Monday, March 31, 2008

Adventures in Nature

This past weekend I traveled to Bakersfield with the swim team that I coach each winter/spring. On our way, I noted the pretty decent showing of wildflowers in Cuyama Valley. I knew my girls would be particularly interested in these, so shared the news with them. They were elated!

Today, the girls and I ventured out on our own wildflower hunt after a morning of math and reading with Mom, map marking (capitals of states we've visited, locating relatives' homes, notating other geographic facts the girls already know about the U.S.), and science with Dad. My original intention was to take the paved road to Cuyama, a quick, simple adventure. But then, I saw some mustard on the nearby foothills, and decided to take the "shortcut" through Tepusquet Canyon (paved). We saw beautiful shows of purple lupine, orange poppies and something yellow that may or may not have been mustard, but they were too deep into private property for us to explore. So, I turned onto nearby (unpaved) Colson Canyon Road which leads into the forest. Surely, there would be wildflowers galore nearby.

Well, one thing led to another, and we ended up having a great ride through the forest with stops at some wildflower patches (Shooting Stars, Lupines, Poppies, Indian Paintbrush, Fiddlenecks, and a few we couldn't identify) and several shallow, rocky creek crossings. At one point, we met up with a guy on a quad. He assured me that the van wouldn't be able to make the "big, steep river crossings" ahead. Well, we never found whatever it was he was talking about. The crossings were never more than several inches deep, and always had very nice cobblestone bottoms with gently sloping entries and exits.

Using the GPS rather than the Forest Service map, well, we got lost! The GPS identified a forest service road as the Miranda Pine road we'd been looking for, so we made a lefty only to find (8 miles further down the road) that we were on the DEAD END Pine Road. So, back up the road we went 'til we found ourselves at our intended 'Y'!

We weren't really lost. We could always have turned back and gone the way we'd come, but we really didn't want to do that. And in the end, though it took us more time, we found camps we'd never seen before, found some great wildflower spots, enjoyed some stops along the creek. Now we hope to go back and camp there, if only for a night, in coming weeks.

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