Wild Flowers and Whales.....California Style


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July 15th 2017
Published: July 26th 2017
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The joy of poppiesThe joy of poppiesThe joy of poppies

California poppies in bloom- acres and acres
As we described in our previous LA blog, the usual conversation about the Los Angeles area revolves around everything from the glam and glitz of Hollywood to the ten-lane highways where cars creep along at 20 mph to the multitude of venues to visit to quench the tourist’s thirst for excitement. This is all well and good as LA has much to offer along these lines…..but drive a little further outside of the confines of this megalopolis and you will find some natural beauty that any traveler would admire. We are keenly aware that most people have only a few days to a week to see this area…..but if you have a need for nature and the outdoors…well the LA area has that also.

California Wild Flowers

Earlier this calendar year, the annual rains came to Southern California, and they were plentiful, ending multiple years of drought which were leaving the area far beyond parched. In the period of a just a few weeks, the area saw more total rain than they had seen during this time of year in over 20 years. The snowpack in the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains was impressive as well. The area emerged from
Ventura Highway CaliforniaVentura Highway CaliforniaVentura Highway California

Amazing flowers in bloom on hillside
its drought……..and the results were spectacular.

The rains produced rolling fields of vibrant California wild flowers dotting the highways and parks in 2017. Seemingly overnight, the brown and rather dull looking hills were replaced by a rich verdant green. Another byproduct of the rain were the desert flowers. An entire generation of Southern Californians had not had this visual treat presented to them. For several weeks the flowers wowed locals and tourists alike. It was a very unusual event for so many flowers to be in bloom and for such a long period of time. Newscast were full of amazing photos and news articles warned that this was not to be missed so of course we could not allow this opportunity to slip through our fingers.

What is it that drives us to get up in the wee hours of the morning, in the dead of night? Our first thought was work as we get up at 5am each morning and enjoy sleeping in on weekends but seeing mother nature at her finest always is a strong pull and we will show up no matter the time of day. We’ve proven this time and time again.

Some
Dolphins a plentyDolphins a plentyDolphins a plenty

Davey's Locker, Newport Beach, California
internet research revealed that the parking is limited and the crowds would be immense. So by 5am we were on the road for our hour plus drive to Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Our plan was to beat the crowds and watch the morning sun open all of the amazing flowers, watching the colorful hillside blossom in front of our eyes. It was a magical morning as the vistas continually changed as the eastern sky filled with light.

California poppies, thistles, amsinckia, violas and many others covered acre after acre. As you enter the park you are told not to get off the path as this will do damage to the flowers. The park is well marked with signage. Twenty feet into the park we see a group of 20 off the path posing in the flowers for a photo shot. They weren’t so happy when the park ranger showed up. We believe some visitors may have received fines this day as several groups were ignoring the plea to keep these amazing flowers safe. we can only ask, “What is wrong with these people?” (One of MJ’s favorite sayings…..)

As we walked up and down the rolling hills we
Common dolphinsCommon dolphinsCommon dolphins

Swimming with the boat Legacy out of New Port Beach, CA
were in awe of the vibrant orange, yellow, purple, green and white flowers blanketing the acres surrounding us. The flowers were endless and it was truly glorious.

We walked, sat in quiet meditation and photographed flowers for hours. We talked about how grateful we are to travel and see all these marvelous things. As we were departing the park, the line at the port-a-potty was unbelievably long. All parking lots were full to the brim. Cars were parked on both sides of the country road in both directions for miles. Additional cars were lined up from the entrance of the park for two plus miles waiting their turn to get into the parking lot. I’m not sure how long these people would wait before they turn and go home. Our advice is to arrive in the dark of night and miss the traffic…..you will not be disappointed.

Whale Watching Tours

The Pacific Ocean reaches far and wide and beckons lovers of the sea. While in California we took three whale watching tours; the first in Santa Barbara and the other two from Newport Beach, California.

Santa Barbara is a beautiful seaside town north of Los Angles
Our meditation locationOur meditation locationOur meditation location

Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve
situated near the Santa Ynez Mountains. The lovely beaches with the mountain backdrop make this town stunning with its wide beaches and boardwalk. Our boat left the dock and traveled north along the coast in search of whales. It was a beautiful day on the water and for a short period we thought we might only see some sea lions and sea gulls but before long we found a pod of 3 gray whales. They surfaced and we could see them spouting water. These mammals are large, some reaching nearly 40 tons and living 55 to 70 years. Whenever you go whale watching you dream of them breaching but on this day we were happy with the spouting. In all we saw 6 different whales and followed them for a fair amount of time. Fortunately we were able to see them better than our photos show. Seriously, the photos do not capture what we saw. They were majestic.

