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Published: July 26th 2017
The 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 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.
Dolphins 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
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 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 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 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.
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