I got up early on Friday and asked Alex to drop me off at the trains station so I could head up to meet Amy for a visit to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. The poppy reserve is a beautiful grassland habitat that is super alive and vibrant in the spring when the California Poppies (our state flower) bloom. I used to take the train from San Diego to Orange County on the weekends while I was in grad school, but going on a two hour train ride with a transfer at Union Station in Los Angeles was a little worrisome for me…I haven’t made a transfer like that before (I made a transfer to the subway from the train once, but I don’t really remember the whole process) on my own but I figured there were plenty of signs and people to ask…and after coming home from New York City, I figured it would be cake once I got on the train!
There are 10 miles of dirt trails at the reserve, an interpretive center, picnic tables, both vault and flush toilets, and a parking lot. It is $10 to get into the reserve (which is a California State Park) but please note that they only accept cash. As you drive from the freeway to the reserve, you’ll pass plenty of places where you can pull off on the side of the road for some quick photos, but please be careful as people drive very quickly on these roads to and from the prison. The picnic tables are covered, and have the only shade to be found in the park — Amy and I forgot sunscreen and are both sporting some very impressive sunburns now.
In addition to the trails to explore the hills, there is an ADA-approved walkway from the parking lot to the visitor center and a short way into the preserve. You can read about all of the other facilities and accommodations available at the reserve here.
The flowers were so beautiful and seeing people out in the fields enjoying the beauty and fresh air was great. It was very windy out and the fields looked extra pretty rippling in the breeze. I’m glad I wore a long sleeve to keep me warm while the wind was blowing and help keep the sun off of my arms — I highly suggest finding long and light layers to wear when you’re in desert regions. In addition to minding the sun, if you go to the poppy fields, please be aware that you are in rattlesnake country and stepping off of the trail may lead to danger. Heck, there were rattlesnake warning signs posted as soon as I stepped off of the train! Other critters you may run into: scorpions, coyotes, kangaroo mice, lizards, butterflies, badgers, jackrabbits, bobcats, and other snakes.
Amy packed an awesome lunch for us — giant salads with a ton of veggies, turkey, cheese, and great dressing…and enough to keep us fed for a few days! We retreated from the sun and pulled the food out of her car and set up at one of the many picnic tables available. I brought some fun things to try, too: a selection of exotic jerky from the fine folks at Jerky Dynasty! I tried some of the jerky while on the SoCal Hiker Tweetup Campout (thanks, Josh, for sharing!) so when I was sent a package filled with these treats, I was excited to try a few more of the stranger varieties. My favorites from the group are the spicy pepper Buffalo and the barbecue-flavored alligator jerky. With so many options available from the Jerky Dynasty website, I bet the other meat-eaters reading this will find flavors they’d love. I told my dad about trying the different flavors over breakfast on Saturday and well, I think I figured out this year’s Father’s Day gift. Get 15% off snack packs from Jerky Dynasty with code KAMROCKS through May 15, 2014.
Amy and I spent the day talking about blogging, business, marketing, gear testing, getting feedback, and future partnerships. I love that we get together at least twice a year face-to-face to hash things out that we can talk about over Skype because it means so much more to do the work in person. We didn’t have any cell reception so we weren’t focused on answering emails, updating our social media statuses to share the views, or anything like that. We had a few things with us, our ideas, and got down to business as soon as I got into her car and it didn’t stop until I crashed into my bed later that night. We chatted about her love of travel and travel scrapbooking, how I want to spend more time focusing on micro-adventures instead of devoting so much time to larger trips this year, and we threw around ideas about a possible new collaboration.
If you’re in Southern California and are able to make it out to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, I highly suggest making that trip happen. There is a festival coming up April 26 – 27th in Lancaster to celebrate the poppy season, find out more information here.
Are there festivals focused on your state flower?