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For Bonnie

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I commented on a blog I follow this morning, “The Iris and the Lilly” by Bonnie Michelle with a bit of a lament on how cold it was in Pennsylvania. She takes wonderful photos and writes a great blog. I have included a link to her post below. After chiding her on how different the weather was here she challenged me to post a bit of my trip, So, Bonnie, I hope it warms you a bit.

https://theirisandthelily.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/caterpillars-contemplating-their-transformative-nature/

I flew into Los Angeles on Friday the 13th – it wasn’t scary, it was one of those perfect weather days. 78 degrees F, a little breeze and the clearest skies that I have encountered in several years of visits. I left the airport and decided to drive the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1) north to visit my mother in the Morro Bay area, Los Osos to be exact.

I jumped on the PCH and fought the usual traffic until around Sunset Blvd. The traffic moved well. On the left the views were stunning! Santa Catalina Island was clearly visible. the drive north offered stunning views of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands. I have always loved seeing the silhouette of Anacapa Island. I took my open water scuba certification on the leeward side of the island. Such great memories!

I drove along with the window down, watching the surf, the tourists and the locals enjoying a day as close to perfection as it gets in southern California. The best yet was finding K-Earth 101 on the radio. Now I was flooded with nostalgia – ah, some amazing memories….Most will be quietly enjoyed with a smile and a nod of the head……linked closely to the music, the sound of the surf and the stunning visions along the route. Unfortunately just north of Malibu the PCH was closed and I was diverted through one of the many canyon roads over to Highway 101….not an unpleasant diversion but I did want to see Zuma Beach and Pt. Magu. Oh well, it was OK.

I drove through the strawberry fields in the Camarillo and Oxnard area, had lunch with my oldest daughter Melissa in Camarillo and then back on the road. I kept the camera close but didn’t stop to capture anything. The hills were as green as I have ever seen them. Once through the hills at Gaviota when Highway 101 leaves the coastline, the view changed to rolling hills, cattle grazing and vineyards everywhere. I was tempted to stop and shoot a few but decided I wanted to arrive at Mom’s at a reasonable hour so I pressed on. Strawberries dominated the fields visible as I passed through Santa Maria.

I arrived in time to take mom out to dinner. We had a good visit and I retired early, still on Texas time. Up early the next morning I wandered around and was surprised to find a couple of young bucks feeding adjacent to the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve a short block from Mom’s house. I almost missed them as I wasn’t looking for nor expecting them.

Young buck wandering off to join his buddy off in the brush.

Young buck wandering off to join his buddy off in the brush.

I then drove in the direction of Montana De Oro State Park and stopped for a few more photos.

Morro Rock and the surfline beyond the dunes.

Morro Rock and the surfline beyond the dunes.

Another view of Morro Rock and a bit of the estuary.

Another view of Morro Rock and a bit of the estuary.

After a another great day visiting with mom we dined at her favorite restaurant….BK….She had her usual, a Junior Whopper and a Mocha Frappe….Quality dining.

Sunday I had to leave early in the morning and had high hopes to capture a  view of Morro Bay from high up the hills along Highway 46 heading over to Paso Robles. The stunningly clear weather of the day before gave way to the standard morning fog that settles in over Morro Bay. Oh well, one of these days I will get the shot. I saw it once but, it’s a long story, I wasn’t allowed to stop and get the shot.

Not far off Highway 101 along Highway 46 is this ranch house.

Not far off Highway 101 along Highway 46 is this ranch house.

Cattle grazing on the greenest grass!

Cattle grazing on the greenest grass!

A rustic barn along the Highway.

A rustic barn along the Highway.

Down in the mist is Morro rock. The image I will capture one day will show the rock lit up in golden light of an early morning.

Down in the mist is Morro rock. The image I will capture one day will show the rock lit up in golden light of an early morning.

On the western slope heading into Paso Robles was a tidy barn near a ranch house.

On the western slope heading into Paso Robles was a tidy barn near a ranch house.

Leaving Paso Robles on Highway 46 on the drive back to Bakersfield I took a winding detour on the Bitterwater Road that leaves and rejoins Highway 46 in 30 mile loop. I was hoping to find some interesting sights. The primary surprise was the early emergence of the wildflowers.

Brilliant California Poppies

Brilliant California Poppies

California Poppies dominate the scene.

California Poppies dominate the scene.

A single bloom

A single bloom

The hillside with splotches of color.

The hillside with splotches of color.

Ah….a great trip.

FYI – my wife is caring for my strawberries in my absence, snacking on the sugar snack peas and keeping the bees fed with sugar water. I hope she sends me a couple of photos while I’m gone.

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

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The Gardening Blog That Could Have Been

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Four days ago, November 19, 2012, I drove my mother from her home in Los Osos, California to Bakersfield, California. The drive is stunningly beautiful taking the traveler up over the coastal range, through gorgeous vineyards, over the Salinas River, the Temblor Range and into the San Joaquin Valley. The San Joaquin Valley is a huge breadbasket – almonds, pistachios, carrots, cotton, alfalfa, oranges, onions, grapes of all kinds, pomegranates, dairy farms, grazing cattle and sheep and plowed fields everywhere. This was just seen from along the highway, no side trips needed on the drive from Los Osos to Bakersfield. Wineries are all  over the Paso Robles area and broad expanses of oilfields appear once on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. I found several dozen vistas that could have made stunning photos/images but I was not allowed to stop.