Newport Beach is a coastal city south of Los Angles located in Orange County. It is a fairly large city on Balboa Bay. We took a Christmas lights tour during the winter that was a treat for the eyes. Balboa Bay
Bursting with ColorsBursting with ColorsBursting with Colors

Ventura Highway, California hillside
is lined with high-end homes and a couple of restaurants.

Both trips were exciting even though we didn’t see a single whale. As we went out into deep water there were hundreds of dolphins swimming beside our boat, jumping around our boat, frolicking on a beautiful sunny day enjoying the open water. They surrounded our boat for at least 30 or 40 minutes. We’ve never seen so many dolphins. What a great day! We saw a few more dolphins on the first trip than the second.

The second trip included our good friend Chuck. We had a great plan as we had been down to the docks before. We knew where to park and even arrived extra early…..why? Because with LA traffic, you never know what to expect and it becomes part of the daily planning process….how long does it normally take? What time of day are we driving? Is it raining? All sorts of factors go into travel time in the city of angels. But…..like we said. We had a great plan….except for one thing….when we got out of the rental car, Dave simply left the keys in the ignition as we were at a parking garage
You've been warnedYou've been warnedYou've been warned

Antelope Valley Poppie Preserve...and don't mess with the flowers. There were other signs.
where they park your vehicle. As soon as Dave closed the car door, it locked…..with the keys in the vehicle. After a few moments of cursing from Dave, Chuck had located a nearby locksmith, who arrived just in the nick of time to unlock the vehicle. Dave made a dash for the boat and arrived in time for departure…….all this before eight o’clock in the morning!

Photo credit: Identified photos were taken by Dale Frink, professional photographer on the Legacy boat sponsored by Davey's Locker, Newport Beach, California.


Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 27


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Gray Whale spoutingGray Whale spouting
Gray Whale spouting

Santa Barbara, California
Early morning Early morning
Early morning

Waiting for them to open- Antelope Valley Preserve
California's Super Bloom 2017California's Super Bloom 2017
California's Super Bloom 2017

Amazing, stunning, endless color
Antelope Valley Poppie PreserveAntelope Valley Poppie Preserve
Antelope Valley Poppie Preserve

Acres and acres of beauty
Burst of purpleBurst of purple
Burst of purple

Mother Nature at her finest
Gray Whale Gray Whale
Gray Whale

Look closely.... he's out of the water and it was exciting.
Frolicking DolphinsFrolicking Dolphins
Frolicking Dolphins

Off Newport Beach, California
Dolphins swimming with usDolphins swimming with us
Dolphins swimming with us

A great day on the water
Balboa Bay MarinaBalboa Bay Marina
Balboa Bay Marina

Newport Beach
Up close and jumpingUp close and jumping
Up close and jumping

Photo: Dale Frink
Spirited animalsSpirited animals
Spirited animals

Photo: Dale Frink
Majestic DolphinsMajestic Dolphins
Majestic Dolphins

Photo: Dale Frink
Baby and MomBaby and Mom
Baby and Mom

Photo: Dale Frink


27th July 2017

Wildflowers & Whales
Thanks for sharing your nature excursions---lovely!
27th July 2017

Wildflowers & Whales
California is the land of diversity. Plenty of nature to embrace and enjoy. Thanks for reading and commenting.
27th July 2017

Photos do not capture what we saw....
Isn't it so true? I always feel that way - my camera sometimes cannot capture what I see through my own eyes! The flowers are so vibrant!! And locking yourself out of the car reminds me exactly what once happened to me....it's frustrating, isn't it?
27th July 2017

Photos do not capture what we saw....
At times I wonder if I were a better photographer or if I had a better camera.... could I capture the way it really looks? ....probably not as Mother Nature is stunning and it is hard to capture her beauty. Thank you for reading and commenting.
27th July 2017

Earworm
You were very lucky with all those gorgeous dolphins! We saw whales for the very first time recently - isn't it an amazing feeling to see those huge creatures? :) But now, thanks to the second photo of your blog I have THAT SONG stuck in my head. 'Where the days are longer, The nights are stronger, Than mooooonshine.... and on and on and on' :/
27th July 2017

