Sunday, March 16, 2008

Call of the Wildflowers

"The Wildflowers are coming, the Wildflowers are coming! " The call went out and as more and more Newspapers and websites reported spectacular sightings the more antsy I became until Wednesday, when I threw all my lenses in my car and took off driving. I went straight to Lake Elsinore where I was greeted by hills so full of poppies they looked as if someone had spilled orange paint. A great resource is the Desert USA webpage: http://desertusa.com/wildflo/ca.html

The best items that I remembered to bring along were a reflector/diffuser set a friend gave me (THANK YOU!), my dogs pillow and my trusty ground pod. I wish I had remembered to throw in a couple of plamps to hold the diffuser but I made due with some moves that would have made a contortionist proud. If you go make certain you have a good high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle. I love my Hybrid Escape but there were one or two spots that it just did not want to drive up - the combinations of loose shale, steep slope and no good way to get momentum going foiled me twice but I found other ways around. I saw one person on an ATV and a pair water skiing on Box Canyon Lake, both of whom looked at me as if I were a crazy person (which I am sure I looked the role). Otherwise I had the entire place to myself. I crawled around on my hands and knees, (here's where the pillow came in handy, all the loose rocks hurt my elbows until I pulled out Milo's pillow - I'm sure he'll forgive me once he explores all the new smells).

After spending the day achieving a spectacular sunburn and taking more California Poppy photos than one person should be allowed to possess, I headed off to Joshua Tree to see what the "desert bloom" was all about. I've never visited Joshua Tree before but one of my life goals is to visit every single national park in the United States.

The Joshua Trees were all in bloom and looking spectacular. What surprised me the most was what I discovered when I stepped out of the car to take a hike among the giant boulders. Everywhere I looked I found tiny yellow and white flowers and sometimes a pretty purple thrown in for good measure.

As I drove further south through the park the flowers grew more and more abundant and diverse. Even the cholla were beautiful though who ever nick-named them Teddy Bear cactus never kneeled on the spines before... OUCH! Trust me, even if the ground near a cholla looks safe, it isn't. the spines are everywhere.

After whirl-wind tour I am home to pack for Alaska where the snow and Eagles await. I had a brief taste of spring and I know I will be more than ready to enjoy it when I get home in a week. Until then, the snow pants are packed and ready for service.

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