To start with, my 83-year-old mother was not happy that I picked her up rather than letting her drive the 2 + hours to Bakersfield by herself. She insists that she is not too old to drive and we do agree with her but try to convince her that we just trying to be helpful……it doesn’t make her very happy. The second item, probably the most important item – she always needs to be in control or in charge!!!!! She let me drive but on her timetable, her route and almost her speed! I tend to drive a littttttle slower than she would like…. and I drive slightly above the posted speed.

Now, at 83 she has to plan her trip, timing is critical as the distance between her pit stops are very important. She knows almost to the minute how long she can drive before the necessary stop. This planning limited the number of times I was allowed to stop for photo ops to exactly zero. My goodness….there were so many opportunities on the drive this particular morning. The skies were nice, the marine layer in the morning was absent, the foliage was beautiful and she wouldn’t let me stop! So, here is what I did…I noted the opportunities in my head and will share them with all y’all. The blog will also be a template for a reprise sometime in the future. Here is the list of photo ops I could have shared with you.

View of Morro Bay and Morro Rock from Los Osos. The photo op from the highway turnout would have provided a great perspective from above!

Just outside of Mom’s little community park is the Sweet Springs Reserve – Photo above  is from a previous visit….this is the start marker, the rest of the trip’s images will be up to your imagination, some old photos and my descriptive talents.

We drove through Morro Bay up the coast past the little artist village of Harmony. A great photo would have been the turn out on the coastal side of Highway 46 looking back at Morro Rock and Bay….I couldn’t take a long look while driving…..Mom kept reminding me to keep my eyes on the road. I did spot a couple of vantage points that will be future stops. The views of Morro Rock and Bay from up here are stunning. The Oceano Dunes were visible 20 plus mile to the south and west.  I wish I could have slowed down and taken in a few more vistas but Mom kept pushing the pace!

Next scenic opportunity that mom made me zip on by was on the warmer eastern slope of the Coastal Range, many, many small estate size wineries and vineyards. One image that I need to capture is a hillside planting with an interesting unplanted shape around a hillside tree. I love the lines and patterns the planted vineyards make in relation to the rolling hills. I would have liked to take a longer look but I was strongly reminded to keep the pace up in order to make the first rest stop!

After leaving the town of Paso Robles (also home to one of my favorite craft breweries, Firestone Walker) and driving east there are some great scenic vistas. I am reminded of an image I shot in 1968 or 67, looking east on Highway 46 toward an old farmhouse and large tree on the crest of a ridge. I made several 8X10 black and white prints in my HS photography class that I can’t locate…It could be worth a few bottles of wine – the farmhouse is now part of the Tobin James Cellars. The winery manager has collected and displays a few old photos of the old farmhouse, none of which is from the era of my photo. My photo was a winter image, that tree was bare, the sky was cloudless highlighting the old white, wood frame, farm house. http://www.tobinjames.com/our_wines.html

Just past mom’s rest stop is the widespot in the road called Cholame, the historic site of the James Dean crash that took the actor’s  life. I do have an image of the monument taken several years ago ( took several dozen actually)….I have always wanted to take some additional shots of the site but no time available today as we were on a timetable to the next pit stop!

James Dean Memorial at Chalome – I need to spend more time on a future trip.

Over the Temblor range and down into the San Joaquin valley. In the Temblor range there are spring photo ops for wildflowers and bison. Two years ago I took a back road through the Temblor Range and found some beautiful scenery. More time is all I need!

Temblor Range Wildflowers.

Bison grazing near the wildflowers.

There some interesting rock outcroppings that were looking really nice this morning. The sun was at a great angle to create incredibly great shadows……but, alas, not nearly enough time on this trip! Mom was navigator in charge so we turned onto Highway 33 and  took a back road, Lerdo Highway, into town through some of the best farmland in California. Lerdo Highway took us through orange orchards that gave way to almonds and pistachios. A little ways down the road was a young pomegranate orchard! I was really wanting to stop, the trees were loaded down with fruit, the ground was littered with dropped fruit …… I wanted to grab a couple dozen or more and make some jelly at my sister’s house! Couldn’t stop!

Cotton fields were abundant now. Some chopped and plowed under, others having just been picked awaiting the mower before turning under, acres of covered mounds of cotton waiting to be ginned and thousands of bales waiting to be shipped. I think I could take some interesting shots here, patterns, shadows, diverging and converging lines…..better add that to my future “to do” list……no time to stop today.

Down Stockdale Highway into Bakersfield….we passed carrot fields stretching over two miles along side the highway. Only three choices, Grimway Farms, Bolthouse Farms or Yurosek (Bunny Love Brand) – they are all headquartered here in Bakersfield. We arrived at my sister’s house on schedule for her last pit stop. Two hours and 15 minutes since departing Los Osos. If I review the potential stops for me and my cameras it could be about a 5 hour drive….. I will have to plan a spring trip – maybe to coincide with the wildflower displays again…note; add another two hours to my trip! No worries…for me the pit stops aren’t that critical…. I love being a guy!

TTFN

Bishop

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