Divine Daytripper Freelance Travel Writer


Finding California Gold: Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve
by Ingrid Hart


At a party in Venice Beach, the owner of Flake, a Venice restaurant dedicated to the pursuit of cereal and yummy cuisine showed me pictures on her cell phone of brilliant orange poppies. "If you ever get a chance to see these poppies in bloom, do yourself a favor and go, you'll never regret it." Now I've lived long enough to know that when someone makes a recommendation of this caliber and intensity, it's wise to heed the call, if possible. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve conveniently enough, was on my way out of the L.A. basin, north along Highway 5, 15 miles west of Lancaster, California. Divine timing.

Listening to the Grateful Dead station on my XM satellite radio driving by fields of brilliant orange poppies put me in that groovy head space of wonder and awe. Is it possible that so much beauty can exist on this Earth and not have it be overrun with people? Indeed. The intense blooming season for the California poppy falls usually within late winter to early spring, during the months of mid-February through mid-May. Go there now, for the maximum bloom. Within the reserve, there are seven miles of trails, including a paved section for wheelchair access, which traverse through the poppy fields.

Watching the undulating breeze quake a sea of golden poppies at the 1800 acre State Reserve was like finding California gold incarnate. As far as my eyes could see, there were poppies. Liquid gold. The energetic vibration of all these flowers was difficult to hold. I couldn't sit still for long—the energy too intense. When I viewed the experience through a micro lense and examined each individual poppy, the metaphor was revealed to me. Each flower in various stages of growth represented the natural cycle of our lives: some were buds, others unfolding, still others in full bloom, while many had gone to seed and were dormant.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day—which by the way is my 49th birthday, do yourself a favor and go visit the poppy reserve. Tell them the Divine Daytripper and Paige sent you. Happy Earth Day!