Our Lord's Candle flower patch 08-C-41.jpg
Spring 2008 Wildflower Trip Chronicles
Spring 2008 Wildflower Trip Chronicles contents|
Southern California Road Trip
For my second image, I reduced the tripod height to about 3 feet and repeated the shot. The resulting image improved the shape of the poppies while the lower height reduced the numbers of species and flowers visible across the scene. My next target was to move closer to a dead cholla nearer the center of flowers that I'd noticed was absolutely covered by the densest areas of flowers. Leaving my daypack at these first bombholes of work, I gingerly stepped through plants to the top side of the cholla area and indeed it was the ultimate location in the whole field interestingly clothed in its interior areas with beautiful baby blue-eyes. I went to work composing an image, then exposed a sheet, 08-C-43.jpg . My resulting slightly bright exposure was about +1/6 stop above optimal. Looking at the utterly dazzling cholla on this Holy Thursday, I let my imagination run freely with thoughts that this was the appropriate Easter shrine of an otherworldly powerful being and I was the humble human being allowed to capture its passing on the day our world celebrates Christ's Last Supper with his beloved group of Apostles that has changed our world.
Grabbing all my gear, I moved above the main field and captured some Coolpix images of the two blooming tall Our Lord's Candles. About then, J drove up. I wasn't at all surprised. What else could hold a candle to this? I moved around to a particularly dense blazingly bright area of flowers and set up a direct backlit composition, 08-C-44.jpg , that looks like the creation of some color crazed painter. Next I moved down the hill to where J was, where we had created several trample paths Wednesday about a few beautiful spots. Today with better morning light, it was prime to be captured on film. On the top of my list was the composition of a dense mix of light violet white hued birds-eye gilia amongst other flowers that was simply incredible to look down at like a dusting of snow, 08-C-45.jpg . Two young mothers with three children drove up the dirt road in a couple SUVs and parked beside J's vehicle. We waved to each other as I continued to go about my business. I watched as they struggled to get their little ones to pose for pictures in front of various groups of flowers on the periphery of the main flowers. I wondered if the woman we had seen yesterday was already spreading the word down in the neighborhood. I moved to an area of densest baby blue-eyes with poppies for a vertical format composition, 08-C-46.jpg . Finally was a composition where I could emphasize the beautiful ground pink and chose a less dense spot providing better separation of the individual goldfields, birds-eye gilia, and baby blue-eyes, 08-C-48.jpg .
David heads back north
It was nearing noon with the light becoming harsher and I had exposed 9 frames. There was certainly quite a lot more I could have milked from the area especially with more intimate close-up compositions. However I had just experienced one of the ultimate photographic mornings I'll ever experience and it was now time to start my journey back north. I had the goods in the bag now. Well I hoped I did haha. Reflecting the saying, "don't count your chickens until they hatch", photographers are never quite sure till they see their developed film. In the first 6 days I had stingily exposed but 15 sheets of film while during the last 3 days, 34 most valuable colorful sheets of film. J had already left and the others were back at their cars. I was soon driving north on Santa Rosa Road passing near Lake Mathews all the way into Riverside. Along the way I noted several undeveloped hilly areas where the same kinds of wildflowers were growing that showed the widespread nature of wildflowers in the area. There were some slopes with much larger areas of blazing orange poppies. I continued north on city boulevards through Riverside and Fontana streets until finally getting on the I15 freeway to pass through Cajon Canyon.
During mid afternoon I was driving through eastern areas of the Antelope Valley northwest on SR-138 towards Palmdale that looked noticeably drier with less flowers than usual beside the roads. After all it had not rained in over six weeks. I took Avenue K west through the poppy zones east of the state reserve that also looked dry, then passed the California State Poppy Reserve on Lancaster Boulevard noting fair numbers of poppies and goldfields east of the reserve along the roadsides. However other areas as Munz Road looked well below normal in color. Past the reserve 170th Ave W was simply bare while a modest blanket of yellow goldfields covered the Fremont Buttes. And continuing west on SR-138 towards I5, the western Antelope Valley areas showed me little reason to bother making a trip south in the coming weeks. I passed along Gorman Post Road and the hills above were rather brown with a sprinkling of coreopsis across the lower slopes. However at 4,000 foot elevation, March 20 is rather early and by mid April if some good rains occur, at least that area could still provide a show. Over Tejon Pass, I left I5 at Frazier Park taking 9N05 into the snowy areas and down to SR-166 near sunset and onto Soda Lake Road in Carrizo Plain National Monument. As dusk faded, 20 minutes later, I was parking in that plain's vastness making and setting my car up to sleep in for the last night. As I passed through those southern areas of the dirt road, I noted vast areas of fiddleneck at a stunted ankle height.
Friday March 21 the final road home
With the sun coming up, I didn't waste time getting back on my dirt road. A few miles further, areas of just out of bud goldfields presented a vast yellow landscape, promising a better show for April. I passed the monument roads to campgrounds and the visitor center then took Simmler Road east to check out the alkali flats about Soda Lake. There I saw all the usual species as herbs with some flowers as tidy tips already showing some flowers. I figured the area needed another two or three weeks and to be sure, a good jolt of rain. Back on Soda Lake Road north, some of the hills to the west were growing swaths of new color. At SR-58 I turned west and as soon as I reached the hills, the landscape became much more lush with fiddleneck now knee high along with monolopia, a species of coreopsis, densely covering areas beside the road. Here and there I could see slopes with dense areas of poppies. However all those cattle ranching lands are behind barbed wire and signed as NO TRESPASSING.
I continued west and noticed nice areas of baby blue-eyes, popcorn flowers, and goldfields. The Redhill Road BLM recreation area was covered in short shooting stars, looked like they have received some good rains, and may be worth visiting in a couple weeks. I stopped at Shell Creek that had some large growths of new baby blue-eyes. However in general most of that area looked too early without even the large areas of goldfields that usually start their show. I continued northwest on La Panza Road then Cresta Road through the winery areas into Paso Robles. Instead of continuing north on US101 through the Salinas Valley, I enjoyed the scenic route on G14 into the San Antonio River Valley about Fort Hunter Liggett, where I always love looking at the huge valley oaks and hanging Spanish moss adorning those trees. Early wildflowers were indeed along those roadsides, and ought to be rather nice by mid April. After a brief stretch on US101, at Soledad, I moved onto G17 to enjoy the rural sights all the way along the west side of the valley, later taking farm roads around Salinas until I reached Castroville. From there, it was a familiar freeway drive north to Santa Cruz and then northeast over the Santa Cruz Mountains to my residence in the Santa Clara Valley a bit before noon completing an 1,800 mile 10-day road trip. It was the end of the important Easter week and I had much to be thankful for...as I never really was alone.