Earworm
We feel very fortunate and grateful each day to get to see the things we see when traveling. It is amazing to see nature at her finest. Thanks for reading and commenting....enjoy singing.
27th July 2017

California - here I come!
Hi D & MJ, What a great blog; proving that to get the most from our travels, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance! Modern car locking systems scare the life out of me and I'm always nagging (who me?) Janice to keep the spare keys in her pocket! As you know I leave all of our planning to Janice - she's better at it than me, but reading this makes me think we didn't make the most of California on our trip around North America. You can never see it all. (If you're not there, you are somewhere else) David
27th July 2017

California here I come
As you say you cannot see it all. In our opinions the best things we have to offer in this country is our national parks system brimming with beauty. Our deal with the car locking itself...is that it is not supposed to self lock with the key in the ignition....something went wrong. Oh well...another life lesson. Let us know when you come back to the U.S. as we would like to meet you and would help with some suggestions. MJ
27th July 2017

Sea Lions
My favorite photo is the last of the sun bathing sea lions. You have captured some great moments in words and photos here and minimized the frustrations of Southern California city living. Great fun as usual.
27th July 2017

Sea Lions
Sea lions can provide hours of entertainment. They are free spirited. The nature around LA is the best way to enjoy the environment. Now that we are back home we laugh at what we used to think was a traffic jam in St. Lucie county.
27th July 2017
Antelope Valley Poppie Preserve

Should maybe give LA a second chance
We were in LA a few years ago and were a bit put off by the traffic situation. When I see your pictures I think that maybe we should give LA another "go". I guess there is much to discover beyond the little we saw. /Ake
27th July 2017
Antelope Valley Poppie Preserve

Should give LA a second chance
Most people come to LA because of all the Hollywood hype. The traffic stinks and cannot be avoided. I would not want to live in LA for an extended period of time. You have to plan an LA trip well so it gives more than it takes. When you come back let us know and we will make some suggestions.
27th July 2017

Wild Flowers and Whales
The natural world gives us so much more joy that big city vistas. Lovely to read all about the Californian wild flowers.
27th July 2017

Wild flowers and Whales
Big city vistas are what you see on TV and in the movies when it comes to LA and that is fine but so easy to find some much more if you scratch the surface.
28th July 2017

Oh man, what a year!
Look at the orange on them there hills! That is so amazing but heartbreaking at the same time. These 20 year cycles of drought and flood are getting closer and closer together and can't bear to think of what might be in our future. In the meantime, stop and smell the flowers, and take pictures, right? California is such a rich, diverse landscape and so beautiful. And I never get tired of dolphins or whales. Luckily in my neck of the woods, we see them often.
28th July 2017

Oh man, what a year!
The flowers were so vibrant and amazing. California is one of those states that has a bad break with weather. The fires are burning again this summer...even with all the winter rain it was not enough to keep the heat and fires at bay. We agree we never tire of dolphins and whales. They are amazing and bring with them great excitement. Envious of your location and the ability to see them often. Don't ever take that for granted.
28th July 2017

Wildflowers
I am a huge fan of wildflowers - those were quite the scenes that unfolded before you. I love the rusty orange. D
28th July 2017

Wildflowers
Sadly the photos didn't capture the stunning beauty of the flowers but our attempt was made. It was an endless carpet of vibrant color. So amazing we had a hard time leaving.
30th July 2017
Bursting with Colors

So vibrant
30th July 2017
Bursting with Colors

So vibrant
The bloom was amazing. The hills were enchanted.
30th July 2017
You've been warned

If it's not bears and crocodiles it's snakes !
30th July 2017
You've been warned

Snakes
It is always something isn't it.
30th July 2017

Whale of a time !
Yes sometimes the camera cannot capture what you see. On my recent trip in Alaska I Didn't bother with trying to get a photo of the whales ..I just spent all my time watching them. Some people should be banned ... they walk off the trails, they touch delicate fabrics, artworks etc when they shouldn't !!! Your flowery place of meditation looks so serene. Cheers
30th July 2017

Flowers and Dolphins
California poppies in California - such stunning colours and how lucky you were to see so many dolphins such graceful animals.
30th July 2017

Flowers and Dolphins
We do feel fortunate to have seen so many amazing flowers and animals. Timing is everything.

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