Thursday, April 08, 2010

San Diego Vacation: part 3

Bernie flew into San Diego late Friday night; Saturday morning dawned sunny and bright and he said:
"You want to drive out to the desert?"
Of course we would!
"We" being Laura, Bernie's mom Barbara and me.
So off we went, winding through the San Diego back country where one version of bluebonnet fields was to be seen.
The tiny flower isn't called "bluebonnet" outside of Texas, but old habits are hard to break.
The "lupin" blossom stems were so tiny and sweet!

The typical wildflower landscape soon changed to desert landscape.
And as anyone knows who grew up attending a San Diego elementary school, the desert in springtime means flowers too.

Names like ocotillo and chollas tripped easily off our lips; we had learned to identify the desert plants, spell their names, and drawn their pictures for many weeks as part of a class unit on ecosystems.

Seeing them in bloom is tricky: they only bloom for a short while in springtime. Come too soon or too late and the springtime desert landscape colors will not be seen.

As an adult I enjoyed the natural plant layout, realizing that I could never duplicate that kind of beauty in any garden I would tend.
The ocotillo's spikey form dots the rocky hillsides year around.

But only in springtime do the tips burst out in fingers of flame orange red.

We were heading towards Borrago Springs, one of several desert areas well known for springtime floral display. To get there you wind through the mountains and eventually come to the seemingly endless desert floor.

It is quite a popular drive to take on a motorcycle or in a convertible. The old roadside rock wall wouldn't do much to stop someone who missed a turn, and it also does little to prevent camera toting tourists from climbing over to get a perfect shot.

Bernie watched as his three favorite women trotted about taking pictures right, left, up and down.

The taller reddish purple lupin would tower over the field lupin of Texas, but they don't grow in the same sort of profusion. They tend to prefer to stage themselves to be admired as individual plants rather than as part of a field.
In fact, all desert plants seem to be striking a carefully designed pose.
Add just the right amount of wispy clouds and even a sparse plant gathering seems dramatic.
Views are studied in the distance and then up close. Don't you love the edges on those white petals? (You will learn the name of that flower later....)
Things that looks like fallen wood are actually rock.

Somehow flowers find a way to grace a rocky path.

The phrase "Bloom where you are planted" comes to mind.

A solitary California poppy glowed like a fallen sun; I've stood in fields of these poppies before.
Usually the California poppy is quite a bit more orange...I wonder why the desert ones tended more towards a yellow cast.

Cue the mixed signal flower: The prickly pear cactus is just a miserably vicious plant in terms of thorns. One inadvertent touch to the "stickers" is shockingly painful, yet check out that delicate tissue like blossom.

Oh yes...we took picture after picture of the glowing pink blossoms by bending with our camera from a safe distance.

So many kinds of cactus....and they all have such delicate blooms!

And check out those tender pink thorns!
Talk about a mixed message!

Some of the cactus even smile at you....(hee hee..)

Anyone thinking "Teddy Bear" here?

That's a hint by the way....

What wonder is this: lime green buds that open to be a luscious shade of apricot with raspberry accents!

Laura took my picture...I love her artistic photographic skills.

This flowering plant just looked like a wad of off white petals until it was examined up close.

I will admit that even the paddle like leaves had a silky look between the thorns.

Yes, I find that to be beautiful too.

But the blossoms steal all the attention....

Small insects sneak into shots....

Some cactus are at full bloom with garland like circles upon their crowns.

(Are these the Princesses of the Desert playing a game of dress up?)

I am fascinated with all the different blossom shapes.
The desert floor is carpeted in yellow and white this year; other years the carpet has been bright pink or purple. It all depends of the rain and wind and the whim of natural seed distribution.

At this point we were taking a walk down a path at the Borrago Desert visitors center, where everyone seemed to be carrying a camera, and many languages were being used to exclaim over the pretty scenes. I wondered how people from Germany and Japan knew to come out to see our desert just now.

It is always hard to know which will be the best collection of blooms when you see a display, so each gets the camera's attention for a moment. I once again gave thanks for digital cameras; it wasn't so long ago I had to plan out my shots to match the limited number of shots on my roll of film!
Seriously...isn't even the tiniest arrangement amazing?
These blue flowers are the size of an apple seed, yet they nestled and bloomed in the perfect bit of weathered gray wood.
More desert "Magic Carpet"...

The blues are so cool looking, yet they choose to bloom in desert where they mimic the scarce element of water.

