Today was the first (and only) dip inland, away from our coastal plan to check out sights a little more interior. We breakfasted with my Cousin Chef and then headed into more deserty territory than anything we'd seen yet, rolling sand dunes basically with tufts of bluish grass, agave, yucca...all that good spiky stuff. All the very best in John Wayne sets.
The big plan today was: See California Spring Wildflowers. We went to a little town called Gorman which has mysteriously flower laden slopes, lupine, California poppies, little blaze yellow coreopsis and several others I can't place. We drove one key road in the small town of Gorman, photographed, ooed and ahhhed and then got back into the car after handing many granola bars, hard boiled eggs and orange sections to the four corners of the car for lunch and we drove away from the hills towards a flat plain area and found ourselves in poppy central. Lovely. Looked like someone had sprinkled a million pounds of Cheetos on every little ripple and rise...big swathes of blaze orange. We parked the car and got out for a nice stroll (read: most exhausting hike of the trip so far...many, many breaks on benches along the way) through the wild poppy fields and enjoyed the stupifying orange glow up close. At least as lovely as from the road. Mmmmm.....I love how silky poppy petals are in texture and how satiny they look too. Very delicately put together and extremely elegant the way the uncoil as they open from that little silken twist to a flared cup. Today we imagined the flared cup part. The only real downer about our day at the preserve where we hiked (Antelope Poppy Preserve, for the curious) was that it was still cloudy and a bit windy although it did clear off and beam sunshine down on us just as we were leaving. Wild poppies are finicky little flowers and they close at night, on cloudy days or even if the wind is blistering along to fiercely. No rough games. So, we saw huge waves of bright orange buds all curled up defensively. But, no matter...they're stunning just the same and this sort of thing only leaves us with more reason to come see it all again.
After the poppies we decided to head over the mountains to the cousin hosting us for the night. (Over the mountains was our own clever idea, you know...more scenic, right?) Heh. As we explained late tonight over tea and popcorn with bleary eyes....we really don't know anything about mountains. Snow yes but, mountains with snow on them...no, not really. The pass was closed on top. And so was the other pass. And the other pass was too. So we drove around for a long time, getting breathtaking mountain views, seeing snow for the first time in a few months and listening to the boys play rollercoaster in the backseat (Wheee!!!! Faster Daddy!!!! Faster!!!!) as we drove up and down the mountain roads, looking for some sort- of way out that wouldn't use of too much of our time or daylight. And eventually, two hours after our hoped for arrival time, we made it. Whew. Not so bad really. And just think...we can add mountain tops and snowdrifts to the list of things we've seen here in California, the land of many, many faces.
The other interesting thing about the mountain side-trip bit was that it gave us a first hand view of the area that raged with wildfire last year. Don't think I've ever really driven through anywhere that looked anything like that before...acres and acres of black trees, charred telephone poles and bare sand with stubs of burned shrubs and grass bases dotting the landscape. Wild stuff, man.