitting name?
In our early days here, Kelly, from Bruce's work, told me about the festival and I'd been looking forward to it ever since. The experience exceeded all of my expectations.
Really, what's not to like? Mountains, good company, surrounded by flowers, warm air and bright sunshine?
You'd have to be a pretty big grouch not to have a good time amongst all of that beauty.

After soaking in as much as we could stand, we got back on the road, this time taking the shorter route. Bruce asked if there were any other places I wanted to visit while we were in the valley and as soon as I saw the sign to Fort Langley I asked him to pull off the highway. What a charming town, set along the Fraser River. (everything in this part of British Columbia, including Vancouver)
Long story short, this area once had a Hudson's Bay trading post, that nearly became part of America but the British won out. They call themselves the birthplace of British Columbia.
As it turns out, there are tulips everywhere. Following lunch at a very tasty bistro, we walked along until we came to the fort, however, truth be told, I was too darn hot to continue. I know, you thought that you would never hear me say something like that while here didn't you? That said, we most definitely need to return to this area because, not only is it historic, it is just plain beautiful!
Hardly looks real, right?

You would not believe how well I did when we crossed the Port Mann bridge on the way home.
Maximum color, is there any other way to describe this scene?
As you can imagine, this is but a fraction of what I took, doing my best to keep it brief but pretty. How did I do?

yours truly,

Gail
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