The kiddo had a day off from school in mid-March, so I took a vacation day and we all drove out to the desert to see the spring wildflowers. After the endless suburbia of Los Angeles, northern Orange County, and Corona, we drove past hills green from the winter rains, then into the similarly-endless suburbs of Temecula. It’s been years since I took Highway 79 south, and the city has grown a lot, but after a few miles the strip malls and housing developments disappeared, the road shrank to two lanes, and we drove through green hills with oaks, bushes, and the occasional patches of poppies, mustard and lupins. Fences, dirt roads and gates indicated ranches and wineries. Continue reading
As near as I can tell they’ve stopped watering the grass in the back half of this park. The grass around the edges, near the playground, and near the clubhouse is green but scraggly. I’m not sure how they’re watering the trees, but most of them seem to be finding enough water to have put out leaves. Away from the street view, the ground is mostly dirt and dead grass now, but you can really see where the runoff collects.
Del Cerro Park sits atop a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean and, in the distance, Catalina Island off the coast of California. Suburbs surround it on the inland side, but the hills rolling down to the sea remain mostly open space (though to be fair that’s in part because the land isn’t stable enough to build on).
Normally I can put the car right in the lot when I go there. On the afternoon of January 1, I had to park all the way on the other side of the gorge that separates the outcropping from the rest of the neighborhood. I can’t complain, because I got to see this view on the way over…and on the way back, after sunset. Continue reading
It’s been a relief to have (relatively) cold weather this winter. Last year I think I wore a sweater once. While the rest of the country was caught in the frozen grip of a meandering polar vortex, California was so warm people were going to the beach to cool off. Not that December heat waves are unheard of, but it’s usually only a few days. Last winter the state barely got any snow, which meant we’ve been really relying on reservoirs and groundwater this year.
Even if it holds, and we get a wet winter in the lowlands and (enough) snow in the mountains, it’ll take a while to climb out of the current drought. So I’m always happy to see new water-saving measures put in place, like this fountain at a gas station that’s been re-purposed as a drought-friendly planter.
Last weekend I returned to the Madrona Marsh Preserve to see what our late summer/autumn heat wave had done to the place. The fields of sunflowers I saw in August have gone to seed and dried up, and the pools have continued to retreat. I managed to get a third shot in the same grove as before, where trees grew out of a pool in spring, towered over low ground cover in summer, and now stand alone, waiting for winter rains to flood the grounds again.
The image above is a combination of spring, summer and fall (specifically May, August, and October) views at the same spot.
The higher parts of the preserve are covered with dry scrub, though volunteers have cleared a lot of it out. The broken tree limb I had to walk around in August has been cleared away as well. Deep into the wooded area we did find mud flats teeming with reeds, smaller plants, dragonflies, songbirds and insects. I don’t know if any standing water remains, since we turned back at that point. (Kids have boundless energy, but limited stamina.)
Over on Flickr I have about a dozen photos of the hike, showing the preserve’s current range from dry scrub to muddy grass.