I still wanted to get out and "see some stuff", and Bill is always up for an adventure, so we packed a lunch and headed out. One of the things we enjoy is traveling roads we (or one of us) have never been on before. I have always lived in California, and Bill arrived in elementary school, and we have both lived in each half of the state, so between the two of us we have been on a lot of roads!
Big Tujunga Canyon is an area of the Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles. Neither of us had been there. Big Tujunga Canyon Road intersects with Angeles Forest Hwy and runs between Hwy 210 and Hwy 14 - so it made a nice loop for a Saturday drive. I had hoped to stop and take photos but the blowing dirt and brush made staying in the car the better option.
With the severe drought and several fires in the last ten years, there is not much "forest" left along this route. The dam now holds back a small pond surrounded by long-dry creek beds. Although there is a lot of green grass and other low-growing foliage, driving this area is like watching a documentary on the long-term devastation of California's drought. If it ever returns to it's former beauty (you can still see what it used to look like in the landscape of dead trees and water-carved canyons), it will be decades.
Sometimes those "beauty-challenged" areas make you look harder. Instead of driving faster to just "get through it", I slowed down, letting the other very few cars pass as soon as there was a turnout. We noticed the incredible variety of rock color - chocolate, brick, cream, charcoal, even green. Random out croppings of stone, drastically different in color from their surrounding soil, were remarkable. The ghostly skeletons of burned manzanita look like the villian's forest in Disney movies. Crumbling stone walls with no other sign of civilization hint at a past that is impossible to imagine in the present.
Tessa is not a fan of winding roads and we stopped along a flat section to let her out of the car. The wind was still blowing hard and she was not impressed with my choice of rest stops. It was nearly on top of us before we saw the tumbleweed coming at us. It was the size of a mini-cooper, and I had to pull Tessa out of its path at the last minute. We watched it make its way between the trees, and then between the fence posts like it had built-in sonar - they are really kind of creepy :-)
Soon we were in "civilization" and getting hungry. And we were back on roads we had already seen. The sign for Vasquez Rocks gave us our best option so we headed there. I didn't know until we were pulling in the park (free admission) that Bill had never been there. We were back in adventure-mode! Us, and about a hundred others.
Those of you who have not been to Vasquez have very likely still seen it in movies and/or TV shows. I also referenced it in this post about our local area.
|Home to cowboys and aliens|
|Yes there is a person on top, no I don't have decent zoom on the phone|
I have only been one other time myself, a day with only a couple other people. Not this day.
|A nearly full parking lot|
|Lots of green among the rocks|
|Trails around the back lead to the top|
|A good spot for those poles.......|
|Please take my picture|
|Why are you taking my picture?|
After lunch we hiked among the large junipers and smaller out croppings. With all the people in the parking lot and up on the big rocks, we saw very few others where we walked. It would have been a good place to practice with my trekking poles and I was sorry I hadn't thought to bring them for the day (they're hanging next to the jacket). There is very little signage in this park so I figured the one we saw must have some significance. Google is clueless on this sign.
If there are 11 other signs we didn't see them. There was no California buckwheat growing near the sign. It was not a trailhead. I remain as clueless as Google.
So we got out, took a drive, had a hike, saw new things, people-watched - a simple and very enjoyable Saturday.