Approximately 31 years ago, my then girlfriend (now wife of 29+ years) drove out to the Antelope Valley, just west of Lancaster, CA to see the wildflowers that grow in that area. After our recent trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument, we decided that another trip out to the Antelope Valley was in order.
A last minute obligation delayed our initial departure from Thursday evening to mid-day on Friday. We took our time getting out there and actually ran some errands on our way. We arrived at the Antelope Valley California California Poppy Preserve
a little while after the sun had already set. Arriving late, we saved ourselves $7.00 since the hours of operation were over at sunset. The wildflower bloom varies from year to year and from location to location. Some years it is just okay and others it can be absolutely awesome. It looks like this year is shaping up to be somewhere in between the two with some of the best showings north and northwest of the actual "preserve".
Since we are not big on visiting places where an entrance fee is required (National Parks are one exception to that rule and for that we get the annual pass) we decided to head out into the open area north of the preserve. We found a great spot to boondock and enjoyed the evening from inside the rig. When we got ready to start making dinner, my wife noticed that there was a large bonfire about Ĺ mile from where we were parked. I jumped out to look while she used the binoculars from inside the rig. The fire was huge and we could hear either gunshots (or ammunition exploding?) or other large explosions. We could also hear voices and either motorcycles or quads running around.
My wife wasnít really big on the idea of staying where we were and so we decided to leave. While we were heading out via dirt roads, we watched a large explosion occur that sent a fireball the size of a VW bug into the air. Ash was falling where we were about ĺ mile away. I decided a call to the Fire Department (FD) via 911 was in order. They were very interested and after providing the GPS coordinates, we were rolling again. To make a long story short, after the FD called us back, we intercepted them at Hwy 138 and gave them some additional information as to the location. It didnít seem like they were operating with GPS at the time.
We overnighted at the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Palmdale and up early to catch the morning light at the wildflowers. We also wanted to check out the scene of the fire in the daylight and see if the FD ever found the fire.
The flowers were on display, mostly a small yellow ground cover and some poppies and small Lupine like flowers. Some years, the poppies are so thick the ground is solid orange. Even though it wasnít the best time, it was still really beautiful.
Since Friday nightís camp was a bust, we decided to head up to Ricardo Campground at Red Rock State Park
. We luckily found a nice spot, settled in with a little mountain biking, some lunch, some reading in the warm sun and then a little nap in the rig. When we got up, I had the bug to run up to Big Pine and then head down Saline Valley Road
. Saline Valley Road is approximately 100 miles long and it runs along the western edge of Death Valley National Park. For some time now, I have wanted to run this road. I had plans to do it on my dual sport (BMW R1200 GS Adventure) but never got around to it before I retired from motorcycling. The weather forecast was perfect and I read on the DVNP website that Inyo County had recently graded the road so it sounded like a good time to go.
We topped of the fuel in Big Pine (hardly necessary with 47 gallons but better safe than sorry) and headed up the road to Death Valley. We grilled up some great cilantro sausages and tossed a salad for dinner at our camp on a side spur road. We were up at 5:00 am to air down and get coffee and oatmeal going before we headed out. I had an obligation back at home at 6:00 pm so we needed to roll early.
It is a beautiful place with such varied and vast scenery. The rig did really well and we were glad that we included the trip on Saline Valley Road into our weekend.