Seas of Flowers

And mountains carpeted in them (click any of the images to enlarge them).

That’s what you’ll find if you visit the Carrizo Plain after a super-bloom. It’s in what I think of as the Empty Quarter of California1, east of Atascadero and west of the San Joaquin Valley. Very few people live there and large parts of it are not suitable for agriculture.

This year was particularly amazing because our record-setting rainfall triggered a huge wildflower surge.

The pictures don’t do it justice because they can’t capture the immensity of the view. The flowers were so dense that when you stood in the middle of them you could feel the heat of the sunlight reflected off them! I’ve never experienced anything like it.

While yellow, gold and orange predominated2 there were plenty of blue and purple flowers, too.

A significant, albeit temporary, feature of Carrizo Plain is Soda Lake. Which apparently only exists briefly, because it has no feeder streams or rivers; the only water it gets comes from rainfall. As a result, it is filled with various salts — most of which are not your standard sodium chloride table salt — and quite alkaline.

Carrizo Plain is also a popular destination for birders. We didn’t see many birds, or even much animal life of any kind, but you could definitely hear our flying friends singing in the distance.

We saw several of those little furry guys as we walked around. They really haul ass when they have to cross a path!

After leaving Carrizo Plain we stayed overnight at the Carlton Hotel in Atascadero. Which has an amazing city hall, no doubt reflecting the fact the community was founded as a utopian mecca back in the early part of the 20th century.

You can see all the photos from our trip in our Google album.

  1. actually, California has more than one 

  2. at least when we went — the flowers apparently run through different phases during the bloom, so things may have looked very different before and after we were there 

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