Chasing the Super Bloom
The super bloom: a once-in-a-decade occurrence when the drought-stricken valleys in California get the rain they've needed and wildflowers bloom en masse. Millions of flowers blooming all at once blanket the hillsides in patches of yellow, purple, and orange.
Carrizo Plain National Monument is about 5 hours south of San Francisco, and given the absurd wildflower situation well worth the drive. We set out before the sun rose last week to reach the plain by midday, allowing us to soak up the sun, frolik in the flowers, and get lost in dried up Soda Lake before heading into Ojai and onto Santa Barbara for the night.
The road-trippers. Super-bloom-stalkers. Mid-week-vacationers. Side-of-the-road-wardrobe-changers. Coli (left, @seeelliott) and me (right, @sophia.gb, if you somehow found my blog not through Instagram).
Seeking out the super bloom isn’t very official, you just pull off the road wherever suits and start walking into the fields. We were there at the very end of the bloom, but the yellow wildflowers were still putting on a strong show.
Alite Designs' Monarch chair is the perfect portable lounger to bring along for when you need a rest, either because you're overwhelmed by the beauty or falling victim to the pollen/unidentified bitey bugs creepin up your sun dress.
I really love road trips, so a half-day trek for wildflowers wasn't a hindrance at all. Bumpy back roads that make you feel like your brains are coming lose are par for the course (a few summers ago I drove through Monument Valley in a two-door hatchback...which was really silly given that the other cars on the route were Jeeps and safari-esque high clearance vehicles). The road that winds through Carrizo Plain floods when it's rainy, meaning the road is really just a dried, wide dirt path. Another good thing to keep in mind if you're inspired to visit is that the nearest gas is also 50+ miles away so fill 'er up when you can.
Now, the promised political rant. I'll keep it short, feel free to do your own research if the topic interests you! Shockingly (sarcasm), it centers around Trump and an executive order vowing to reconsider national monuments, which are created under the Antiquities Act. This includes Carrizo Plain and many others, which he thinks constitute "another egregious use of government power." What Trump considers a federal land grab, I (and many many others) consider the safeguarding and preservation of land for public use, enjoyment, and enrichment. Without Carrizo Plain as a national monument, it's uncertain whether or not the area would remain open for the public. The Antiquities Act allows me, and you, and anyone who can get in a car and head down, to enjoy this beautiful Californian landscape year round - whether in rainbow super bloom or not. For those of you worried about protecting certain liberties and values given the current political landscape (wow, could I have made that any more of a vague catch-all?), add this to the list. Protect the wildflowers! Keep the national monuments! Just go golfing again, Trump!
To end things on a more positive note, I'll share a little about the post-super bloom route. We drove into Ojai on the 33 through Los Padres National Forest. I don't have any photos to share because the road is endless steep switchbacks without turnoffs, but trust me when I say it's one of the most beautiful drives. It's dramatic and lush and passes the US's smallest Post Office - in case you'd wondered where that was. We got a very late lunch in Ojai and stretched our legs before driving into Santa Barbara. Coli and I camped outside my sister's Airstream and stopped at the County Courthouse in the morning before zooming back up the 101 to San Francisco. It's my favorite building in Santa Barbara (evidenced by multiple features on my feed), and the tiles inside make for a great photoshoot.
That's all folks, hope you enjoyed some pictures from our adventure!