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?

Whale Watching

In the heart of Newport Beach (where there is very little parking), you can take a 2-hour tour (said in the Gilligan’s Island narrative voice) a few miles off the coast and see various types of whales.  The time of year will dictate what types of whales you might see in this area.  I went on this excursion on Saturday January 19th.  It was a beautiful 75-degree day with barely a cloud in the sky. 

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A nice day to paddle your way around the shoreline.

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Pretty cool to see snow-capped mountains while cruising on the ocean.

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We were told by the boat’s captain that there were a few Gray Whales in the area and we should have a reasonable chance to see them.  These whales migrate at a top speed of 3 miles per hour from Alaska to Baja Mexico.  He also mentioned that the whales lose a considerable amount of weight because they do not feed while migrating.  We met up with two smaller boats that were staking out an area.  Approximately 10 minutes after we arrived, we saw some water spouts so we knew they were near the surface.  Shortly thereafter, we were able to see one of the whales breach the water and two tails flip over.  And that, folks, was the extent of our experience.  LOL.  After about 20 minutes, the captain told us that whales can go under water and hold their breath for 20 minutes.  We waited a while longer but did not see them again.  The captain then took us to some other locations but we were not able to see more whales.  We did to see some sea lions who were laying on each other on a buoy.  We then made our journey back to the dock.  I took many pictures so I hope you enjoy them. 

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I like the following sequence of photos. Check out the changing ripples of water with various shades of light hitting them as the sun begins to set.

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Same situation here. This is a closeup of the waves and foam from the ship’s engine.

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Check out the color and shading of the sun on the water on the next couple of pictures. The water looks like it is on fire.

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I’m not sure who this guy is but he is extremely tall. Either he or the woman or both were flown in on the helicopter and joined the party on-board.

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For more information about Gray Whales, click the link below.

Red Canyon: Dixie National Forest, Utah

Just 14 miles west of Bryce Canyon National Park on Route 12, Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest gives a glimpse of what is to come at the grand national park down the road.  It is like a little brother that lives in the shadow of his big brother who gets all the accolades.  Red Canyon is perfect for sunsets and moon rises.  The orange sandstone and the green pine trees glow in the setting sun.  The moon ascends from behind the park and functions as the icing on the cake. 

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There are trails to hike and a campground if you prefer to stay the night.  When covered in snow, the trails can be navigated with snowshoes or cross-country skis.  One of the more photographed areas of the park are the tunnels.  The tunnels are currently undergoing construction so be careful when driving through the area.  Oh, and watch for passing vehicles if you insist on taking pictures of them while standing on or at the side of the road. 

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Framed by the blue sky, wispy clouds or none at all, this smaller version of Bryce Canyon is never ignored, but is less crowded than its larger brother to the east.  If you visit Bryce Canyon, take the leisurely drive to Red Canyon.  It’s only another 10 miles to the small town of Panguitch or an hour to the gorgeous Zion National Park. 

For more information on Red Canyon click on the link 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.