Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve State Park


Shortly after turning off the highway, the orange and yellow mounds appear approximately 10 miles on the horizon.  Undulations covered in color, a contrast from the green fields and solar panels on the way.  Halfway there, the fields are overrun with orange, yellow and purple flowers.  The hills are now easily seen.  They are vibrantly alive with an almost fluorescent color.  A wet January and February have spawned the super bloom. 

From the Poppy Reserve Website:

The Park

Each spring, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve comes alive with the seasonal surprises of the Mojave Desert Grassland habitat.  The duration and intensity of colors and scents vary from year to year.  The wildflower season generally lasts from as early as mid-February through May, with a variety of wildflowers creating a mosaic of color that changes daily.

Eight miles of trails through the gentle rolling hills, including a paved section for wheelchair access, make the park a wonderful place to hike and explore any season.  Get away from the city and relax in the quietude of the countryside, with the birds singing and hawks gliding silently overhead.  Benches located along the trails make good places to sit quietly and watch for wildlife, such as meadow larks, lizards, and gopher snakes.  If you're lucky, you may spot a coyote or bobcat.  Numerous burrows around the trails may shelter mice, gophers, kangaroo rats, beetles, scorpions, or others. 

For more information, click the link below.


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More from the Reserve Website

The Antelope Valley is located in the western Mojave Desert at an elevation ranging from 2600--3000 feet, making it a high desert environment. 

This State Natural Reserve is located on California's most consistent poppy-bearing land. Other wildflowers: owl's clover, lupine, goldfield, cream cups, and coreopsis, to name a few, share the desert grassland to produce a mosaic of color and fragrance each spring. As unpredictable as nature - the intensity and duration of the wildflower bloom varies yearly.  California State Parks does not water or use any other means to stimulate the flowers; the land is preserved to only be influenced by the natural forces that had once influenced all of our surroundings.  The broad views of this landscape provide eyefuls of brilliant wildflower colors and fragrance. Whether you most enjoy expansive fields or the close-up study of a single flower, this is the place to visit.

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Have you visited the Poppy Reserve? What was your experience like? Have you visited other areas that have seen a super bloom this year?

Woolsey Fire, California

The Woolsey Fire in southern California destroyed almost 97,000 acres, killed three people and forced the evacuation of almost 300,000 residents.  The fire started on 11/8/18 and was fully contained on 11/21/18.  Here are some pictures of the fire when it was burning out of control.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

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Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Residents evacuate Malibu, CA.

Photo courtesy of Residents evacuate Malibu, CA.

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This house was built to withstand a fire. Notice the large driveway that goes completely around the house, creating a barrier for the flames. The garage to the left was not so lucky and was destroyed by the fire.

This house was built to withstand a fire. Notice the large driveway that goes completely around the house, creating a barrier for the flames. The garage to the left was not so lucky and was destroyed by the fire.

A simple spark from power lines, an out of control campfire or lightning strikes can start a fire but the major cause of destruction is the wind.  Strong winds can carry embers from a small fire and drop them onto hillsides or into canyons where there is no fire to exponentially expand a fire area.  In the Woolsey fire, the winds escalated to 50-60 miles per hour which rapidly spread the flames. I spoke with one gentleman who said that he received a call from family who said they needed to be evacuated and came to stay the night in their home.  A few hours later, their own neighborhood was evacuated because the fire had continued to advance.  Geography can also make it difficult to fight fires and get rescue equipment to where it is needed.  

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The local utility company used a helicopter to set new power poles so they could string new lines along the mountains. The chopper hooked onto a pole, circled to where workers guided it into a hole and then repeated the cycle.  Even this was a dicey project as the winds were still gusting around 25 miles per hour. 

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I moved to Los Angeles in May and it only rained (actually drizzled, not a full rain) twice in the first six months I’ve lived here.  These drought conditions leave the hills in a high-risk condition.  Between the dry climate, a simple spark and the high winds, you have a recipe for disaster.  Many of these mountains have been completely scorched and there is very little vegetation left. The desert trees, shrubs and grass will grow again over time but these areas are at risk for mudslides if any significant rainfall occurs.

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A stone mansion which survived the fires overlooks the mountains.

A stone mansion which survived the fires overlooks the mountains.

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The Burn Scar from outer space.

The Burn Scar from outer space.

The Holy Fire, Lake Elsinore, California

Many western states suffer through massive wildfires during the summer months.  The Holy Fire, which has been raging near Lake Elsinore, CA for weeks is one of the smaller fires in CA.  Fires in the northern portion of California have set records for size and destruction.  Many of last year’s fires were ferocious in their speed and destruction.  People around the world who saw this video will never forget the feeling of doom associated with the drivers on the freeway just trying to get to work safely. 

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Planes bring much needed water to douse the flames from above.  

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Thankfully, the 2018 fires in southern California have been nowhere near as devastating as the 2017 version.  (Northern California has not been as lucky.)  Lake Elsinore is in southern California just east of Orange County and north of San Diego County.  Here is some information about the history of Lake Elsinore. 

Here is the city website updating the status of the fire.

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I took these pictures and video on Saturday, 8/11/18.  The Holy Fire is much more contained at this time.  Residents who evacuated are being encouraged to return.  Hopefully the winds will stay calm so that the firefighters can finish the job. 

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These pictures were taken from Route 15 in Temescal Valley.  Helicopters were picking up water from small lakes near the highway to try to get the fire under control.  Notice the real estate sign.  Location, location, location!

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Have you visited Lake Elsinore?  What was your experience like?  Please post your thoughts, comments and questions below. 

Route 395: Manzanar

Manzanar was a World War II Japanese Internment Camp located on Route 395 between Lone Pine and Independence California.  I had the opportunity to spend some time in the visitor’s center and took many pictures.  I also watched the video that I posted below.  Please watch the video as it tells many stories of these poor people who had everything taken from them just because of their ancestry.  Although this is a beautiful area, the climate can be difficult.  The living quarters were hastily slapped together and did not always shield the inhabitants from the harsh elements.  Over 11,000 Japanese Americans were processed through Manzanar. 

This is a model of what the camp used to look like.  Only a few buildings remain.

This is a model of what the camp used to look like.  Only a few buildings remain.

This is a list of all the people who lived at Manzanar.

This is a list of all the people who lived at Manzanar.

Eight people were assigned to each living area which measured 20x25 feet. 

Eight people were assigned to each living area which measured 20x25 feet. 

This is the Manzanar cemetery.   135  people died at Manzanar,  28  were buried in Manzanar's cemetery. 

This is the Manzanar cemetery.  135 people died at Manzanar, 28 were buried in Manzanar's cemetery. 


For more information about Manzanar, click the link below to visit their website.

Tournament of Roses Parade 2018 Part 1

Have you attended the Tournament of Roses Parade?  What was the experience like for you?  In order to bring you the best pictures of the floats, I spent January 2, 2018 walking around the staging area and taking as many pictures as I could.  You can smell the roses on some of the floats from 10 feet away.  For more information on the Tournament of Roses tradition, click the link below. 

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Tournament of Roses Parade 2018 Part 2

Have you attended the Tournament of Roses Parade?  What was the experience like for you?  In order to bring you the best pictures of the floats, I spent January 2, 2018 walking around the staging area and taking as many pictures as I could.  You can smell the roses on some of the floats from 10 feet away.  For more information on the Tournament of Roses tradition, click the link below. 

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Rose Bowl 2018 Videos

Please be patient, it might take two or three minutes for the videos to load.  

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