Laura taking a shot ahead of me....
Not just flowers out there...this desert iguana posed for a steady stream of camera shots.
Her favorite food is dandelion blossoms by the way.
Bernie used to go out to the desert and collect reptiles; one iguana became his childhood pet.
He know alot about their behaviors and filled me in.
(Isn't she a beauty out there enjoying the sunny day?)
So I see this sign....

....and I start staring at the mountain.

Is the tallest bump supposed to be the Indian's nose or am I missing something?

Until I got down to knee level I only saw a fluffly sort of stem on this plant. The micro mini flowers could only be seen up close; and up close I could enjoy the effect of sunlight on the small hairlike structures. I imagine that the plant is somewhat sticky and that contibutes to the deserts ability to capture and hold seeds that would otherwise blow away.
Bernie is looking for more reptiles....
I'm looking for more flowers, like this deep indigo blossom that is so unexpected on a greyish white bush.
My "Ahhh" of the day: the plant had grown through the holes of the dead weathered wood (that I should know the name of) and then bloomed. I wonder how often that happens!
The holey weathered wood is everywhere, and appears like a burnt out camp fires with flowers scattered about like lingering glowing embers. Everywhere that there are these sticks, there are encircling flowers.
Borrago Spings: so named because there actually are springs in this desert. The circle of palms in the distance grow around one of the springs. We have hiked to desert springs in the past; some of them have pools big enough to swim in, and waterfalls formed by streams rushing over rock formations.
Good times were had slipping down into the water there in the past...a "must do" for almost all kids in San Diego!

Barbara and her boy. I always love taking pictures of them together, especially when we are out exploring someplace.

Barbara spotted this lizard....Bernie has trained her well!

The play of lights on cactus: a whole 'nuther subject for picture taking!
And then there are the shadows cast by the plants...
And insects with impeccable color sense.

Do you love the twisty white center pistle in the middle of that flower?

Twins showgirls!

The ocotilla blossoms are fully opened on the desert floor. Spring comes up from the valley floor; our drive down through the mountains showed us the flower in earlier spring form.

Barbara told us how Bernie's dad once backed into one of these massive cactus. Those spines and spikes were almost impossible to dig out as they each have a tiny barb that causes a skin reaction.

Frankly, I get the heebie-jeebies just looking at cactus thorns! My skin has a few memories of unpleasant encounters as well.

There is an interpretive center that can be visited as well. I was impressed by the door handles...the desert has these kind of goats.
Are you ready for this? This desert used to be under the sea! A display of petified seashells gathered from the desert give testimony to the watery era it once had.
Fossils abound...giant zebras lived here...
As did giant tortoise!
How amazing that must have been to see such things strolling around munching on the flowers eons ago!

I sneaked into the book area and looked up pictures of the flowers I had been seeing.

Teddy Bear indeed!

Tackstem...the pretty white blossom with the interesting petal edge.

Ocotillo...I did spell it right!

I would never had gotten the spelling of the little blue flower right!
Outside there were a few flower identification signs...

Why "Wolf's"????
Did desert wolves like to hang out around them?

Perhaps eat the ensuing fruit?

Or did Mr. Wolf the botonist name the plant?

(Questions...I am always the curious sort...)

As the light changed, so did the way the paths appeared...

Sometime I had to laugh. Don't the five perfectly spaced barrels at the base of the larger cactus look staged?

Even a ragged weedy like growth can become marvelous with the right backdrop.

Wish I could have captured this plant with the sunlight glowing through the flaming red flowers.

We had a good laugh at this sticker: Both my MIL and my husband have the intials BS.

Yes, BS can be the intials for a lot of good things too!

Time to head home. Laura snapped a picture downtown Borrego Springs from the car window.

We took a different way home...with more marvelous views to enjoy.

California: The Golden State.

Some days and some scenes make this concept come to life.

Like patches of gold fell from the sky!
While taking the long view, I had to capture this tiny apple seed sized blossom by my foot.

The gold streamed through field like rivers.

The cloud shadows would play on the scene, changing it from moment to moment.

(Now you know what San Diego back country/inland looks like. Don't fall for the hype: It isn't just all about beaches in San Diego!)

Of course in a few more weeks all this will turn a golden straw color, and those who see these pictures and decide to make the same drive will be greatly disappointed....

Which is why having your own garden is so important! Barbara has a colorful flowerbed by her front door.

The dutch iris...

and blue margarite daisy are SO different than what we had seen out in the desert.

Beauty comes in so many forms...

We picked up Bernie's dad Hal and headed out for a Mexican food dinner.

Delicious as always...and I was so glad that Barbara didn't have to cook us dinner. A day in the desert in bloom should trump time at the stove every time!